31 Aug A Practical Guide: Getting the Most Out of GA4
Universal Analytics (UA) passed quietly into the history books on July 1, replaced by the newer, more in-depth Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
“In the age of digital success, Google Analytics 4 is the compass that reveals the path,” said Dr. Chris Dayagdag, marketing expert and author of From Branding to ROI. If you don’t want to be lost in an ocean of possibilities, navigating today’s new AI-driven landscape requires intentional, savvy GA4 reporting and insights.
If you felt you were just getting good at UA, why did Google replace it with a new, shiny tool? In an age where user experience and privacy are vital, GA4 addresses privacy concerns while collecting data across platforms (mobile apps and websites) and relies heavily on predictive AI. In our April blog post, Threadgill encouraged early adoption and highlighted GA4’s best marketing features. One of the most notable changes is the revamped approach to metrics and reporting.
Before determining what data to collect and how to use it, experts agree the first question you need to answer is, “What’s the goal of my website?” Social Media Examiner shares these helpful steps:
- Pinpoint how your website makes money: leads, conversions, referrals, etc.
- Decide which events you need to track. At first, try tracking one macro-event (like a lead or sale) and a couple of micro-events (such as visiting a page or filling out a form).
- Use the data you get to make your website more profitable than ever.
Tips for Your Best GA4
If you panicked with the looming deadline and only did the basics GA4 Setup Assistant, don’t fret. But with the required migration, you now have the motivation to experiment and make sure it’s done correctly.
With deeper customer insights, GA4 can create better customer targeting, leads, and conversions. Instead of a “set it and forget it” mindset, utilize GA4’s best features and implement these practical tips for success.
New Measurements to Consider
Average Engagement Rate on Page: A New Dimension of Insight
The traditional “Average Session Duration” metric has paved the way for the more insightful “Average Engagement Rate on Page” in GA4. Instead of measuring the time users spend on your website as a whole, this tracks the time users spend actively engaging with a specific page. It excludes periods of inactivity, creating a more accurate representation of user interaction. This shift in focus shows which pages are truly resonating with your audience, and prompts you to adjust your content strategy accordingly.
Engaged Users: Measuring Meaningful Interactions
GA4 introduces the concept of “Engaged Users” to track users who have interacted with your website in a meaningful way; actions like clicking on a video, submitting a form, or scrolling through a significant portion of a page. Engaged Users provide insights beyond simple page views, revealing how many visitors are genuinely interacting with your content. This data proves invaluable for tailoring your content to meet user expectations and preferences.
Sessions Count: A User-Centric Approach
For UA, the clock struck midnight to reset a user’s session, but GA4 introduces a user-centric approach to tracking sessions. Each session is now determined by user activity rather than being tied to a specific time frame. A session starts with the first user interaction and smartly concludes after 30 minutes of inactivity. This shift offers a more accurate representation of user engagement, especially in a world where users often revisit websites multiple times before taking meaningful actions.
Maximizing Events and Conversions
Different from UA’s page views and form conversions, GA4 focuses on user “events” and sessions as a whole. AI helps analyze user intent through their behavior, not just predefined metrics. No longer called “goals” from UA’s iteration, GA4’s uses “events” to track every user interaction.
Google Analytics 4 offers both automatic and custom events. Automatic events include user sessions, first visits, session starts, and more. Another pro tip — turn on your event enhanced measurement under Data Streams. GA4 collects these events, but you have to manually turn on the enhanced feature. This includes events like file downloads, video plays, and external link clicks.
You may find you have a whole treasure trove of “events.” A page may have several events, for example, but setting up specific “conversions” help differentiate them from general events (such as page scrolls).
For conversion counting, GA4 takes a flexible approach. It allows you to define and track multiple conversion events based on your business goals. Whether it’s signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or completing a form, GA4 provides the tools to measure conversions that align with your unique objectives. This adaptability ensures that you’re not limited to a predefined set of conversion metrics, enabling a more tailored marketing analysis.
Custom Reports for Enhanced Insights
One of the standout features of GA4 is the ability to create custom reports fit for your marketing team’s needs. These custom reports can be curated using a variety of metrics, dimensions, and events that matter most to your analysis. Experts suggest utilizing these two key reports: traffic acquisition (where users come from) and pages & screens (tracking best performance pages across apps and websites).
Whether you want to focus on user behavior, engagement metrics, or specific conversion pathways, GA4’s custom reports empower you to present data that’s both visually compelling and insightful. Read-only reports can be shared with your team or clients. These reports are gold for social media marketers, allowing them to create content that meets user engagement. If you want to get really fancy on reports, check out Google’s Looker Studio.
It’s time to make Google Analytics 4 work for you, providing vast amounts of insights that boost your business. If you need help navigating GA4 data and how to use it in your marketing strategy, contact The Threadgill Agency today.