Last Modified on January 24, 2024
Wondering if there are any benefits of Google Analytics 4 for PPC marketing?
2023 is poised to be a rollercoaster for PPC specialists using Google Analytics 4 in their marketing strategies.
The transition to GA4 is inevitable since UA properties have stopped processing new data, and all customers will lose access to the interface in July 2024.
You may experience a range of emotions and struggles during this transition. In this discussion, allow me to be your Analytics therapist and demonstrate that the situation is not entirely bad even though it involves difficult changes.
I will show you that the journey forward is packed with benefits.
Here is a list of what we’ll cover:
- Universal Analytics Sunset
- Granularity and Customization with UTM Parameters
- Improved Conversion Tracking
- Powerful Audience Builder and Machine Learning
- Audience Triggers
- Improved Funnels
Let’s dive in!
Universal Analytics Sunset
There are things in life that you wish you could have changed or had done something differently. However, hindsight is 20/20. The lesson we have here is we need to invest in education and start to learn GA4 in advance. We can only do our best to move forward.
Now, Universal Analytics is sunset. Many people don’t like being dictated what to do, and with GA4, we have no choice as it was decided for us.
Many marketers have ranted about this change because it was, as you can agree, an abrupt decision.
Even if you have worked with Google Analytics before, you must learn GA4 from scratch because it is an entirely different tool. At MeasureSchool, we are doing our best to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Today, I want to focus on the benefits of Google Analytics 4 for PPC marketers because I see how they struggle.
Dealing with the UA sunset can be compared to dealing with a loss. I went through all the stages of loss myself and still go through some of them occasionally. Let’s discuss the different stages and the mindset of each.
Stage 1: Denial
Many PPC marketers resist the change and think they can ignore it. They try to use Google Analytics 4 exactly how they used Universal Analytics.
Stage 2: Anger
As they begin to use GA4, they understand the differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. They feel frustrated and even overwhelmed by these changes.
Stage 3: Bargaining
To avoid this situation, they keep thinking about the benefits of Universal Analytics. They keep comparing and saying how much they hate GA4, so maybe they can deal with it somehow. However, change is inevitable, and you have to move forward.
Stage 4: Depression
You see all the news, tweets, and posts about GA4. You delve into working with the reporting interface and the new features. It looks so similar, yet it is different, and you might feel overwhelmed. You think that you will never understand it.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Here, you finally accept that UA is going away and start learning GA4 more seriously, eventually embracing this change.
As with grief, getting to the acceptance stage is far from easy.
A PPC marketer in one of our boot camps was very unhappy about GA4, so we discussed the benefits of using Google Analytics 4 for PPC. The upset marketer tells me, what about my UTM parameters?
Granularity and Customization with UTM Parameters
As we transition to GA4, it becomes more crucial that we set up our UTM parameters accurately.
💡 Top Tip: Check out our guide on How to Track UTM Codes in Google Analytics 4 to learn proper UTM parameter tracking.
You also have the option to create custom channel groups with your rule-based categories of web traffic sources.
In Universal Analytics, we had the following UTM parameters: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign, utm_term, and utm_content. Their main goal was identifying their source and campaign to understand how users landed at your website.
GA4 offers more UTM parameters than Universal Analytics, giving you more granularity, control, and customization regarding the data you collect.
In this way, we can track some additional information about our campaigns.
For example, we have the utm_source_platform. This parameter tells us about the platform that sends the traffic to our website. We also have the urm_creative_format. As the name suggests, this parameter helps us understand what type of creative you’re using.
Finally, we have utm_marketing_tactic. It gives information about the targeting criteria applied to a campaign, e.g., remarketing, prospecting, etc. You can also use it for other information like bidding strategies, more details on audiences, etc.
💡 Top Tip: For complete details on GA4 UTM parameters, check out Google’s documentation on GA4 URL Builders.
You can make better-informed decisions on how to optimize your campaigns and generate more conversions by utilizing these UTM parameters.
