Ecommerce Growth: 5 Key Takeaways for Getting Started with GA4

Ecommerce Growth: 5 Key Takeaways for Getting Started with GA4

Table of Contents

Event based tracking

Flexible reporting

Streamlined audience building

Export raw data to BigQuery

Third party apps are prioritizing GA4

Rumblings last year on Google Analytics moving folks over to Google Analytics 4 in place of the soon to be retired Universal Analytics stirred up quite the conversation across the data and ecommerce arenas. However, moving from session-based reporting to event-based reporting is not totally new to brands in how they track and use data for analysis, reporting, and retargeting customers. Brands we’ve worked with at Littledata have been using granular event based data for a while now in order to better improve the user journey and drive more conversions.

Like anything new, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will take some getting used to. It looks and feels different, but on the flipside it’s even more powerful for ecommerce merchants. At Littledata we’ve worked with brands selling on BigCommerce and Shopify Plus to get accurate data in GA4, and in this post I’ll break down what they’ve found most useful so far.

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Event based tracking

Event-based tracking in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) refers to a method of tracking user interactions on a website or app by capturing specific actions or events. This differs from Universal Analytics which focused on sessions and pageviews. Event tracking allows merchants to gather more detailed and specific data about user behavior, such as clicks, scroll depth, form submissions, video plays, and more. See Google’s full list of events that are tracked automatically.

By implementing event-based tracking in GA4, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of user behavior and engagement, which can help them optimize their website for better user experiences, identify new opportunities for growth, and make data-driven decisions that improve their bottom line. Sometimes this is about product exploration on the site, such as discovering products or product groups (like a set of skincare products sold by subscription) that should be highlighted, based on granular browsing data.

But the automatically tracked events don’t actually include purchases, repeat purchases, subscriptions or refunds – let alone complete checkout funnel steps! And with Shopify’s Google sales channel these aren’t complete either. So ecommerce sites need either a custom setup, which can be complicated to set up and costly to maintain, or just switch to automated server-side tracking like Littledata. Otherwise conversions are not tracked correctly or might be missing completely.

Flexible reporting

With no event collection limits, cross web + app tracking, explorations, and faster reporting there is a lot to love about GA4’s new features and abilities. An early limitation was reporting, but Google has already added an Explorations tab that makes it a breeze to deep dive into your data by channels or demographics. Popular explorations types are free-form which allows for custom charts and tables, funnel which allows you to break down the user journey by steps, and path which allows you to uncover user journeys through your site or app by tree graphs. Creating an exploration by the dimensions, metrics, or segments just got way easier!

As mentioned, it takes time to learn a new tool but the Littledata team has made it incredibly easy with free GA4 courses that walk you through how to build your own ecommerce reports in GA4.

Here are our three most popular setup videos for ecommerce reports in GA4:

  1. Sales performance report
  2. Checkout behavior report
  3. Source medium report

Understanding how customers find and engage with your brand and its products can be a super powerful tool for retention and acquisition. Knowing what channels are performing can be a game changer to how you allocate your team's time and resources.

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Streamlined audience building

Users are encouraged by Google to link their Google Ad’s account to GA4. This move showcases one of the reasons they bet on GA4 as a better option in the long run than Universal Analytics. We are pretty fired up about this one as it will give merchants more of a direct view of the customer journey from first touch to goal completion (i.e. add to cart or check out). 

You can now create audiences from any combination of dimensions, metrics, and events found in GA4. A benefit as well is that Google will automatically make two audiences for users based on purchases and all users which will make audience building a breeze and you a remarketing pro in no time. 

As a reminder if you are currently using similar audiences or segments as a targeting feature by Google these will be faded out by May 1st 2023. This change is to help enable users to shift to using first-party data as well as Google’s optimized targeting feature. This targeting is generally based on keywords on your website as well as your creative.

Littledata customers—have been using their data to create audiences and be the foundation to their campaigns for years. Now, this connection is even more important as the data you have in GA4 will be a guide of sorts to your Google Ad campaigns.

Export raw data to BigQuery

The ability to export from Google Analytics 4 (GA4) directly to BigQuery has opened up new possibilities for ecommerce managers to take their data analysis to the next level. In the past, such users had to rely on a GA360 account to access raw, row-level data and run their own algorithms or build unsampled reports. With GA4 + BigQuery, however, users no longer need a GA360 account to achieve these capabilities.

This ability is particularly beneficial for ecommerce businesses, as it offers a robust data warehouse solution and provides an insurance policy for brands that want to own their own data for future analysis. With GA4 + BigQuery, users can harness the power of raw, row-level data to gain deeper insights into customer behavior, identify new opportunities, and optimize their marketing strategies. Ultimately, this new ability is a game-changer for businesses that want to take control of their data and leverage it to drive growth and success.

A lot of brands are sending data to GA4 as an “insurance policy”: they might not be ready to use or analyze the data yet in BigQuery, but they want to start tracking it there. And that’s ok! If you don’t gather the data, you won’t have access to it later. So we strongly recommend that anybody thinking about a data warehouse start using BigQuery as well as GA4.

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Third party apps are prioritizing GA4

As you can see there is a lot to be excited about with GA4 coming full throttle this year. Online merchants are doing more with data than ever before. At Littledata we help top brands track their data from Shopify and BigCommerce into Google Analytics 4—assuring accurate data and analytics through the stitching together of server-side and client side tracking. This combats the cookie blockers from iOS updates and new privacy role outs.

The result, the data is accurate and flowing ongoing to Google Analytics 4. Or simply connect a third party reporting, visualisation, or insights tool like Narrative BI to showcase the data and analytics for you! One feature I love and use for Littledata is the anomalies notifications so I can stay on top of any new experiments or tests I am running on our website. These sort of features can allow brands to move quickly and take action on the data they have.

Curious if you have any data tracking discrepancies?

Check out our free tool, GA4 Conversions Checker, to see if your ecommerce store is tracking the data properly, here.

If you want to receive intelligent insights into how your e-commerce store is performing, check out Narrative BI.

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