GA4: Questions From Non-Profits

Answers to questions from the non-profits who attended our GA4 webinar.

GA4 Questions from Non-Profits

For your viewing pleasure, please find the questions and answers from the GA4 for Non-Profits webinar. Questions may have been edited for clarity. Here goes:

I hear UA will be turned off and inaccessible by 1st July 2023. Since we only added GA4 to our site in July 2022, how do we do historical tracking/comparison (e.g. YOY by day) charting after UA disappears?

You’re right, Universal Analytics will stop processing data on 1st July 2023. You’ll still be able to access your old UA data, but no new data will be logged from this date. Making YoY comparisons across GA4 and UA is slightly tricky. A good way to do this is to use a tool like Google Looker Studio to merge data sources – the data sets won’t be 100% comparable, as GA4 has a different measurement structure vs UA (which means different naming conventions for many common metrics and dimensions).

Another option would be to export data sets into CSV format so that you can manipulate them outside Google, a step-by-step process for doing this would be as follows:

  1. Access Data: Log in to your GA4 and UA accounts to access the respective data sets.
  2. Define Metrics and Dimensions: Determine the specific metrics and dimensions you want to compare between GA4 and UA. These could include metrics like page views, sessions, conversions, or any other relevant data points.
  3. Set Time Period: Select the time period for your comparison. Ensure you have historical data available for GA4 and UA for the corresponding time ranges you want to analyse.
  4. Extract GA4 Data: Use the GA4 reporting interface or the GA4 API to extract the necessary data for the selected metrics and dimensions. Export the data into a format that can be easily manipulated for analysis (e.g., CSV, Excel).
  5. Extract UA Data: Similarly, use the UA reporting interface or the UA API to extract the corresponding data for the same metrics and dimensions. Export this data into the same format used for the GA4 data.
  6. Consolidate and Prepare Data: Merge the GA4 and UA data sets, aligning the data points based on the common metrics, dimensions, and time period. Ensure that the data is organised in a way that facilitates easy comparison.
  7. Calculate Year-Over-Year Differences: Calculate the year-over-year differences for each metric or dimension you are comparing. This involves comparing the data for the same time periods in different years.
  8. Visualise and Analyse: Use data visualisation tools such as spreadsheets, statistical software, or business intelligence platforms to analyse and compare the year-over-year differences. Generate charts, graphs, or tables to visualise the data effectively.
  9. Interpret the Results: Analyse the insights derived from the year-over-year comparisons. Look for trends, anomalies, or significant changes in performance between GA4 and UA. Consider factors such as tracking methodology, implementation differences, or data model changes that may affect the results.
  10. Draw Conclusions and Take Action: Based on your analysis, draw conclusions about the differences between GA4 and UA data. Identify any potential discrepancies or insights that may require further investigation or action.

Google hasn’t yet confirmed how long your old UA data will be available – my guess is that this will correlate with your data retention settings.

I have a set of dashboards that were developed using Google UA (Universal Analytics) – am I going to have to rebuild the dashboards from scratch?

The short answer is yes, you will need to rebuild your existing dashboards – mostly due to the different metric and dimension naming conventions – in tools like Looker Studio (formerly Data Studio) you can’t just simply swap out data sources and wait for the magic to happen. You may already know but GA4 has a powerful custom reporting area. It’s also possible to build dashboards using Looker Studio.

Will GA4 auto-fire an event for form submits that don’t actually trigger a thank you page as such on your website?

Sorry to be slightly vague, the answer is sometimes – it depends on how your forms are built. We have seen certain technologies not triggering the in-built events as expected. Therefore it’s a good idea to test whether events are firing as expected using the debug capability that Adam mentioned.

To trigger form submit tracking in GA4, you must ensure that the Enhanced Measurement feature is enabled and properly configured in your GA4 property. Once Enhanced Measurement is set up, GA4 will automatically track form submissions when certain conditions are met. These conditions include:

  1. Event Selection: GA4 identifies form submissions by monitoring events related to form interactions. Specifically, it looks for the “click” or “change” events on form elements like buttons, checkboxes, radio buttons, or select dropdowns. When one of these events occurs within a form, GA4 interprets it as a form submission.
  2. Form Detection: GA4 needs to recognise the structure of your form to track submissions accurately. Ensure that your form elements are properly defined using standard HTML tags and have unique identifiers (such as the “id” attribute) or class names assigned to them. GA4 uses these identifiers to identify form fields and track their interactions.
  3. Automatic Tracking: Once the Enhanced Measurement feature is enabled, GA4 automatically detects and tracks form submissions on web pages where your GA4 tracking code is implemented. It’s important to note that this feature relies on the underlying tracking code and browser events, so make sure your tracking code is correctly installed and functioning.

