If you’ve been keeping up with tech news, you might have seen the updates Google is rolling out for its products. One notable update is the move to Google Analytics 4.
In 2023, Google announced the retirement of Universal Analytics and told everyone to migrate to Google Analytics 4, commonly known as GA4.
And so, everyone waited and then ultimately rushed to migrate to Google Analytics 4, which wasn’t a finished product when the push for migration started.
But everyone was bracing themselves to weather the new changes, and most people managed to get their new GA4 properties launched ahead of the migration deadline for standard (i.e. free) accounts.
If you or your company had a large or complex property, or worse, both, you had to work with a partner like us to ensure all your analytics were migrated correctly.
Let me break down how we did the Google Analytics 4 migration, as it will become essential to know Why Google will delete your property’s data on the first of July 2024.
What is Google going to delete?
On July 1, 2024, Google will delete all the historical data in your Universal Analytics account.
Some companies have many years of data tracked through their Google Analytics properties, which they use for retrospective analysis and comparing key metrics to historical data.
Here’s what Google said exactly:
So what should you do now?
Google Universal Analytics Backup Guide
You need to start thinking about exporting and backing up your data, and you must do it now!
As an analytics agency, we come across many clients who shrug off backing up their data, waiting until the last minute, or getting professional help doing it.
Now, if you are one of those people, we have bad news for you…
Leaving it till the last minute CAN be dangerous!
Now, why is that? The simple answer is backing up your data isn’t something you can do with a press of a button, and depending on how much data you have, it could take days or even weeks.
So, if you wait till the last minute, you risk losing all of your historical data on your UA account.
Now, how do you go about backing up your data? That’s simple. Here’s a mini guide for it.
Step 1: Prepare Your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Property
- Create a GA4 Property: If you haven’t already, set up a new GA4 property from your Google Analytics account.
- Configure GA4 Settings: Customize your GA4 property to mirror the settings of your Universal Analytics property, including data streams for your website or app.
Step 2: Export Universal Analytics Data
- Standard Reports: You cannot directly export all historical data from Universal Analytics, but you can export standard reports.
- Navigate to each report in Universal Analytics.
- Click on “Export” (located below the report title).
- Choose the desired format (e.g., Excel, Google Sheets, CSV).
- Repeat for each report you wish to export.
- Custom Data Extraction:
- Use the Universal Analytics Reporting API for custom data extraction if you have development resources.
Step 3: Historical Data and Event Mapping
- Understand Limitations: Not all Universal Analytics data can be imported to GA4 due to differences in data models.
- Map Events: Create a mapping of Universal Analytics events to GA4 events since event tracking differs between platforms.
Step 4: Set Up Custom Dimensions/Metrics in GA4
- Recreate Custom Setups: Transfer any custom dimensions, metrics, and goals from Universal Analytics to GA4.
- Go to “Configure” in your GA4 property.
- Set up “Custom Definitions” corresponding to your Universal Analytics custom setups.
Step 5: Import Prepared Data into GA4
- Manual Import: For the exported reports and data sets:
- Use the “Data Import” feature in GA4 to upload formatted CSV files.
- Match the schema of the imported data with the corresponding dimensions and metrics in GA4.
Step 6: Use BigQuery for Large-Scale Data Migration
- BigQuery Linking: For more extensive historical data migration, link GA4 to BigQuery.
- Link your GA4 property to BigQuery through the GA4 interface.
- Export your Universal Analytics data to BigQuery (requires custom scripts or third-party tools).
- Use SQL queries in BigQuery to transform and export your data into a format compatible with GA4.
Step 7: Validate and Verify Data Integrity
- Cross-Check Reports: After importing, compare key reports between Universal Analytics and GA4 to ensure data integrity.
- Audit Data: Conduct a thorough audit of your GA4 property to verify that all necessary data has been accurately recreated.
- Start Early: Begin this process well before the sunset date of Universal Analytics to ensure a smooth transition.
- Parallel Tracking: Run Universal Analytics and GA4 parallel during the transition phase.
- Seek Expertise: Consult a data analyst or Google Analytics expert for complex migrations.
- IMPORTANT: while you can pull standard Google Analytics reports without encountering sampling, if you want to pull custom reports with detailed granularity and including your customized measurement (custom dimensions, custom metrics, custom events, etc.), you’re going to need a method to avoid sampling for your data to be meaningful and useful
- BigQuery: Using query partitioning and API-based utilities, we can help you pull your customized data at daily, weekly, or monthly granularity for a complete and much more useful Universal Analytics reporting backup
Remember that due to structural differences between the two systems, some historical data may need to be more transferable or require significant manipulation. Always test and validate your setup in GA4 before fully transitioning from Universal Analytics.
If you want to stay on the safe side and ensure that your data is backed up correctly, don’t hesitate to contact us, and we’ll move with you step by step to guarantee you’re all set up perfectly!
Don’t Let July Sneak Up On You!
Finish Backing Up Your Data Now, Or Lose Them Forever!