On October 14 2021, Google announced a replacement for Universal Analytics, which they’re calling Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
You might be wondering, how does this impact our businesses’ use of Google Analytics and Marketing Cloud? Well, we’re going to give you the lowdown and tell you what you need to do to keep your reporting solutions up to date.
Google Universal Analytics is going away
If you use Google Analytics to track your website engagement metrics, then you likely use Universal Analytics. You’ll need to upgrade to GA4 before Universal Analytics goes into retirement mode to avoid any disruptions in your website reporting.
At the end of June 2023, Google is going to retire the free version of Universal Analytics. The GA4 upgrade deadline is September 2023 for Premium paying customers. After these dates, Universal Analytics will stop capturing data.
Take action soon
We recommend implementing tracking in GA4 by the end of June 2022. Our hasty deadline recommendation is based on the need for at least one year’s worth of data for year-to-year analyses.
What’s different between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4?
So the big question, what is different between the two Google Analytics versions and what are the advantages with GA4? Well, here you go.
Goals are now Conversion Events
Universal Analytics allows you to measure conversions by setting up goals. GA4 includes a change to this feature that impacts how you measure conversions.
In a nutshell, the difference between the old and new ways is this. GA4 allows 30 events per property while Universal Analytics only allows 20 Goals per view, and a single property can have more than 30 different styles of Goals.
Depending on how you operate you might need to consolidate your Goals down.
Flexible event-based model
Rather than tracking data as hit types, GA4 data points are all characterized as events.
Universal Analytics uses a session-based model to collect and report on data. That means, each tracked interaction is categorized by hit type (web page, event, ecommerce, and social).
In contrast, GA4 properties have become more flexible by using an event-based model. This allows for additional information to be captured and passed to Google Analytics for each interaction as well as more accurate reporting.
Focus on privacy
The new GA4 is privacy-focused and durable for the future and any additional changes that may come.
Machine learning insights
GA4 is intelligent, using machine learning to unearth insights about the customer journey across platforms and devices.
Integrations across Google ads platforms
GA4 has enhanced, seamless integrations with Google advertising platforms to optimize campaign performance and drive greater marketing ROI.
How to set up the new Google Analytics 4
Upgrading to GA4 is where Google has made our lives easier. It’s super simple to set up a new GA4 property.
There are three big steps to go about setting this up. All you need to get started is the Editor role for the Google account.
Step 1. Create an account (or confirm you have one)
Already have an account set up? Great. You’re good to go.
If you don’t yet use Google Analytics you can simply create a new account. This will allow you to set up a Google Analytics 4 property.
Step 2. Create a GA4 property
If you are already using a Universal Analytics property, you can add a Google Analytics 4 property to the existing setup. Or read on if you’re starting fresh.
- In Google Analytics, select Admin (lower left hand corner).
- In the Account column, make sure it is the correct account you wish to update (ignore this if you only have one account).
- In the Property column, select the Universal Analytics property you wish to use that already collects data on your website.
- In the Property column, select the GA4 Setup Assistant. This should be the top option in this column.
- Click Get started under I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property.
- If you currently use the gtag.js, tag you can elect to “Enable data collection using existing tags.
If your website does not support the gtag.js, you use Google Tag Manager, or is tagged with analytics.js, then you can’t reuse your existing tags and will need to add the tags again.
- Click Create your Property.
Step 3. Update global site tag on your website
If you currently use a website builder platform that requires you to provide a “UA-” ID, don’t worry, you can still use Google Analytics 4.
You’ll need to paste the global site tag (gtag.js) snippet manually into your website builder’s/CMS’s custom HTML field. Select your website builder from this table for platform-specific instructions.
Do I need to change anything in Salesforce Marketing Cloud for the GA4 upgrade?
This is a great question, and the short answer is — not really.
From what we can see so far, you will not need to make any changes to your Google Analytics connector to Marketing Cloud tools, including Account Engagement (Pardot).
Check for Google Code in Marketing Cloud forms
However, you may need to take action if you are using Google Code within your Marketing Cloud forms to fire events or track form completion. Navigate to your Form completion code section to review and make sure your forms are using the gtag.js tag and not the old analytics.js tag (refer to Step 3 in this blog post for details).
Get ahead of the GA4 upgrade
If you currently don’t have the Pardot Google Analytics connector set up and want to know more about it, you can read more on our blog post 10 FAQs on the Pardot Google Analytics connector.
If you have any other concerns about this change or have further questions, feel free to reach out to us to find out more.