A direct guide of what e-commerce brands need to do when it comes to GA4. The deadline is July 2023 and brands need to act now.
What is GA4?
GA4 is the next generation of Google Analytics, which can now record and track events from multiple platforms such as websites and apps. The key difference between the all-new GA4 and Universal Analytics (UA) is that GA4 works on user-based tracking compared to UA which was built on session-based tracking.
This means that you can track the activity of each individual user across a website as well as an app.
GA4 has been built completely from the ground up and therefore requires a re-think of the measurement plan. GA4 will completely replace UA in July 2023 which means that brands need to get set up on GA4 asap.
What do brands need to do?
E-commerce brands need to transition to GA4 ASAP in order to ensure that they have no data gaps and continuity in data collection and reporting after UA has been sunset.
Failing to transition to GA4 before the July deadline will mean a loss of data, reports and any custom tracking currently in place with the UA property.
The ideal thing to do right now for all brands that are not on GA4 is to set up GA4 with enhanced e-commerce using Google Tag Manager (GTM).
The GTM data layer will allow the brand to add, remove and modify events at any point in the future with ease.
1. The ideal solution
The best thing a brand can do right now is to take this opportunity to review the current measurement plan for any gaps or areas of improvement which will ensure that all required data is being collected accurately. A measurement plan audit can help with this.
Once a new measurement plan has been created, the setup process can begin. The setup should be done via a data layer integration using GTM and must include all enhanced e-commerce events to ensure complete coverage of data collection.
GA4 also provides the opportunity to set up explorations – a collection of advanced data collection techniques that go beyond standard reports and help to uncover deeper insights about customers’ behaviour.
To summarise we recommend the following route to a complete GA4 transition:
Measurement plan Audit > Enhanced E-commerce setup > Explorations
2. Quick win
A basic E-commerce setup might be the fastest way to get started with GA4. This will ensure that all your basic e-commerce data is collected by GA4. This solution will allow you to track pageviews, add-to-carts and purchase data points (with transaction details).
This solution will use the same data layer implementation via the GTM method to ensure that more events can be added with ease at a later date.
3. Enhances e-commerce
This is ideal for brands who already have a complete measurement plan figured out with their UA setup and just need to ensure the same data points are being collected on GA4.
This solution also uses the GTM integration method and all enhanced e-commerce events will be set up and validated allowing the brand to transition to GA4 without disruption.
With the enhanced e-commerce integration we will also check to ensure that your UTM tags are in line with Google’s updated guidelines.
The transition to GA4 requires tech, data and business team efforts to ensure complete data collection coverage and continuity after July 2023. The ideal solution above gives you just that. This service will ensure that your transition to GA4 is seamless and that there are no gaps in your Google Analytics Data.
Regardless of the solution, the important thing is for brands to start using GA4 NOW! The deadline for YOY data collection has already been missed but by acting now an e-commerce business can be well prepared for the upcoming July 2023 deadline.
Brands that fail to take action now will end up with no historic Google Analytics data and no integration in July 2023. They will essentially be starting off with a brand new Google Analytics account and a steep learning curve. Therefore it is recommended that brands get set up with GA4 now and start to get familiarised with the next generation of Google Analytics with plenty of time before the sunset of their current Universal Analytics property.