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How to use GA4 to optimize your digital marketing strategy


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How to use GA4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) represents just the latest aspect that marketers are going to need to master as part of their daily efforts. GA4 represents a new type of property designed for the future of measurement. 

GA4 will collect both website and app data to better understand a customer journey, will use event-based data instead of session-based, will include privacy controls like cookieless measurement, and behavioral and conversion modeling, include predictive capabilities that offer guidance without complex models, and direct integrations to media platforms to help drive actions on a website or app. Beginning July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data as new data will only flow into GA4 properties. 

To make the most of this platform, a person needs to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who are a company or client’s target audiences?
  • What events should they set up on their website?
  • When should they measure micro conversions?
  • Where do they need to customize their reports?
  • Why will integrating Google Ads with GA4 be the first step?
  • How should B2B marketers use GA4 and how should B2C marketers also use GA4?

Let us answer each of these questions specifically. 

Who are a company or client’s target audiences?

Even when they are within the same organization, the term audiences can often mean several different things. While an advertising team could refer to audiences for remarketing purposes, the search engine optimization (SEO), social media, content, or other digital public relations (PR) teams could say that audiences refer to a certain segment of users from their website who have generated similar behavioral data, share demographic data, or are otherwise important to a brand in other ways.

Since all of these teams typically report their acquisition traffic by channel (meaning organic search, social, or referral), they rarely ever segment the audiences by their behavior, demographics, or conversions. GA4, on the other hand, will have several suggested audiences a company may want to use for segmentation. 

This can include users who conducted item searches, started watching a video, finished watching a video, did not complete a tutorial, completed a tutorial, provided an email address, or represent potential business leads. GA4 will let people in editor or marketer roles create audience triggers when users reach key milestones like initiating a certain number of sessions, reading a certain number of articles, or crossing a certain number of conversion thresholds.

Such features will allow marketers to discover what different audiences happen to be searching for and engaging with, learn how users are moving through a customer journey unexpectedly, and explore what all of this will mean for optimizing a company’s digital marketing strategy. When most of the traffic to a website comes from default channels such as organic search, organic social, organic video, organic shopping, referrals, or audio, why should a company let advertising get the credit for remarketing to audiences that are not actually paid? 

What events should they set up on their website?

Most events showing a contribution to a bottom line will be collected automatically when a company sets up GA4. But they will not be reported and cannot be used to create audiences until a company enables enhanced measurement.

Seven automatically collected events that SEOs could want to enable for enhanced measurement will include:

  • File_download For when users click links leading to documents, presentations, or audio files.
  • Form_start For when users interact with forms in sessions for the first time.
  • Form_submit For when users submit forms.
  • Scroll For when users reach the bottom 90 percent of pages for the first time.
  • Video_start For when videos begin playing.
  • Video_progress For when videos progress past 10 percent, 25 percent, 50 percent, and 75 percent in duration.
  • Video_complete For when videos end.

Once a company has determined which events will be worth measuring, they should go to Admin, click on Data Streams > Web and slide the switch On under Enhanced measurement to enable their choices. They should also consider adding several other recommended events, such as:

  • Generate_lead For when a user submits a form to request information.
  • Login For when a user logs in.
  • Purchase For when a user completes a purchase.
  • Search For when a user searches content.
  • Share For when a user shares content.
  • Tutorial_begin For when a user begins a tutorial.
  • Tutorial_complete For when a user completes a tutorial.

Companies can also set up custom events. GA4 will use event-based data instead of session-based data, meaning companies need to measure specific interactions after users come to their websites and which default channels they have used to get there.

When should they measure micro conversions?

Companies are often aware that micro conversions measure important steps to completing macro conversions. Since many executives are only interested in the macro conversions, setting up micro conversions was often deemed to not be worth the effort until GA4 came along. 

In several cases, the process can be as easy as just going to Admin, clicking on Events, and selecting the toggle under Mark as a conversion. Companies may want to measure such micro conversions as:

  • Scroll to 90 percent of blog posts or articles.
  • Play at least 50 percent of product videos.
  • Complete tutorials.
  • Download white papers.
  • Complete registration forms.
  • Register for services.
  • Add merchandise to shopping carts.

If a company can associate monetary values with its micro conversions, chances are good that more executives are going to think they matter. If 10 percent of the people signing up for a newsletter also become customers and the average transaction is $500, a company might associate $50 (or 10 percent of $500) as the monetary value for a newsletter sign-up. 

Adding a value when a person has completed a registration form will involve:

  • On the left, clicking Admin > Events.
  • Clicking Create event to see a table of custom events.
  • Clicking an event to modify.
  • Under the Parameter configuration section, clicking Add modification.
  • In the Parameter field, entering currency.
  • In the Value field, entering a currency type.
  • Clicking Add modification.
  • In the Parameter field, entering the value.
  • In the New value field, entering a value.
  • Clicking Save.

Where do they need to customize their reports?

GA4 will offer different report collections based on information a company provides during setup. The default set of reports a company could see will be the Life cycle collection, which can help a company understand each stage in a customer journey, from acquisition to engagement to monetization to retention.

