Making the switch from UA to GA4 with ClicData: A Simple Guide

Table of Contents

    📅 Update: Universal Analytics (UA) will be gone for good on July 1, 2024. This means all your UA properties and data will be too. Save and migrate them before it’s too late, let’s see how! 👇

    If you’re using Google Analytics, you’ve probably also received this reminder from Google – Universal Analytics (UA) will be inaccessible on July 1, 2024.

    blog google email ua ga4
    Universal Analytics shutdown reminder from Google

    This means you can wave goodbye to your UA data if you haven’t moved it yet (because yes, it will be deleted for good).

    So, let’s see how to prevent that! But first, what are the main differences between Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

    On the agenda:

    The main differences between Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4

    GA4 differs in the way user interactions are tracked and comes with new features & metrics from Universal Analytics which can be a bit confusing at first. That’s why, before jumping in and migrating to GA4, let’s take a look at the main differences between the two:

    ga4 vs ua differences
    Comparison table between UA vs. GA4

    As you can see above, Google made changes to different fields like introducing a more “positive” approach to track bounces with the engagement rate. But also by replacing the goals and transactions with conversions and removing segments from their API.

    Keeping your historical UA data matters!

    Your Universal Analytics data is still highly valuable.

    Let’s say you want to answer questions about past performance, or simply perform a year-on-year analysis. Without your historical data, these questions become impossible to answer.

    So, if you haven’t saved your UA data and moved it to a data warehouse, now’s the time! Saving historical UA data helps you:

    • Prevent losing data when setting up your GA4 property
    • Centralize all your data in a single place (or warehouse)
    • Mix it with other sources: CRM, social, finance, sales tools
    • Perform historical and YoY analysis
    • Measure progress against KPIs

    You understand why keeping historical data matters, now what?

    How to export and save your UA data?

    There are different ways to do it, as you can see below:

    blog how to export ua data
    Exporting data from UA property

    One of the approaches, Google is pushing, is to export your UA data into Big Query – that they own. Maybe that’s intentional, so Big Query becomes part of the industry standard.

    However, that’s not your only option – especially if you don’t want to code and write complex queries.

    ClicData to the rescue

    Once, you’ve downloaded your UA data in the file format that you prefer – simply use one of our native connectors to store the data you want to keep – and it will be automatically saved in ClicData.

    For example, if you downloaded your UA data into an Excel file, follow these steps.

    Load your CSV, Excel, Sheets, and more directly to ClicData

    That way even after the UA deprecation, your UA data is not lost and you can still retrieve it whenever you need, to perform YoY analysis, for instance.

    Making the switch from UA to GA4

    The first thing you need to do is to set up your GA4 property.

    Log into your Google Analytics account, ensure you have the admin rights for the website or app you want to monitor and create a GA4 property (GA4 Setup Assistant can help you with that).

    ga4 set up assistant
    Image source

    Once, your property is created, you can start collecting GA4 data.

    ⏱️ Note: Check all the latest Google deprecation deadlines here

    Now if you’re frustrated with the GA4 reports, you can connect your GA4 to ClicData, so you can:

    • Benefit from high flexibility when building reports
    • Store and centralize all your data in a single place
    • Perform advanced data analysis with Data Flow
    • Get fresh and up-to-date data in real-time
    • Streamline dashboard publication to your teams, clients, and stakeholders

    So, let’s see how to migrate your GA4 data directly with ClicData for a smoother transition!

    Step 1: Create your connection

    The first thing to do is to create a new connector for your GA4 property. As the new analytics platform is a completely new product provided by Google, they developed a new API, independent from the former Universal Analytics API.

    Hence we developed a new connector so you can also connect to this new API.

    In ClicData, head over to the Connections Explorer, hit ‘Add New’, and search for the Google Analytics 4 connector.

    GA4 connector in ClicData

    Click on the connector and follow the steps to set up the connection.

    Step 2: Setup your Datasets

    Once the connection is created, you can start setting up your datasets as usual. Head over to Tables & Views, hit the ‘Add New’ button, and select the GA4 connector that you’ve just set up.

