For many, the approach of the Google Analytics 4 takeover brings nothing but dread.
And we get it. Although GA4’s new insights and methodology can be an incredible boon to businesses that want to improve their user targeting, it’s a huge adjustment, and there’s no simple solution.
Below, we cover the most commonly voiced pain points of a GA4 transition and offer ideas on how to adapt, so you can keep your team from burning their laptops and heading for the hills.
I can’t export my data from UA into GA4.
Transitioning from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 isn’t a simple, one-to-one migration.
Because GA4 operates on an entirely new user-based model.
UA uses a session-based model that collects data from actions taken by the user within a particular session. GA4, on the other hand, relies on an events-based approach: meaning, instead of looking at goals per session, you’re looking at events per user. This allows us to track user behavior across multiple devices and platforms.
While this means better insights into the target audience, it also means migration isn’t as easy as just importing your UA data into GA4. You’ll need to audit the metrics you’re currently using and rethink them in light of GA4’s new data tracking methods.
My views are no longer available.
If you’ve spent any time in Google Analytics 4, this loss may be the most jarring discovery you’ve made.
Raw, test, or official — all the most commonly-used views are gone.
Before you have a panic attack, breathe into a paper bag and read on.
GA4 doesn’t use views because the interface is set up for you to create custom data filters. For those of us that aren’t data experts, this can seem daunting at first, but it gives the opportunity for you to track the information that’s going to be most valuable to your company.
Here are three things you should know about data filters:
- The filters you create are permanent. This means you should be certain of what you’re tracking before you set up a filter. Use “test mode” to preview your filtered data before you set up the filter for good.
- You can set up to 10 filters. You likely won’t have to worry about maxing out your filters, but again, do some internal testing to prioritize what filters you need so you’re not taking up real estate with a data view that’s not going to provide long-term insights.
- You can filter out internal IP addresses. No more worrying about throwing off metrics every time you test a lead form! You can set data filters to exclude your team’s activity so you’re only seeing what’s happening from external visitors.
Bounce rate is changing.
Bounce rate is one of the elite metrics that many look to as a gauge for page effectiveness. But the truth is, bounce rate may not be as helpful as we’ve believed it to be.
The GA4 transition doesn’t quite do away with bounce rate, but you’ll find the metric in a different form. Instead of a 1-for-1 replacement of UA’s bounce rate, GA4 provides a different way to measure page effectiveness, in the form of “engaged sessions.” So, instead of tracking who comes to your site and doesn’t interact, it measures those that come to your site and do interact, and monitors which actions they take.
Thus, you can calculate bounce rate by looking at it as the inverse of engagement rate. However, bounce rate is much less insightful than engagement rate, so although the drastic change may be awkward at first, we’re confident that most users will warm up to this method and even find it more beneficial in the long run.
The GA4 user interface is difficult to use.
For users who’ve spent the past 15 years using UA’s out-of-the-box reporting, GA4 can be an upsetting experience, to say the least.
UA’s pre-defined reports provide valuable data, but GA4 has a serious leg-up over its elder counterpart: custom reporting.
You can recreate most of UA’s reporting by creating custom reports with GA4’s Exploration tool. What this means is, you’re not getting less functionality — you’re getting more ways to view your data, and you can tailor them to your business and desired outcomes.
Will that make the interface any less weird or uncomfortable? Sadly, no. But with some training and a little practice, users will acclimate to the change and begin to see the benefits of custom reporting and the far-more-accurate data it provides.
Adapting to the wide world of GA4
Although GA4 will take some getting used to, the new model gives a simultaneously holistic and granular view of user behavior that offers better insight into your target audience — and how to reach them.
If you’re ready to take the plunge into GA4 but still apprehensive, our Google Analytics 4 Survival Guide can give you the tools and tips you need to start out on the right foot. Or, if you want a real person to talk you through the process and help you get set up, talk to a Fusion Alliance analytics expert today.