Mailbag Monday Best GA4 reports

Mailbag Monday: Which are the best reports that GA4 has to offer and why?

Katie and Chris answer your marketing, data, and AI questions every Monday.


This week, Jamal asked, “Which are the best reports that GA4 has to offer and why?”


Mailbag Monday: Which are the best reports that GA4 has to offer and why?

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AI-generated transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:00
Welcome to another episode of mailbag Monday where Chris and I are answering all your questions about marketing data and AI. This week, Jamal asked, what are the best reports that GA for has to offer? And why? So Chris, you’re sort of the GA for guru at this point. Are there even any good reports in GA for like, let’s just start there?

Christopher Penn 0:23
Yes, yes, there are. The report that I think is the most useful to us and market as marketers, is the general attribution reporting. So the general attribution reporting, which is somewhat confusingly stuck under advertising, you can see what Google’s priorities are, is, it is the report that I think makes the most sense for the average marketer to pay attention to, because what it does is explains in relatively straightforward terms, what’s working. So what I’m going to do here is I’m actually going to share my screen, just we’re not asking people to imagine this. And if you’re listening, and you’re not watching this on the YouTube channel, head on over to the YouTube channel, you can see us. So if I go into the the left hand menu, there’s an advertising section. And then we have sort of all performance, we have model comparison and conversion paths, the model comparison tool is okay, but the conversion path tool is the one that I think makes the most sense. And here’s why this report shows you sort of a customer journey. So you have all of your channel groupings, that abide by channel, and then you can see the percentage of weight that go away. The percentage of weight that each section of the funnel has early is 4% of our conversion, impact, Mid is 7%. And last is almost 90%. And so what these do is these essentially say, Here’s how each stage of your funnels going. And here’s the channels that are most important in each stage. And what you also see here is the importance of each channel within each stage. So for us, well, I’ll ask you, Katie, when you look at this, what conclusions do you draw from this?

Katie Robbert 2:11
Well, the first glaringly obvious thing is that we’re still not as strong in awareness. We know this, I mean, we’ve talked about this, we’ve acknowledged this, once people come into the Trust Insights ecosystem, they tend to stick around and stay and convert, its getting net new people into that ecosystem that is still consistently the biggest challenge for us, from a resourcing standpoint. So that’s what I see. And then the next thing I see is that in terms of channels, email and organic search are our two most important channels.

Christopher Penn 2:48
Exactly right. Now, the other things you could do is, you can specify which of the conversion events you want to take a look at. So any events that you’ve got set up in GA, you can drill down into. So let’s take a look at just the In-Ear Insights newsletter. By touching bike by clicking on that conversion about this now reorganizes itself a little bit, you can see this is this is a huge change here for just that one conversion event. But if I were to change that to say thank you pages on the website, the data will slowly rearrange itself. Looks like it’s taking a bit of time today. But that will help us that can help you understand a specific conversion. So this speaks to the importance of governance for UGA. Because if you don’t have your conversion event setup, well, you can’t do a drill down analysis.

Katie Robbert 3:40
I would think that, yes, this report is useful. But if you are a very transactional kind of company and you really only do like email marketing, or organic, social or paid ads, like you only really do one or two channels, this type of report won’t be as effective as that. I mean, what do you think about that, Chris?

Christopher Penn 4:03
I think it obviously won’t tell you anything you don’t know about the channels but I think that there’s still value in helping you understand the number of touch points, you know, top middle of bottom of funnel This is finally rearranged itself. So this is just thank you pages and you can see that the thank you pages there’s more upper funnel activity here right there is more 10% in early touchpoints now there’s 23% and mid touch points. So that tells us that from a thank you pages these channels are doing more earlier on in the funnel email on organic organic social, which I think is interesting organic search not really doing that much for thank you pages so that alone tells me okay you know, our our search might be getting us maybe new audience but it’s not getting people to convert on the things that we generate thank you pages for

Katie Robbert 4:53
which I think is okay because you know, we want we tip We use organic search as an awareness tool, not as a conversion tool. So in terms of, you know, the importance, I’m okay with that. People don’t typically search for our stuff cold, they need to know who we are before they search for our stuff. And so I think that that is completely appropriate, you know, we would have to create different copy different content in order to like, we would have to create two different sets of content for organic search, in order to hit the early and the late touchpoints, which, again, at this point, we just don’t have the resources to do that. So in terms of how it’s working, I feel like it’s completely appropriate.

Christopher Penn 5:43
Exactly. Now, the one other thing here is that you can, you’ll notice that you can choose default channel groups source medium or campaigns, you can drill down on those, However, recent li added to Google Analytics is for is custom channel grouping. So if you have a, you want to do this, you can implement a custom channel grouping, then it’s in the application, there’s starting to be places where you can apply those custom channel groupings to see what what’s working what’s not, I don’t know if it’s in this screen. But there are other places and particularly in Explorer hub, where you can do that. So for example, organic social, one of the things that gets lumped in there is activity from slack, right. So I might go into what are channel groupings and make a custom channel group for us and have a private social and put in Slack and Discord in there to split that out. Because you have Instagram and Tiktok, and stuff on the public side. But then those communities where we’re making a real effort, my guess is that organic social is showing up here is really actually private, social. So on unlike GTA three, when you’re doing channel groups in GTA four, you can switch toggle back and forth. So you don’t need to replicate every single channel, to have one view of everything you can toggle back and forth to look at how things work. So that’s something to keep in mind as well.

Katie Robbert 7:07
Now, I know that a lot of companies, a lot of marketers still look at some, you know, fairly high level reporting. And so in the reports themselves, or maybe even in the Explorer hub, I would actually say in terms of like useful reports, I would go to the Explore hub and start to build, you know, if you’re used to seeing, I don’t know, like bounce rate and net new visitors and return users, I would go into the Explore hub and just sort of build a very simplistic dashboard there, versus relying on the out of the box reporting you get from all of their behavior reports,

Christopher Penn 7:50
I would 100% agree the Explorer hub is a better place to do reporting, even a, even if it’s just simple stuff, because just the canned reports that are in GPT-4 really don’t do a very good job, you’re much better off choosing the dimensions of the metrics you care about put everything in one place, you can have like in this exploration here, you can create, like five or six tabs, you can then rename those tabs, or change or alter the tabs is how they work. So you could have a set of essentially dashboards, more or less within explorer hub that will do a better job than the built in reports and are not subject to the query limits that Data Studio is.

Katie Robbert 8:31
And within the Explorer hub, you can build the path exploration report, which at this time, you cannot easily do in Data Studio, you can’t do it at all right? You can sort of jerry rigged it with like, you know, step one, step two, step three, but it’s not the same. And so, I know a lot of marketers are reliant on this kind of reporting. So I would say, go to the Explore hub and recreate the reports there. And then that way that will become your useful set of dashboards. Exactly. Well, so Jamal, thank you for the question, which reports that what are the best reports the GA four has to offer. So we covered the out of the box attribution reporting, where you can sort of see the first middle and end of a basic customer journey you can drill down to source medium do the channel groupings. And then we also recommend that you go to the Explore hub and build some of your reporting there versus being reliant on just the behavior reports and Google Analytics 4.

Christopher Penn 9:33
Exactly. If you’ve got questions you want answered on the show, pop it over to our free slack of go to trust for marketers, where you have over 3000 other marketers are asking and answering each other’s questions every day. And if you want to catch up on previous episodes of mailbag Monday, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter, go to trust where our content is listed out very handily for you. Thanks for tuning in. I will talk to you next time.

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