With Google’s plan to phase out Universal Analytics, setting up GA4 and validating data needs to be a high priority. Regardless of how little or how much you know about GA4, the indisputable fact is that Google Universal Analytics will stop collecting data on July 1, 2023.
Since GA4 and Universal Analytics track and process data completely different from one another, there will be some difference in data. Additionally, since GA4 requires more setup, you will need to ensure you don’t lose important conversion and audience information when you make the switch. That is why parallel tracking, running both GA4 and Universal Analytics side by side, is the strategy we recommend.
At NordicClick, we’ve been heads-down in GA4 parallel tracking implementations for the past 6 months, and it’s been a steep learning curve. We’ve learned valuable lessons along the way and have seen many GA4 improvements as Google continues to improve on the platform. GA4 is more customizable than Universal Analytics – meaning we have more control over the data that is collected and how we can view it in GA4. However, with great power comes great responsibility, so planning and documentation are crucial for success.
Implementing GA4 events and conversions in Google Tag Manager can get really complicated, really quick –especially for companies that have a complex set of website properties and marketing strategies. It’s critical to document your GA4 implementation, including but not limited to: Property Settings, GTM tags, triggers and variables, and other important account and site updates. This ensures you and your team have a detailed log of changes made to your GA4 Property and GTM Container, giving you the ability to continue tracking data effectively and efficiently, even if someone has to pick up where you left off.
The team here at NordicClick has created a spreadsheet and checklist for documenting GA4 setups, tracking tag changes, and keeping you organized as you migrate from Universal to GA4. We hope it helps diminish the “fear” of the transition so you get excited about what GA4 has to offer.
In our downloadable GA4 Documentation spreadsheet, there are 4 tabs:
- Considerations for Implementation – We have all had our share of “I wish I would have known that” moments with implementations, so we have a list of questions to ask yourself, or your client, during the initial planning process.
- GA4 Property Setup checklist* – A checklist to document and track what has and hasn’t been done for your migration. It is highly recommended to add notes to each checklist item so you can later recall why you chose certain options.
- GA4 Event and Conversion setup – This section helps document HOW events are configured and how you would like them to show up in GA4. Ultimately, this is a list of your custom and conversion events, so you know exactly what you are tracking.
- Annotations – Since GA4 is missing the annotation feature (hopefully this feature will make a reappearance – hint, hint Google) we need a way to keep track of changes that could have impacted our data.
What are you waiting for?
Do you know a thing or two about GA4? Are there improvements you’d like to see in our tool? We are all in this together – so please share your ideas and feedback with us!
*Note: GA4 is ever-changing and continuously updating. Our checklist is up-to-date as of November 2023.
Need GA4 help? Learn about our GA4 services here.