A DIY guide to setting up Google Analytics 4
Part of our series of blogs designed to explore and explain Google Analytics 4 to nonprofits, here's how to get started.
Why do you need to upgrade to GA4?
As you will be aware Google announced that GA4 will replace Universal Analytics from July 2023. Included below is a handy guide on how to upgrade to GA4 before July this year to safeguard your analytics reporting. Including:
- Cleaning up your goals and events
- Setting goals and objectives
- Creating a GA4 property and publishing using Google Tag Manager
Auditing your current tracking setup
It’s not uncommon for nonprofits' Google Analytics accounts to turn into that drawer in your kitchen that stores 20-year-old phone chargers and redundant door keys. Transferring to GA4 is an opportunity to refresh the data you’re collecting, refine user-centric goals, and ensure you’re gathering relevant, actionable insights. Before you begin setting up a new GA4 property, take stock of the website actions you are already tracking.
Compile a spreadsheet documenting the data you’re collecting, the team who use this data, and the reason for collecting it. Critically assess the need for this data. If there’s no clear need, thank it for its service and leave it firmly in Universal Analytics (UA). Remember the golden rule: does what you’re tracking directly map back to your organisational goals and objectives? If not, ditch it.
Review your website goals and objectives
You’ll most certainly have updated your website countless times since setting up your Google Analytics account. Do your current events and goals still match the core journeys on your website? Each section of your website should have a core objective with additional conversions that provide context and rich insights too. We recommend putting a reminder in your calendar to check back every six months and see if these metrics are still relevant.
While there are higher limits on the number of conversions you can track in GA4, you need to leave space for future changes to your website (so you can add more conversions later). Save conversions and goals for your core business objectives, like donations and shop purchases. Record everything else as an event: you can track up to 500 in GA4 so use those to measure engagement or micro-conversions; these might include contact form completions, video views, or file downloads.
Next, benchmark based on your existing analytics data. While GA4 uses a different measurement model, some metrics are still comparable, for example, users and sessions, goal completions, and page views. From July 2023, your UA properties will stop recording data. At present, Google has said that data will be available for six months, meaning beyond December 2023 you’ll no longer have access to your UA properties. In order to do year-on-year comparisons, you will need to export your UA data. More info on this to come, keep an eye on the Torchbox blog.
Create your own GA4 property using Google Tag Manager
Currently, it’s possible to run UA and GA4 simultaneously; we recommend doing so to give you ample time to learn the ropes of GA4 while reporting using your UA data. To create a new GA4 property in a simple, code-free way, we recommend using Google Tag Manager.
Head to the ‘Admin’ section of Google Analytics and click ‘Create New Property’. Give your property a useful name (we recommend using GA4 in the name) and, if you manage multiple sites, include the domain of the site the property will collect data for, eg ‘GA4 - torchbox.com’.
Next, choose the platform you want to collect data for (either a website, iOS App or Android App) and set up your data stream by entering your site URL. You can have more than one site in the same data stream, but more on that to come in a later post. Make a note of your GA Measurement ID as you’ll need this later.
Create a new GA4 configuration tag in Google Tag Manager. Add your measurement ID, and set the trigger to ‘All pages’. Be sure to preview your tag to ensure it’s working correctly. If it is, go ahead and publish your container. Et voila, your organisation is now using GA4!
Setting up event tracking is the next challenge. The good news is that all GA4 properties come with the option to enable ‘Enhanced Measurement Events’ with one click. Enhanced Measurement Events are the most requested trackable events and now come built in; you can toggle them on and off in your new property. This is an incredibly intuitive new feature that allows you to quickly start tracking key actions.
Make the most of GA4 with advanced tracking
Understandably, your charity’s organisational objectives can’t be measured through video views and scroll tracking alone: you’re going to need to track more in your GA4 property than those metrics offered via out-of-the-box tracking. Fear not: we're on hand to help replicate your existing GA setups, support with advanced event tracking, and to recreate your eCommerce tracking. If you need assistance with advanced tracking setup, you manage multiple sites and domains or you just don’t feel comfortable creating a new GA4 property then get in touch with our team.
Pick your own sunset (and stick to it)
While Google has fixed July 2023 as their official sunset date for Universal Analytics, you’re going to need to start rolling out Google Analytics 4 now. We recommend picking a date to aim to fully switch to using GA4 for all of your reporting—at Torchbox, we’ve set ourselves the challenge of recreating all of our existing marketing reports (where possible) using only GA4 to begin this process. For your nonprofit, consider picking the first day of a new quarter or the start of a month for your own “GA4 day zero”, and begin the conversation internally to gain buy-in across the organisation. This will be daunting for a lot of people, but setting yourself a hard stop for leaning on your Universal Analytics comfort zone is a great way to take the leap. Good luck, and please get in touch if we can help!
Enrol in our GA4 masterclass series for nonprofits
We're hosting an 8-week course for nonprofits to teach all you need to know about transitioning to, using, and maxing GA4! We only have 10 spaces available. Find out more and sign up here: https://bit.ly/GA4-masterclass