Talking about conversions, the marketer says the conversion tracking is confusing in GA4.
Improved Conversion Tracking
On the contrary, I think this is one of the notable advantages of Google Analytics 4 for PPC specialists because the tracking is undoubtedly improved. Let’s check it out.
Go to the Admin section → Events.
Here, we see a list of all the events we implemented on our website/app.
You can turn your event into a conversion by toggling the button beside the event under the mark as conversion column.
You must ensure that you set up your events correctly, and then you can mark those as conversions.
At any time, you can go to the Data Stream settings, click on your data stream, and toggle all or specific enhanced measurement events on or off.
Here, we have the Enhanced Measurements section.
Enhanced measurement events are some events that you can track automatically. They come together with a snippet of code, and you only have to enable it.
The measurement options include Page views, Scrolls, Outbound clicks, Site search, Video engagement, File downloads, and Form interactions.
By turning these on, you can already start collecting some data and understand how users are interacting with your website.
You can view it as a baseline for tracking. Even if you don’t know how to set up tracking, you can gather some data without asking the developer for help.
Moreover, you can now also configure events in the tool directly. You won’t have to run back and forth to your developer and keep asking for help.
Let’s say your developer is unavailable, but you would love to track a specific page, for example. We can go to Events → Create event.
Here, you would have a list of all the custom events you have implemented in your account. Next, click Create to start creating an event.
With this feature, you can configure an event directly in the GA4 interface.
Let’s see how we can track the Contact Us page.
Let’s get back to Analytics and say this is our contact_page_view event.
We want to track how many times users arrived at this page. Since we have enabled enhanced measurement events, we can track page views and need to filter them by specifying the condition.
Set the first condition to event_name equals page_view. Next, we want to create a new event with a specific filter because we have selected all page views currently. Click Add condition.
We need to specify that we only want to track the page views for our contact page. To filter our page views, we need to grab page views if the URL contains contact. The event parameter for a page URL is page_location.
Set the second matching condition to page_location contains contact. Finally, click Create.
Great! We have successfully created a custom event for the contact page views.
That is how you can create a new event directly within the interface, a compelling feature.
💡 Top Tip: If the event you want to track requires more complex filtering, consider adding custom event parameters. Check out our guide on How to Set Up GA4 Event Parameters.
Of course, we can also set our custom events as a conversion. Now, what are the other advantages of Google Analytics 4 for PPC marketers?
Google is very generous, and we can create 30 conversions per property, excluding default conversions like purchase. For the free GA4 account, you have 30 conversions, but the limit is higher for Google Analytics 360 properties.
Another change is that you can select the counting method for your conversions.
In the admin section, go to the Conversions tab. Click the three dots beside a conversion and select the Change counting method option.
Here, you can choose the one that is more suitable for your case, either Once per event or Once per session.
In Universal Analytics, we were unable to change the conversion counting method. We could only count one conversion per session for each goal.
For example, we have set a goal/conversion for a form submission. If a user submits a form twice, it only counts as one conversion.
We also have an additional option to count each conversion event as a conversion. In our example, we would have two conversions.
Additionally, GA4 has an event-driven schema, which makes the tracking more flexible.
With all that said and done, why do we need conversions? With conversions, you can make your bidding decisions to help optimize your campaigns for better performance. You can also combine your conversion data with data from different advertising channels.
Finally, an appealing thing we can do is create audiences of users who did not convert and target them later to re-engage them and gain valuable insights. Utilizing conversion tracking can improve your marketing strategy.
Conversion tracking is one of the remarkable features of Google Analytics 4 because I think it is way better than it used to be in Universal Analytics.
Going back to our marketer, they said that their client wants to use Analytics data for targeting.
Powerful Audience Builder and Machine Learning
Another merit of Google Analytics 4 for PPC marketers is the powerful audience builder.
💡 Top Tip: I created a video of How I Created 13 GA4 Audiences you might want to watch!
