February 24, 2024

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What Can You Find In The Realtime Report

What Can You Find In The Realtime Report The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics 4 Google is constantly evolving, and in October 2021, the company introduced one of its most significant transformations in the form of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the features, advantages, and the steps to start using GA4 effectively.

What is Google Analytics 4?

What Can You Find In The Realtime Report
What Can You Find In The Realtime Report

Formerly known as “App + Web,” Google Analytics 4 (GA4) represents a new paradigm in analytics. It utilizes a distinct data structure and collection logic, departing from the conventional Universal Analytics approach. GA4 employs an event-based model, treating each user interaction as an individual event, as opposed to bundling interactions into sessions. This event-centric approach enhances flexibility and predictive insights, enabling advanced reports like cross-platform analysis and pathing analysis.

GA4’s Machine Learning

With the implementation of GDPR privacy laws in Europe and browser changes like Firefox and Safari blocking third-party cookies, tracking website visitors has become more challenging. However, GA4’s machine learning capabilities render cookies obsolete. Google’s AI-powered insights deliver automated alerts for data trends and offer access to predictive metrics, such as:

  1. Purchase Probability: The likelihood that a user active in the last 28 days will make a purchase in the next seven days.
  2. Churn Probability: The probability that a user active in the last 7 days will become inactive in the next 7 days.
  3. Revenue Prediction: Predicted revenue from purchases in the next 28 days by users active in the previous 28 days.

These metrics empower you to anticipate user actions and tailor marketing campaigns to target high-value audiences effectively.

Should You Transition from Universal Analytics?

What Can You Find In The Realtime Report
What Can You Find In The Realtime Report

Considering Google’s announcement that it will phase out Universal Analytics properties starting in July 2023, it is advisable to adopt GA4 promptly. Making the switch early not only enhances your data collection capabilities but also provides time to acclimate to the platform while retaining access to traditional analytics.

GA4 Event Tracking

In GA4, nearly all data points are categorized as events, which may seem confusing initially. Every session and page view now registers as an event, accompanied by additional contextual information. This shift simplifies tracking user journeys across your website and enables the identification of predicted user interactions. The more events you track, the better GA4 becomes at forecasting user behavior across your site. Events in GA4 are divided into four main categories:

  1. Automatically Collected Events: These are collected by default when you set up and install GA4 on your website or app. Examples include clicks, session starts, and first visits.
  2. Enhanced Measurement Events: These are automatically tracked when enhanced measurement is enabled, providing valuable data without the need for manual configuration.
  3. Recommended Events: Google suggests predefined event names and parameters, which you can implement manually to unlock advanced reporting capabilities.
  4. Custom Events: You have the flexibility to create and define custom events when standard event categories don’t align with your specific use case.

Let’s delve deeper into each event category to help you understand configuration and identify the best category for your needs.

Automatically Collected Events

These events are triggered by basic interactions with your website or app and do not require additional setup. Common examples include clicks, session starts, and first visits. Google provides a complete list of these events.

Enhanced Measurement Events

Enhanced measurement simplifies event tracking by automatically capturing essential interactions like page views, scroll depth, outbound link clicks, and more. You can enable this feature in the GA4 admin settings, streamlining data collection without the need for manual configuration.

Recommended Events

Google recommends predefined event names and parameters to facilitate comprehensive tracking. If these events align with your objectives, they can be easily implemented to expand your reporting capabilities.

Custom Events

When none of the predefined event categories suit your requirements, you can create custom events. This allows you to track specific user interactions tailored to your unique use case. Keep in mind that custom events may not appear in standard reports, necessitating custom reports for meaningful analysis.

How to Modify Events in GA4

What Can You Find In The Realtime Report
What Can You Find In The Realtime Report

In GA4, you can modify events by navigating to the Configure > Events section and selecting the event you wish to modify. This enables you to adjust event names, matching conditions, and other details. Modifications apply only to new data, with historical data remaining unaffected.

Testing Events

Before deploying any changes in your Google Tag Manager container, it’s essential to test events using GA4’s built-in debugging functionality. Access the debug tool via Configure > DebugView to ensure data accuracy and proper display. Changes become visible in your Realtime reports once you publish them.

Conversion in GA4

Conversions in GA4 represent significant actions you want your visitors to complete. These can be categorized as micro-conversions and macro-conversions. Micro-conversions are interactions that lead users closer to macro-conversions, while macro-conversions are primary objectives like purchases or form submissions. Tracking conversions in GA4 provides insights into the success of different elements on your site in generating conversions.

Goals vs. Conversions

In Universal Analytics, goals were used to track desired interactions on your website. In GA4, these are referred to as conversions. GA4 offers more flexibility, with up to 30 conversions per property compared to Universal’s 20 goals per view. Conversions in GA4 are pre-defined, but you can create your own if necessary.

Predefined Conversions

GA4 designates five conversions that cannot be altered. Four of these conversions apply to mobile applications, while the “Purchase” conversion is available for web data streams. Additional predefined conversions become accessible when app data streams are connected.

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Create Conversions from Events

What Can You Find In The Realtime Report
What Can You Find In The Realtime Report

To set up existing events as conversions, navigate to Configure > Events and enable the “Mark as Conversion” toggle for the desired event. Alternatively, you can access Configure > Conversions, click “New Conversion Event,” and specify the event name you want to designate as a conversion.

Reporting with GA4

Realtime Report

The Realtime report provides insights into events occurring within the last 30 minutes, offering a more extended timeframe compared to Universal Analytics’ 5-minute window. It displays the number of visitors, devices used, traffic sources, audience breakdown, top-viewed pages, top events, and, if enabled, conversions and properties.

User Snapshots

A notable feature in the Realtime report is the user snapshot, accessible from the top right corner. It presents a detailed view of a random user’s journey on your site, including their location, device type, event timeline, and actions taken during their visit, offering valuable insights into user engagement.

User Lifecycle Reporting

User lifecycle reports categorize user journeys into acquisition, engagement, monetization, and retention phases. These reports help you understand how users enter your site, their behavior within the funnel, and more. While the information aligns with Universal Analytics, GA4 focuses on events rather than sessions or page views, providing deeper insights.

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Creating Custom Reports

GA4 enables the creation of custom reports to segment data and focus on specific interactions, pages, or audiences. Explore various report types within the “Explore” tab, including free-form reports, funnel exploration, path exploration, segment overlap, user explorer, cohort exploration, and user lifetime reports. Custom reports provide flexibility in data analysis and visualization.