Analytics

Google Analytics 4 Metrics Tutorial: Everything You Need to Know Before You Transition to the New Platform

Want to make your transition to GA4 as smooth as possible? This GA4 metric tutorial will show you everything you need to know.

Filip Stojanovic Filip Stojanovic on October 20, 2022 (last modified on October 10, 2022) • 12 minute read

In October 2022, Google launched the latest version of Google Analytics (GA4) and replaced Universal Analytics (UA) as the default for digital analytics measurements on the platform.

However, with a new layout, features, and measurement model, many marketers still haven’t gotten around to making the transition to GA4.

There are a bunch of new things to learn and as Mick Jagger’s song goes, “old habits die hard”.

But, with Google announcing that as of July 1st, 2023, GA4 will be the only option, marketers aren’t left with much choice except to learn the ropes of this upgraded measurement model.

The main issue seems to be the GA4 metrics since they’re now event-driven instead of pageview-driven.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a complete GA4 metrics tutorial and explain everything you need to know about them before migration.

google_analytics_4_acquisition_dashboard_databox

Differences Between Dimensions and Metrics in Google Analytics 4

In Universal Analytics, differentiating dimensions and metrics was as straightforward as it gets, but the process is a bit more complicated in GA4, causing trouble for transitioning marketers.

To put it simply, a dimension is a characteristic of your data. In most cases, it will be in form of a text that better describes the data.

Also, dimensions aren’t strictly limited to one characteristic.

For instance, the ‘Session source’ dimension in GA4 has several characteristics, including User, Sessions, Engaged sessions, Average engagement time, and Engaged session per user.

Source: Optimizesmart.com

Most importantly, dimensions provide context to metrics since metrics alone aren’t sufficient in the analysis and reporting process.

Metrics are defined as quantitative measurements where the value is always presented via numbers (average, ratio, percentage, etc.). The number is used to measure dimension characteristics.

For example, ‘Event count’ is a metric that displays the total number of times a specific event is triggered.

In Google Analytics 4, both dimensions and metrics are displayed in reports (data tables), where the dimensions are represented in rows, while metrics are represented in columns.

Source: Optimizesmart.com

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that metrics in GA4 only have one scope (Event), while dimensions can have two scopes (Event and User).

Differences between Metrics in GA4 and Universal Analytics

As you already know, the Universal Analytics version focuses on sessions and pageviews and is based on tracking the data around these two.

In Google Analytics 4, it’s a different story – the model tracks and processes events instead of sessions and pageviews.

This is why you’ll see these three new metrics once you shift to GA4:

  • Engaged session – Only counts sessions that lasted longer than 10 seconds, had 2 or more pageviews, or recorded a conversion.
  • Average engagement time per session – The amount of time a single user engages with a specific page (only when it’s being viewed on the screen).
  • Engagement rate – Engaged sessions divided by total sessions.

Neither of these metrics can be found in UA and they’ve replaced the ones like average session duration, pages/sessions, and bounce rate.

For the vast majority of marketers that migrate to GA4, the loss of bounce rate metric tends to be the most noticeable.

Related: Google Analytics vs. Universal Analytics: 4 Main Differences

Types of Metrics in Google Analytics 4

There are two main types of metrics in Google Analytics 4:

  • Default metrics – The ready-to-use metrics that are already available in GA4 reports.
  • Custom metrics – These are user-specified metrics that are created when you want to measure GA4 dimension attributes that default metrics don’t capture.

This is considered the broader categorization of Google Analytics 4 metrics, but there’s also a narrower one worth mentioning.

The narrower categorization of GA4 metrics is the following:

  • Filtered metrics – These are the metrics that come as a result of filtering the counting data points, such as Total user/Session based on certain criteria. Examples of filtered metrics include new users, views, and engaged sessions.
  • Counting metrics – These are the metrics that are easily counted/totaled. They’re used to provide additional context to reports and can be used as a scale. Examples of counting metrics include conversions, total users, event count, etc.
  • Calculated metrics – Calculated metrics come as a result of calculating two or more filtered/counting metrics. These metrics can provide you with valuable insights regarding your website activity. Some of the examples are average engagement time, engagement rate, and events per session.

Default Metrics in GA4

Default metrics are the metrics that already exist in Google Analytics 4 reports and can be measured immediately.

They are classified into the following sub-categories:

Acquisition Metrics

Acquisition metrics are used for assessing the attributes of acquisition dimensions. They provide you with information regarding the users who are in the “awareness phase” of your website.

They are divided into:

  • New users – Showcases the number of users that engaged with your website for the first time.
  • Engaged sessions – Website sessions that lasted over 10 seconds, had at least two page views, or had one or more conversion actions.
  • Engagement rate – Engaged sessions divided by total sessions (the total percentage of engaged sessions).
  • Average engagement time – The average amount of time users interact with a page (e.g. scrolling).
  • Engaged sessions per user – Records the number of engaged sessions per single user.
  • Event count – Shows how many times users triggered an event.
GA4 Acquisition Metrics example

There are three GA4 reports that contain acquisition metrics:

  1. Acquisition Overview Report
  2. User Acquisition Report
  3. Traffic Acquisition Report

And here’s what your acquisition reports could look like in Databox.

Google Analytics 4 Acquisition Overview Dashboard
Google Analytics 4 Acquisition Overview Dashboard Example

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics are used for assessing the attributes of engagement dimensions. These metrics provide information about the users in the “consideration phase” who show interest in learning more about your products and services.