What is the benefit of using GA4 audiences? Here are a couple of points:
- Dynamic evaluation – You get an understanding of the audience size in real-time.
- Complex configuration conditions – You can use different dimensions and metrics on top of events to form any subset of users. It gives you so many possibilities that are not possible in Google Ads.
- Automatically shared – Once you link your accounts, your GA4 audiences are shared automatically with Google Ads.
- Dynamically updated – You no longer have to update each audience manually.
💡 Top Tip: To take full advantage of these benefits, learn How to Link Google Ads to Google Analytics 4.
In GA4, we can create audiences in two ways. First, you can configure them in the Audiences section.
Another riveting thing is that Analytics provides several pre-configured audiences that you can use or modify as necessary to align with your chosen business category and recommended events.
How does it work? Go to the Property Settings. Here, our industry category is Shopping.
Go to the Explorations section and create a Free-form exploration.
Here, click the + button in the segments section.
Here, you can create a custom segment or use a reference or some pre-built audience suggestions for you.
Among the references, we have different categories, and one of them is Shopping.
Here, we have Registered users, Wishlist users, Basket abandoners, Checkout starters, etc.
🚨 Note: You must have implemented recommended events because this will not work otherwise.
What happens if we have a different industry category or change it midway?
Go to the property settings and change the industry category to Jobs & Education, for example. Next, click Save.
Back to the segment builder, we now have different suggested audiences from the Shopping category to Jobs & Education.
We have a couple of similar suggested audiences, but we also have additional audiences like the Searchers, Tutorial abandoners, and Tutorial finishers.
Analytics adjusts these suggestions based on the industry category you select in the settings.
We recommend using the segment builder in the Explorations section because you can look at the different subsets of data before turning your segments into an audience.
Now, let’s quickly switch to the demo account since we have more data here.
💡 Top Tip: Learn what the GA4 demo account is for, what account types and data sources are available for testing, how to access the demo account, and its limitations by checking out our article Practical Values of the GA4 Demo Account.
Go to the Explorations section and create another Free-form exploration report. I want to make an audience of people who added a product to the cart in the last seven days.
For this one, we will create a custom segment. Select User segment.
First, let’s set the condition of which users to include. Search and select the add_to_cart event.
Next, click Add parameter.
Select the Event count parameter and set the condition to greater than 0. Next, include seven days in the most recent time period. Finally, click Apply.
Next, I want to exclude users who purchased a product. The audience we want to use for targeting is those who have products in their cart but haven’t made a purchase.
Click Add group to exclude.
Select the purchase event. Next, set a similar condition of event count greater than 0 in the last 7-day period.
To create an audience, you will merely check the Build an audience option.
At the right, we have a summary card showing the number and percentage of users we included and the subset we excluded compared to the total number of users.
It is an involved process for creating an audience, but this method allows you to look at and play with the data.
These are already great features, but they are not all you can use when working with the audience builder in GA4. We also have machine learning capabilities.
It is a step forward because the data is enhanced with machine learning. Google has been heavily investing in it, and now we can reap the benefits of their investment.
What can you do with it? With machine learning, you can enrich your data and predict the future behavior of your users. For example, you could identify users with a high purchase probability.
To demonstrate, let’s create an audience of users who viewed an item within the last few days several times and are likely to churn. It sounds like a vague criteria – how do you even begin to determine that? With machine learning, this is doable.
We’ll create another User segment. Select the view_item event. Next, set a condition of event count greater than 3 in the last 7-day period.
These are the users who are showing interest in buying our products. Now, we need to filter this down to those likely to churn.
We have something called the churn probability.
It is one of the predictive metrics you can use to define your segment.
The churn probability is the likelihood that a user on your site/app within the last seven days will not be active within the next seven days. In other words, it is the rate at which customers stop doing business with an entity.
We want to target this audience because they have shown interest in our products before, and we want them to continue being interested and eventually make a conversion.
For the prediction configuration, select those that are most likely to churn. Next, click Apply.
