As of July 1, 2023, all ‘Universal’ Analytics (aka Google Analytics) properties will stop collecting data.
Which means unless you’re ready for this change, you won’t be collecting any data about your store or website from July 1 onwards.
It’s a big change which aims to transition Google Analytics towards a future that isn’t based on cookies, and where most visits to your site are mobile-based.
This change has been years in the making, and as a business owner or marketer, it’s crucial to understand the implications of this migration and how to prepare for it. In this article, we’ll discuss the history of Google Analytics, the benefits of GA4, and a step-by-step guide on migrating to GA4 with a focus on Shopify stores
The History of Google Analytics and the Push Toward GA4
Google Analytics has been a trusted source of web analytics for over 16 years. Its evolution has seen various iterations, including Classic Analytics, Universal Analytics (GA3), and now, GA4. The rapid changes in technology and privacy concerns have led to the development of GA4, an event-based tracking tool designed to provide more accurate and comprehensive data across multiple devices and platforms, without relying on cookies.
As privacy and security concerns continue to grow, GA4 aims to future-proof web analytics, offering businesses a more detailed understanding of user behaviour across websites and apps. This shift represents a move toward a cookie-less world, where first-party data can be tracked without the need for cookies.
Benefits of Migrating to GA4
Migrating to GA4 offers several advantages over its predecessor, Universal Analytics. Some of these benefits include:
- Improved attribution modelling, allowing for more accurate tracking of user behaviour and conversions.
- Enhanced privacy controls, with no IP addresses stored and country-level privacy settings.
- Better cross-device tracking, reducing the likelihood of multiple user profiles for the same person.
- New engagement metrics, including engaged sessions, engagement rate, and average engagement time.
- Automatic measurement of events such as page views, scrolls, outbound clicks, and video engagement through the “Enhanced Measurement” feature.
How to Migrate to GA4 in Shopify
Migrating to GA4 involves several steps, including backing up your Universal Analytics data, setting up GA4 alongside GA3, and updating your Google Ads settings. Here’s a simplified guide to help you transition your Shopify store from GA3 to GA4:
- Back up your Universal Analytics data: Export any reports in CSV and PDF formats or use the API to export data. Ensure you have a complete record of your historical data before migration. Tools like Mixed Analytics can help here – or you can use the Analytics Sheets plugin to do this manually.
- Set up GA4 alongside GA3: Your GA4 data will only be collected once it’s set up, so it’s essential to start running it alongside your existing GA3 property as soon as possible. The new reports are very different. Having two side-by-side helps you see the differences in the metrics & get used to the new UI.
- Familiarise yourself with the GA4 interface: The new interface may feel intimidating at first, but with time and practice, you’ll become more comfortable navigating it. If you want to shortcut that learning curve, our course walks you through creating & actioning the Reports & Explorations + much more.
- Update Google Ads settings: Review any imported goals, audiences & transactions for GA3, as these will be phased out. Create equivalent audiences in GA4 and update imported conversions. Failure to do this before July 1 will probably cause smart-bidding to be anything but!
- Implement GA4 ecommerce tracking: Shopify released their native integration in March 2023. It’s pretty good, but not perfect. You might want to use services like Elevar or Analyzify to help you add all the right code in the right places.
Potential problems with GA4
When GA4 came out there were a lot of issues, while many of these have since been solved (adding conversion rate for instance) many remain.
Filtering is awful, the process of customising reports takes a lot of clicks, and some data just isn’t available (Google Ads Campaign IDs anyone?).
So be ready to be frustrated… but unless you choose to move away from Google entirely (which is probably not a good idea if you’re running Google Ads) then GA4 is all we have. So dig in, grit your teeth & prepare for some pain.
In particular, make sure your Ad accounts are ready for this change.
Need Help with GA4?
We know there’s a lot to navigate, so we’ve put together some services that can help.
WebSavvy’s online course will take you through the GA4 set up step-by-step. Practical and hands-on, this course is designed specifically for business owners and marketing managers who want to learn how to use GA4 to drive growth and success in their businesses. This comprehensive course covers everything you need to know about using GA4 to track website data, analyze user behavior, and optimize your website and marketing campaigns.
In this package we set up and configure all the basics to get your GA4 running and tracking the right things for YOUR website. With our comprehensive service, you can be sure that your data will be accurately and securely migrated to GA4, so you can start taking advantage of the new features right away. Our team of experienced professionals is here to provide you with the personalized support you need to make the transition as smooth as possible.