GA4 implementation

How to Get the Most from Your Google Analytics 4 Data after the UA Sunset

Ken Williams
Google Solutions Lead
Aug 2, 2023

I’ve Installed Google Analytics 4. Now What?

The free version of Universal Analytics (UA) is gone, and the paid version will be shut down soon. If you’re like the majority of our clients, you’ve installed Google Analytics 4 (GA4) across your websites and apps, and now you’re struggling to make sure that it is capable of supporting your business.

The team at Search Discovery is ready to help, and the goal of this article is to highlight the most impactful steps you can take to make sure GA4 is ready to fully replace Universal Analytics.

The Analysts at Search Discovery have extensive experience with Google Analytics 4.

Contact us below to learn more!

Key Questions to Ask after Launching Google Analytics 4

We have helped hundreds of companies migrate thousands of websites and apps from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, and over the course of these projects, we have identified a set of common problems that our clients face once GA4 is deployed.

The following four questions are useful to determine if you are going to encounter one or more of these common problems:

  1. Are you collecting the data that you need (with confidence?)
  2. Can you make year-over-year comparisons?
  3. Have you enabled reporting from BigQuery?
  4. Does your team have the training necessary to start using GA4?

I will explore these questions one at a time, so if you have answered “no” to one or more of these, you can jump down to the specific sections below.

Are you collecting the data that you need (with confidence)?

Google Analytics 4 is an excellent tool for collecting data. Even if you are not a fan of other aspects of the product, you should be confident that you are accurately collecting the right data that is necessary to support your business in GA4.

In fact, anything that you were tracking in Universal Analytics can also be tracked in GA4, so if your business is migrating from one tool to the other, there is no reason to not have parity (this may not be true if you were using measurement protocol, but that’s an uncommon use case).

If you are not collecting the data that you need with confidence, I would guess that one or both of the following are true:

  1. You suspect that you are not tracking everything you need
  2. You cannot trust the quality of the data that is being tracked

I’ve got great news for you: these are solvable problems, and they’re exactly the problems that our team solves every day. Our team addresses these by helping you specify how Google Analytics 4 will support your business, creating technical requirements, installing the tracking code, and creating a testing plan to give you the confidence that your data is trustworthy. Your ability to make decisions with data is at stake, so it’s best to tackle these problems head on.

Can you make year-over-year comparisons?

Unless you installed Google Analytics 4 over a year ago, it’s likely that you answered “no” to this question. If year-over-year comparisons are important to you, then you will need to pull data out of Universal Analytics so that it can be compared to the new data being collected in GA4.

There are three ways to do this:

  • You can download .csv files from the user interface (until July 1, 2024)
  • You can programmatically pull reports from the reporting API (until July 1, 2024)
  • Or, if you used the BigQuery integration, you can join the Universal Analytics data with the new GA4 data.

If you need help deciding which approach is best for you, our team is here to talk you through it.

Have you enabled reporting from BigQuery?

If you answered “no” to this question, stop reading and go do it now! The BigQuery integration is free with Google Analytics 4 (although it’s limited to 1 million events per day unless you upgrade to 360), and it’s extremely useful. Moreover, the integration starts sending data to BigQuery after you set it up and there is no historic backfill, so it is important to get the data flowing now rather than to wait until you need it.

By the way, you may have noticed a heated debate on social media about whether Google Analytics 4 is simply a data collection tool. This is a common argument by people who love the way GA4 collects data and sends it to BigQuery, but they don’t like using the user interface. How are you going to know which side of the debate you’re on if you haven’t enabled the integration?!

If you’re new to BigQuery or the Google Cloud Platform, let us know. Our team has prepared many solutions to help you get started with BigQuery.

Does your team have the training necessary to start using GA4?

This is the most common our clients are facing. Google Analytics 4 is very different from prior versions, and it takes a time investment for your team to become familiar with it.

To help with this, our team has created a series of training sessions that can be delivered live, virtually or as on-demand recordings. We will also meet with your team to discuss your needs and design custom training if you prefer. Reach out below to kick off a conversation.

Search Discovery Can Help You Be Successful with GA4

We’ve developed a bundle of activation services that can help you merge UA and GA4 data in BigQuery to enable consistent tracking and YoY comparisons. To do this, we take the following steps:

  • Step 1: We configure for you a GA4 + BigQuery integration,
  • Step 2: We translate UA data into the new GA4 data model in BigQuery,
  • Step 3: We configure and orchestrate our dbt model to process the GA4 data
  • Step 4: We create standard Data Quality validation reports to ensure parity/accuracy
  • Step 5: Throughout the process, we provide GA4 on-demand training to support your team

Why It’s Important.

An activation solution like this helps create these advantages:

  • Process, transform, and aggregate your GA4 data for use in BI tools and other systems
  • Ensure existing downstream BI/ analytics reporting isn’t interrupted
  • Build trust in your data with tools and reports that can identify when tracking breaks
  • Onboard your team quickly with professional resources
Ken Williams
Google Solutions Lead

Read More Insights From Our Team

View All

Take your company further. Unlock the power of data-driven decisions.

Go Further Today