Data Evolution: Haven's Journey from Google Analytics to Amplitude

Learn how Dan Grainger ran Haven's successful migration from Google Analytics to Amplitude, reshaping their approach to data.

Customer Stories
December 18, 2023
Image of Adam Greco
Adam Greco
Product Evangelist, Amplitude
Adam Greco & Dan Grainger Headshots

In 2022, Google announced that it would sunset Universal Analytics (UA), meaning that users would have to migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) or find a different provider. Since then, the reception of GA4 has been less than enthusiastic.

Teams have to put in a lot of implementation work just to get to where they were with Universal Analytics, and they’re forced to make the move on Google’s timeline rather than at their own pace. There’s also frustration around the fact that GA4 lacks some of the functionality UA had.

Add to that concerns around privacy and regulation, and it’s easy to see why organizations have started to weigh up different analytics solutions. In my role as a product evangelist at Amplitude, I hear customers' frustrations with Google Analytics (GA) firsthand and watch the transformation when they switch to Amplitude.

Haven, a leading UK holiday provider, recently migrated from Google Analytics to Amplitude. Dan Grainger, head of analytics at Haven, joined me to discuss how he chose a new provider, decided on Amplitude, and made the switch.

Key Topics
  • How to choose a new analytics vendor that meets your business needs
  • Haven’s experience since switching to Amplitude
  • How to ease your analytics migration

Tune in to the full on-demand webinar to learn more about Haven’s journey from GA to Amplitude.

What to look for in an analytics vendor

With the sunsetting of GA, organizations have had to switch to GA4 or find a marketing analytics replacement. The specific requirements for an analytics vendor will vary by organization, but there are some key elements I recommend looking out for.

Insights to action

There’s no point in collecting data if you can’t activate that data to impact business goals. Integration is important here—you want an analytics vendor that you can easily connect to tools you’re already using.

Haven could integrate Amplitude with their marketing stack and the other platforms they had already connected to UA. The team uses Amplitude webhooks to send data to Haven’s CRM platform in real time, so they always have up-to-date information to work from.

In the current complex data privacy landscape, it’s important to know that you’re collecting, storing, and moving data in a compliant way. With Amplitude, Haven can keep its data stored in Europe and comply with regulations in England and Wales.

Data democratization

As more teams realize the benefits of having data-driven insights, the pressure on centralized data teams grows. A solution to this issue—data democratization—requires a self-service analytics platform. But data access is not the same as data democratization. The solution needs to make learning from the data easy for non-analysts.

“Realistically, you're only going to get to that [data-driven] culture if you've got tooling or setups that people are happy to use and understand. If you don't have these things, it's just not going to work.”

Dan Grainger, Head of Analytics, Haven

At Haven, the number of employees who are actively using Amplitude is roughly double the number who were actively using Google Analytics. Data now plays a part in more conversations across the organization—from marketing to product teams.

The kinds of requests Dan and his data-specialized colleagues receive have also changed. With Google Analytics, people would say, “I’m lost. Can you help me?” With Amplitude, they say, “I’ve built this chart. Can you check it?”

More than product analytics

For some, including the team at Haven, moving on from UA is an opportunity to streamline product and marketing analytics by finding a vendor that can do both. For a long time, the Amplitude team had a vision for the merging of product and marketing analytics. Now, Amplitude serves customers with both kinds of analytics in one platform.

Part of the reason why Haven chose Amplitude was its move into the broader digital analytics space. The Haven team also welcomes that Amplitude is constantly iterating on its platform and regularly adding new features. Dan cites cart analysis as one of the newer features that has been useful for the team. According to Dan, cart analysis is similar to enhanced e-commerce in GA, but “It’s far more flexible.”

Are you considering switching from GA to a unified product and web analytics platform? Learn why teams pick Amplitude over GA4.

Four tips for an easy migration

Migrating data is never easy. The deadline to migrate off UA has left some organizations stretched thin, having to complete a migration they hadn’t anticipated. Fortunately, over the course of our careers, Dan and I have picked up some best practices for smooth migration.

1. Spring clean as you go

Migration is the perfect time to audit the event data you’re gathering and clear out anything unnecessary.

It can be difficult to see what data is being used in GA, so check with your team about what data they need. Dan recommends only gathering data with a clear business reason behind it. Ask yourself, “If I don’t need it or it’s not being used for a valid business purpose, why am I gathering it?”

When I did a similar migration at Salesforce, I asked for forgiveness rather than permission. I ruthlessly removed event data and only brought it back if someone specifically asked for it. Around 80% of the tracking I turned off no one ever asked for.

2. Plan, document, communicate

Migration is complicated regardless of the size of your business. Documentation and planning are essential.

Dan uses spreadsheets for planning but suggests using whichever planning tool works best for your team, whether that’s Microsoft Planner, Trello, JIRA, or something else.

Use Amplitude’s event tracking plan template to document your taxonomy, or set it up directly with Amplitude’s data management capabilities.

3. Migrate in buckets

If you have several events to migrate, move them in buckets. Dan arranged all of Haven’s events into priority order, then moved the highest priority ones first. It’s okay if this process results in a period with both GA and Amplitude running side by side until the migration is complete.

4. Accept there will be some data discrepancies

Whether you’re moving to Amplitude from GA or a different tool, accept that you may not get an exact match on the results you saw in the previous platform. Vendors have different processing mechanisms, so there’s always going to be some difference. When you switch to Amplitude, for example, the platform will filter out redundancies.

Your old tool may not have been perfectly implemented. Any difference in the data after a migration might reflect that by implementing the new tool, you may have inadvertently fixed some bugs. That said, any differences should be at a consistent rate.

Amplitude offers several tools to help you make sure you’re tracking the right data, such as:

  • Ingestion Debugger. Check your successful requests, events and identify counts, endpoint error requests, and throttled users and devices.
  • User Look-up. Analyze the live event stream specific to your user profile and confirm you're capturing new events correctly or troubleshoot instrumentation errors.
  • Instrumentation Explorer Chrome extension. Examine and debug your Amplitude Browser SDK Instrumentation.
  • Data Assistant. Access AI-powered recommendations and automation to maintain and improve data quality.

Considering switching from GA to Amplitude? Get a step-by-step roadmap and more best practices in the Google Analytics to Amplitude Migration Guide.

About the Author
Image of Adam Greco
Adam Greco
Product Evangelist, Amplitude
Adam Greco is one of the leading voices in the digital analytics industry. Over the past 20 years, Adam has advised hundreds of organizations on analytics best practices and has authored over 300 blogs and one book related to analytics. Adam is a frequent speaker at analytics conferences and has served on the board of the Digital Analytics Association.