Learn the GA4 Reports Your Business Needs -- and Those You Could Ignore
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Learn the GA4 Reports Your Business Needs -- and Those You Could Ignore
Kate Gingold
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Learn the GA4 Reports Your Business Needs -- and Those You Could Ignore

The new Google Analytics, GA4, is split up into three main Reports, Explore, and Advertising. Not all may be important to your organization, so let’s take a closer look.

Last time, we looked over the Home page of your new GA4 dashboard and identified the cards, which is what Google calls the boxed reports. To review briefly:

  • Engagement is the goal.
  • Every bit of engagement on your website is an Event.
  • Events are tallied up by Sessions.
  • Sessions time out after 30 minutes of inactivity so one User might have many Sessions.
  • Users are identified by device.

One thing we didn’t mention last time is the area on the very bottom that is labeled “Insights & Recommendations.” If your GA4 account is new, it may show an hourglass and say “Your Insights will appear here soon.” Eventually, there will be cards in this section, although maybe not for quite a while.

This information is generated by Google’s Analytics Intelligence, or AI, which is also AI as in Artificial Intelligence. Through the use of machine learning, GA4 watches for trends and irregularities in your website’s data that it reports to you automatically. You can also set up custom reports if you want to watch for something specific. Some reports we’ve seen on the cards include:

  • Organic Search appeared in X% of your conversion paths
  • Google/organic drove the most conversions (X%)
  • Organic Search appeared as the last touchpoint in X% of your conversions
  • Users dropped

In our own experience, it requires a sizeable amount of data or a really wacky anomaly to generate a report, so if things are humming along as usual, you may not see an Insights card. As for recommendations, lately, all Analytics Intelligence has been recommending our clients is to use the GA4 mobile app.

At the top of the Home page, underneath the blue “house” icon are three more icons. The first one, Reports, is the important one for every organization. The other two are Explore and Advertising which are used in specific situations and important only to businesses that need these reports. Let's take a quick look at these:

The Advertising section provides detailed data on the buyer’s journey to help businesses fine-tune the conversion process from an advertising campaign through the website sales funnel up to the Call To Action decision. This information is great stuff – if you are paying for Google Ads. If you are not running a Google Ads campaign, however, you won’t need to access this section.

Explore is another fascinating and detailed repository of data that your organization may never use. This section is a workroom for serious data analysts who can create their own customized reports to pinpoint consumer journeys and engagement events in very particular ways. For the analyst who needs to visualize data for their marketing department or their CEO, this is their playground. For the smaller business owner, this is probably overkill.

That leaves the Reports section, full of rich details about how folks use your website. There is much to look at there, so let’s save that closer look until next time.

Aren’t seeing data in your GA4 dashboard? It could mean it’s not set up correctly, so if you want us to take a look, just give a call. Or call to have GA4 installed if you didn’t get around to it yet. The tool is free and so useful to any size organization, including yours!

Photo by Mikael Blomkvist

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Kate Gingold

Kate GingoldKate Gingold

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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