5 tips for the switch to Google Analytics 4


Do you already have a big cross in your calendar for July 1, 2023? From this day on – as far as the announcement from Google – no more data will be processed on the Universal Analytics Properties. What does this mean for you and all friends of cultivated, data-driven marketing? It’s getting serious. Read our 5 tips for the successful conversion to Google Analytics 4 here. And this much should be said: Start thinking about the interaction with your site.

Our 5 tips for the switch to Google Analytics 4

Table of Contents

1. Prepare early for the switch to Google Analytics 4

Admittedly: If you are reading this magazine article, it will be difficult for you to switch to GA 4 and collect data in Google Analytics 4 for another whole year before it is switched off. But: We advise you to tackle the Google Analytics transition as quickly (and as soundly!) as possible. Every month counts.

Because the longer you collect data not only via Universal Properties, but also via Google Analytics 4, the more in-depth you can compare. Of course, you also have more time to get to grips with Google’s new data model.

Contrary to what the name might suggest, GA4 is not an update of Universal, but a largely different product. Although the basic functions of Universal remain, some features are completely replaced. Keyword: event tracking. Among other things, Google Analytics 4 buries sessions and page views – and focuses on events instead. This means that the data you will get from GA4 will look fundamentally different from that of any Universal property.

Difference between the Session Model in UA (left) and the Event Model in GA4 (right)

2. Get to know opportunities and challenges

Before you attack the facility rashly, it is important to pause for a moment. There is still enough buffer to make all preparations for a well-founded change. To do this, it is essential that you understand what innovations – both in terms of measurement and handling – a switch to GA4 will bring. Logically: Only if you know what will change, you can think about the change and plan the change and implementation in detail.

A small example: Google Analytics, for example, does not offer any filter functions by default. However, these can be added via the Tag Manager. Such knowledge is half the battle.

3. Analyze the status quo: What do I actually want to track?

In the next step, you should take a look at your current tracking and the analysis of the data:

  • Are you satisfied with your current tracking?
  • Which data and key figures are currently essential for you (e.g., as a basis for further evaluations)?
  • Is the data basis sufficient?
  • Are there filters that are extremely relevant for you?

Now superimpose the findings: What does Google Analytics Universal currently demonstrate well – and do corresponding automatic events from GA4 already exist? What needs to be added? This conception phase can sometimes take some time.

We explicitly advise you to get all stakeholders around the table. The Google Analytics 4 conversion should not happen in isolation or be established by a small project team as an isolated solution. Especially in companies, for which the measurements from tracking represent an important basis for decision-making, all stakeholders must participate in the concept.

»Still looking for a sparring partner for your concept? Contact us – we specialize in customer centricity through customized tracking.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of transferring meaningful goals, target groups, events, and special settings from Universal to GA4 – or replicating them accordingly. One of the advantages of the move: You have a reason to clean out.

For example, take a closer look at your defined goals. Which ones have not generated any conversions in the past 14 days? It’s worth taking a closer look here. Are the settings configured correctly? Yes – then the goals may no longer fit your company or project.

By the way: In Google Analytics 4 you can define 30 conversion events. In Universal, there were only 20 goals.

4. Do not forget data protection

It seems like a fundamental contradiction: Data protection versus profound data analysis. Developments in recent years with the Turbo GDPR have shown that the protection of user data is becoming increasingly important. This is good and important but does not only bring advantages when it comes to tracking. At the end of the day, it is important that you set up Google Analytics 4 in a privacy-compliant manner, define important processes and roles in this regard – including the data protection officer.

Whether the Consent Mode in GA4 makes sense? Most experts advise against it. Because the generation of random client IDs makes it super difficult to delete user-specific data on demand.

Sometimes it also makes sense to think about good alternatives. After all, the fewer users who give consent to share data, the less meaningful metrics you get. Many companies today opt for hybrid tracking: a mix of server side and cookie tracking. Maybe the switch to Google Analytics 4 is an impulse to think about it?

5. Migration Day - this is important

Weeks or months of planning have passed and now Day X is just around the corner – the time when the migration takes place. If you want to set up Google Analytics 4, you should proceed according to plan. Whether you use Excel as a tool or work with Jira, Asana or Monday: It is important that the processes are defined once so that nothing can accidentally slip through.

We recommend that you first adopt target groups, goals and events. Familiarize yourself with the custom dimensions and metrics and see what you can include in GA4. Then it’s on to the settings. As I said: Filters are not available by default, but can be easily recreated in Google Tag Manager (extremely important and often forgotten: Filter out your own IP address. It also makes sense for companies that are remote like us).

Summary: New data model, new opportunities

In this magazine article, we presented you with our 5 tips for switching to Google Analytics 4. The fact is that every tracking system is set up a bit differently and the switch is just as individual. A lot can be demonstrated via GA4, while some data can no longer be collected at all – this does not appeal to everyone, but like every innovation, it also offers opportunities.

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André Wehr

André Wehr

About Me

As a founder and entrepreneur, I experience on a daily basis how important customer centricity is for companies.

Incorporate the essential perspective of the customer into your product genesis and marketing processes. That is what puts horsepower on the road, that it runs.


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