How to Update Google Analytics 4 with Google Tag Manager

In today’s Lunch & Learn video, we will talk about the things that you need to know about the new Google Analytics 4, released in October 2020. We will cover many topics that will help make it easier for you to get to know and set up Google Analytics 4 with Google Tag Manager.

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Watch the full video above, and read through the transcript below.

Hello, today, I’m going to walk you through how to update your old Google Analytics account to the new Google Analytics 4. As you might have realized, Google released a new version of its platform in October 2020, which previously was in beta labeled as Web + App. Now, they’ve packaged it all to be applicable to either a website or if you have a web app, or if you have multiple systems feeding into the same account– a website and a web app, mobile app, that sort of a thing.

It’s a really cool upgrade.

There’s a lot more capability for analysis, for tracking events, so we’re all really excited. But, there are a couple of things you need to know for those of you that are using Google Tag Manager already along with your Google Analytics account.

One of the sites that I’m updating on our network machinelearningbusiness.com. What you want to do on the Google Analytics side as your first step is going to be to go into your admin section of your current Google Analytics installation.

In the property section, you’re going to have an option called upgrade to GA4.

You want to go ahead and click on that (see screenshot here; click to expand). 

Upgrade to GA4

If you already have a web app in beta experimental system, then you’d want to select this. But if not, if you just have like a typical website, you’re using Google tag manager with it, just go ahead and click get started, and you’ll see that what’s going to happen here is you’re going to create a Google Analytics for property.

Your basic settings are going to be copied over from your old Universal Analytics property and automatically enhanced measurement will be activated in all categories. You can see this little option down here, which can be a little bit confusing when you read it the first time. This wizard can also enable data collection using your existing tags. If you’re using tag manager, you might think, ‘Oh, why can’t I select this?’

But this does not apply to you if you’re using Google Tag Manager, it’s a little different. So just go ahead and ignore that and then you can create the property.

So here we are, we’ve created the property and then you have this fabulous tool up here called the setup assistant. So basically this is going to give you tips and tricks to pour over all of your previous settings from your other analytics account.

Some of this is going to require manual work and in this video, I’m just going to quickly run through how that works with Google Tag Manager just looking at changing one single tag because it’s slightly different.

First off we want to make sure that we have the right data stream selected here. So there we go. This is a website that’s good. Click on it. There we go. So you can see this looks a little bit different than what we previously would work with. So the measurement ID here we can copy that. There’s a stream ID, but this is the ID that we’re going to want to use. Inside of Google tag manager to create our new Google Analytics for tag. You can see some information down here for whether or not you want to install the global site tag, which is not what we want to do if we’re actually using Google tag manager.

So what we want to do is copy this and then go into our tag manager. The difference here is normally when you create a Google Analytics universal when you link that into your Google tag manager previously, you would have to like create the variable and then create a Google Analytics tag and like the variable inside of the analytics tag, firing on all pages. But this is a little bit simpler actually. So, if you go to new, let’s just name this GA 4, Google Analytics 4, and then over here, we want to look for this Google Analytics, GA for configuration beta.

So then click that and then here we have the measurement ID. So let’s go back to here. This is what we’re looking for, the measurement ID, we’re going to copy that. Copy it in here. There we go. And then the trigger, we want to trigger this on all pages, just like you normally would do for a traditional Google universal analytics tags. You’re going to save that. So now you can see this looks a little bit different in our tag manager. This is what the old universal analytics icon looked like and you can see that this is now the GA 4 configuration. And we can test that, but before we test that I just want to show you how to update an actual event and take a look here at the actual analytics view.

So they have this really cool tool of debug mode if you’re like actually on the site. So here we are on the site. Let’s see if we can see this in real-time, just to start. it might take a second for this to pop up. I’m working remotely from Chile. You can move this around too. When I tested this earlier, I think it took like a minute for my views to show up in the analytics dashboard, even though it says real-time, you know, there’s still slightly a delay.

We’ll go back to this in a second. This is going to be your events section where your events will actually show up. But if you want to figure out how to add, the events will show up here too. Once it starts like actually reading my clicks. You know what, let’s just double-check and make sure that this is firing this new tag that I just put over here in case we have to allow [inaudible 09:04]. And this preview mode is different too. This preview mode is happening because, I think partially Google is transitioning into this process, preparing for like all of the server-side bagging stuff that’s coming up, where third party cookies are at some point going to disappear completely. So, I think like a part of this big change was to get people used to debugging in another screen, like not directly on top of the website, because this is applied to multiple environments, including like mobile applications and that sort of a thing. So it says it’s connected. All right. So like let’s click this and continue.

