With the evolution of digital analytics, businesses have found themselves needing to adapt to new tools and platforms. One significant shift is the transition from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). As Google plans to sunset Universal Analytics, businesses must export and store their historical data to ensure continuity and retain valuable insights. But how do you export UA data? This blog post will guide you through the process of exporting your historical data from Universal Analytics and discuss the importance of doing so.

Why Export Historical Data from Universal Analytics?

1. Preservation of Historical Insights

Historical data is essential for trend analysis, performance benchmarking, and understanding long-term patterns. Without this data, it becomes challenging to gauge how current performance compares to historical trends.

2. Seamless Transition to GA4

While GA4 offers advanced features and improved tracking capabilities, it is fundamentally different from Universal Analytics. By exporting UA data, you ensure that you have a comprehensive dataset to compare past performance with current metrics in GA4. It is important to note however that your UA export data cannot be imported into GA4 but rather stored within Google Sheets or other storage devices.

3. Compliance and Reporting

Businesses often need historical data for compliance purposes, auditing, and reporting to stakeholders. Ensuring this data is preserved helps maintain accurate records and meet regulatory requirements. Whether you are storing your data yourself or you are an SEO agency storing it for your clients, ensuring this historical data is kept in a secure place, is a must.

4. Custom Analysis

Exported data can be used for custom analysis, allowing businesses to employ their own methodologies and tools beyond what GA4 offers. This flexibility can be crucial for in-depth analysis and decision-making.

How to Export Historical Data from Universal Analytics

Step 1: Access Your Google Analytics Account

Log into your Google Analytics account and navigate to the Universal Analytics property you want to export data from. Ensure you have the necessary permissions to view and export data.

Step 2: Select the Date Range

Determine the period for which you want to export data. You can export data for specific periods or for the entire duration that your Universal Analytics property has been active.

  • Go to the Audience section.
  • Click on the Overview tab.
  • Use the date range selector in the top right corner to specify your desired date range.

Step 3: Choose the Data to Export

Decide on the specific reports and metrics you need. Commonly exported data includes:

  • Audience Overview: Provides insights into user demographics, behaviour, and technology used.
  • Acquisition Reports: How users find your site, including traffic sources and channels.
  • Behaviour Reports: Details user interactions with your site, such as page views and bounce rates.
  • Conversion Reports: Tracks goal completions, transactions, and revenue.

Step 4: Export the Data

For each report:

  • Navigate to the report you wish to export.
  • Click on the Export button located at the top right of the report.
  • Select the desired format (e.g., CSV, Excel, Google Sheets, PDF).

Step 5: Automate the Export Process (Optional)

If you need to export UA data regularly, consider automating the process using tools like Google Analytics Add-on for Google Sheets or third-party solutions like Supermetrics. These tools can help you schedule exports and automatically pull data into your preferred format.

Using Google Analytics Add-on for Google Sheets:

  • Install the Google Analytics add-on from the Google Workspace Marketplace.
  • Open Google Sheets and navigate to Add-ons > Google Analytics > Create New Report.
  • Configure your report by selecting the desired metrics, dimensions, and date range.
  • Click Create Report.

Once the report is created, you can use the Add-ons > Google Analytics > Run Reports option to fetch data.

Storing Your Exported Data

1. Cloud Storage Solutions

Use cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or AWS S3 to store your exported data. These platforms offer secure storage and easy access to your data from anywhere.

2. Local Storage

For additional security, you might want to store copies of your data on local drives or external hard drives. Ensure these devices are securely stored and regularly backed up.

3. Data Warehousing

Consider using data warehousing solutions like BigQuery, Snowflake, or Azure SQL Database for storing and managing large volumes of exported data. These solutions offer robust data management capabilities and integration with various analytics tools.

4. Version Control

Implement version control practices to keep track of different versions of exported data files. This can be especially useful if you need to revisit or audit data from specific periods.

Best Practices for Data Export and Storage

1. Regular Backups

Schedule regular data exports and backups to ensure that your data is always up-to-date and protected against loss.

2. Data Security

Ensure that your stored data is encrypted and access is restricted to authorized personnel only. Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication for additional security.

3. Documentation

Maintain detailed documentation of your data export and storage processes. This should include information on the data structure, storage locations, and access protocols.

4. Data Quality

Regularly review and clean your data to ensure its accuracy and completeness. This includes checking for missing values, duplicates, and inconsistencies.

Exporting historical data from Universal Analytics is a crucial step for any business transitioning to GA4 or simply aiming to preserve valuable insights. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your data is securely exported, stored, and ready for future use. Remember, historical data is not just about preserving the past; it’s about empowering your future decisions with comprehensive and reliable insights.

By staying proactive and organised in your data management practices, you can make the most of your historical data and maintain a seamless transition to the new analytics era with GA4.

Want to know more about how you can export UA data? Get in touch with the team at Sierra Six Media for more information.