Google has announced the end of Universal Analytics (UA), its popular free Analytics tool. Find out what this means for you and your business
Google has announced the end of Universal Analytics (UA), its popular free Analytics tool used by millions of businesses across the world. UA properties will stop collecting new data from July 1, 2023. This means that you have around 15 months to prepare. Here’s what you need to know and what to do next.
What this means for your website and your business
If you use Google Analytics on your website, the chances are that you are using Universal Analytics. This version of the tool is will be “sunsetted” next year. This means that if you don’t have the newer version of Google Analytics installed on your website, or a different tool, you will stop learning anything new about your website visitors and the effectiveness of your marketing from July 2023.
What you need to do right now
If you wish to continue learning about how people find your website, what they do once they visit, and how it’s performing, you will need to change to a different analytics tool. Google launched a new version of their tool a couple of years ago called Google Analytics 4, or GA4 for short.
GA4 can run alongside your existing Universal Analytics property. If you want to carry on using a Google tool then migrating to GA4 is the best option. You could also consider other tools like Mamoto Analytics or Fathom.
How to migrate to Google Analytics 4
If you want to keep on using Google Analytics as your tool of choice, you need to get GA4 installed as soon as possible on your site so that you can begin to build up historical data. To do this, you’ll need to create a new GA4 property.
The good news is that Google Tag Manager can be used to deploy GA4 which makes the update process straightforward but you will still need to tailor GA4 to meet your needs.
We can help you with both deployment and configuration of Google Analytics 4.
I already have Google Analytics 4. Do I need to do anything else?
Because Google is planning to stop collecting data from UA properties, there will come a time when they will remove access to historical data altogether. In fact, Google has only committed to a further six months of read-only access after 1st July. Unless you export your historic data, there’s a risk that come January 2024 you may no longer be able to see your historic website analytics.
You also need to check that you have GA4 configured to meet your needs. An audit of your property could be worthwhile; this is something we can help you with.
Our verdict on Google’s announcement
This shouldn’t come as a huge shock to anyone in marketing. Google has been pushing GA4 for some time now, and it’s become the default option when creating new Google Analytics properties.
However, it’s quite a different beast to GA3/UA. They’ve built GA4 from the ground up with a completely new data model to reflect changes in privacy, machine-learning and integrations with other Google tools.This means familiar metrics and reports aren’t as readily available without extra steps to configure GA4 to meet your needs.
This can make the learning curve particularly steep and if you’re used to using UA, it may take you some time to find what reports and data you typically view.
We’ve been in limbo for some time now so it’s good that Google has committed to the full transition, and it may mean that they spend the next year or so improving the migration process to make it easier to adopt.Rob Jefferson, Director of Operations (and self-confessed Analytics nerd)
Next steps to take now Universal Analytics is being replaced
Change like this can always be unsettling but it is also a great opportunity to rethink your current measurement strategy. And if you haven’t got one of those already, we can help you with that too!
- Consider what you’re currently measuring. It’s a good time to take stock of your existing Google Analytics configuration, considering what Goals you have in place and how you use the data from the tool itself. It should be providing you with actionable insights, not numbers to copy and paste into a spreadsheet each month.
- Think about what you’d like to measure in future. One of the benefits of GA4 is its data model. This means you can customise what’s being measured in a bespoke way which matches your business goals.
- Decide how you’d like to continue measuring your marketing and website performance. UA is going away so you need to decide sooner rather than later about your data collection method. Research an alternative straight away, unless you’re happy to migrate to GA4.
- Consider training needs. If you introduce a new analytics tool, it makes sense to be trained by experts so that you or your marketing team can hit the ground running.