By George Nenni, Founder, Generations Digital
What is all the commotion these days about Google Analytics 4? The current version of Google Analytics, which is installed on every dealer website in the U.S. is going away. That’s right, this coming July 1st, 2023, the current version of Google Analytics will stop tracking new website analytics data. Google is replacing the current version of Google Analytics also referred to as Google Analytics Universal (GAU), with an entirely new system, that requires new account creation, and new code installation. That is where the challenges begin.
The first challenge is that too many dealers are outsourcing the process of conversion to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). They are allowing either their website provider or their agency to handle the conversion. The problem is that many of these companies are building out this GA4 installation within their accounts, vs. the dealership owning this data. If the dealership decides to part ways with that vendor, they must start over with GA4, losing all of their historical data. Dealers need to own, and be the admin of their new GA4 accounts.
The historical Google Analytics data is important, since it allows the dealer to measure the return on investment from their digital marketing campaigns, such as paid Google search, or paid Facebook ads. For a dealership that is paying for search engine optimization (SEO), historical analytics data allows them to track whether the volume of their Google organic search traffic is growing. Without historical tracking data, this becomes an impossible task. Imagine if the dealership lost the last five years of their financial statements, how hard it would be to run the dealership, or compare key metrics year over year? The same rules apply to website analytics.
The good news is the process for a dealership to convert from the current GA Universal to the new GA4 is simple. The first step is making sure the dealership owns their current analytics account. Once they do, there is a built-in conversion wizard that will complete the process, and create the new GA4 tracking code. The only step left is for the dealership to send the new tracking code to their website provider for installation. It is not a problem if the website provider may also have their own GA4 tracking code on the website, but the dealer can rest assured that they own their analytics, and their nets are in the water.
What do I mean by “nets in the water”? Because the new GA4 will not use any historical tracking data from the current GA Universal, it is important that dealers get started right away. That way they will have more historical tracking data when that fateful July 1, 2023 date arrives. My book on Amazon covers Google Analytics 4 soup to nuts, but if dealers simply want to set up their own new GA4 account, I can send them my free conversion guide.
For those that are worried about this conversion, there are reasons to be excited about this change. The new GA4 tracking will be more accurate, the system is easier to use, there is more out-of-the-box reporting, as well as a robust report-writer. GA4 is an entirely new approach to website and app analytics, designed for a cookie-less world, based on events vs. pages and clicks. I am presenting a 2-part workshop at the upcoming Digital Dealer Las Vegas titled, “Winning with Google Analytics 4”. The first session will show attendees how to create their new GA4 accounts, and how to get that code installed on the dealership website. The second session will dive into the new, powerful reporting capability of GA4. I hope to see you there!
About the Author
George Nenni is the founder of Generations Digital, a technology marketing analytics firm that empowers car dealers to eliminate advertising waste and maximize their marketing dollars. He is the author of “A Car Dealer’s Guide to Google Analytics 4”, “A Car Dealers’ Guide to Digital Marketing” and “A Car Dealer’s Guide to Google My Business”.