Google Analytics

GA4: Migration Plan – The Helicopter Method

I know, you know the drill, but worth repeating anyway. In October 2020 Google announced GA4 as the new default property for tracking website visitors. The announcement was huge, it is the biggest thing to happen to analytics in nearly a decade.  If you want to get a quick summary of GA4 pop over here

Google is working hard on its PR machine, with key messages around dual tagging and all the updates it is making to GA4. This is leading to lots of questions about GA4, from ‘what is it?’ which then quickly leads to  ‘what should I do?’

Over the last year, along with the juggle of homeschooling, covid isolations and lockdowns, I have been working through GA audits and analytics training. GA4 is fast becoming the bulk of my work. People are asking questions and want to know how to get started. 

That is the big question isn’t it? Do you ignore it? Do you set it up? How deep do you need to go on your learning journey to get to grips with it? What are other people doing? Are they making the jump to migrate and dual tag? 

This post is breaking down my process: The Helicopter Method ©.  

Personally, and I hope you feel the same way, I prefer to break down tasks into smaller, bit size chunks. Working in phases or sprints helps me maintain a rhythm in my work, and stops me getting overwhelmed at a massive to-do list. 

Introducing The Helicopter Method © 

Why have I called this The Helicopter Method ©? Good question. To help explain how we got to this 4th version of GA, and to help people understand the work ahead of us, I have likened analytics to methods of transportation.

Urchin to GA4

If we think about analytics as a mode of transport then the first analytics Google brought out was in 2005, Google bought Urchin Analytics and ‘Google Analytics’ was born. In the ‘analytics as a mode of transport’ story, Urchin would have been a bike, our 1st version of Google Analytics: GA1.

Roll on 2007 and we got a makeover and some new features, we said hello to Classic analytics (GA2). Then 2012 rolled round and Google made some massive changes, and we got Universal Analytics. This is the Car of analytics, our GA3. 

Apart from the enterprise 360 product offering around 2016, we have been using the same version of analytics for nearly a decade. Which is a very long time in tech years. 

GA4 is the 4th version of GA and it is nothing like a car, this upgrade is so different, this vehicle is not even on the road anymore. It is a helicopter, and we all need to learn how to fly one! We all need to learn how to fly a GA4 “helicopter”. 

how to approach ga4

How to get your GA4 Licence 

Like any licence there are 2 parts, theory, and practical. 

The Helicopter Method © is your navigation plan which is broken down into phases that have 2 parts to each. The thinking, theory, learning side, and the doing, practical element of a setup. 

How and when you get started with GA4 is up to you. This change is going to happen, and change is hard.  

If you are in the research phase of GA4 and are feeling a little overwhelmed, that is normal, find some comfort in knowing that everyone, and I mean everyone, is going to have to make the switch at some point.

I have been working with clients who have been dual tagging and getting Phase 1 at a minimum completed. Then working towards Phase 2 and 3, and using the insights and reports alongside GA3 (Universal Analytics). By all means, if you want to go all in on GA4, you do you. Equally, if you are in the camp of ‘I am not touching GA4’  it is a free world after all, then my question to you is ‘Which analytics platform are you planning to migrate to?’ Either way, analytics is having a shake up and we are going to be using a new platform. Whichever you use, there is work ahead to get your analytics house in order. 

GA4 Migration Plan phase 1

Phase 1 : Dual Tag Basic Configuration

The key objective of this phase is to activate and set up the basic configuration required for GA4 to start to collect baseline data. Ideally you will also setup your BigQuery project which will only collect data the day you setup and link to your GA4 account. 

At this early stage, it is an opportunity for you to understand the difference between UA and GA4 in terms of the data model and how events work. You may need the support of your agencies or your IT department to set up your configuration tag in your GTM container, and edit your Property settings at Admin level. 

Keep an eye on the GA PR machine, they will announce roll outs and features and decide if the new features should be included in your roadmap.

GA4 Migration Plan theory and practical phase 1


-Understand the data model in GA4

-Understand the Events Concept

-Learn about the UI and how the reports are different

TIP: Use the Google Analytics Demo Account to familiarise yourself with the new UI. 


