Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can be so much more powerful than most users realize. In many cases GA4 events are setup to measure conversions such as those from requesting a demo or contacting your company. These events can also be used to identify specific segments of visitors on your site, such as your customers, prospects, even further narrowing your segmentation by their interest in a particular offering. By harnassing the power of custom events in GA4, we can use this information to build audiences to help enhance our reporting by limiting the scope of what we see from specific visitors.
Why Customer Identification Audiences
Because customers and prospects are in different stages of their lifecycle journey, the pages they visit on their conversion path will differ as well. As a result, one of the biggest pain points faced in measuring website analytics is being able to distinguish between these segments of visitors. With the right events, we are better able to understand the events taken by each of these segments on their visit. Through this dissection, you will be able to analyze and provide data-driven insights into customer conversion paths and interests compared with those of your net new prospects.
To separate out customers we need to put ourselves in their shoes. So let’s imagine you are a customer of your own business. Where are you most likely to go on your site? Perhaps I need to log in to my account today to use the software, place an order, or check on the status of my order. Or maybe I am researching some new features that I am interested in adding onto my service. In these instances, you can create events that match to all of the potential areas where a customer is most likely to go on your site. On the flip side, if I am a prospect, maybe today I want to learn about different parts of your solution that is relevant to my particular industry or use case.
While both of these journies have similiarities, they also have differences and by segmenting our audiences we can get more insights from our data then if we try to look at it altogether.
Custom Events using Google Tag Manager (GTM)
One of the most helpful tools to implement GA4 tracking is the Google Tag Manager. While you can manually code links and insert the code onto your pages, this often requires development hours, testing, and finally implementation. With the Google Tag Manager, you, as a non-technical user, can implement script changes and Google Analytics events without the need to understand the code, and test them without impacting other active development. As an example we can create a simple Click Link event.
To ensure that we are targeting the right link clicks we will want to select that the trigger is “Some Link Clicks” and then we can use our rules to state what the URL contains or if it matches a regular expression. What we won’t do for a URL is an exact match as if a visitor comes in with query string parameters that would cause the URL to not be matched. One item to note about the Click Event in the Google Tag Manager is that this will work for link clicks that are both internal and external.
Alternative Methods of Tracking Customers
Links and form submissions are not the only way to track customers on your site and sometimes it is not enough to look only at those metrics. In these instances, it is worth the effort to search out other ways you can identify customer visits to group these visitors together. One such way is with UTM parameters.
Consider this scenario, you have segments built in your marketing automation platform and send your customers a different email than your prospects. To track those email clicks you employ custom UTM parameters to your links. You can use those UTM parameters to separate your customers by also including those who clicked links in the customer email.
Alternatively, if you have an app, or maybe helpdesk software, that sends traffic back to your site, that traffic is referral traffic. This traffic can also be identified as customer traffic by the referral source if it is exclusive to those parties.
Taking Audiences Further
As we have learned, there is a great deal of potential that GA4 offers in terms of audience building and separating customers from prospects is only the beginning. The key is building a solid foundation so that we are able to stop viewing all traffic as equal. Only then can we start making data-driven decisions on a solid web foundation.
If you are looking for help with building audiences in Google Analytics reach out to me for assistance.