You can build an audience from this segment and use it in Google Ads. Here is the summary of how you can select this group of users. We can see that we captured six users belonging to this segment.
Just think about it as the most successful audience which had not taken your desired conversion action yet. With the features of the audience builder, you can create the perfect target audience to whom you would want to deliver your ads.
Let’s go back to our marketer with their questions. They feel a bit better, but then they say their client doesn’t have a clear conversion action.
With the audiences that you have set up, did you know that you could also turn those into conversions? It is another considerable improvement of Google Analytics 4 for PPC marketers.
With GA4, there is a feature called audience triggers. It is entirely new and was never available in UA before. It allows you to fire conversion events based on your audiences.
In other words, you can turn your audience into a conversion.
Returning to the segment builder, check the Build an Audience option. Next, click Create New under Audience Trigger.
With audience triggers, you will log an event when a user qualifies to be a member of the audience. It will behave like any other event.
Provide an event name and click Save.
How does it work technically?
You can trigger events when users reach some key milestones. Then, you can analyze these events in your reports and mark them as conversions as with any other event.
Some examples include initiating a certain number of sessions, reading several articles, or booking the hotel several times. Another example is triggering a conversion when your clients become regular customers.
How do you do it? First, how do we determine if a user is already a regular customer? It depends on a per-business basis. For our case, let’s go with the users who have completed a purchase more than three times.
Set the condition to Purchase Event count > 3. Next, click Build an Audience and select Create New under the audience trigger.
How is it helpful? You can experiment with your conversion volume-based strategies with conversion action from audience triggers. You can provide specific conditions here.
I think I saw a smile on the face of the marketer after showing them this feature. They said their client has ten funnels and wants to retarget every step.
So that we are on the same page, what is a funnel? A funnel lets you visualize the steps your users take to complete a task or on the way to a specific conversion.
With the help of funnels, you can optimize inefficient or abandoned customer journeys. You can understand how users are succeeding or falling in each step.
Funnels can help you answer some questions about the user journey. For example, how can I improve the abandoned customer journey? What could be the reason my clients don’t want to buy my products? These are what you can analyze with the help of funnels.
It is also about the conversion optimization process. You can identify the weak points that we should pay attention to and get the most results if you improve them.
If you see that people are leaving at the add to cart step and a testimonial is missing, maybe we need social proof or we should improve the product images. We could also fix all the bugs and glitches (if they are present) or make our website mobile-responsive.
These are the actions you would have to take, and GA4 funnels can lead you to those valuable insights. Let’s see how it works.
Go to the Explorations section and select Funnel Exploration.
Google will provide a pre-populated report with some steps to our purchase event. Sometimes, it gives us exactly what we need, but this is not always true. We will stick to this predefined report for demonstration purposes.
💡 Top Tip: Learn how to customize your funnel by checking out our guide on How to Create a Custom Funnel in Google Analytics 4.
Another impressive benefit of Google Analytics 4 for PPC marketing is that you can create segments from the users at each funnel step.
Right-click on a funnel step and click Create segment from users.
Since we can turn any segment into an audience, you can now deliver your ads to the users in each funnel step. Pretty fascinating!
We hope this helped you accept and understand the tool better, but you should also be ready because more updates are coming. This tool is still under development, and we can see new releases almost every week. It is what it is, and this is our reality now.
To summarize, here are the benefits of Google Analytics 4 for PPC marketers.
First, you can have more granularity and customization with UTM parameters. We also have improved conversion tracking and an impressive audience builder with machine learning. Finally, we have audience triggers and improved funnels that let us gain more insights.
It is time to act. Either you switch to an alternative or continue working with GA4. If you choose GA4, you have to invest in learning this tool from scratch, as did everyone else.
Start your GA4 journey by Installing Google Analytics 4 with Google Tag Manager.
Which benefit of GA4 is the most appealing to you? What GA4 feature do you find especially interesting? Let us know in the comments below!