If you’re a school marketer who relies on Google Analytics for things like advertising attribution, website design enhancements, or other marketing performance reports, then you will want to set up GA4, aka Google Analytics 4, as soon as possible. (See our post from last year introducing the rollout of the beta product.)
Many school marketers have been slow to adapt—until now. Follow the tips below so you don’t get left behind…
Google Analytics 4 is replacing Universal Analytics in July 2023
Most schools have what is known as UA, or Universal Analytics, the third version of Google Analytics, currently on their websites. GA4 is the latest iteration of Google Analytics, developed to be more powerful than Universal Analytics by providing more relevant data about why users are on your site and/or app. It allows you to combine the data from multiple data streams into one property and more accurately attribute user actions across devices.
As Google recently shared, starting on July 1, 2023, “standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits. If you still rely on Universal Analytics, we recommend that you prepare to use Google Analytics 4 going forward.”
Luckily, Universal Analytics will continue to track uninterrupted until then, so you can set up the new GA4 property while still leveraging the current configuration for your marketing analysis. But don’t wait a year to get GA4 up and running! By implementing GA4 now, you will be able to aggregate more than a year’s worth of data by the time you fully migrate to GA4 for your main reporting. This is key for year-over-year reporting, which most school marketers live by. And, because GA4 reports on many metrics and actions differently than Universal Analytics, you will be glad to have some “apples-to-apples'' comparison reports. For more information, check out the EMG Blog: "Use Google Analytics for Enrollment Marketing Insights."
How to Get Started with GA4
First, follow the official Google guide on how to set up the GA4 property within your current Google Analytics Account. (Note: You do not need to set up a new Analytics account if you already have one). Enroll Media Group highly recommends placing the GA4 tag within Google Tag Manager versus hard coding it on the website. (You can learn more about Google Tag Manager via this great overview from Niche.)
Once GA4 is set up, be sure to connect the appropriate accounts, including your Google Search Console and Google Ads. Then, it’s time to configure settings, such as data retention, internal IP addresses, domains, and more.
Set up your school's goals in GA4
Then it's time to set up custom events and conversions that are not automatically tracked in GA4. For your school, that includes whatever meaningful actions prospective families and donors might make on your website, i.e., your calls-to-action. Those might include inquiry form completions, event registrations, donations, and more. Many of these actions are not automatically recorded in Google Analytics, so you must set them up.
There are a few ways to set them up. You can import them from your current universal analytics account if they exist, set them up as new custom events directly in GA4, or set them up in Google Tag Manager. In any case, remember to indicate that these new events are "conversions" so they show up as conversions in your reporting, versus just events, for more insightful reporting. Use this resource on how to set up custom events or goals within Google Tag Manager and GA4.
Once you place the GA4 tag on your website, connect accounts, configure settings and conversions, it’s time to let the data collect and explore the great reporting tools available in GA4—and start reaping their benefits!
Whether we like it or not, GA4 is the future of analytics. As school marketers, it’s more important than ever to harness solid data to help steer decision-making. If you get started on GA4 today, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Need help? Enroll Media Group now offers GA4 training and set-up.