How to make a smooth transition to Google Analytics 4? The errors not to be made

google analytics 4

As we have already mentioned in our article Google Analytics moves to the next level with its version 4 , Google Analytics 4 will soon become a reality for millions of companies.

Indeed, after 17 years of existence, Google Analytics, as we know it, will cease to exist and a more advanced version that better takes into account the imperatives of our time will be released on July 1st, 2023.

The new version will take into account new consumer behaviors as well as changes that have occurred in the digital world.

With this new version, companies will be armed to better understand their customers. Consequently, they will have a better return on investment in their marketing initiatives on different devices and digital platforms.

One of Google Analytics 4’s priorities will be to ensure data privacy in order to comply with the new regulations in force.

With this new version, companies will have access to essential information to understand their customers on all digital devices and platforms.

What are the mistakes to avoid to make the transition smooth? We have identified the most common ones.

Follow the guide!

1. Forgetting to specify the currency in your e-commerce site

If you are an e-commerce site and you sell products or services online, we recommend that you implement purchase activity tracking in GA4. You will be able to understand which traffic sources or campaigns generate more sales.

Google offers an official document to help you implement all these steps, however, the document does not specify that you have to set up your e-commerce site’s purchase currency(ies).

Unlike the previous version, Google Analytics 4 requires you to add the transaction currency(ies).

Specifically, you must ensure that in your GA4 tag in Google Tag Manager, you activate the currency setting and that its value respects the international ISO guidelines. For example, you must set the US dollar to USD, the euro to EUR, the Swiss franc to CHF, etc.

The mistake you should not make is to use the corresponding currency acronym (e.g., £, $, etc.) as GA4 will not be able to identify them.

2. Creating an event when it is not necessary

You should know that when you send custom events to GA4, they automatically appear in your reports. Therefore, you don’t need to save or create them in the interface.

However, you do need to save the custom parameters that you send to Google Analytics 4 and that you want to use as custom dimensions in the interface.

By sending an event with Google Tag Manager, you will in actuality create the same event twice.

3. Anticipate the success of your project!

Google Analytics 4 allows you to save up to 50 custom dimensions per property. So, if you create too many different event parameter names, you can quickly reach the limit of the system. You may then be unable to register new custom dimensions.

So, the guideline is: Anticipate! By implementing a balanced and careful naming process, you have the opportunity to create more parameters as your project grows.

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4. Keep your data safe

Google Analytics 4 offers two types of reports: standard reports and exploration ones.

The big advantage of standard reports is that they do not expire. This is not the case for exploration reports, which only keep data from the last two months.

To avoid surprises, we recommend that you change the settings by following these steps when you create a new property:

  • Open the Admin menu of your GA4
  • Select Data Settings
  • Select Retention
  • Select 14 months

Be aware that the 14 months of data retention starts from the moment you change the settings. If you fail to do so, you will not be able to retrieve your data retroactively.

Note that users who pay for a Google Analytics 360 subscription can keep their data even longer.

5. Internal traffic, spam

If several of your employees or colleagues are browsing your site, their events will be automatically collected by GA4.

To reduce the recording of unnecessary data, the trick is to exclude all internal traffic. As a result, the quality of the data collected in your Google Analytics 4 property will be significantly improved.

6. Use one Google Analytics version per site

If you are working on several versions of the same website, for example, one as a test and one for the final online version, make sure you use separate GA4 properties for each version of the website.

This is because users may send data from both versions of the website to the same property hoping that the system will filter the different segments. This may result in your reports becoming overloaded.

We advise you to use separate properties for each version of the website.

7. Transferring events from Universal Analytics

In the Google Analytics 4 data feed settings, there is a feature called “Collect Universal Analytics Events”. This feature is available provided that your Universal Analytics has been installed with analytics.js and if you are not using Google Tag Manager to perform this configuration.

Once you enable this feature, GA4 will automatically try to retrieve all events tracked by the analytics.js tracking code. You should see all these events in Google Analytics 4 reports.

However, if you use this feature, you will transfer everything to the new Google Analytics version, including event names, labels, categories, events that are no longer relevant or are redundant, etc.

Google Analytics 4 is an opportunity to start over with a clean and tidy tool, where you have the ability to configure your analytics system and event naming convention. To avoid this situation, install GA4 manually.

In conclusion…  

Google Analytics 4 is definitely the tool of the future. We hope you have learned some useful information about this long-awaited new version of Google Analytics! By knowing some tips, you can make it an incredible tool to visibly improve your business results.

In order to quietly prepare for the transition, we recommend that you install it right away. Until the current version becomes obsolete, you will have enough time to learn how to master Google Analytics 4 and configure all the settings to fit your needs perfectly.

If you need advice or if you need an expert agency to support you in this transition, at Eminence, your Geneva-based digital agency, we have a team trained to install Google Analytics 4 and make this transition smooth.