Seamless Transition: Migrating from UA to GA4 Without Data Loss

November 1, 2023

Migrating from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can be a complex process, but it is crucial for keeping your analytics data up to date and taking advantage of the latest features. Here’s five tips to ensure a seamless transition without data loss:

1. Make sure to migrate your custom events accurately. It will be very helpful to create a tagging plan with the schema of your UA events and their GA4 analogues. List your UA events (e.g. in Google Sheets) and make a note for every event — whether it was migrated to GA4 or not — just for the sake of preserving the GA4 migration history. If the event was migrated, mention the corresponding GA4 event. 

Keep in mind that you can utilize different implementation approaches. Sometimes the same custom event can be implemented via GTM in UA and via UI in GA4 thanks to the brand new feature of creating events in the Property settings:

Remember that if a GTM container is overloaded with tags and triggers, it may have an influence on the website performance, so I would recommend setting up custom events in UI instead of GTM whenever possible.

2. You’ll also want to migrate your custom dimensions and metrics and track them in GA4. The recommendation here is similar: create a documentation of your UA custom events and metrics, analyze which of them are actively collecting data and think of the corresponding GA4 parameter. Remember, that you need to register your parameters in GA4 UI as custom dimensions or metrics — otherwise, you won’t be able to use them in the reports.

3. For your previous goals in UA, remember to set them up as conversions in GA4. Keep in mind that conversions are not retroactive — the reports will be affected only from time of creation. In other words, you’ll see conversions in your report only after you configure them, historical data will not be changed. Thus, the sooner you migrate your Goals to GA4, the more conversion data will be available in the reports.

Another example of the feature that does not utilize any historical data are Audiences — if you need them, make sure to set Audiences up as soon as possible to start collecting users.

4. In UA, the best practice with internal data filters was to have several views per property with at least one view containing raw — or unfiltered – data. In GA4, the property structure is different: views are no longer available so it can be quite risky to set up filters that would exclude some portion of data from your property forever.

To prevent potential data loss, try setting up your internal traffic filters to the ‘Testing’ state instead:

This will not exclude your internal traffic from the property once and for all — instead, the ‘Test data filter name’ dimension will be populated with the name of the internal traffic filter for the traffic sent by your internal IPs.

Take a look at how it works:

5. Lastly, don’t forget to link the products you use to your GA4 property. Not only it allows you to export your conversions and audiences and use in your campaigns, but also enriches your GA4 reports with additional data.

Search Console integration will provide you with insights on your organic google traffic:

The Google Ads integration will result in a report showing how effective your Google Ads campaigns were at driving traffic and conversions to your website or app.

Remember that the process may vary depending on the complexity of your UA setup and your specific tracking requirements. It’s essential to plan the transition carefully and thoroughly test the new GA4 implementation to minimize data loss and maintain data accuracy during the migration.