With Universal Analytics (UA) officially sunset as of July 1st, 2023 we begin a new era in Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Adapting to a new platform can be daunting, but there is a lot to be excited about with GA4 and what it has to offer. Now that GA4 has taken over as the primary reporting platform, many are still learning the basics of GA4. To avoid feeling overwhelmed we’ve compiled a list of some of the features that GA4 has to offer. Here are 10 things you can do with GA4:
1. Create Custom Reports
In Universal Analytics you had the ability to build custom reports under Customization > Custom Reports. GA4 is different in the sense that it has introduced what are called Explorations. These Explorations allow you to build fully customized reports that are more dynamic than what was being offered in Universal Analytics. There are numerous ways in which you can see or analyze data in these reports. Below are a few different exploration methods:
Free form exploration – Build custom charts and tables.
Funnel exploration – Build multi-step funnels based on a variety of events.
Path exploration – Follow top paths of interaction based on custom settings.
GA4 also allows users to edit the default reporting based on business needs. This means you can overwrite or perform a Save As default report, filtered to include or exclude certain dimensions.
2. Create Custom Events
Using the new Google Analytics 4 platform you no longer need to add tags in Google Tag Manager or add code to your site when you need to add custom tracking. Most basic interactions are already tracked for you using the new automatically tracked events and enhanced measurement events in GA4. If these events are not what you are looking for you can still create new custom events as well. In GA4, you could in theory create up to 300 events in one property. Custom events can be based on:
- The destination URL of a click
- Submission of a specific form
- A view of a specific page URL
3. Simplified Conversion Tracking
Setting up conversion tracking in GA4 is easier than ever. Once you create an event and it is tracked in GA4, you can mark that event as a conversion by simply toggling it on in the Conversions tab. You can either wait until Events are being recorded to tag them as Conversions or paste the name of your custom event into the Conversions section. In Universal Analytics you only had the ability to track 20 conversions, none of which could be deleted. In GA4 however, you can track up to 30 conversions and delete or remove conversions that are no longer being tracked or needed. Just as in Universal Analytics, these Conversions can be imported into your Google Ads campaigns.
4. Easily Set Up Cross-Domain Tracking
Google has simplified the process of configuring cross-domain tracking so it can be completed in a matter of minutes. To configure cross-domain tracking:
First you are going to want to click on “Admin” in your GA4 property.
Under “Property”, click on “Data Streams”.
From there you are going to click on your web data stream and then go to “Configure tag settings”.
Next, click “Configure your domains”.
Finally, enter all the domains you want to be configured for cross-domain tracking.
Be sure to click the “Add condition” button to enter your domains and then click save when finished.
It is important to know that the GA4 code needs to be embedded in all the domains you’re setting up for cross-domain tracking. In just a few simple steps, you will have cross-domain tracking set up in your GA4 property.
5. Engagement-Based Metrics
In GA4, there are new engagement-based metrics like Engagement rate and Average engagement time. It is important to know that these are two separate metrics capturing different data and are unrelated.
In the new platform, Engagement rate is often thought of as the new metric to display Bounce rate. Engagement rate is insightful to overall website performance, it considers many factors such as clicks, scrolling, and session duration when analyzing user behavior. Average engagement time measures the average length of time that your webpage was in focus on a user’s screen. This metric is helpful in knowing when a user is active on your site versus just having the page open but not displayed.
Bounce rate is more useful for evaluating traffic from specific channels and campaigns since its focus is on single-page sessions.
6. Enhanced Measurement Events
When implemented, Universal Analytics only tracked pageviews by default. To see other types of interactions you had to manually add tags in Google Tag Manager or additional code to your website. To offer more insight GA4 includes an Enhanced Measurement feature.
These events are tracked without needing to change any code on a website or create a new tag in Google Tag Manager. To get the most out of GA4 it is still recommended to add custom events, but Enhanced Measurement is geared towards those who are looking for some basic insights.
The Enhanced Measurement feature is enabled by default and automatically collects the following events:
To disable or enable events individually, you can do so by clicking the gear icon in the Enhanced Measurement section under Data Streams and then toggling each event type.
7. Building Audiences
Reports in GA4 show traffic from All Users by default, but often you’ll want to know how a specific group is engaging your website. GA4 audiences allow you to group users when they complete certain actions, such as filling out a specific form or viewing a certain page. This allows you to create more in-depth reports, to analyze events and conversions. Examples of audiences you may want to create are:
Users in cities where you are opening new locations.
Users who viewed a key page but did not convert.
Users who viewed more than three pages during a visit.
Note: Reports will only show data from Audiences after they are created and will not reflect historical data.
8. Machine Learning and Smarter Insights
In a world where technology is evolving by the day, data analysis platforms are heavily relying on the power of machine learning. This technology combines artificial intelligence and computer science to make predictions and fill in gaps where data may be limited. Google is continuing to enhance its platform using the power of machine learning which is automatically integrated into GA4.
The insights you can gain in GA4 are much more sophisticated than in Universal Analytics. GA4 can highlight web performance metrics you are interested in like when a page is loading abnormally slow or if there is a significant increase in traffic from a specific channel.
GA4 Insights will also point out anomalies in your website traffic. In Universal Analytics, you were able to manually set up custom alerts to notify significant increases or decreases in traffic or if a certain percentage of users came from a specific source. The machine learning that is integrated in GA4 takes care of these alerts and the artificial intelligence detects these anomalies without you having to set them up. One way to think of it is like an assistant that is constantly analyzing your site traffic and notifying you if the performance looks out of the norm. This is one of the many ways machine learning and smarter insights take some of the work out of analyzing data and allow the computer to look for anomalies or trends worth calling out.
9. Improved Funnel Reports
While Universal Analytics allowed you to build page-based funnels under the Goals setting, GA4 has improved this functionality to look at additional steps in the conversion funnel. These reports allow you to view the steps a user takes that lead to a conversion as well as assess the number of users who abandon before a conversion. These funnel reports are created under the Explore tab in GA4.
Google uses the explorations as a template for building the funnel reports. You now can analyze these funnels in GA4 by examining metrics such as abandonment rate, completion rate, funnel steps, and open and closed funnels. Additionally, you could further analyze the data in the chart by breaking it down by dimensions like Session Source/Medium, City or Device. Understanding user behavior along the consumer journey allows you to pinpoint areas in need of improvement which will ideally lead to increased conversion rates.
10. Predictive Analytics
Google Analytics 4 has introduced new predictive metrics to help businesses direct their marketing efforts. These metrics use Google’s artificial intelligence to measure the progress or actions a user will take on their consumer journey that are likely to lead to a conversion. Rather than learning about the past behavior of website visitors, digital marketers can use these predictive metrics to gain insight into future non-purchase behaviors of website visitors. Google has outlined three important metrics using their new predictive metrics.
Purchase probability: The likelihood that a user within the past 28 days will fire a conversion event within the next 7 days.
Churn probability: The likelihood that a user who was active on your site or app within the past 7 days will not be active in the next 7 days.
Predicted revenue: The expected revenue from purchase conversions within the next 28 days from users who were active in the past 28 days.
It is important to note that predictive metrics are intended to be used by eCommerce websites, and others will not be able to access these features.
ZAG Interactive is Here for You
While Google did transition some similar features over from Universal Analytics to GA4, there is much to learn as GA4 evolves and continues to update. A new complex interface such as GA4 can be difficult for individuals who are new to analytics as well as more experienced users. Our team of marketers and strategists are committed to helping our existing clients take on this new venture in GA4. Contact ZAG Interactive if you need help with GA4 implementation or customization.