Table of contents
The era of Google Analytics 4 has arrived, and with it a lot more options for creating reports that can be customized for your business. Google has made a huge amount of changes not only in the interface design, but especially in the presentation of data. In GA4, we can use the basic “Reports” tab and the “Exploration” tab, which we will look at in more detail today.
In this article you will learn about each type of custom reports, so that after reading, you no longer have to wander and can choose the right data representation for you and your business.
What custom reports can I create in Google Analytics 4?
When you go to the Exploring section, you will see a gallery of custom report templates. When you start creating your first reports, they will all be saved automatically in a table (it’s a good idea to pay attention to the naming of the reports and remember to give each one a title to distinguish it from the others).
In Google Analytics 4 we have a choice of:
- Free exploration report
- Path exploration report
- Path sequence exploration report
- Segment overlap report
- Cohort Exploration Report
- Report of values since start of tracking
Depending on which report we choose and what data we want to observe, we can get information about the user’s path on our site, their behavior and realization of certain conversions, we can also look at segments and cohort reports. Our data will be presented through tables, line charts, ring charts, as well as a geographic map.
What elements do custom reports contain?
Depending on the selected report, each report consists of two panels: Variables and Card Settings
In the Variables panel, we select the date range from which we want to extract data, and we also select the dimensions and data we need for the report we want to prepare. If we need to obtain information from a specific segment of users or want to compare segments, this is also where we have this option. We then rely on the built-in segments or we can create our own, specifying the conditions we care most about.
These are one of the two most important elements of any report. The basic dimensions you can measure include event name (i.e., event name), device category, gender, country, etc.
It is also worth expanding this list to include additional information such as: “session – source/medium”, “product ID” or “transaction ID” (in the case of e-commerce industry) or “session – campaign”.
Already have all the dimensions you care about? Great, now let’s move on to the second most important element – data. It’s a good idea to use such as “sessions,” “sessions with engagement,” “rejection rate,” “transactions,” “product revenue,” “active users” or “total number of users,” among others.
Now that you have familiarized yourself with the basic dimensions and data, you can move into action and visualize your reports!
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Let’s start with the most basic custom report in GA4.
In the previous step you got acquainted with the basic elements that each report consists of. Now we will focus on the Card Settings panel, where we need to fill in the rows and values, among other things. Here Google Analytics 4 comes to a little help – dragging our dimensions and data highlights where they should be.
To create your first free exploration report, all you have to do is insert the data in the right place and a report will be generated based on that.
By default, only a few dimensions and metrics are visible. If this set is insufficient for you, by clicking the plus icon you can add other information you need. In this case, it is worth using the search option, which will certainly help you find what you need.
Free exploration report – what else is worth knowing?
- If we choose to present the report as a table, our cell type defaults to a bar chart. With a larger and more diverse amount of data – it is worth changing the cell type to a heat map.
- In this type of report you can still detect anomalies – just turn on the “anomaly detection” slider. Then the system, which predicts values based on, among other things, historical data, will mark on the chart where the actual value was different from the predicted value.
In this report, you have the option to create a path that a user follows on your site. For example, this could be a path starting with a page entry and ending with an event defined as making a purchase.
To create such a report, you need to create the path steps you are interested in. To do this, click the pen icon and create your first step. Remember that for each step you must create at least one condition that users must meet.
If you don’t know or can’t remember what event or condition you can add, the GA4 panel will suggest you based on the conditions you have already defined. You can also add more possibilities in a step with “and” or “or” clauses.
When you have all the steps defined, click “apply” and the prepared path will be displayed in the panel.
Path exploration report – what else is worth knowing?
You can choose whether your path should be open or closed. In the case of a closed path, you must go through all the steps from beginning to end in order for your share to be counted in the report. On the other hand, if you choose an open path – the user can start the interaction from any step on the path.
Path sequence exploration
The data in the path sequence exploration report is visualized in the form of a tree. You will learn from it what are the most popular pages a user goes to after entering your homepage.
As a starting point, you can set a selected event or a page with a specific title. On the report preview you will see step one, that is, you will find out where from the initial page (or a specific event) users went. If you want to know their further path, just click the page you are interested in so that the subsequent branches of your tree will expand further.
Path sequence exploration report – this will come in handy for you:
Any link on your site takes users to a non-working page, but you’re not sure where they’re coming from? Check it with the path sequence exploration report. Start creating the report from the beginning, except that, in this case, don’t set the start point, but set the end point as a page with the title “Page Unavailable”.
Segment overlap is a great report to use when you need to analyze the common parts and relationships between different user segments. Remember, however, that you can compare and analyze relationships between up to three segments on a single view.
Information for creating a report you can choose from already available segments, or create your own with customized conditions.
Most often you will reach out to learn about your audience based on specific conditions, e.g., users of mobile traffic who came to your site from paid traffic.
What else is worth adding to the segment overlap report?
- Dimensions to further analyze the report and look for more accurate connections between different groups of recipients.
- Filters, to more precisely narrow down the information included in reports. Importantly, – in the filters you can use data that you have previously transferred to the Card Settings panel.
Let’s start with what are cohorts anyway? They are users who share a common characteristic in a given report that has been predetermined by Google Analytics 4. This could be, for example, a group of users acquired to our site on the same day or users who performed an event we specified.
This report will give us information about the behavior of users from a given cohort as they continue to use our site.
How to read the cohort exploration report?
In each cell of your table is a specific group of users who have met a condition, such as completing a transaction within a certain time period. If a given user completes a transaction in the first week, then in the second week and in the third week, then such a user will be included in each cohort (i.e. each row) in the table.
When running, for example, an e-commerce business, thanks to this report we will gain information, for example, about the most engaged users who regularly visit our store and who are our regular customers.
If we want to analyze the cohort mining report in more detail, it is worth selecting and setting the interesting stay criterion, i.e. specific conditions that users must meet in order to continue to stay in a given cohort.
The last report available from GA4 is a report showing information about our users who are active on our site after August 15, 2020. Here you can select user segments of interest and compare them over a specific time period.
With this report, you can gain valuable knowledge about which sources brought users to your site and at the same time received the highest overall revenue. You can also check unique dimensions such as the date of users’ first visit, the date of their first or last purchase, or the last activity on your site.
For this report, it’s a good idea to change the cell type to “heat map”, so you can more easily analyze the data and draw valuable conclusions.
A few words at the end
Google Analytics 4 is becoming a more powerful analytics tool by the day, so it’s a good idea to start exploring its capabilities now. We hope this article has guided you through the basic elements of custom reports, so you can easily create valuable data visualizations in the future.
If you’d like to learn more about working with GA4 in practice, we ran a webinar on the subject! You can find it on our YouTube channel.