-Create GA4 Property 

-Setup Data Stream 

-Setup GA4 config Tag 

-Amend Property Settings 

-Create BigQuery Project and Link to GA4 Property 

-Introduce Metrics from GA4 into UA reports eg User metrics 


At the end of this phase you should be collecting data in a GA4 data stream.

This is a baseline setup alongside an active BigQuery Project to collect data. 

TIP: BigQuery will only start to collect data the day you link up the property. Ideally you should set this up at the start of your Dual Tag Configuration.If you are new to BigQuery, the best way to describe it is to think of BigQuery as the black box to your helicopter.

GA4 Migration Plan phase 2

Phase 2 : Customise your setup 

This phase will move you from the core baseline setup that you get with GA4 to a more customised approach, so you are tracking things bespoke to your website and business model. When you deploy the GA4 configuration tag there are some events that are tracked automatically, and depending on your Property settings, some additional ‘enhanced’ events will also be tracked for you.  However there are likely going to be cases where you need additional events to be in the GA4 report that you do not have with the core configuration. For example, form submissions, or ecommerce. 

Review your current UA setup and audit the events and conversions you are currently tracking. From this review, it is a chance to see what you would keep, what you want to improve, and what you would like to delete and remove. This activity will help you understand which settings, events, and conversions from Universal Analytics you would like to migrate over to GA4. Doing this step will stop bad settings and bad data being migrated over to your new GA4 Data Stream.

GA4 Migration Plan theory and practical phase 2


-Review your UA setup.  Audit events and conversion setup. Identify what you would like to edit, add, remove.

-Map out your UA tracking to your GA4 events, this will help your migration. GA4 is not a carbon copy, not all dimensions and metrics have the same event name and event parameter.

-Plan which events you want to publish in your reports. By default only your event name is published in your UI reports. All event parameters will show up in Real Time reports and will all flow to BigQuery. If you want to use your parameters for analysis, you need to publish them. You do this in Custom Definitions. You can have 50 Custom Dimensions and 50 Custom Metrics published. Enhanced Measurement events are available by default so they will not count against your quota. 

-Start to create your measurement strategy documentation. Who will own the documents, where will they live, how will they be communicated throughout the organization?

TIP: Keep in mind that Google Analytics already has event names and parameters which should be used before creating your own event names. Before you brief a new event, check that the name does not exist in Automatically Collected Events, Enhanced Measurement or  Recommended Events provided by Google.


-Migrate your UA > GA4 Events. Build these events using the GA4 Event Tag in GTM 

-Create Custom Events within the UI to use in reports 

-Publish Events (Custom Definitions) so parameters are sent to UI reports 

-Create Conversions using Event Name and the option of bespoke Conversions using existing events.


At the end of this step, in addition to your basic configuration tracking, you will also have the specific events that complement your measurement strategy and marketing plan. You have custom events created and published for use in the UI and have your conversions setup for your main KPI’s.

GA4 Migration Plan phase 3

Phase 3 : Compare and Review Reports

As you now have core configuration data flowing into your account, and your own events and conversion data setup, you can start to look at building some reports that meet your marketing questions. 

This step is all focused on getting the most out of the data you are receiving with GA4 and use it alongside your UA reporting. 

There are reports in GA4 that either only exist in Analytics 360, or are new and are not even available in the paid version. You should take advantage of those reports. 

TIP: Get familiar with Analysis Hub, this is where you will build your reports. In particular, try building funnels, trended funnels and path analysis. Use these reports alongside your UA reports to get more insights on your strategies.

GA4 Migration Plan theory and practical phase 3


-Learn how to use the UI in GA4 start with Standard Reports 

-Learn how to build reports in the analysis hub 

-Learn how to compare reports and build segments 

-Brainstorm how you could use reports in marketing strategy eg path analysis, funnels with time etc. 


-Build and share funnels and reports 

-Setup custom insights (like Alerts)

 TIP: Consider using the Data Studio connector for GA4 to pull any metrics or insights alongside your existing UA reports. Start to introduce reports and insights now as you build up use cases and confidence with the platform. 

GA4 Migration Plan phase 4

Phase 4 : Enhance Setup

By now, you should be confident with the standard reports and be using the Analysis Hub to create your bespoke reports, funnels, path analysis. You should have some specific segments and audiences for detailed analysis of users. You are getting ready to brief your agency or team on the creatives for your remarketing lists. You are also finding which events, parameters and custom definitions are needed for your analysis. 

