Remember when Microsoft completely overhauled the user interface of MS Word and Excel to use the “ribbon” layout? I’ll never forget it because I was at the point in my career where I could use those programs with my eyes closed…
But then it all came crashing down with the “new and improved” ribbon update. I was instantly reduced to a newbie stumbling around trying to figure out how to complete simple tasks in a completely new layout.
Unfortunately, history is repeating itself, but this time it’s not Microsoft, it’s Google.
Google recently announced they are transitioning from their Universal Analytics property to their Google Analytics 4 property. And chances are good you are not familiar with Google Analytics 4, which means you will struggle to find the data you’re used to reviewing in your Universal Analytics account.
But there’s no need to panic! In fact, you don’t even have to learn Google Analytics 4 (yet); You just need to set it up…
Do Not Ditch Universal Analytics
Unless you’re completely new to Google Analytics, do not ditch your Universal Analytics property. If you have Universal Analytics installed on your website and you’re familiar with the reporting functionality in Universal Analytics, then there is no reason to stop using it.
This is a key difference from when Microsoft changed to their ribbon layout. Google is not forcing you to use Google Analytics 4. Yes, the writing is on the wall and you will eventually have to learn Google Analytics 4 in the future. However, for likely all of 2021 you can continue to use the familiar reporting in Universal Analytics.
I repeat, don’t make your life harder than it has to be… continue to use your Universal Analytics property and all the historical data that’s in it.
Now, with that said, you can’t just stick your head in the sand and completely ignore Google Analytics 4. We know Google is no longer investing in Universal Analytics, which means you’ll have to install and learn Google Analytics 4 whether you like it or not…
The first step is easy and I urge you to do this today while it’s top of mind.
Install Google Analytics 4 Today
There’s really no reason to wait.
The sooner you install Google Analytics 4, the sooner you’ll start collecting data in the new property. And the more data you have in your new property, the easier it’ll be to learn your way around all the new reporting tools.
Once the code is on your website, then data will start flowing into your new Google Analytics 4 property. Again, you don’t have to rely on the new reports inside Google Analytics 4, but you should set aside some time each month to get yourself familiar with it.
Next, it’s important to understand a key difference in Conversion, or Goal, tracking in Google Analytics 4 versus Universal Analytics.
How to Track Conversions in Google Analytics 4
In Universal Analytics, there is an Admin area to set up a limited number of Goals that you would like to track as conversions. For example, you may have a Goal for when visitors request a quote or when someone clicks to call you from their mobile phone.
In Google Analytics 4, there is no admin area to set up Goals. Instead, by default, Google Analytics 4 tracks everything as an Event. For example, page views are events, clicks on links are events, video plays are events, etc.
This is actually a nice improvement because right out of the box Google Analytics will start tracking important activity on your website. Previously, you would need to add custom code to your website or use Google Tag Manager to set up custom events.
So instead of setting up Goals in the admin area of Universal Analytics, you’ll set up Conversions inside the reporting area of Google Analytics 4. Click here for instructions to set up Conversions using Events. It’s worth the time and effort to get familiar with events and conversions because this is how you’ll track the monitor important activity on your website like quote requests, purchases, and phone calls.
Trust me, I feel your pain as well. I’m very comfortable navigating Universal Analytics and I feel like a fish out of water inside Google Analytics 4. But we have plenty of time to learn this new, powerful tool.
Don’t wait, install Google Analytics 4 today. You’ll thank me in a few months.