Let’s go through the different engagement metric examples:

  • Users – The total number of unique users that engaged with your website. This is one of the best GA4 metrics for understanding your target audience since you can check whether your content is generating user growth.
  • Views – The total number of times users viewed your webpage. By analyzing views, you can see how a specific webpage is performing and whether any website changes are influencing user behavior.
  • Views per user – The average number of pages users view on your website. It’s calculated by dividing engaged sessions by users.
  • Average engagement time – Average amount of time users spend focusing on your specific page in their browsers.
GA4 engagement metrics

You can find engagement metrics in these four GA4 reports:

  • Engagement Events Report
  • Engagement Overview Report
  • Engagement Conversions Report
  • Pages and Screens Report

Here is what your engagement reports could look like in Databox.

Google Analytics 4 Engagement Overview Dashboard
Google Analytics 4 Engagement Overview Dashboard Example

Related: Where Are My Views In Google Analytics 4? Everything You Need to Know About Filtering Data in GA4

Monetization Metrics

Monetization metrics are used for assessing the attributes of engagement dimensions. These metrics provide purchase activity-related data.

By analyzing monetization metrics, you’ll be able to identify patterns that will show you where you should target your efforts to push the users towards the “purchase phase”.

Monetization metric examples for an ecommerce website could include:

  • Item views – The total number of times users viewed item details.
  • Add to carts – The total number of times users added your items into their shopping carts.
  • Cart-to-view ratio – The add-to-cart metric divided by item views.
  • Ecommerce purchases – The total number of users who completed an item purchase.
  • Purchase revenue – The total revenue generated from website purchases.
  • Item promotion clicks – The total number of times users clicked on an item promotion.
GA4 Monetization metric examples

There are four GA4 reports where you can track monetization metrics:

  • Monetization Overview Report
  • Ecommerce Purchases Report
  • In-App Purchases Report
  • Publisher Ads Report

Here’s what your GA4 monetization reports could look like in Databox.

Google Analytics 4 Monetization Overview Dashboard Template
Google Analytics 4 Monetization Overview Dashboard Example

Retention Metrics

Retention metrics showcase data related to user retention and they can be categorized into different units or user audiences.

Considering that acquiring new customers can cost five times more than retaining existing ones, tracking retention metrics can be a great way to increase revenue and cut unnecessary losses.

Let’s go through a few examples of retention metrics:

  • Returning users – The total number of users who had at least one previous interaction with your website, no matter if it was an engaged session or not.
  • Monthly active users (MAU) – The percentage of users that engaged with your website in the last 30 days. Higher ratios indicate good user retention.
  • Weekly active users (WAU) – The percentage of users that engaged with your website in the last seven days.

Retention metrics are captured in the Retention Overview Report.

Demographics Metrics

Demographics metrics are used to assess the attributes of demographic dimensions. They provide you with relevant demographic data such as user age, location, gender, etc. You can use demographic metrics to understand your customer’s interests. 

Some of the most popular demographic metrics include:

  • Age – User age by brackets (’18-24’, ’25-34’, ’35-44’, ’45-54’, ’55-64’, and ‘65+’).
  • Gender – User gender
  • Interests – User interests by brackets (Games, Sports, Art and Entertainment, etc.).

Demographic metrics are captured in:

  • Demographics Overview Report
  • Demographics Details Report

Here is an example of a GA4 Demographics report in Databox.

Google Analytics 4 Demographics Details Dashboard
Google Analytics 4 Demographics Details Dashboard Example

Tech Metrics

Tech metrics are used for assessing the attributes of tech dimensions. These metrics allow you to analyze traffic by user platform, app version, operating system, and more.

Some tech metric examples include:

  • Browser – The browser used by the visitors on your website.
  • Device category – Showcases whether visitors are using a desktop, mobile, or tablet device.
  • Operating system – The operating system used by the visitors on your website.
  • Platform – The platform your visitors are using (Android, iOS, or Web).
Source: Optimizesmart.com

Tech metrics can be found in:

  • Tech Overview Report
  • Tech Details Report

Custom Metrics in Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 includes a wide variety of default metrics, but they don’t capture each possible scenario.

Even though the tool covers a lot of general use cases, there are always some things unique to the specific business that you’d want to track.

This is where custom metrics step in.

Custom metrics are user-specified metrics that you can create when you want to measure certain dimension attributes that aren’t captured by the existing metrics.

For example, if you include videos in your website content, you can create a custom metric called “Number of video views” to check out how many users interacted with it.

In Google Analytics 4, you can only create event-scoped custom metrics. This means that you can only measure activities that come from event parameters.

The main advantage of using custom metrics is that you’ll receive a new data card for each logged event parameter that you created as a custom metric.

In other words, custom metrics can make your existing reports much more comprehensive.

google_analytics_4_acquisition_dashboard_databox

Streamline GA4 Reporting with Databox

Even though making the transition from UA to GA4 won’t be easy for short-on-time marketers, it will have to happen eventually once Google replaces the old tracking model completely.

But, while it will take some time to adapt to the new model, the advanced features and more granular insights you’ll receive will make it all worthwhile.

If you have already transitioned to GA4, but are still having trouble juggling around different reports to categorize the important metrics and analyze them, you can check out our pre-built GA4 dashboard templates.

These templates can help you get a better overview of your crucial GA4 metrics and combine them all in one screen, making the analysis process much easier and simplifying data presentation.

Furthermore, if you need help in making sense of your performance data, we have a free GA4 setup service that you can try out.

You can contact our team, explain what information you need in the dashboard, and our team will deliver it within 24 hours.

All of this is a few clicks away once you sign up for a free trial.

About the author
Filip Stojanovic
Filip Stojanovic Filip Stojanovic is a content writer who studies Business and Political Sciences. Also, I am a huge tennis enthusiast. Although my dream is to win a Grand Slam, working as a content writer is also interesting.
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