This is the stage where you enhance your setup, adjust your settings, and brief in new events to close any blind spots. Thanks to the flexibility of GA4 you can toggle conversions on and off, and if you meet your collection limits, you can delete and archive to free up new slots.

GA4 Migration Plan theory and practical phase 4


-Brainstorm use cases for advanced features like temporary exclusion from remarketing lists. 

-Review data and identify how you could edit/ adjust events to bring clarity to your analysis

-Start to internally brief stakeholders with reports from UA and reports from GA4  

TIP: Keep an eye on the GA PR machine, they will announce roll outs and features and decide if the new features should be included in your roadmap.


-Build core reports for analysis and use for reporting (alongside UA reports)
Build segments based on actions

-Complete any ecom setup or monetisation report features eg subscription revenue

-Create Audiences (option to include time sequences)  

TIP: Provide a timeline for your sole use of GA4 for analysis in your reports to stakeholders.


At this stage, you are making full use of the new and enhanced features GA4 has to offer. You and your team are getting ready to use GA4 as the primary reporting source and UA as a backup.

ga4 migration phase 5 big query

Phase 5 : BigQuery

Think of BigQuery as the black box to your helicopter. It is going to store all your rawdata, everything.  BigQuery will become your new best friend for capturing the data you are interested in, but also for joining additional data that you were not able to send with your implementation.

It is well worth setting up your BigQuery and GA4 account as soon as you can (Phase 1) as there are no billing charges associated with exporting data from GA4 to BigQuery. 

Even if you think you may not be ready to use BigQuery – yet– I would still advocate setting up and linking your GA4 account to your BigQuery account as it will only start to record data in your little black box the day you set it up.  

The data retention in GA4 is a max of 14 months (GA4 360 has the option of up to 50 months). So you are going to have to use BigQuery at some point (especially if you are on the free GA4) to do your historical data analysis, think year 2021 vs 2020, 2019 etc, so setting up now will help calm a future headache! 

GA4 Migration Plan theory and practical phase 5


-Understand how BigQuery works and start to look at the interface and data in the warehouse ‘black box’ 

-Identify what you need in Analysis hub UI and what is needed in BigQuery

-Work with agencies / IT to scope out use cases for BigQuery and your marketing eg predictive analysis for paid media, analysis of buyer patterns  


-Setup queries and export data for reporting.

TIP: There is a Google Analytics sample dataset for BigQuery that you can use . Once you have access to the dataset you can run queries  for the period of 1-Aug-2016 to 1-Aug-2017.

There is of course a LOT to get your head around with this new analytics platform. This road map is intended to help you plan your migration and give you some focus points in phases. 

This is a huge opportunity to develop and refine your measurement strategy. Define what works for you now, and what you need for later. Yes, this is going to take investment.

 You will need to dedicate time and resources to set up GA4 and train your staff on how to use it. Doing it now, over the coming months will make the adjustment easier. 

And remember, we are all on this journey, everyone is going to have to do this work, so go at your own pace. 

You got this! 

If you found this useful, drop me a comment below or share this post. And a happy easter egg of sorts for getting all the down to the end of this post *highfive* here is the link for a PDF copy of this GA4 Migration Plan from The Coloring in Department

The Coloring in Department offers Google Analytics training and consulting. If you would like to chat about helping your company get to grips with GA4 just drop me a note here or DM me on Twitter or Linkedin.  

Google Analytics

What is GA4 ?

If you’ve found this blog, chances are you are looking for some answers. You have questions. Lots of questions! Like… What is GA4? What is the fuss all about? What does it do? How should I approach it? What do I need to do?

Well dear reader, this post aims to answer some of those questions.   

You probably saw the announcement from Google about this shift to a ‘new analytics’ in October 2020. You have also, no doubt, noticed the little arrow in your property settings calling for you to ‘upgrade’. You may have even clicked that button, but it opened more threads of questions than you thought. 

This post aims to give you a short summary of how GA4 came to existence, using the analogy of methods of transportation (it will make sense I promise). There are some really cool opportunities with GA4, so I am going to share the top highlights for me so far. 

