Understanding GA4 Reporting: Layout Essentials – Part 2

Nicholas Hooker - January 31, 2024

In the first part of our series, we explored the foundational aspects of GA4’s reporting layout, including the Reports Snapshot, Realtime report, and User Library Collections.

In Part 2, we delve deeper into the more advanced reports and custom options of GA4. We’ll compare the Life-Cycle Collection with the Business Objectives Collection, examine the intricacies of different reports, and provide practical tips to leverage them effectively.

Life-Cycle Collection vs. Business Objectives Collection

As highlighted in Part 1 of this series, the report section may differ for each organization based on various factors. If you were an early adopter of GA4 – particularly before March 27th, 2023 – or didn’t provide business information during setup, or if you migrated from a UA property using the Setup Assistant, you’ll find the Life-Cycle Collection as your default setup (otherwise it’s the Business Objectives collection).

Life-Cycle Collection Default Setup

TopicReport
AcquisitionAcquisition overview

User acquisition

Traffic acquisition

EngagementEngagement overview

Events

Conversions

Pages and screens

Landing pages

MonetizationMonetization overview

Ecommerce purchases

Purchase journey

Checkout journey

In-app purchases

Publisher ads

Promotions

RetentionRetention overview

 

The Business Objectives collection is designed to replace the Life-Cycle collection when you provide business information during setup. The default reports within this collection are tailored to each business objective you selected during the initial setup process.

Business Objectives Collection Default Setup

TopicReport
Generate leadsOverview

User acquisition

Traffic acquisition

Landing page

Drive online salesOverview

Ecommerce purchases

Promotions

Purchase journey

Checkout journey

Raise brand awarenessOverview

Google Ads campaigns

Demographic details

Pages and screens

Examine user behaviorOverview

Events

Conversions

Pages and screens

 

The Life-Cycle and Business Objectives collections both provide insights into the customer journey, with the main difference lying in the arrangement of reports and their corresponding naming conventions. As you’ve likely noticed there is much overlap between the reports present in both collections. And yes, these collections are customizable!

Let’s break down a couple of key reports that will help you in your day-to-day data pulls.

Traffic Acquisition Report vs. User Acquisition Report

These acquisition reports are designed to help you understand where your website and app visitors are coming from. The primary difference lies in their focus: the Traffic acquisition report shows the sources of both new and returning users on a session-based perspective, whereas the User acquisition report, focuses on how you initially acquired the user (focusing on new users).

You may have noticed that in the primary dimensions for Traffic acquisition, the term “Session” is incorporated in the dimension name to depict a user’s most recent session. Similarly, in User acquisition, the term “First User” is included to describe how you initially acquired the user.

With that being said, let’s dive into an example that’s benefited many of our clients!

  • Analyze Campaign Performance Data

    To effectively analyze campaign data, there are a few steps you should follow. It’s convenient to keep the campaign link handy with all the UTM parameters you’ve used to launch it.

    For this example, let’s dive into the Traffic acquisition report. By default, the primary dimension is set to “Session default channel group”. However, if you switch this to “Session campaign” and add a secondary dimension of “Session source / medium”, you can now gain insights into the performance of your campaign.

    Keep in mind that the search bar filter is directly linked to the primary dimension selector, in this case “Session campaign”. So, if you want to narrow down the data you’re viewing, enter the name of the campaign from the URL, like utm_campaign=your_campaign_name.


    And there you have it! Now, you can easily track specific key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with your campaign. This includes insights such as the number of conversions it generated (provided you have conversion tracking set up), the total number of sessions it attracted, and the average engagement time per session. These metrics offer valuable insights into the success and impact of your campaign.

Landing Page Report

Analyzing the Landing page report is key to understanding your website’s success. It highlights your top-performing pages as well as areas that need improvement, showing you the first page a visitor lands on when they visit your website.

Keep in mind that the “Landing page + query string” dimension value won’t display the full URL, rather it will show you the page path and query string associated with the first pageview in a session.

If you’re tracking multiple subdomains and can’t tell which paths are coming from which subdomain, you can add a secondary dimension of “Hostname”. By doing so, you will be able to tell the difference between the various subdomains you may be tracking.

Our clients often ask about how we can analyze the actions users take after visiting a landing page. Given that this report is limited only to the first page a visitor landed on, you can leverage advanced reporting techniques found in the “Explore” section known as “Path exploration”. When you create this exploration report, you can choose the landing page as your starting point followed by subsequent steps like a tracked event or other page’s user viewed within the session.

Conversions Report

The Conversions report plays a key role in understanding how effective your site or app is at achieving its business objectives (i.e, selling a product, generating form leads, receiving site calls, etc.).

It details which conversion actions are most common, it tracks the number of users completing each action, and measures the revenue generated from these actions. If e-commerce isn’t set up, you can ignore the “Total revenue” column.

Below is an example showcasing various user actions tracked as conversions:

While the Conversion report is valuable, a more comprehensive understanding is achieved by using the “Conversion metric” across various reports. This method highlights how conversions are linked to specific elements such as traffic sources or individual pages. Most reports include the Conversion metric by default; if it’s absent, you can easily customize the report to include it.

Conclusion

To wrap up this series, we’ve explored some of the essential features of GA4, from its diverse reporting options to the nuances of data collection and user privacy.

Key takeaways include understanding the importance of customizing reports, leveraging the Realtime report for immediate insights, and the significance of choosing between the Life-Cycle and Business Objectives collections based on your specific business needs.

Remember, GA4 is a robust and dynamic tool, and there are many more reports and features waiting to be explored, each offering unique insights and data that can be tailored to your specific business needs.

If your team needs help with GA4, including custom training or setup, reporting, or configuration, reach out to us at info@morevisibility.com for tailored assistance.

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