Making the most out of Google Analytics 4

Ed Upton, Founder & CEO, Littledata
By Ed Upton, Founder & CEO, Littledata

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics. With the sunsetting of Universal Analytics (UA), it’s a whole new ballgame for DTC brands looking to support data-driven growth. Compared with UA, GA4 offers enterprise-level reporting for free.

Event-based tracking: A deeper understanding of user behaviour

One of the significant advancements in GA4 is event-based tracking, which captures specific actions or events on websites and apps. Unlike Universal Analytics, which primarily focused on sessions and pageviews, GA4 offers more detailed data about user behaviour. It tracks actions such as clicks, scroll depth, form submissions, and video plays. See Google’s full list of events that are tracked automatically. This level of granularity empowers businesses to comprehend user behaviour, optimize their websites, identify growth opportunities, and make data-driven decisions that boost their bottom line. Moreover, event-based tracking can enhance campaigns by building audiences to export to Google Ads, such as advertising to customers with average order value (AOV).

Flexible reporting and custom funnels: Unleashing the power of data analysis

GA4 introduces more flexibility in reporting, including the incorporation of custom funnels, a feature previously exclusive to Analytics 360. The new version removes event collection limits and enables cross-web and app tracking, resulting in faster reporting. While reporting capabilities initially posed limitations, Google has now introduced the Explorations tab, facilitating in-depth data analysis by channels or demographics. Explorations encompass free-form, funnel, and path exploration types, allowing businesses to create unique reports tailored to their subscription types, segments, or product categories. However, it’s crucial to ensure accurate data collection, as the saying “garbage in, garbage out” applies when relying solely on client-side tracking or native store tracking. Littledata offers a solution by enabling accurate data stitching through server-side tracking, providing a single source of truth for GA4. 

Deep integration with Google Ads: Enhanced attribution modelling and audience building

GA4 offers deep integration with Google Ads, surpassing the capabilities of Universal Analytics. Google actively encourages users to link their Google Ads account with GA4, as it provides a superior option in the long run. This integration allows merchants to gain a direct view of the customer journey and create audiences based on a combination of dimensions, metrics, and events present in GA4. Google automatically generates two audiences for users, focusing on purchases and all users, streamlining the audience-building process. To leverage the power of GA4 data for Google Ad campaigns, Littledata customers have been utilizing their data to create audiences for years. Sending data directly to GA4 ensures historical data availability since implementation. This connection becomes even more crucial as similar audiences or segments fade out, promoting the utilization of first-party data and Google’s optimized targeting feature. It provides brands peace of mind even when using alternative third-party tools for data reporting purposes.

Easy connection to BigQuery: Unleashing advanced data analysis

The integration between GA4 and BigQuery unlocks new possibilities for eCommerce managers seeking to elevate their data analysis capabilities. Formerly, a $100k per year GA360 account was necessary to access raw, row-level data, generate unsampled reports, or run custom algorithms. However, GA4’s integration with BigQuery allows users to access these features without requiring a GA360 account. This integration is particularly valuable for eCommerce businesses as it provides a robust data warehouse solution and allows brands to own their data for future analysis. With GA4 + BigQuery, businesses can gain deeper insights into customer behaviour, identify new opportunities, and optimize marketing strategies. Many brands opt to send their data to GA4 and subsequently to BigQuery as a backup, ensuring accessibility for future utilization and analysis. 

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