July 1, 2023 is the all-important date Google has announced it will discontinue Universal Analytics. At that time, the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the new privacy-first version of Google Analytics will become the standard for website measurement.
If you are anything like me, this far off deadline has meant nothing, that is until a recent conversation I had with Dave Spannhake of Reunion Marketing. I realised that this is a huge change in the world of dealership analytic reporting, and the change requires that dealers pay close attention now.
Most importantly, is that if dealers do not have GA4 in place now, then they will lose all your historical data in 2023 when they need some comparison.
Dave is a smart guy and outlined some very important reasons as to why dealers need to be aware and start the migration to GA4 now.
1. Universal Analytics stops collecting data on 1 July 2023.
According to Google on July 1, 2023, standard Google Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You'll be able to see your UA reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties.
2. GA4 is a complete rebuild with a steep learning curve.
GA4 is a completely new product. It’s privacy-first, designed to fill in the gaps created by restrictions on cookies and identifiers. However, because it’s a complete rebuild, dealers are going to need to learn to use GA4 from scratch. And as many users have been finding, even though GA4 has a lot of features it takes a while to learn.
3. Dealers need to set up GA4 before it will start collecting data
Because dealers rely on historical data they will need to set up GA4 long before they intend to start using it. If dealers want to make year-on-year comparisons, August 2022 vs August 2023, dealers will need to set it right now.
4. GA4 Setup is more intense this time. Requiring Google Tag Manager and Google Analytic access.
This is a huge hurdle dealers to be cognitive about. Universal Analytics allows stores to track conversions via Google Analytic Goals. However, tracking of conversions via goals is no longer part of GA4. All of the conversions and goal tracking is moving to Google Tag Manger. The major downfall becomes, that dealers will not have immediate access to tag manager setups on third party plug-ins like chat and trade in tools. Dave explains, “The majority of website plugin vendors are not properly set up for tracking, including most digital retailing, chat, and trade appraisal leads - creating a blind spot for dealers when tracking website conversion across all key pages”
5. Google will eventually delete your historical Universal Analytics data.
Google has indicated that UA will continue to hold historical data for at least 6 months after July 2023. They have recommended that dealers export their data prior to this time to have access it for longer.
6. GA4 will ONLY store 14 months worth of historical data
Often as dealers we are looking back further than 14 months at a time to review seasonal trends and or events related to the economy. This will no longer be the case as the new GA4 is only going to store data for 14 months. This puts the requirement of storing older data on to the dealership.
Some of the benefits of the change for marketers will be that they can now track users across multiple websites, apps, and other digital assets tied to the shoppers journey. GA4 will also intimately tie Google Tag Manager in with Google Analytics to get a true sense of how the consumer is behaving on dealer websites. Also, the new platform will be moving to new metrics such as Engaged Sessions and Engagement Rate to really get a better idea of site performance.
While a lot of this seems overwhelming, there is hope and help available to get dealers going. Dave Spannhake, and his team at Reunion Marketing are offering free setups of GA4 as a give back to the industry for the month of July and August. What better way to have this done for your store than a true digital marketing agency doing it all for your dealership.
Matt's passion is to provide dealership professionals direction on how to increase unit sales through the use of better marketing and sales tools. Matt's dealership knowledge stems from working inside a thirteen-store dealer group for ten years and knowing what works first hand. He has worked all the variable operations positions at a dealership and ultimately ran multiple stores as the General Manager over the course of 10 years. Matt is well versed in tools of the digital marketing trade including Google Analytics, Google Adwords, SEM, SEO, website optimization, lead generation add-on tools.
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