Getting Prepared For GA4: Saving Your Historic Knowledge


As you’re making ready to arrange Google Analytics (GA4), you’re most likely asking the identical factor we had been: What’s the most effective technique for migrating our historic knowledge?

There ought to be a means to do that, proper?

On this column, you’ll study whether or not we will merge knowledge in GA4 and three DIY methods to avoid wasting your historic knowledge.

Can You Migrate Your Knowledge To GA4?

The first concern is whether or not GA customers can switch or migrate Common Analytics knowledge into their Google Analytics 4 property.

Sadly, you can’t migrate your knowledge to GA4, and it’s not prone to be a function we’ll see added within the coming months.

Migrating your knowledge to GA4 isn’t prone to be a function as a result of the 2 variations use fully completely different knowledge fashions.

I spoke with Charles Farina, Head of Innovation at Adswerve, and he defined that:

“It’s the distinction in schema and dimension definitions/calculations that make merging the info not attainable.”

Schema refers to how the info is organized and the language used to make sure compatibility. Primarily it’s the blueprint.

He explains you may see the variations in schema nicely when evaluating the BigQuery integrations for UA and GA4.

“The UA export is sessionized, that means every row within the export is a session, and each interplay is nested in that row. The GA4 export could be very completely different, the place every row is the occasion (interplay) itself,” shared Farina.

One other key purpose is how dimensions and metrics are outlined and calculated in GA4 in comparison with UA.

Google has an incredible help web page that goes over many of those.

For instance, let’s take a look at one of the crucial frequent KPIs, “Customers.”

Common Analytics reviews on Whole Customers or all customers, whereas GA4 focuses on Energetic Customers or customers which have visited the web site a minimum of as soon as prior to now 28 days.

Even when we might migrate UA knowledge to GA4, it might be like evaluating apples to oranges.

Should you’re questioning why this alteration is going on, you’ll discover the reply in our article, Google Analytics 4 FAQs: Keep Calm & Preserve Monitoring.

How To Export Google Analytics Historic Knowledge

Google does empathize and encourages customers to export their historic knowledge.

“We all know your knowledge is vital to you, and we strongly encourage you to export your historic reviews throughout this time.”

GA4 helpScreenshot from Google Assist, April 2022

Google hints that extra steering on learn how to export could also be coming sooner or later.

The excellent news is whereas we can’t migrate our knowledge, we will nonetheless reserve it.

Google permits GA360 (paid product) customers to export Common Analytics knowledge to BigQuery. Nevertheless, the price of this product makes it inaccessible for smaller organizations.

So, what about normal customers? How do the remainder of us export historic knowledge?

I’ll present you three DIY strategies and some instruments that may deal with extra advanced requests.

1. Guide Export

The best option to export knowledge is to get it immediately out of your Google Analytics account.

Open the GA normal report you wish to hold. For instance Acquisition > All Site visitors > Supply/Medium.

Set any customizations you need, reminiscent of a phase for a specific nation, a filter for a specific web page grouping, or a secondary dimension for touchdown pages.

Click on EXPORT within the high proper nook.

Choose the file format from the drop-down menu. You’ll be able to select PDF, Google Sheets, Excel (xlsv), or CSV.

UA Historical Data_Manual Export example

Although that is the best option to export your historic knowledge, there are limitations.

You’ll be able to solely apply two dimensions and are restricted to a most of 5,000 rows.

In case you are registering hundreds of hits per day your knowledge could also be sampled.

Examine for the inexperienced checkmark protect within the high left close to the title of the report you’re viewing; this implies your knowledge isn’t sampled.

2. Google Analytics Dev Instruments: Question Explorer

Google Analytics dev instruments sound off-putting (and technical), however you might be probably already acquainted with one of many instruments.

The Marketing campaign URL Builder is usually used to create UTM parameters for campaigns.

GA dev instruments even have a question explorer.

That is a simple (and free) option to export knowledge for non-technical customers (yeah!).

Open Question Explorer and click on the orange button, LOGIN.

Sign up to your Google Analytics account that has entry to the property you might be engaged on.

UA Query ExplorerScreenshot from UA Question Explorer, April 2022

Choose the account, property, and examine you wish to save knowledge for.

The software will routinely set the GA ID, so that you don’t want to fret about that.

UA Historical Data_Query Explorer_Select account exampleScreenshot from UA Question Explorer, April 2022

Set the remaining question parameters: Date vary within the format YYYY-MM-DD, metrics, dimensions, and any filters or segments you wish to apply.

For metrics, choose the columns out of your Google Analytics report that you’re extracting knowledge from.