We will talk about the key differences between GA Universal Analytics and GA4, this will help to set your expectations and help to navigate the new version of GA. And, if you stick with me until the end, we will finish up with some steps on how to approach moving from Universal Analytics to GA4. 


Lets begin. 

Analytics Timeline

Humour me, and think of analytics as a method of transportation. This analogy is going to help explain how we got to where we are today, and show the work we have ahead of us. 

If analytics was a mode of transportation, then Urchin, when it delighted us back in 2005 would have been a bike. We were happy enough, we could get around, but it was hard work and if the weather was bad you got soaked to the bone. 

Then around 2007 Google said to us, be gone with your bike, we have something faster, and we got an upgrade, a scooter. We were all delighted, scooting around our website data was faster, and it had an engine! But that only got us so far. We wanted more.  

Google listened, and around 2012, GA got an upgrade and Google presented us with the keys to our analytics car. This is our Universal Analytics. We all know how the car works, either from just sitting as a passenger or as the driver. Some of us have a better serviced car than others, some have a sports car (hi GA360), either way, we are all familiar with the car.   

Then, October 2020 rolls around, and GA announces GA4. The 4th version of their analytics programme, and, despite being called an ‘upgrade’ it is a helicopter! 

You see, whilst UA and GA4 share similarities, think cars/ helicopter, they both have doors,seats, seatbelts, a dashboard and whatnot, but, GA4 runs on a totally different model to UA. 

Hard truth, our UA car is going to be 10 years old next year, which in tech land, is rather old. For a number of reasons, this 4th version was overdue. Google Search Console and Google Ads have all had quite significant changes over the years, and now it’s GA’s turn. 

Google is going all in on investing into their GA4 helicopter, which means no more investment on our UA car. This means we are going to slowly start to notice the car being a bit jumpy, and slow to start, it won’t be serviced anymore, it is going to start to break down. We all need to skill up, we all need to learn how to fly a helicopter. 

oh my new ga4 features

Oh, my, new features. 

Obviously measuring your marketing and website is important,and adopting GA4 early will give an advantage. But let’s face it, no one likes change. Change is hard. If you are in the research phase of GA4 and are feeling a little overwhelmed, that is normal, find some comfort in knowing that everyone, and I mean everyone, is going to have to make the switch at some point. 

Whilst change is hard, change also brings new opportunities. 

On that note, let me share some things to get excited about, which I hope answered the question “what is all the fuss about”.

Let’s dive in 🙂  

1- BigQuery

BigQuery GA4

One main advantage of GA4 is that all users of the product will have access to a BigQuery streaming export. This differs from Google Analytics today, where only Google Analytics 360 customers are able to view hit-level data via BigQuery.

If you are new to BigQuery, the best way to describe it is to think of BigQuery as the black box to your helicopter. It is going to store all your rawdata, everything.  BigQuery will become your new best friend for capturing the data you are interested in, but also for joining additional data that you were not able to send with your implementation.

It is well worth setting up your BigQuery and GA4 account as soon as you can as there are no billing charges associated with exporting data from GA4 to BigQuery. They let you export a free instance to a BigQuery sandbox, if you exceed the sandbox limits, you will need to pay for the usage (queries and data storage) the cost for doing this for most sites is minimal. You can find out more about BigQuery here, and if you are worried about BigQuery costs you can control them. 

My personal take on this is that it is a really good thing. At some point, everyone I have worked with gets to a point where they need to get data out of GA to do more with it, but the barrier was always having to pay for GA 360 to get what you need. 

For those of you who may not be ready to use BigQuery – yet- I would still advocate setting up and linking your GA4 account to your Big Query account as it will only start to record data in your little black box the day you set it up. 

If the thought of working with BigQuery freaks you out, follow Team Simmer run by Mari and Simo Ahava and sign up for their newsletters. It has been my go-to for BigQuery learning.

2- Funnels 

Who doesn’t like a funnel? 

In our Universal Analytics Car, if you have a Destination URL for a conversion goal , and the URL has a few steps that the user has to take before they reach it by way of additional website pages, then you can set up a Funnel in your Goal settings. Doing this would give you a shiny new Funnel Visualization report, to the destination Goal that you may want to create. The Funnel Visualization report is a good example that shows where people are dropping off, and you can see which pages they drop off and leave to. However, You can’t segment it. Boo. 