    Now, you can choose to build datasets based on Custom Reports and Custom Realtime Reports.

    Smart view options in GA4 connector

    Remember, GA4 offers a new tracking approach that measures sessions, users, and events differently than UA used to track them.

    That’s why some metrics will not be available anymore or may be named differently.

    For instance, if you used to measure Sources and Medium for your traffic in your former datasets, you would now need to search for the metrics called Session source and Session medium, as shown in the screenshot below.

    Session source selection in GA 4

    Set up your GA4 datasets and schedule their refresh in a Schedule. You can use the same Schedule that was used for your former UA datasets. If you need help setting up the refreshing, please refer to our Help center.

    Your former UA datasets can stop being refreshed. You can also delete the old connector, as you won’t use it anymore. The datasets will stay in ClicData in their last state.

    Now is the time to decide whether you want to create a Fusion between your UA and GA4 datasets to have a seamless dataset covering both the historical data and the new data. We advise separating the 2 datasets, because of the way GA4 tracks traffic now. The method is different, hence the metrics and dimensions are not exactly measured in the same way. For instance, comparing Sessions from GA4 with Sessions from UA is analytically incorrect.

    Nevertheless, if you wish to create this fusion anyway, you can do so in a Data Flow.

    Step 3: Fusion your UA and GA4 datasets with Data Flow

    There are 2 methods possible to do the fusion. Let’s explore each!

    Create a Fusion

    Head into the Data Flow Explorer and hit ‘Add new’. Choose an input node ‘Fusion’ to start the flow. Select the UA and GA4 datasets you wish to combine and map the fields that don’t have the same name.

    In the example below, I have chosen to keep the new dimensions and metrics names: ‘Session medium’ and ‘Session source’, as well as ‘Total users’ instead of ‘Users’.

    Fusion node between GA4 and UA

    Learn about using the Fusion node here.

    This setup is simple to create, but make sure that the dates don’t overlap. You want UA to end on the day before GA4 starts. You can achieve this by Purging the 2 datasets of the unwanted date rows directly on the source.

    Data flow output

    Create 2 inputs

    Another method is to use the 2 datasets as separate inputs in the Data Flow, like shown in the example:

    2 inputs to filter on dates

    For each dataset, we first filter on the date to avoid any overlap, and then we combine both in a Combine node where columns are mapped.

    Combine and map UA and GA4

    Output this flow in an output table and you’re ready for the last step.

    Step 4: Let’s build your dashboards!

    Now your GA4 data is ready, let’s see how to visualize the data.

    Based on the choices made before, you will either archive the old UA dashboards and/or rebind them.

    Build Your Google Analytics 4 dashboards

    If you choose to create new, separate datasets using GA4, this is the method we advise you to apply.

    First, create a copy of all the dashboards using the UA datasets. These will be your archives if you wish to go back to them later for analysis. Rename them or add tags to flag them as Archived.

    Now the original dashboards can be rebounded to the new GA4 datasets using the Rebind feature. Map the columns between UA and GA4 – and you’re done!

    Rebind dashboard map columns

    Your archived dashboards using UA data can stay as long as needed, and your new active GA4 dashboards will keep offering fresh data to your users – without having to change LiveLinks, Publications, or Binders.

    Create UA + GA4 dashboards

    If you went for the fusion between datasets, simply skip the dashboard archiving step and rebind your dashboards directly. Here’s an example of a GA4 dashboard you can create!

    ga4 traffic report dashboard
    Click on the dashboard to see it live!

    Over to you!

    Making the switch from UA to GA4 becomes so much easier. Plus, you can now confidently overcome Google Analytics 4 reporting limitations. With ClicData, build custom and fully automated dashboards to get the metrics & insights you need.

    Understand your full-funnel performance by combining your GA4 data with other sources like your social media platforms, CRM, and other marketing applications.

    Interested to see what you can do with ClicData? Start your 14-day free trial here.