You’ll be able to select each metric within the report you wish to replicate or only a few metrics that assist obtain your objectives like “Customers,” “bounceRate,” “avgSessionsDuration” and “goalCompletionsAll.”

UA Historical Data_Query Explorer_Query paramters exampleScreenshot from UA Question Explorer, April 2022

Dimensions would be the rows from the Google Analytics report from which we’re exporting knowledge.

For instance, if we wish to see metrics (customers, bounce charge, length, and aim completions) by site visitors supply choose “ga:sourceMedium” because the dimension.

Observe: Should you plan to visualise this info in Knowledge Studio, you will have to set the size “ga:Medium” and “ga:Supply” individually.

“ga:SourceMedium” doesn’t work in Knowledge Studio. Extra on visualizing to return.

UA Historical Data_Query Explorer_Dimensions example
Screenshot from UA Question Explorer, April 2022

The remainder of the question parameters are non-obligatory. I like to recommend leaving these clean on this use case to drag the max quantity of knowledge.

You’ll be able to at all times kind, filter, and phase inside your spreadsheet.

Scroll to the underside and click on the orange button RUN QUERY.

From right here, obtain the info as .tsv (tab separated values) and open it in Excel or Google Sheets.

GA Query Explorer_Data download exampleScreenshot from UA Question Explorer, April 2022

Observe: Discover the UA – GA4 toggle within the left-hand menu navigation. By clicking this toggle, you may entry Question explorer for GA4 accounts.

3. Google Analytics Sheets Add-On

This feature is a tad extra advanced however connects Google Analytics on to Sheets, so that you don’t have the additional steps of downloading and importing.

Create a folder in your Google Drive that may maintain your historic knowledge. Create a brand new Google Sheet and identify one thing that may make sense for future workforce members, like “UA Historic Data_Traffic Acquisition_2021.”

Alongside the highest menu navigation, click on Extensions > Add-Ons > Get Add-Ons.

screenshot_Google Sheets Extensions Get Add-OnsScreenshot from Google Sheets, April 2022

Seek for the Google Analytics app within the Google Workspace Market. Click on to put in and comply with the onscreen prompts.

screenshot_Google Analytics Sheets ExtensionScreenshot from Google Workspace Market, April 2022

Again to your Google Sheet. Click on Extensions once more. This time it is best to see the app for Google Analytics.

Hover and click on Create new report.

Now it’s time to export your historic knowledge.

screenshot_Google Analytics Sheets Add-on_create new reportScreenshot from Google Sheets, April 2022

Step 1. Title your report one thing that is smart on your fellow workforce members. For instance, we’ll pull knowledge by monetary quarter, so report no. 1 might be named “Q1 2021.”

Step 2. Choose the Analytics view you wish to extract knowledge from by selecting our Account, Property, and View.

Step 3. Configure report. Right here we’ll select our metrics, dimensions, and segments.

I’m going to maintain it easy for this instance and select “Customers,” “Bounce Fee,” and “Purpose Conversions” for my metrics and “supply” and “medium” for my dimensions.

Observe: ga:sourceMedium isn’t suitable with Knowledge Studio. Should you plan on visualizing this sheet, it’s best to drag the site visitors supply dimensions individually like ga: Medium, ga:Supply.

Go away Segments empty to see all customers.

screenshot_GA Sheets Add-On configuration for historical dataScreenshot from Google Sheets, April 2022

Clicking the blue button Create Report will lead you to configuration choices.

There are extra choices to customise our report that aren’t accessible on the earlier display screen.

We will modify the date vary utilizing the format YYYY-MM-DD.

We will apply filters like nation, ga:nation==United States.

Double-check that every thing appears to be like right, then click on Extensions > Google Analytics > Run reviews to export your historic knowledge.

GA Sheets Extension Run Report exampleScreenshot from Google Sheets, April 2022

Observe: Pace up this course of by copying and pasting the configuration over to the subsequent column, updating the date vary, and operating a number of reviews concurrently.

A report standing popup will let you recognize for those who’ve made any errors or as soon as the report is accomplished efficiently.

Row Quantity 6 will present us if the info is sampled or not. Row quantity 7 will inform us how a lot if the sheet comprises sampled knowledge.

GA Sheets Extension_Sampled data screenshotScreenshot from Google Sheets, April 2022

In Common Analytics, knowledge sampling occurs after 500,000 periods within the timeframe.

So, you may modify your report knowledge vary to cut back the variety of periods in your timeframe.

