Many webmasters are still relying on Google Universal Analytics, the traffic data collection and analysis platform offered by Google. Although the new and improved Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is available for some time now, some business owners and marketers are wary about making the switch. Soon, this will no longer be an option. Earlier this week, Google has announced that it will retire Google Universal Analytics by mid 2023.
When Exactly Will Google Universal Analytics Stop Working?
Let us take a look at Google’s announcement. The official blog post gives three relevant deadlines:
- 1st of July 2023 – all standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new data
- 1st of October 2023 – all 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data
- 6 months after the 1st of October 2023 – you will still be able to access old data.
How Do You Know that You Are Using Google Universal Analytics?
If you are not a tech person, but you are quite able to manage your own website, you may not know for sure if you are using the legacy version or the new GA4. According to Google, if you created a property measured by Google Analytics before the 14th of October 2020, you are likely using the Universal Analytics.
All the properties created after this date, are likely managed by GA4. Follow this simple and helpful guide to know for sure which version of the analytics platform you are actually using.
Why Is Google Universal Analytics Being Retired?
As you must experience in your daily work and in interactions with the digital world, technology progresses very fast. And one of the most important effects of this progress is the change in the way people browse the internet and interact with websites.
According to Google, the Universal Analytics platform has become obsolete, because it was designed in a period when most internet traffic came from desktop computers. At the present, mobile internet traffic is the undisputed leader.
Also, Google Universal Analytics relies heavily on cookies to collect and analyse data. With the new data privacy laws in force in most countries on the globe, cookies are on the brink of extinction, as well. In conclusion – the tools and devices that Universal Analytics rely on are no longer relevant for the way users interact with websites.
Making the Transition from Google Universal Analytics to GA4
Now let us focus on what you have to do – switch from Google Universal Analytics to GA4. The duration of this process and its complexity varies depending on the size of your website and the type of data you want to collect and analyse.
Google offers a simple step-by-step guide for making this switch, and even estimates the effort you have to put in at every step. We recommend you to start as soon as possible, so that when the change becomes permanent, you are already familiarised with using GA4.
What Are the Benefits of GA4 Compared to Google Universal Analytics?
If making the transition may appear a nuisance to you, to us it is a great opportunity to access modern and reliable data collection and measurement tools. They will give you a complete perspective on who your website visitors are and what they are doing on your website.
Here are just a few new and improved functionalities of GA4:
1. Data Privacy Compliant Tracking
Europe has probably the strictest data privacy set of rules – the already famous GDPR. If you are doing business in one of the EU countries, Google Universal Analytics is no longer reliable, unless you want to spend money on implementing GDPR-compliant cookie and IP tracking policies.
With GA4, you can continue doing business, in a compliant manner and without making changes to your business model. This version of traffic tracking no longer uses the IP address and cookies to monitor website traffic, but an event-based tracking system.
2. Enjoy the Power of AI to Understand Data
GA4 is built on Google’s powerful AI, which is capable of extremely complex and detailed data analysis and comparison. Using machine learning, the GA4 algorithm will give you the type of data you need so that you can make smarter and more cost effective marketing decision.
3. Know More about the Customer Life Cycle
What is the story of the relationship between each customer and your business? When did it start? How did it progress? Is it likely to end? If so, when? All these are questions that you could not answer with precision while using Google Universal Analytics.
But with GA4 – you will know the answer. The new analytics platform will give you the full picture you need, at each touchpoint. You won’t have a fragmented story, relying on the times when your customer is at their computer and browsing your site. You will be able to track their interactions across all devices and across all the platforms that ultimately point to your website.
4. Improve Data Driven Attribution
Before GA4, you could connect the last click to a sale. That is not truly relevant. What led the customer to perform that last click? A guest post on another platform? A social media post they read on their Facebook or Instagram app? Or a voice search performed using a digital assistant on a smartphone?
Google Universal Analytics could not give you these answers, but GA4 can. Thus, you will be able to attribute revenues to various marketing efforts more accurately and identify ways of improving their effectiveness.
5. Integrate Analytics with Google Ads
If you are using both SEO and paid traffic, you want to know exactly what the source of your revenues is, as well as other actionable data. In other words: did you earn a new lead or did you pay for them?
GA4 will allow you to make this clear differentiation, because you are able to connect Google Ads, as well as other platforms, to it. This will allow GA4 to collect and compare more data and offer you more relevant results.
Google Universal Analytics was extremely useful in a time where people were able to rely solely on computer-based internet connections. At the present, mobile devices and high speed mobile internet are the norm. This has changed everyone’s internet browsing habits.
Thus, it is time for a new platform, capable of tracking interactions across devices and platforms and giving you truly relevant, complete and reliable data. The time has come to make the change from Google Universal Analytics to GA4. We recommend you to do it ahead of time, before you have no other choice.