How to use and navigate GA4
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the newest iteration of Google Analytics. Just like the previous version, Universal Analytics, GA4 is designed to help you understand how users interact with your website or app. The data GA4 provides is critical to developing a sound marketing strategy and offers checkpoints to determine how well your strategies are performing.
Data Driven Marketers is the expert in using GA4 to analyze this data and develop a robust marketing strategy to drive business. This blog is a step-by-step guide on how to use and navigate the features and reports of GA4. You can check out our other blogs for more information about what GA4 is and why we’re transitioning to it.
Basic GA4 features you should know how to use
GA4 offers a ton of data, and while everyone has a preference for which specific data informs their marketing strategies best, there are some basics that you should be familiar with. In order to get the most out of GA4 and the information it provides, there are tools and features that you’ll need to know how to use.
Once you are logged into GA4 and have selected the appropriate property, you should automatically be taken to the “Home” tab. This tab offers a quick, high-level snapshot of your website or app’s performance. It’s perfect for getting a general sense of how things are going without digging too deep into the data. The GA4 home page is designed to change over time and show you information that you tend to look at or value, but there’s some information presented that’s universal for everyone’s home page:
- An overview line-graph will allow you to see trends for your important data points.
- A bar chart will show the amount of users that have visited your site or app in the last 30 minutes.
- The“Recently Accessed” section will give you the ability to access recent reports that you have viewed in GA4.
- The “Suggested for you” section will show you quick tables of information that Google thinks you would consider valuable.
- You can click on any of these tables to be taken to that GA4 report.
- The “Insights and Recommendations” section displays recent automated insights generated by GA4. These insights can help you identify trends, opportunities, and potential issues related to your website or app’s performance.
GA4 provides the ability to change the date range and compare it to previous periods to help users understand trends and performance over time. This GA4 feature allows users to analyze their website or app data in different time periods, such as week-over-week, month-over-month, or year-over-year.
At the top right of each of the GA4 report pages, there will be an option to change the date range for your data. If you click on this, it will allow you to choose preset date ranges or custom ones. Additionally, if you click the “Compare” switch, it allows you to look at how your data compares to a previous date range.
A date range isn’t the only metric you can use to compare data in GA4. The “Add comparison” button located at the top of the page allows you to filter by plenty of other dimensions.
Once you’ve clicked the button, an option will appear on the right side of the screen, allowing you to choose what dimension you want to look at by either including or excluding certain dimensions.
GA4 report types
The Reports tab contains a collection of prebuilt and customizable GA4 reports that provide insights into user behavior, engagement, and acquisition for your website or app. These reports help you analyze and monitor key performance metrics, enabling you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your marketing strategies. The report categories in GA4 include:
This page showcases a single chart from some of the top reporting pages. Each of the charts provides a quick link to the report page that it’s showcasing. Ideally, this page is used to quickly determine site performance overall while providing you a quick way to access more information if needed.
The Real Time overview page is a valuable tool that provides you with immediate insights into the current activity on your website or app. This GA4 feature allows you to monitor user engagement in real time, displaying data such as the number of active users, their locations, the devices they’re using, and the pages or screens they’re interacting with. The Real Time overview is particularly useful for tracking the immediate impact of marketing campaigns, social media posts, or newly published content, as it enables you to observe user behavior and engagement as it unfolds.
Overview: This report provides an overview of how users are finding your website or app and how they are interacting with it. Here are some of the key metrics that you can analyze on this GA4 page:
- Sessions: The total number of sessions during the selected time period
- New sessions: The percentage of sessions that were from new users
- Users: The total number of unique users during the selected time period
- Bounce rate: The percentage of sessions that resulted in a bounce (where the user left the site without interacting with anything)
- Average session duration: The average time users spent on the site during each session
User Acquisition: Where are your users coming from? This GA4 report shows how your website or app is acquiring traffic. Here are some of the key metrics that you can analyze on this page:
- New users: The number of new users during the selected time period
- User retention: The percentage of users who returned to your website or app after their first visit
- User acquisition channels: The channels through which your website or app is acquiring traffic, such as organic search, direct, or referral
- User acquisition campaigns: The campaigns that are driving traffic to your website or app
Traffic Acquisition: This report shows how traffic is acquired on your website or app. Here are some of the top metrics that you can analyze on this GA4 page:
- Sessions by source: The sources of traffic to your website or app, such as organic search, direct traffic, or referral traffic
- Top referrers: The websites that are referring the most traffic to your website or app
- Devices: The devices that are being used to access your website or app, such as desktop, mobile, or tablet
Overview: The overview page in the engagement section of GA4 provides a brief snapshot of the information found in the more detailed reports.
