Google Analytics 4: Why it's worth switching to GA4

by Meike Müller

In October 2020, Google published the new "App + Web Property" with the name Google Analytics 4, which will now become the new standard. Initially, the old Universal Analytics version can still be created, but since March 2022 it has been clear that this will not be continued. This means for you: You have to switch to Google Analytics 4 right now, otherwise Google will no longer allow it in the future. Unfortunately, this also means that you will lose all your old data.

Google Analytics 4 is our next generation measurement solution and will replace Universal Analytics. As of July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer process new hits. If you are still on Universal Analytics, we recommend you prepare to use Google Analytics 4. Source:

Find out everything you need to know about Google Analytics 4, how to make the transition go smoothly and how to set up Enhanced E-Commerce Tracking in this article. We will also be happy to answer any other questions you may have about e-commerce or help you with the conversion.

Reading time 6 min

What to expect


What is Google Analytics anyway?

Google Analytics is a free analytics tool from the Google company. Website owners or app owners can monitor the performance of their online presence and identify areas for improvement. Data such as page views, bounce rates and dwell times are recorded and displayed in statistics or reports. Using Google Analytics leads to website operators finding out whether their pages are working well and which areas still need to be optimized.

What are the changes with the new Google Analytics version?

Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of the Google Analytics platform and includes new features as well as some improvements over the old version. For one, the user interface has been revised. Thus, all collected data is displayed in a simplified way. On the other hand, the new version of Google Analytics also contains additional functions that were not available before. For example, you can now track user data in real time. In addition, you can also see how your website performs on different devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Overall, Google Analytics 4 has some advantages over the old version, Universal Analytics. For example, machine learning algorithms are used for data analysis. In addition, GA4 already anonymizes the IP address of your users. Also, with Google Analytics 4 you have the possibility to manage the data better. You can collect, keep, delete and share it. Here we have listed for you the main advantages of Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics and also few disadvantages:

  • The new version of Google Analytics focuses on users, not like Universal Analytics. Namely, there the sessions were in the focus.
  • Now even six events can be detected, which are counted as interaction. These include the scroll, for example. In Universal Analytics, only the page view could be detected
  • Tracking can also be done in the form of "cookieless tracking
  • A small disadvantage with Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics is data retention. Now this only goes for 2 and 14 months as opposed to 14, 26, 38 and 50 months previously. Also filters could be set better in the earlier version. Perhaps this will be improved in the future.
  • For example, you can now create a website and an app in one property. You then have two data streams there. Previously, you had to create another property for an app.
  • The real-time analysis has also been improved. It is now much more detailed.
  • By the way, the new Analytics version also uses new metrics in the area of machine learning. Predictive Audiences and Conversion Modeling is also possible.

Why should you switch to Google Analytics 4?

As you could already read in the previous section, Google Analytics 4 has established some changes and especially improvements that you can benefit from with the new version. There are still a few disadvantages compared to the old version, but these will probably be adapted in parts in the future. Furthermore, it is now a must to switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.

You should take care of a conversion to GA 4 now, because from July 01, 2023, no more data will be collected with Universal Analytics at all. You should have set up Google Analytics 4 by this date at the latest. If you have Google Analytics 360 properties, you would even have until October 1, 2023. In our opinion, however, you should not wait that long. Make the switch as soon as possible to get used to the new interface and collect detailed data. The sooner you have set up Google Analytics 4, the sooner you can evaluate the collected data, which, in contrast to Universal Analytics, is even more detailed. The data will then help you to review and improve your marketing strategies.

How to proceed with the conversion to Google Analytics 4

If you want to make the switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, you should first think about how you want to track in the future and which data will be important to you. This will make it easier for you to use and evaluate the data later on, and you will be able to find your way around the new GA4 interface more easily.

Vorschau YouTube Video

The next step is the actual implementation. Here you have to distinguish whether you want to simply upgrade your existing Universal Analytics property or create a new GA 4 property. If you want to upgrade your existing Google Analytics account, you can simply do this via a button in your Analytics settings. By the way, you can't destroy anything here, because your Universal Analytics property and all its data will remain. However, the data cannot be transferred to the new GA 4 property either. The collection of the current data starts from the moment of the complete setup.

If you need help setting up the Google Analytics 4 property when you already have a Universal Analytics property, Google can help you by providing the appropriate instructions or feel free to contact us. Our experts will help you set up a GA4 property.

If you want to create a new property, you can simply open Google Analytics and click on "+ Create Property". The new Google Analytics 4 version is standard since October 2020 and will be used automatically when you want to create a new property. In the next step, you have to give your new property a name and select your time zone and a currency. After that you enter your business information and you have completed the first setup of GA4. Of course we can help you with this if you want.

Enhanced e-commerce tracking with Google Analytics

With Google Analytics you can also link your online store and set up a comprehensive e-commerce setup that includes all important data. This function was already available in Universal Analytics and is now possible again in Google Analytics 4. However, this only works if your online store can also provide the data. In addition, you must ensure that the data can be sent to GA 4 using a tracking code. If you can't do the technical implementation yourself, our developers will be happy to help. They will set up a working tracking code for you so that you can see all the important e-commerce data in Google Analytics.

You want to know what data is included in GA4? Basically everything related to transactions in your e-commerce store. You can see the number of transactions within a period of time, the info about your products and the revenue in total, per product or per transaction. However, it also happens from time to time that a product ends up in the shopping cart, but is not purchased. On the way to the transaction, a customer carries out many other interactions with your online store. In Google Analytics 4, you can also see the following data with the Enhanced E-Commerce feature: Purchases, Checkout, Refunds, Add to Cart and Remove from Cart, Product Detail Views, Product List Clicks and Views, and Promotion Views and Clicks. You could already see this data in Universal Analytics. In GA4, the following information was added: Add to Wishlist and Cart Views.