If you set up ecommerce tracking, and followed a similar pattern (configuring your ecom settings with your conversion steps) then you got a similar report in Conversions >Ecommerce> Checkout Behavior. which you can segment, yay! However, you can’t see the pages they have left you for.

Although I always wanted more out of them they were very useful to visually see user behaviour. If you wanted to do anything more, you needed to pay for GA 360. 

Now, with GA4, we get the funnels that you used to only get if you stumped up the cash for GA360- this is a massive win for us small businesses that don’t have a 6 figure analytics budget.  I am excited about this because all the really good funnels were always in 360. 

funnels in ga4

With GA4 you can create retroactive funnels, yes that is correct, it will apply your funnel details to your historical data.And as much as bar charts are fabulous, if you wanted to change the funnel to something that reduces the cognitive load, you can now change the visualization. Think how you would benefit from a funnel that is applied retroactively to your data, and you can look at it as a line graph to help you spot trends and changes. Erm yes please GA. 

My final-wiggle-in-my-seat-excited-about -funnels came when I was playing around with them and spotted the elapsed time feature. Now, I have hated the time concept of UA for ages, it is just not that helpful the way it is calculated,basically if you go on page A and then page B it can do basic math to see how long it takes from page A to B to give you time on page. Which is fine, but what if people do not go to another page?! 

GA4 have changed their concept of elapsed time, and will tell you exactly what time passed between steps (seconds, minutes,days) and you can apply this to your funnels so you will know exactly how long it takes your website visitors to complete each step. 

3- Path Analysis 

Did you ever look at the flow reports in UA and think, oh they look cool. But then found them really hard to work with and get any insights from? Well, GA4 has given us something called Path Analysis.

path analysis ga4

You pick an end point, purchase your goods, fill out a form, subscribe to your newsletter, whatever you want. Using this end point, GA4 will show you all the steps working backwards from that end point. You get to see all the steps/ paths your visitors did on the run up to doing the end point. 

This for me is brilliant, I have tried in the past to work with flow reports, but they were too rigid, and normally sampled to hell. I then tried to build sequential segments and use data to work out the steps. This takes out the guesswork, and you can add segments to this report.

Think about the use cases for this? Blending funnels with elapsed time you can see how long it takes people to do the thing you want them to do. Take that end point and see all the steps that lead them to the final point. Then add a segment to see how different cohorts behave. Ah-mazing! 

4- 30 Goals (and they are flexible!) 

With UA, we had 20 goals, and if you have ever built a goal, you will share the same frustrations as I had when you realized you can’t delete goals, you could only edit them. 

GA4 gives you 30 goals, and trust me, you can use them all up, and will want to use them all up when you see what you can build in GA4. 

Firstly, the Goals in GA4 can be toggled on or off, and you can archive them if you do not need them anymore. The best part for me is the sheer flexibility and potential of these conversions. 

One example of this flexibility is the ability to create a conversion from a segment, or from a blend of events that you have been collecting. 

flexible goals in ga4

Let’s say you are an ecommerce site, and you have a goal for ‘bought the product’. 

Well, you can go deeper than that now, you can use a Recency Frequency Value proposition model to work out your good, bad, and best customers. 

If your average order value is say £50, you could work out that someone who is a really good customer has lots of visits, reads all your blog content, and spends on average £150. You can build a conversion for your big spenders. Or you want to create a goal based on a particular category or product which you are focusing on. Build that goal! 

Let’s say you are a SaaS site, you could build segments to show people who are warm prospects e.g. they visit your site monthly, watch your free content and have a free trial setup. Verus your mega hot customer, finished the free trial, on the paid plan and referred a friend. Or you could build a goal based on the type of SaaS product they bought. 

5- Google Signals 

Most UA accounts that have Google Ads setup, usually have Google Signals enabled. GA4 has the same sync, but it is using it in a slightly different way to UA.  Google signals is Google’s identity graph, and it takes session data from websites and apps that Google associated with users who have signed into and opted in/ turned on Ads Personalisation. 

Used with GA4 in addition to powering your cross device reports,  it will be used to help fill in more information about your website visitors. This can be used to power your remarketing and ad personalisation.  

6 – Remarketing Lists now with temporary exclude rules! 