Or, for those who want the complete dataset and wish to skip the forwards and backwards, use a third-party software to keep away from knowledge sampling.

Third-Social gathering Instruments has a 46-step walkthrough of utilizing Supermetrics for sending GA knowledge to BigQuery.

On March 12, 2022, JR Oaks introduced that they’re engaged on releasing an open-source GA to BigQuery backup script/workflow to the general public.

There are pre-built knowledge pipelines by firms like Hevo and Electrik AI that export historic knowledge from Google Analytics to a database file or knowledge warehouse of your selection.

You may additionally take into account switching to a paid Analytics supplier.

Just a few have already launched a Google Analytics historic knowledge import possibility.

Visualizing Historic Knowledge With Knowledge Studio

Now that you’ve pulled your historic knowledge, you wish to make one thing straightforward to match to GA4.

Observe: I’ve to forewarn you that trying to match UA and GA4 might be actually tough as a result of the info fashions are fully completely different.

Farina provides,

“Google intends so that you can run GA4 side-by-side with UA and, as an alternative of merging the info, simply reduce over to GA4 as quickly because it has 13 months of historic knowledge.”

Be assured that a number of your hard-earned information and expertise carry over to GA4! Learn, Getting began with GA4 to study the place to seek out website site visitors, person engagement, occasions, and conversion reviews.

Okay, again to visualizing historic knowledge.

Comply with these steps to create a Knowledge Studio report that may stack a historic knowledge desk on high of a GA4 knowledge desk, so your YoY outcomes are a minimum of in a single place.

Open Knowledge Studio and click on to start out a Clean Report.

Data Studio create a blank report_screenshotScreenshot from Google Knowledge Studio, April 2022

There might be an overlay display screen to pick the info supply you wish to join. Choose Google Sheets.

Google Sheets connector for Data Studio screenshotScreenshot from Google Knowledge Studio, April 2022

Find the spreadsheet you made above when exporting your knowledge. Should you adopted the steps precisely, it will likely be named “UA Historic Knowledge _Traffic Acquisition_2021.”

Choose the worksheet “Q1 2021.”

Utilizing the primary row as headers will routinely identify your metrics and dimensions, so hold bins each checked.

Choose the non-obligatory vary that matches your sheet.

For instance, my headers begin at A15, and the final quantity in my sheet is E62, so my vary might be “A15:E62.”

Connecting Sheets with Data Studio exampleScreenshot from Google Knowledge Studio, April 2022

Knowledge Studio will routinely create a desk. Double-check that the configuration is similar as your sheet within the right-hand menu.

Medium is the first dimension. Flip the toggle so as to add a secondary dimension of Supply.

Metrics are Customers, Bounce Fee, and Purpose Completions.

Your historic knowledge desk will look just like the screenshot under.

Google to offer more guidance on data export_quote screenshotScreenshot from Google Knowledge Studio, April 2022

Subsequent, we’ll create the identical desk however for our GA4 knowledge in the identical time-frame: Q1 2022.

Proper-click to repeat and paste your desk, then change the info supply from UA Historic Knowledge to your Google Analytics 4 account.

As a result of the metrics have completely different names, you will notice an error – invalid metric.

Click on on every metric and replace it to one thing related like “Whole Customers,” “Engagement Fee,” and “Conversions.”

Dimensions will replace to “session/supply” and “session/medium.”

Final, in the identical menu, scroll down and set the date vary so it matches your historic knowledge: January 01 – January 31, 2022.

The ultimate report will look just like the screenshot under.

screenshot of historical data to GA4 comparison in Data Studio
Screenshot from Google Knowledge Studio, April 2022

You’ll be able to simply see major metrics yr over yr by evaluating historic knowledge with GA4.

Though, it’s pretty bare-bones.

You cannot mix this knowledge as a result of the definitions and calculations of the size and metrics are essentially completely different.

For extra sturdy historic reporting choices, reminiscent of graphic customers or aim completions over a time period, it’s possible you’ll wish to take into account BigQuery.

Remaining Ideas

Sadly, migrating your knowledge to GA4 isn’t at present attainable (and never prone to come) as a result of the 2 variations are essentially completely different knowledge fashions.

There are a number of DIY options for saving your historic knowledge, however the outputs are pretty bare-bones.

Should you want extra sturdy info and reporting capabilities of historic knowledge, look into an information warehouse like BigQuery.

Google hints that extra info on exporting historic knowledge will come earlier than the July 2023 finish date.

Possibly that might be an information connector for BigQuery for Google Analytics normal customers – one can hope.

Extra assets:

Featured Picture: Paulo Bobita


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