Instant Insights The Beginners Generative AI Starter Kit 11


This data was originally featured in the February 14th, 2024 newsletter found here: INBOX INSIGHTS, FEBRUARY 14, 2024: THE PROBLEM WITH JARGON, GA4 DIAGNOSTICS

As we covered recently on the Trust Insights livestream, Google Analytics 4 can be a bit cumbersome to use. So starting this week, I’ll be sharing a four part series on diagnostic analytics for GA4, to understand whether or not your GA4 is working correctly. It’s important to note that we won’t be examining GA4 for marketing purposes – this is bare bones, bare metal “is it working?” Stuff.

This week, let’s dig into events and conversions. I personally extract the data from GA4 via the API but you can easily build this chart in seconds in the Explorations menu. Choose event name and is conversion event from the dimensions, and event count from the metrics:

GA4 events 

What we’re looking for here is the state of events and conversions in GA4. Recall that unlike the previous version of Google Analytics, in GA4, EVERYTHING is an event. Whether it’s a shopping cart purchase, a B2B sales demo request, or a swipe in a mobile app video game, anything and everything that a user does is an event. Some events are more valuable than others, and those are events we specify in GA4 as conversions.

What we’re looking for in this chart is very straightforward: what events and conversions are set, and how much data are we collecting for each of them?

One of the most important best practices here when setting up GA4 is a consistent naming schema for events and conversions. An awful lot of people just set up non-obvious names that then makes governance challenging later. As an example of a best practice, when I set up events that I know will be conversions, I’ll prefix them with conv_, like conv_email_subscribe. There’s no ambiguity there, so if/when the account changes hands and personnel change, it’s fast and easy for new people to get up to speed. Equally important, from a diagnostic perspective, if we’ve named an event conv_something and it’s NOT showing up as a conversion, we know something’s gone wrong.

GA4 comes with a number of events that are built in, like session_start and form_submit. Depending on your situation, you may or may not want these as conversions.

Remember that ONLY conversions show up in the attribution reporting, so if there’s an event you’d like to do attribution on, mark it as a conversion. Typically when I set up a GA4 account, I’ll create three classes of conversions: awareness, behavior, and conversion.

Awareness conversions are things like new users, where you’re attracting net new people to your property – and you might want to know what channels are doing best with that.

Behavior conversions are engagements that lead to retention of an audience and potentially buyer intent. These are conversions like newsletter subscribes, where someone is giving you an alternate sale. They’re not ready to buy yet, they’re not a marketing qualified lead yet, but they’re more interested than the casual passerby.

Conversion conversions are, of course, valuable actual conversions like shopping cart checkouts, demo requests – anything that has a clear line of site to an important business objective.

Equally important when looking at this diagnostic report is to see what’s not there. Is there an event set up, perhaps in Google Tag Manager, that isn’t showing up? If so, either something has gone wrong in configuration, or that event has no traffic to it. Neither case is optimal, and that’s an important thing to troubleshoot.

In the next piece in this series, we’ll look at pages receiving direct traffic.

Shameless plug: if you want these analyses done for you, rather than you doing them yourself, contact us.

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