Again, make sure you use the GA4 debug tool to understand exactly which events are triggered by each stage of the form completion and submission journey.

How can you determine where people are bouncing out of a particular step of a long registration form with multiple pages to the form?

You could achieve this using either:

1) Page views that are already recorded – this assumes that each form step sits on a separate page and triggers a page view event in GA4

2) Custom events – to trigger a “form” event that sends different parameters according to the stage completed e.g. you could have a parameter called stepname that changes to 1 of 4, 2 of 4 etc. with each load of the form

By default GA4 will try to measure “form_start” and “form_sumbit” – whether these work on your website will depend on how the tech stack works – therefore we’d recommend testing in debug mode.

More on the default form events here.

How is the engagement rate determined? If 130/1000 = 13% – what metric/s, test/criteria determine the 130?

There are two parts to think about here.

Firstly an engage session is defined as: a session that lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or has at least 2 pageviews or screen views.

Engagement rate is calculated by dividing the total number of engaged sessions by the total number of sessions, and then multiplying the result by 100 to get a percentage. The engaged sessions refer to the sessions during which users actively interacted with your website or app.

If you already have Google Analytics (GA), does that mean you already have Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

GTM (Google Tag Manager) and Google Analytics are two separate tools.

The best way to think about GTM is as a container for all of your various marketing tags e.g. GA, Facebook pixel, TikTok pixel etc.

Whereas GA is the measurement tool you’re using to explore user data. You can add GA to a site directly or via GTM. The advantage of adding it via GTM is that you only need to install GTM on a site once then you can customise the way your GA code fires using triggers and variables in GTM.

What are the alternatives if the event doesn’t automatically fire on a submit button, specifically a submit button on a donation form?

For a donation form best practice would be to deploy a dataLayer that contains the donation details to be ingested in GA4 eCommerce. If you just wanted to record the button click then generally we would use Google Tag Manager (GTM) to “listen” for the click and then trigger an event when it is clicked. You can view the triggers that might be available for different interactions with buttons by using the GTM “Preview” mode and looking at the diagnostics data displayed.

The big benefit of using a dataLayer and triggering an eCommerce purchase event is that it gives you the type of donation (one-off vs monthly etc.) and product details (which could be used to send appeal name etc) as well as value and transaction ID. Here’s the documentation on how to structure your dataLayer.

I am never quite sure what ‘direct’ means in traffic sources

The best way to think about direct is people who enter the URL in their browser directly (could also be somebody who has stored your site in their favourites OR somebody clicking a link in an email that doesn’t have UTM tracking code applied – note: UTM tracking code can be used across channels to identify specific traffic sources, it’s particularly useful on email campaigns).

I understand UTMs are no longer present in GA4. How do we do something similar when creating campaigns? Is there anything similar to this?

UTMs still work with GA4. The structure is the same as with UA – utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign, utm_content, utm_term.

What is the difference between Referral & Cross-network channels for Traffic acquisition?

The simplest summary is:

  • Referral – referral from any third party (these are usually, but not always, non-paid organic links) e.g. if you fun Facebook ads and don’t use UTM tracking to identify your campaigns, then traffic will appear as a referral from Facebook
  • Cross-network – referral from ad networks (search/display)

In UA we would use Acquisition> Campaigns and look at this data often as we have UTM links for most of our activities. Where is UTM/ in-depth campaign data found in GA4?

GA4 doesn’t currently allow you to “drill-down” directly via the user interface in the same way as UA. However, the good news is that the UTM data is still available for use in the same way as you’ve always used it. We find that the best way is currently to use the “comparison” option at the top of the screen to filter traffic based on the UTMs you want to view – look to the top of the screen and you’ll see an “all users” oblong, next to it you can click the “Add comparison” option and filter based on the UTM parameters that you need – see screenshot below for an example:

GA4: How to drill down on UTM parameters and understand email and other campaign performance

What does it mean if total revenue is showing a dollar amount but there are no details – or it is empty in the eCommerce purchase?

It probably means that some of the data isn’t being formatted in the right way for GA4 to understand and process it. We commonly see this where a purchase “event” is triggered but the product details/revenue or other details are not passed via the dataLayer in the appropriate format. This article on the GA4 dataLayer covers some of the common issues we see.

If you haven’t viewed it yet, check out the full webinar here.

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