You Ask, I Answer: Moving to GA4 Daunting?

Kate asks, “curious how everyone is feeling about the GA deadline to move to GA4? Does it seem like ample time to migrate from Universal…is it at all daunting?”

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Christopher Penn 0:13

In today’s episode, Kate asks, curious how everyone is feeling about the Google Analytics deadline to move to Google Analytics 4.

Does it seem like ample time to migrate from Universal? Is it at all daunting? My perspective is going to be a little bit biased because I spend a lot of time in Google Analytics, including Google Analytics 4.

And my perspective is that yes, it is ample time because you’ve had two years to more than two years to get used to this new system.

Google Analytics 4 used to be called Web Plus app.

And that was available for I think, a good 18 months while Google was beta testing it and making sure the thing worked and stuff like that, in its early days, it was highly unstable, and very feature poor, but it did exist.

Google Analytics 4, became publicly available in production in October 2020.

And so now, a year and a half later, we’ve had 18 months to get up and running on this piece of software and and start using it start collecting data.

And all these organizations that have delayed, even just getting started with the implementation.

Yes, they now feel some pressure, they now find it somewhat daunting.

And it is still ample time you think about it, it’s going to be what in 15 months from the day it is being recorded April 2020, was when I’m recording this, you have 15 months to get it installed, get up and running and get fluent in it.

That’s a good amount of time, even for larger companies, even for larger enterprises, where people are going to feel the pain is the lack of historical data, right, the lack of historical data is going to bite because your data doesn’t make it over.

Right? When you move from Google Analytics 3, also known as Universal Analytics, to Google Analytics, 4, your data doesn’t go with you.

It’s a brand new piece of software.

And as a result, people are going to find very quickly that it is a it is a challenge to get historical data.

And so the sooner that you turn it on and get it collecting data, the sooner you’re gonna be able to look back and month over month and year over year and see what has happened.

So I would strongly encourage people to not wait about it, at least getting data collection set up, you don’t have to get it perfect, right, you don’t have to do a mass, a huge mass committee meeting, just to get the thing turned on and collecting data, import your goals, or you can go back later on and fine tune it and adjust filters and all the things that you’re used to doing Universal Analytics.

But you’ve got to get used to it sooner rather than later.

One of the things that we were talking about on the Trust Insights podcast on Google Analytics 4 was getting people to make the behavioral changes they need to make.

So one thing I did very early on was I deleted all my Universal Analytics bookmarks, I hit delete, and replace them all with GA for bookmarks, to force myself to use that to make that my go to my default, this is the first place I’m going to look for analytics data instead of the old system, even though I’m much more comfortable with the old system.

If I didn’t, I knew if I didn’t force myself to switch over, I was going to have a hard time I would keep finding excuses, excuse me finding reasons not to use the new software.

And I knew at some point sooner, rather than later, Google was going to say, look, we’re turning the old thing off, we gave you this brand new shiny object.

You’ve had a year, you know, 18 months to get used to it and start using it.

At some point, we’re going to throw the whole thing off.

And they have they made that declaration.

So I feel fine about that.

I’ve been using Google Analytics for almost exclusively for my stuff now for probably about six months.

Right? That’s the first place I go.

You have to learn how the new system works and how some measurements are different and stuff like that.

There are differences and how Google Analytics scopes, certain things and big differences and how it handles conversions.

But if you’re used to it, it’s like anything else, right? Over time, it becomes natural.

And after a while.

You’re like, Okay, I don’t even remember how I used to do things in the old software.

Let’s let’s just keep using new software.

So it becomes more daunting, the longer you wait.

That’s the short answer.

If you’re already on it, there’s no doubting about it at all because you’re already on it.

Christopher Penn 5:00

The longer you wait, the worse it’s going to get, the more painful it will be to make that transition, the more pressure you will feel when you’re trying to use the new software and get things done that you’re used to doing.

And because you didn’t have time to do the immersion, you will be frustrated, you’ll you will feel unnecessarily challenged by the software to to struggle through it.

So I got I can’t emphasize enough, you’ve got to get yourself switched over and get using it sooner rather than later.

I promise you it’s not as bad as it seems once you start using it.

Yes, there are things that are different.

But it is not like you’ve totally thrown up everything you knew, and nothing makes sense anymore.

You were still doing the same basic fundamental things.

You were still measuring traffic measuring conversions and stuff.

There are differences, but it’s it’s like, you learn how to cook Japanese cuisine.

And now you’re being asked to learn how to cook Korean, right? There are differences for sure.

But there are also a lot of similarities.

And there are only a certain number of logical ways you can do things that both cuisines share the same issue of Google Analytics.

So it’s a good question.

Again, I can’t emphasize strongly enough, get started sooner rather than later.

Thanks for the question.


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