Google made a significant announcement in March of 2022 regarding the sunsetting of its Universal Analytics (UA) service. As of July 1, 2023, Google will cease processing hits on UA, with a one-year extension provided to 360/Premium customers. UA will be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which offers several advancements and improvements over its predecessor.
GA4 provides the ability to integrate and display app and website data under a single property – a feature that was not available in UA. Additionally, GA4 is designed to be future-proof by leveraging machine learning solutions to reduce its dependence on cookies. To realize the benefits of GA4, life sciences organizations must act quickly and plan their transition.
There are real operational risks to missing the current migration timeline. Valuable information and insights could be lost during the transition period, as UA data will only be available for a limited period of six months after its sunset. In addition, users will have to navigate the incompatibility of data from UA to GA4.
Typical Transition Challenges Faced by Life Sciences Organizations
Google has proposed Dual Tagging as a solution to overcome these challenges. Dual Tagging involves adding GA4 tags in conjunction with existing UA tags, allowing for a simultaneous flow of web analytics data to both platforms. With Dual Tagging, organizations can seamlessly track interactions on their web properties through both UA and GA4.
Implementing Dual Tagging will also preserve valuable historical data and make it available in GA4 from the moment the tags are configured. This will allow meaningful comparisons to be made once fully migrated to GA4.
The data model and reporting structure of GA4 differs greatly from UA, with many metrics being missed or redefined. Additionally, most of the standard reports available in UA have been replaced by a single reporting dashboard, and there have been significant changes to the user interface. To get the most out of GA4, time and training are needed to become familiar with these changes and prepare for a successful migration.
Indegene has been working to establish GA4 infrastructure across HCP (healthcare personnel) and DTC (direct-to-consumer) sites for life sciences organizations worldwide who currently utilize older versions of Google Analytics for their web analytics needs. From customizing segments to more complex updates, Indegene has been a key strategic partner to life sciences organizations in their GA4 journey by combining its core technical skills and product expertise with its deep domain knowledge.
GA4’s clean and simplified design greatly enhances the user experience, making it easier to collect and analyze critical customer experience data to facilitate prompt and informed business decisions, a vast improvement over UA's approach. A few filters that were previously implemented in UA may now need to be managed through the Tag Manager in GA4. Moreover, GA4 provides most of the premium features that were previously only available in UA 360, such as advanced analytics visualizations, native integrations with Google Marketing Platform products, and data-driven attribution, for free.
GA4 also offers the flexibility to define custom parameters for tag metadata at an event level, which was not possible in UA. This provides life sciences organizations with the opportunity to tailor industry-specific parameters, such as therapy area, key message, product, disease state, and so on. This capability can be particularly useful in identifying the most effective content and message categories.
More Optional Capabilities to Unlock More Value from GA4 Premium
Even for non-premium users, GA4 provides a multitude of additional benefits. One such advantage is the custom funnels feature, which was previously only available in GA 360. With the help of this functionality, marketers and marketing technologists can visualize the steps a user takes to complete a target action on the website and track their progression through the funnel – including the ability to identify where users are abandoning the journey and hypothesizing why.
Indegene leveraged the custom funnels feature to enhance the brand website and campaign results of a mid-sized North American pharmaceutical organization. Indegene’s team used custom funnels to analyze user journeys for goal completions across the company's brands and presented the findings to the client after identifying potential causes for major drop-offs at various steps and providing recommendations to address them. Based on these recommendations, changes were made to the website layout and the positioning of certain site features, resulting in a notable reduction in drop-offs at key stages, as well as improved conversions.
The custom funnels feature of GA4 not only provides insight into user journeys, but also opens up opportunities for optimization through data-driven actions. By saving segments of users who abandon their journeys at various stages, these users can be targeted through platforms such as Search Ads 360 and Display and Video 360 for remarketing. This way, the website or campaign outcomes can be improved by prompting users to resume their journey from where they left off and guiding them toward completion.
Time is of the essence for Google Analytics users who are transitioning to GA4 from UA. Those who have not yet started planning for the migration must act immediately to ensure a smooth transition. For those who are yet to decide on how to handle the data collected on UA, it is advisable to do so at the earliest. Although premium members are given an extended migration period until July 2024, it is still recommended to start migration planning as early as possible to allow adequate time for execution. Contact us to get started on your GA4 transition, or to learn about how your organization can leverage GA4 better – and with life sciences context.