Do you work in Marketing and want to know how you can use Google Analytics 4 to improve your marketing? Did you know that Universal Analytics is shutting down? As of the 1st of July 2023, Universal Analytics will stop collecting data.
In this article, we’ll show you how to use Google Analytics 4 so that you can continue tracking consumer behaviour and measuring your marketing now and in the future.
What is Google Analytics 4 and How Do I Get Started
If you’re looking to get set up with GA4 then check out our article on GA4 Checklist for Beginners.
Why You Should Set Up GA4 Today
As we’ve just explained GA4 is taking over from Universal Analytics and you only have around a month if not less depending on when you’re reading this. Our advice is to get set up today or get in contact and we can help you each step.
How to Maximise Data and Event Tracking in GA4
Google Analytics 4 allows you to record way more data which means that you can start using more data effectively.
This shouldn’t mean that you should now track everything. The more data you record without using it can make you go number blind. So keep your eyes on the prize and note down what matters to your business and marketing efforts. Think about answering questions like; what are the goals of your website?
Now we’ll start looking at some of the areas and features in GA4 that will help you to be a better marketer.
One key area to note is that the move from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 has meant that you can increase the collection of enhanced data. One area this jumps out at is Audiences.
In the old Universal Analytics, you could use Audiences for Ads. Then you’d need to define segments to describe users for say Organic. In the new GA4, you can combine these two categories, you can now use this audience for both of the areas above. That’s pretty neat.
How To Set Up An Audience In GA4
Firstly let’s look at how to set up an Audience in GA4.
- Log into your GA4 account.
- Then navigate to Admin in the bottom left-hand side
- You’ll now see the Admin section. In the second column under Property, you will Audiences.
- Once the Audiences page has loaded, click New Audience
- Here you can set up one of the Suggested Audiences or you can create your own.
In Google Analytics 4 you can now create Audiences that are very specific based on a user(s) behaviour and journey on the website. Now you might be thinking what Audience do I set up? We’ll walk you through a few examples for you to get a clear idea of what you can achieve from GA4 Audiences.
There are a few Audiences that are created out of the box for you. These are Purchasers and All Users.
Here’s an example of an Audience you could create and what that does. You could create an audience that’s defined as “people who viewed a product page twice in 1 week, then added an item to cart in their next session.” In GA4 this is the level of personalisation targeting you can achieve.
Then you can create audiences to go even further. The great thing with GA4 is you can add users to be members of multiple audiences. You can then create events that are triggered by someone entering an audience and then target them based on that event.
If we take that example audience we’ve just suggested to you, this triggers an event and that specific user is tagged as a lead that hasn’t converted and purchased yet. You can then send targeted messages to that Audience group.
Remember that an Audience will only populate once you have created it. This does not add users to this Audience retrospectively. Another reason to get your GA4 set up today.
GA4 AUDIENCE LIMITATIONS
As with any new feature especially with GA4, there are some limitations to be aware of with GA4 Audiences. Current limitations include. Please note that these may change over time:
- A limit of 100 audiences per property
- A limit of 20 audience-trigger events per property
Note: If limits are reached, audiences can then be archived.
The time needed to build lists:
- It can take around 24-48 hours for GA4 to add a new user to an audience based on the specified criteria
- It can take around 24-48 hours for the audience to accumulate users
Please note that GA4 constantly analyses audience memberships to see if it can add a new user or remove a current user based on the criteria that has been set.
2. Engagement Rate
In GA4 one of the new innovations is Engagement Rate. They have worked on improving one of the old metrics from Universal Analytics which was Bounce Rate. There are a lot of opinions in the SEO world about how useful a metric like this is, but we won’t get into that today.
GA4’s introduction of Engagement Rate, GA4 has separated these two by recording separate engagement and bounce rates, with new definitions.
The engagement rate is the percentage of engaged sessions on your website or mobile app. The bounce rate is the opposite of the engagement rate. The bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that were not engaged.
These metrics are way more useful than the old way. Engagement rate can be a valuable tool. It can help you to see which pages are most or least interesting to your users. It can be less useful as a tool for reporting on marketing objectives. So be aware of how you use this!
3. Content Consumption
Engagement Time, this shows you how long a user(s) stay engaged with a page. This is the next step from the basic definition of engagement.
It’s not perfect at the moment. For example, a user(s) have to trigger events to keep registering as engaged. This means that some things get missed. Here’s a scenario for you. If a user reads a blog for over 5 mins and does not click on any links or even reach the 90% scroll point (new feature in GA4). Google Analytics 4 can think that this user has stopped engaging with the website. When in fact they were just enjoying their reading. There are solutions out there that can help fix this. You can also make some adjustments to your tracking. For example, we modify Scroll Tracking to track the Scroll depth of a page at 10%, 25%, 50% and 75%. As standard GA4 only triggers and Event at 90%.
UTM Tracking (Urchin Tracking Module) is something all Marketers should be using. You can track traffic from Paid through to Emails. When it comes to GA4 it works a little differently.
In Universal Analytics link acquisitions got fed into and grouped into Channels. If you’ve used UA you’ll know about the Other channel. In GA4 they have changed this to Unassigned which kind of makes it clearer what this channel is about. Some of the new channels that have been added to GA4 are Paid Social, Video, Audio, and Paid Shopping. It looks like Google are adding more as we speak so this may change. Before in UA, you’d have to manually create these additional channels yourself. This still isn’t perfect but it’s a good step forward. You can now create new Channels yourself in GA4.
Remember that when switching over you may need to update your UTM tracking codes and procedures to help you move forward with your tracking.
Next up we’ll look at…
How to Generate a Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
GA4 has some great new features over Universal Analytics. But there are some drawbacks, which hopefully will get ironed out in the coming months. We’ll have to wait and see.
Reporting, weirdly is one of the drawbacks. There are two primary ways you can report on data in GA4. One is through the reporting interface.
You can actually customise the interface you see above by clicking on the Library button in the Reports list under Life Cycle and Users etc. Did you know you can work to make GA4 look more like the UA interface?
Then we have Explorations. This is where you can take reporting a step further. Or you can create reports that don’t exist in the standard reports section.
The Explorations section is similar to the reports you could create in Universal Analytics. You can create an Exploration report from scratch or pick from one of the available templates and add the rest.
Using BigQuery and Looker Studio (Data Studio)
You can take this all one step further by connecting GA4 to BigQuery. Then you can link BigQuery to Looker Studio for the actual reporting side of your data crunching and reporting. You can also export straight from GA4 into Looker Studio but with BigQuery you have a lot more control over your data.