Events: This report shows how people are interacting with specific events (clicks, scrolls, form submissions, etc.) on your website or app. Some metrics you can get from this GA4 page include
- Total events: The total number of events triggered
- Unique events: The number of unique events triggered
- Event value: The total value of all events that were triggered
- Top events: The events that were triggered the most during the selected time period
Conversions: This GA4 report is similar to the events page; however, conversions are set manually and help the owner track specific events that lead to conversions (phone calls, emails, form submissions).
Pages and Screens: This report shows how people are interacting with specific pages on your website or app. Some of the key metrics that are highlighted on this GA4 page include
- Total pageviews: The total number of pageviews
- Unique pageviews: The number of unique pageviews
- Average time on page: The average time users spend on each page or screen
- Top pages/screens: The pages or screens that were viewed the most during the selected time period
Landing Page: This report shows which pages people are using to get to your site. This GA4 report is very similar to the Pages and Screens report, but you can use this report to see how well each page is doing on search.
Overview: The GA4 overview provides a high-level snapshot of how your website or app is generating revenue.
Ecommerce Purchases: This report shows data related to ecommerce transactions. Important metrics that you can analyze on this GA4 page include
- Total revenue: The total revenue generated from ecommerce transactions
- Products sold: The number of products sold during the selected time period
- Average order value: The average value of each order
- Ecommerce conversion rate: The percentage of sessions that resulted in an ecommerce purchase
In-App Purchases: This shows data specifically related to purchases made in your app. This provides the same information as the “Ecommerce Purchases” page, but it limits the data to just purchases from your app.
Publisher Ads: This is data that’s related to ad revenue. Some of the data metrics included on this GA4 page are
- Ad revenue: The total revenue generated from ads
- Impressions: The total number of ad impressions
- Clicks: The total number of ad clicks
- Ad click-through rate: The percentage of ad impressions that resulted in a click
Promotions: This GA4 report shows data related to promotional activities such as discounts or coupons. This page provides the following metrics:
- Promotion code usage: The number of times a promotion code was used during the selected time period
- Promotion code revenue: The total revenue generated from promotion codes during the selected time period
- Promotion redemption rate: The percentage of users who redeemed a promotion code
Overview: Similar to the other overview pages in GA4, this provides snapshot cards to get a quick look at various data metrics pertaining to user demographics:
Demographic Details: This is a more detailed look at the demographic information of your website or app users. Some of the metrics included in this GA4 page are:
- Age and Gender
- Interests: The topic categories that your customers are interested in
- Technology: The devices and operating systems that your users are using
Tech Overview: This GA4 snapshot provides you with an overview of the technology that people are using to get information about your business. Here are some of the key metrics that you can analyze on this page:
- Operating systems
Tech Details: This allows you to obtain more detailed information about the technology used within your website or app. This GA4 page also provides a table that you can manipulate and use to export data for reporting purposes.
The Explorations section in GA4 allows you to analyze your data in a more flexible and customizable way. The main page defaults to show you four types of exploration; however, GA4 actually provides you with eight. To access the other four, open a new report and click the “Technique” dropdown, which will show you the full list of exploration report options. This section of the guide will go over the different types of exploration reports available in GA4. For a more comprehensive breakdown on how to set up customizable reports, we encourage you to review Google’s informational page.
- Blank: Leaving the “Technique” dropdown blank provides a customizable GA4 exploration that allows you to choose the dimensions and metrics you want to analyze. This exploration is useful when you have a specific question you want to test and need to create a custom report to answer it. For example, you could create a blank exploration to analyze how different traffic sources are contributing to your overall website revenue.
- Free Form: Free Form is a more guided exploration that allows you to select dimensions and metrics from a pre-populated list. This GA4 exploration is useful when you want to explore the data in a more structured way and don’t want to start from scratch. For example, you could create a free-form exploration to analyze the bounce rate and time on page for a specific set of landing pages.
- Cohort: Cohort exploration allows you to analyze user behavior over time, segmented by specific characteristics such as channel group or device type. This exploration is useful for identifying trends and patterns in user behavior over time. For example, you could create a cohort exploration in GA4 to analyze the revenue of users who signed up for your newsletter.
