In this case study, we explore the intriguing journey of migrating a complex Google Analytics Universal Analytics tracking setup to the new Google Analytics 4 platform for a restaurant/hotel aggregator website. Our team faced significant challenges, devised unique approaches for each, and found effective solutions to ensure a seamless transition and accurate data collection/analysis. So, if you are wondering – how to migrate to GA4, here are some challenges you may face shortly:
Challenge #1: Understanding the Existing Universal Analytics Tracking Setup
- Conduct a comprehensive audit of the existing Google Analytics Universal Analytics tracking implementation.
- Identify the different tracking codes, custom dimensions, and events used.
- Document the tracking setup, including the tracking structure, goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Create a detailed inventory of the existing tracking implementation, including tracking codes [both analytics platform + tag management platform], custom dimensions, and events.
- Map the current tracking setup to the new Google Analytics 4 configuration, identifying the equivalent events, parameters, and conversions.
- Identify any gaps in data collection between the two versions and develop a plan to address them during the migration.
Bonus Tip: Map the existing custom dimensions to corresponding data layer variables in Google Tag Manager from the beginning to avoid complications later on.
Here’s a link to the GA4 migration planner sheet you can use to document the whole process:
UNIVERSAL TO GA4 MIGRATION PLANNER
Challenge #2: Mapping Legacy Data to the New Google Analytics 4 Data Model
- Analyze the data model differences between Google Analytics Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.
- Identify the key metrics, dimensions, and data points from the legacy setup that need to be mapped to the new data model.
- Determine how the existing data can be transformed and structured to fit the new data model.
- Develop a mapping plan to align the existing data from Universal Analytics to the new Google Analytics 4 data model.
- Test the migrated data to verify its accuracy and integrity in the new Google Analytics 4 environment.
Challenge #3: Custom Event and Conversion Tracking
After configuring event scoped custom dimensions, when we tried to analyze our data in Looker Studio reports by using these custom dimensions as filters, the engagement metrics all became 0 [engagement rate became 0, bounce rate became 100%, and new users were 0]. The engagement metrics did not seem to be compatible with custom dimensions.
“In Universal Analytics, a user-scoped custom dimension (set in the middle of the user session) was applied to every event of the same session (even if some event occurred before the dimension was set). In GA4, User Property is set to all the events but from that particular moment going forwards. Past events of the same “session” are not modified (because GA4 tries to ditch the concept of a “session” (to some extent)).”
- Identify the custom events and conversions tracked in the legacy Universal Analytics setup.
- Understand the differences and capabilities of event tracking in Google Analytics 4.
- Determine how to implement custom event tracking in Google Analytics 4 and replicate the existing conversion goals.
- Review and update the event tracking strategy based on the new capabilities of Google Analytics 4.
- Implement the necessary changes in the website’s code and tracking setup to capture custom events in the new platform.
- Configure new conversion goals in Google Analytics 4 to align with the previous goals and track them effectively.
- For the issue highlighted above, we created user scoped custom dimensions for each custom dimension we needed to use and sent them with the pageview event. [Since, session scoped custom dimensions are not available in GA4 yet]
Challenge #4: Enhanced Measurement Configuration
- Evaluate the enhanced measurement capabilities of Google Analytics 4.
- Identify the relevant website interactions and actions that can be tracked using enhanced measurement.
- Determine the configuration changes required to enable enhanced measurement.
- Analyze the website’s user journey and identify key touchpoints that can benefit from enhanced measurement.
- Implement enhanced measurement features such as scroll tracking, outbound link tracking, form submission tracking, etc.
- Test and validate the enhanced measurement setup to ensure accurate data collection.
Challenge #5: Reporting and Analysis Transition
- Understand the reporting and analysis differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.
- Identify the key reports and metrics that need to be replicated in the new platform.
- Determine how to bridge the gap between the two reporting systems during the transition period.
- Develop a reporting migration plan to bridge the gap between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 reports.
- Create new custom exploration reports and dashboards in Google Analytics 4 to replicate the essential insights from the UA setup.
- Re-create looker studio reports.
- Provide training and guidance to stakeholders on utilizing the new reporting capabilities and interpreting the data in Google Analytics 4.
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Challenge #6: Product Linking & Audiences
- While auditing the existing setup, we logged all the connected properties [GSC, Google Ads, and more]
- Audiences were also logged in the migration checklist.
- Once the basic configuration was complete, we reviewed all the existing accounts linked with our UA property and selected the ones we wanted to import onto GA4.
- Links to Google Ads can be easily imported by going to Setup Assistant → Google Ads → Link to Google Ads → Select Import from Universal Analytics,
Just select the ones you wish to import and click Import the selected Ads Links and confirm.
By following this framework, anyone can successfully migrate a complex Google Analytics Universal Analytics tracking setup to the new Google Analytics 4 platform for most websites. We recommend approaching each challenge systematically, ensuring a smooth transition and accurate data measurement in the new platform.
If you still need help with GA4 migration or reporting, remember, we are just a click away.