How to use Enhanced E-Commerce Tracking

In order to view your e-commerce reports in Google Analytics 4, you need to take some precautions. Of course, it is also a prerequisite that you have an online store and that it provides the data on products, promotions and sales. Maybe you don't run any ads internally in your store, in which case you don't need to send information about promo views and clicks to GA4.

We often work with the Shopware store system for our customers. Here, for example, an additional plugin can be installed, which can send data via DataLayer to Google Analytics. So far, however, this is only possible with Universal Analytics.

If you want to use the enhanced e-commerce tracking, you have two options to implement the e-commerce tracking code in your online store. Once via the native implementation and once via the implementation via dataLayer. We have always modified or adapted the store data using dataLayer so that it can be sent to GA4. You should use this approach as well. If you don't want to try this on your own, you can always contact us. We will be happy to help you.

Our conclusion

Switching from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 is an absolute must for you if you want to continue collecting and analyzing data from your website or app. Because UA will no longer be supported on 01.07. or 01.10.2023 at the latest. Switching over as quickly as possible will allow you to get used to the new user interface and the additional functions. If you don't have a Google Analytics property set up for your website yet, GA4 is a very useful tool to check the success of your marketing and adjust it accordingly to generate more conversions and reach your goals. For online store owners, Google Analytics also provides a good overview of interactions and helps identify areas for improvement. If you need support with the setup or conversion, the experts at EXWE will be happy to assist you. We have already set up GA4 for many of our customers!

Google Analytics FAQ - what else you should know

Now we would like to give you some answers to frequently asked questions about Google Analytics. So you are well informed about the topic and can start collecting important data in Google Analytics 4.

  • What is a Google Analytics 4 property?

    In a property you create, all important data and Google Analytics reports are collected that relate to a specific website or app. In order for reports to be displayed to you, it must be a website or app that you own. If you want to set up Google Analytics 4 and create a property, you can find good instructions on the Google Support page.

  • Is Google Analytics 4 compliant with the GDPR?

    Google Analytics was initially banned by regulators in the EU (December 2021). In order for Google Analytics to be legally usable again, there have been some improvements to Google Analytics 4. These changes have been summarized by Google under "EU-focused data and privacy". Thus, all data originating from end devices in the EU will also be processed on servers in the EU. For geo-location, IP addresses are processed but no longer stored. In addition, Google Signals can be disabled so that no link to Google accounts is created. However, this is still not enough to act completely DSGVO compliant. For this, many other conditions must be met that you need to ensure. In addition, a balancing of interests would always be in favor of the data subject. Nevertheless, here we have listed the conditions that must be met in order for a legitimate interest to be justified:

    • Data must not be passed on to third parties
    • Users must not be able to be identified
    • An AV contract must be concluded with full instruction and control rights of the client
    • Data must not be linked to other customers
    • IP address must be anonymized before processing
    • Data must not be used for the purposes of the processor
    • Recognition must be limited to 24 hours
  • How long does it take for Google Analytics 4 to work?

    As a rule, it can take up to 24 hours for Google Analytics 4 to function properly and display data. However, Google Analytics is often synced with your website or app faster and you can view the first user data.

  • Why should I use Google Analytics?

    Google Analytics is a helpful tool to check your online marketing strategies for success. Google Analytics gives you some hints on improvement potentials and you can implement them to reach your target group even better. In addition, you also learn more about your target group itself, such as which devices they use, which browser they use to reach your website and much more. You'll also get detailed information about the number of page views, abandonment rate, order receipts, average order value, conversion rate, and much more. This data is called Key Performance Indicators, or KPI for short, and you can define it yourself depending on your needs.

    In addition, thanks to Analytics, you can also find out which marketing channels work best for you. Because from the data you can see where your visitors come from, for example, from Google itself, from social media such as Facebook or Instagram and more.

  • How much does Google Analytics 4 cost?

    The Google Analytics 4 costs are manageable: because the tool from Google is completely free. However, large companies may incur costs if they want to use the complete features and data. There is no uniform price structure. If you are interested in a more extensive use, you have to contact Google directly to get an individual offer.

  • What is the Google Analytics 4 Tag Manager?

    The Google Tag Manager is a tag management system that is supposed to be the link between developers and marketers. You can use Google Tag Manager, for example, to improve the speed of your website by setting Google Tags asynchronously. In addition, the tag manager captures the actions on a website, so analysts can configure the events to be captured themselves in the tag manager, without the need for a developer to edit the website. In the Google Tag Manager, there are also pre-built tags for GA4 events that you can trigger using so-called triggers. So you don't need any programming skills to capture, for example, the filling of a contact form. Using the click events captured by the Tag Manager, the page the user is on and possible CSS classes on the contact form button, you can trigger a GA4 event via the Tag Manager without having to modify the website's code. The event then defines which information should be transferred to Google Analytics. If you have any further questions about Google Analytics and e-commerce, feel free to contact us and we will help you with all your questions.

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from 06.07.2022

Hello, my name is Meike. I take care of the EXWE back office and am responsible for our social media channels. All of our articles are meant to make your life easier and help you make decisions. Nevertheless, it can happen that something remains unclear, so: If you have questions about this article you can easily reach me at +49 231 93149827.

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