- Funnel: Funnel exploration is used to analyze the steps in a conversion funnel, such as the steps a user takes when making a purchase on your website or app. This GA4 exploration allows you to track user behavior at each step of the funnel and identify areas where they may be dropping off. For example, you could create a funnel exploration to analyze the steps that users take when signing up for a subscription service.
- Segment Overlap: Segment Overlap exploration in GA4 allows you to analyze the overlap between different user segments. This exploration is useful for understanding how different user groups interact with your website or app and can help you identify opportunities for optimization. For example, you could create a segment overlap exploration to analyze the overlap between users who have made a purchase on your website and users who have signed up for your newsletter.
- Path: Path Exploration is used to analyze the paths that users take through your website or app. This GA4 exploration allows you to see the sequence of pages or screens that users visit and identify common paths or drop-off points. For example, you could create a path exploration to analyze the most common paths that users take when navigating from the homepage to the checkout page on your website.
- User Explorer: User Explorer allows you to analyze the behavior of individual users on your website or app. This exploration is useful for understanding how users interact with your website or app, and it can help you identify areas where users may be experiencing issues or drop-off. For example, you could use the user explorer in GA4 to analyze the behavior of users who have dropped off of a certain page repeatedly.
- User Lifetime: User Lifetime exploration allows you to analyze the lifetime value of your users, including how often they return to your website or app and how much revenue they generate over time. This GA4 exploration is useful for understanding the long-term impact of your user acquisition and retention strategies. For example, you could use the user lifetime exploration to analyze the revenue generated by users over the course of a year.
The Advertising workspace offers insight into your users’ journey. In order to use this feature, make sure that you’ve linked your GA4 account with your Google Ads campaigns. For a detailed guide on how to link those accounts, Google offers a step-by-step walkthrough. By evaluating the Advertising workspace, you’re able to gain a stronger understanding of your ROI on your advertising spending and make other important data-driven decisions. There are four reports currently available in the GA4 Advertising workspace:
This page provides you with summary cards and gives you a quick overview of how your ads are performing. The two GA4 summary cards are
- Conversions by default channel group: This shows your conversions by channel group and can show you what percentage of conversions are coming from your paid ads.
- Conversion path: This shows the paths that users go through on your site before a conversion event. This is a great way to see what pages are driving people to look at more information on your site and if any pages are performing particularly well.
The Advertising snapshot page in GA4 also provides you with insights of your Google Ads data that can be useful for quickly determining noteworthy metrics.
Performance: All Channels
This section of GA4 provides you with an overview of the performance of your website or app across different marketing channels. It offers insights into the traffic sources, user engagement, and conversion metric. It can be used to determine what channels have been effective at driving quality leads to your site.
The attribution reports in GA4 allow you to better determine how credit is assigned to different marketing touchpoints along your customer’s journey, leading to a conversion or desired action. GA4 gives you the ability to evaluate the following attribution models:
- Data-driven: This utilizes advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques to analyze historical data and determine the credit distribution for each touchpoint. It takes into account various factors and patterns specific to the business and customer behavior.
- Last Click: This attributes all of the credit for a conversion to the final touchpoint or channel that someone interacted with before converting.
- First Click: This assigns 100% of the credit to the first touchpoint or channel that initiated the customer’s journey.
- Linear: This distributes credit equally across all touchpoints in the user’s journey. It gives each touchpoint an equal share of the credit.
- Position-based: This assigns more credit to the first and last touchpoints in the customer journey while distributing the remaining credit evenly among the other touchpoints.
- Time Decay: With this model, more weight is given to touchpoints that occurred closer in time to the conversion.
The “Model Comparison” report within GA4 allows you to choose two of these models and compare the results. It also allows you to break down the results by campaign, source, medium and additional fields. The other GA4 attribution report is “Conversion Paths.” This report allows you to see the early, mid, and late touchpoints leading up to a conversion. Analyzing this allows you to better understand which customers produce conversions and what path they tend to take on your website.
Get help with GA4
Google Analytics 4 is a powerful tool for gaining insights into your website or app’s performance—but there’s a lot to it! You don’t have to do it alone. Data Driven Marketers specializes in utilizing GA4 not only to analyze how your website is performing, but as a primary tool to determine what strategies will lead to positive results for your business.