So we’re seeing that the G4 tag flag is firing here. So you should be able to collect some data on this side. Might just still be; I must somehow my IP address is like filtered out, but no, there we go. Okay, that must be me. Yes, Homepage. Learning and business expert course. How machine learning works first visit page view session start. Okay, cool. I’m wondering why the events aren’t showing up here yet. Well, at least we know this is firing, so let’s just go ahead and create one of the tags here in G4. So, we can see if when we complete that goal, that event, if it’s actually pulled into the new Google Analytics 4 interface.

So why don’t we do the premium course button? So I’m gonna open this up and I don’t want to delete the one that’s on the other analytics because we’re still going to be using the old analytics account for a little bit during this transition, so you don’t want to delete this. You want to make a copy. So let’s do that. Now we have copy of premium course button. So, I’m just going to label this GA 4 premium course buttons, same title, but I know it’s GA 4. And then here, we’re going to edit this. We do not want to be connecting to universal analytics. We want to be connecting to Google Analytics GA 4, but we want to track an event here. So I’m going to select that. And then we have to select our configuration tags. So, I’m going to select this GA 4. Those, the original tag that we set up to track Google Analytics for inside of Google tag manager. And then we want to give this a name. So I’m going to do all lowercase with underscores, it’s best practice for coding events. So we’re going to call this premium…

By the way of best practices around naming conventions for events that are commonly used across different systems that have been standardized. So when you’re tracking like standard types of events, like a form fill or a purchase of a product or something like that, you might want to look into the documentation and make sure you’re using those best practices so that your code is cleaner. And you run into less problems in the future when you’re connecting to other types of systems and filtering through data and doing analysis, that sort of a thing.

So you can add parameters down here if you like, or properties, more advanced settings, but we’re not going to do that now. Let’s see this goes through. It looks like that saved. So, we now have Google Analytics 4 firing in Google tag manager. And we now have a new tag with the Google Analytics for event for when somebody clicks the premium course button. So I’m going to submit this.

All right. And, you know what I realized that probably I wasn’t seeing the data because I didn’t publish before. I don’t think, that happens. So let’s preview this again and let’s go to start. Click this, let’s click this Premium signup page. Check this out. This I think is one of the coolest parts of this new system. Basically, you can see down here, premium course button. I clicked on premium course button, and it shows the timeframe between all of the different events that are coming in from the user on the website. And you can get to this down here where it says debug view. And so, this is just like a really good way to double-check to make sure that when you created this tag in Google tag manager with the new Google Analytics 4 account that it’s actually firing correctly inside of your Google Analytics 4 account.

So the event is being pulled in here. And so this is the first step before you then add it as like an actual conversion event, but we know the event information is coming through. So at least it’s communicating.

So that’s all I’m going to go through today. As a starting point, you need to first transition your current analytics over to the new Google Analytics 4 system. Then you need to log into your Google tag manager account and set up a Google Analytics 4 tag. Once you have the tag set up, then you’re going to have to go through all of your current Google Analytics, old universal Google Analytics tags, make a copy of them, label them with, I would recommend doing GA4, so, you know, these are the new ones you’re creating, even though you’ll see the icons, so that will help. And then create an actual Google Analytics GA 4 event out of those. So that you can then pull in all of that information into the new system, as your conversion tags in whatever way you designed the system.

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post

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Post Contributors

Jaclyn Hawtin

Jaclyn Hawtin

Senior Data Architect

Over a decade of experience in product management, devops, startups, and agile methodologies. Track record of simplifying complex technical processes for cross-functional teams. Proficient in user centered design, UX, IX, UI, IA, user research and data analytics for responsive web, mobile and tablet applications. Incredibly adaptable, fluent with both people and machines.

Mani O'Brien

Mani O'Brien

Conversion optimization manager

Mani is a senior marketing manager with roots in storytelling. She nerds out on everything data, technology, human behavior and design. Chat with her about UX/UI, marketing funnels, conversion and goal tracking, marketing experimentation and astrology (she’s a Virgo Sun, Aries Rising).

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