This will be replaced by a business objectives collection if a person selects “Raise brand awareness,” “Examine user behavior,” “Generate leads,” or “Drive online sales” during setup. There will also be a User collection, which can help a company understand the people who use their website, including demographics and technology being used.

A company can also change the primary dimension in a report, add a secondary dimension to a report, apply a filter to show a subset of your report data, and adjust the date range in a report. Companies should also check out Explorations, which is a set of audience discovery and comparison tools that can help them uncover deeper insights about their customers’ behavior. 

This aspect will include all of the following:

  • Funnel exploration Allows companies to see where its users abandon customer journeys that companies have laid out on their websites and identify how well they are succeeding or failing at each step. 
  • Path exploration Allows companies to see the paths their users take as they interact with a website.
  • Segment overlap Allows companies to see if different segments of users overlap with each other and identify new user segments meeting more complex criteria.
  • User exploration Allows companies to analyze users making up segments they create and drill down into individual user activities.
  • Cohort exploration Allows companies to discover insights about the behavior and performance of groups of users related by common attributes.
  • User lifetime Allows companies to better examine user behavior and value over their lifetime as a customer.

Why will integrating Google Ads with GA4 be the first step?

GA4 provides direct integrations with several platforms. One will be Google Ads integration. 

This aspect lets companies see a full customer cycle, from clicking on ads to completing micro and macro conversions. It also allows remarketing in Google Ads using lists based on Analytics audiences that SEOs and marketers create in GA4.

Google Ads integration will only be the first step, however. SEOs will need companies and clients to integrate Search Console with GA4 so they are able to analyze organic search traffic to a website. 

The integration will allow a company to see where a website ranks in search results, which queries are generating clicks, and how the clicks translate into user behavior, such as which landing pages are engaging more users and how many of the users end up converting. B2B marketers could need to integrate Salesforce Marketing Cloud with GA4 to track and analyze a customer journey activity through their GA4 property.

How should B2B marketers use GA4 and how should B2C marketers also use GA4?

B2B chief marketing officers (CMOs) might not want to tell the rest of a C-suite that their digital marketing strategy is to try to suck less, but instead prefer to call their approach either “flywheel marketing” or a “digital transformation” strategy. Whatever the approach ends up being called, it will allow marketing teams to harness the insights that Analytics Intelligence can begin displaying on a home page of GA4 to better nurture audiences, subscribers, and leads.

Analytics Intelligence will use machine learning and conditions that a company can configure to highlight unexpected opportunities and threats. Analytics Intelligence also uses a statistical technique called anomaly detection, and detecting hourly anomalies has a training period of two weeks. 

Detecting daily anomalies takes 90 days. Detecting weekly anomalies involves a training of 32 weeks.

B2B marketers will want to focus on how Analytics Intelligence uses a statistical technique known as “contribution analysis” to identify user segments contributing to anomalies. It will then calculate an anomalous metric value for every user segment and surface user segments on anomaly insight cards.

The country’s top 100 advertisers are all B2C companies though, and they can also use GA4 to optimize their digital marketing strategies. GA4 provides a new way for companies to measure online video advertising campaigns through engaged-view conversions (EVCs), which can indicate that a person watched a YouTube ad for at least 10 seconds before converting on their website within three days of viewing it.

This new KPI will leverage consumer behavior. People often have a strong intent to watch content that they come to YouTube for, so they will also tend to stay on the platform even when seeing an ad during their viewing session. 

Most people do not act immediately after viewing any YouTube video ad, but instead wait to act until after they have finished a full viewing session. This also happens to be where EVCs come in and will explain why 70 percent of YouTube viewers say they bought some brand after finding it on YouTube.

While EVCs have been available since September 2020, three announcements at Brandcast, YouTube’s 12th annual advertiser showcase that was part of the Upfronts 2023, gave the top 100 advertisers in the United States even more reasons to start using KPI. YouTube CEO Neal Mohan said YouTube reached more than 150 million people on connected TVs in the United States, which is a bigger audience than advertisers can reach during the Super Bowl.

Gen Z (18-24 years of age) YouTube viewers rank YouTube as the top video platform they need to engage with things they are passionate about. Finally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said millions of football fans were on YouTube to catch all things NFL and NFL content on the platform gained a 27 percent increase in watch time year-over-year, with 1.9 billion views.

Need GA4 Help in Houston, TX, or the USA?

SERP Matrix understands how GA4 can be just another confusing endeavor for many marketers throughout the country. We also know how to help companies best take advantage of these tools, and can offer assistance setting up an account and learning how to glean all of the information it offers.

SERP Matrix assists companies with mobile app development concerns, so we will know how to ensure that your company is reaching the audience it wants on mobile devices. We also handle pay-per-click (PPC) advertising issues, which are becoming increasingly commonplace in today’s marketplace. 

You should also know that SERP Matrix tries hard to be experts when it comes to local SEO. We back all of our work with an SEO services guarantee.

Do not struggle trying to grasp the complexities of GA4 on your own. You can call (713) 287-1134 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

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