Frequently Asked Questions: Google Analytics 4

We know the transition to GA4 feels big. And it is. The Goolge overlords have changed the way the data is collected, the way it is being displayed, and the way that it is utilized. But don't let that deter you from getting started. 

Below are the top questions our clients have asked us about this transition:

What is GA4? How is it different?

In a nutshell, GA4 is completely new. It will replace Universal Analytics. It collects and organizes data differently, the user interface has changed, and many popular metrics have been renamed or replaced. But it now includes data privacy protections, spam detection, and the data retention. But, we urge you not to try to compare apples-to-apples. It's time to invest in oranges.

Then how are we expected to use it?

You have to rebuild all of your events and reports. Google used to give you tons of data, then asked you to comb through it and decide what's important to your businesss. They've reversed that. Now you have to dictate what you need, and create those parameters. Out of the box you, will still be given some basic reports, but any business specific KPI's need to be built in a custom report or modified in your dashboards.

Do I need to train my team before implementing GA4?

Absolutely not.  We do not recommend waiting until your team understands how you're going to use GA4 for before implementing it. You need to get it up and running now. Then we can help your team set up custom reports and train them to use it at a later date. Because GA4 does not collect historical data, you need to start collecting that data ASAP.

Can we run UA and GA4 at the same time?

Yes.  This is exactly how we recommend collecting data until Universal Analytics is sunset in July 2023. Data can be collected through both properties. Take this time to strategically address which metrics matter — and why. You'll need to think about what data you're going to store, why it's important, and which KPIs need to be mirrored in GA4 for ongoing reporting.

How complicated is GA4 to install and setup?

Installation itself is relatively simple. GA4 can be deployed through Google Tag Manager (what we recommend) or by placing a snippet of code directly onto your site. However, setting up parameters and reporting can significantly increase its complexity. The system automatically tracks a number of actions, but on-site conversions and business KPIs still need manual intervention.

How long does it take to set up conversions reports?

For most B2B clients it will take 2-6 hours.  Depending on the complexity of your business reports, and the amount of data you need to track, it can take up to six hours to properly set up conversion tracking and build custom reports. For clients who also need to track ecommerce conversions and product information, it can take up to 10 hours to ensure all systems are communicating.

What reports do you recommend we set up?

Track metrics that support your business's bottom line. Top B2B metrics may include acquisitions, engagement rates, event-based conversions, exit pages, network referrals, time on page, session duration, audiences, etc. Ecommerce metrics include transactions, revenue, average order value, customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, product performance, etc.

It's up and running but I can't see historical data?

Data collection is not retroactive. You can only start tracking data the day you implement the new property. This is why we recommend implementation as soon as possible. Even Universal Analytics could not collect data retroactively. How, when, and where you archive historical data is going to be a vital part of your 2023 analytics strategy. Be sure you reserve time for it.

Then what happens to my historical data?

It needs to be archived and stored. You can export static metrics and reports, or leverage development tools to export data into Excel or Google Sheets (we know). Once we get closer to UA's sunset date, we can help you create an archival plan. Data will be exportable but the dynamic way in which you dug into different levels of information will not be available using program such as Excel.

The bottom line is that everything has to be rebuilt. 

If you have an agency of record or are working with a third-party digital marketing partner, ensure they have you set up for this transition. The implementation itself is something you can certainly do. But we recommend having an accountability buddy to help decipher what you need and how you will move forward when setting up event, conversion, and business analytics reports.

Looking for some help getting this thing over with?

If you're looking for an accountability buddy to help jumpstart your GA4 setup by mirroring your existing KPIs, call your dedicated account manager, or schedule a free, informal consultation.

Already a Lightburn Client?

For our digital marketing clients, GA4 has already been enabled as part of your service agreement. For our web design and development partners, we are offering to set up and mirror existing reports for a reduced fee. Please reach out to your dedicated project manager to setup a call.