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Why website-dependent businesses must act ASAP on GA4

Heard about the switch to GA4, but still don’t know what that means? It’s not too late to learn and take urgent action. Mark Bush, Director of the Firebird Partnership and expert data consultant, gives readers the full low-down.

Today’s post from me is not your usual article. Think of it more as a public service announcement for every business reliant on a website…

“In a few weeks’ time, GA Universal will cease to gather new data for its users. Then, next year, all historic data will be permanently deleted”

On 1 July 2023, in just a few weeks’ time, Google Analytics (GA) Universal – the leading web analytics tool for tracking website traffic and conversions – will officially “sunset”; AKA cease to process any new hits or monitor data for users.

For twelve months after that day, the tool will retain the historic information that it has collected for each website since it started its operations. Then, in July 2024, the entirety of that data will be permanently deleted.

Until that moment comes, the only way to continue gathering vital information about how your website performs is to transition to the updated version of this free Google tool: GA4.

The best-advised companies out there will already have made the move and begun to track their data with the new tool. If you’re one of the business owners or founders who hasn’t yet done anything to prepare for this shift, you aren’t alone. Some of the savviest guys out there are in the same position. But you – and they – need to act as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss a major opportunity.

“A business’s website is a window on the world”

Any company who offers key corporate information, online transactions, or aims to gain leads through their website, will know that their site is a window on the world. Not taking notice of which users pass through, what they are buying and when they are leaving, is like standing in a shop and not paying attention to the customers coming through your doors.

For the past 15 years, GA Universal has done a decent job of tracking user details and behaviours through the use of cookies and other solutions. However, its replacement takes those capabilities substantially further, making it an ideal tool for current and future markets.

GA4 is an immensely powerful solution allowing businesses to understand how their website performs from a user-engagement stand-point, how marketing and adverts perform, and generally how successfully leads are converting. Despite the internet’s pending transition to a cookie-less future for customers, GA4 will continue to offer smart predictive insights, and use advanced modelling to fill in the gaps where data may be incomplete (the inevitable result of growing rules on data privacy).

Unlike the outgoing version, GA4 is also cross-platform by design, allowing businesses to gain insights across all digital real estate, including apps. When implemented in the right ways, it gives teams a brilliant opportunity to obtain intelligent insights, take fully informed decisions on marketing, and invest in what works.

In short, the sooner you start using it, the better handle you’ll have on your client base, and the clearer edge you’ll have on your competitors.

“Be mindful that there are degrees of GA4 set-up”

Making the switch to GA4 is a relatively straight-forward process, but does require some level of technical expertise: most SMEs will need a consultant to make the appropriate changes. Be mindful that there are degrees of set-up too. Ideally you need someone with the right technical skills to remap solutions in the configurations that suit your business.

That kind of change requires investing in some developmental resource, and thinking ahead on strategy. With advisers like Firebird on board, you can define the correct architecture for measurements, and implement good practice that sustainably fits your needs.

“If you don’t make the switch to GA4 in time you’ll be blind to what is going on and why”

So what happens if you don’t make the switch to GA4 in time? To continue an earlier analogy, you won’t know who is in your shop, where they’ve come from, what they’re browsing, what they’re buying, or what they want to buy. You’ll have little grasp of which marketing campaigns are performing well and, conversely, which ought to be updated.

In effect you’ll be blind to what is going on with your website and why. Even if a 50% drop in traffic were to occur, you could conceivably fail to spot this, to know what was behind it, and to prevent it from repeating.

At the same time you’ll have just twelve months to load your old metrics before they vanish for good, removing every benchmark you’ve had to that point.

Right now all businesses have an opportunity to improve their decision-making, and a failure to take action in time will be a big step back. Try not to be blasé. Try not to ignore what’s significant amid the noise. Get in touch today and see how we can help.

Mark Bush is a Director of Firebird with over two decades of experience in the travel and leisure sector, in senior IT, MD and CEO positions. He is the expert strategist for the eCommerce and Data Diagnostic elements of Firebird’s Foundations for Growth review, offering digital-focused NED support to establish long-term leads for accelerated growth.

Learn more about the programme, and contact Firebird, at


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