When I think of remarketing, my mind wanders to the bad remarketing. You know, you go to a website for a hot second, and they follow you around the web. 

It could be so much better, and GA4 is giving you more flexibility in how you approach remarketing. 

temporary exclude remarketing lists

I am all for opted-in, well put together , relevant remarketing. There is a new feature in GA4 where you can build an audience and define a rule to temporarily exclude users for a set amount of time. 

For example, being a coffee addict, I go to a website and buy a bag of coffee beans to use at home. Typical use of the coffee beans would see me wanting to buy a new bag in 4 weeks time. That website could build an audience that is set to exclude me from seeing their remarketing for a month, and then when that time is up, I am eligible to see the ads again. 

Key Differences between UA and GA4 

Now we know where we are in terms of the analytics journey, using my analogy of modes of transportation. We covered some of the new features, and I hope you got excited about some of the things we can do in GA4, maybe even sparked some ideas on how to use it for your business. Now, let’s talk about the key differences between our UA car and GA4 helicopter. 

Data Model Universal Analytics 

Our data model in UA is a hit based model and runs on the basis of a user (someone who has visited your website), and their sessions (how many visits your user makes to your site). Say you have one user who visits your website three times over a period of time – this would be counted as three sessions. When a user pops up on your site and their visit is recorded as one or more sessions, anything they interact with will trigger something to fire in the code, and this will be recorded as a hit, an interaction. For example, when a specific page was loaded, video played, pdf downloaded etc. 

data model ga4

GA4 is the result of Firebase, Google’s analytics product for tracking apps. Web+ App which was rebranded to GA4, adopted the firebase model which was all event based. Therefore Google is moving away from the hit based data model and moving towards this User/Event data model. 

Event structure UA

In Universal Analytics we have a data model that is built on User’s, Session’s and Hit’s, we also have Events. The structure for Events which you would find in your Behaviour reports follow the rules for Category, Action and Label. The Category is your broad bucket eg Video. The Action describes the ‘doing’ i.e what is the action that we are tracking eg played video, and the Label helps to provide context to the ‘thing they just did’ eg the name of the video that was just played.  

event structure ga4

As our data model for GA4 is all User and Event based, everything is an event. Like, everything. This for me is going to take some rewiring/ recalibrating, as I have used GA UA for sooooo long, it is a shift for my brain to go pageview (which was a hit) to pageview (now an event). Although, like most things, when you start working on it, you do get used to it. 

We now have Event Names and Event Parameters. This is a big difference as the Category, Action, Label hierarchy has gone, and with an event based data model, everything is captured as an event. 

Account structure

Your account structure in UA as you know is built on Account, Properties, and Views.  The account structure in GA4 is Account, Property and within your Property you can define a Data Stream, which you can think of as an equivalent for a reporting view. 

account structure ga4

Reports UI 

The reporting interface is completely new as well. Remember, we are moving from our Universal Analytics ‘car’ where our reports looked like Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour, Conversion. Well, you ain’t driving a car, you are flying a helicopter now. 

The User Interface for GA4 is different, don’t expect it to be a clone of UA. 

You have a number of Standard Reports in Lifecycle. 

  • Acquisition = how did your visitors find your site? 
  • Engagement = what did they do on your website?
  • Monetization= did they make you any money? 
  • Retention= do they come back? 

There are User reports under this that show Demographics and Tech data (similar to what we would get in UA Audience Reports). There is an Event section that will show all the Conversions you have set up (remember you get 30 now!) and a list of all the Events you have running on your GA4 collection and configuration. 

Then you will notice a section called Explore, this holds the Analysis Hub. This is where you can use all the event data you are collecting to build those funnels and path analysis reports that we went through at the start of this post.

user interface ga4

What do you do now? 

Bottom line, we are all going to need to skill up. You can’t just walk up to a helicopter, sit in the seat and fly to the shops. You are going to need to get a licence to fly. As with any licence you have a blend of theory and practice. 

how to approach ga4

Theory : we are all going to have to learn how this data model works, and how to plan strategically for your next measurement strategy phase.  

Practical: once you know how it works and what you need to do, time to roll up your sleeves and start to ‘do it’, make the properties, edit the configuration,  build the events, create the conversions. 

How and when you do this, well that is up to you. This change is going to happen, and change is hard. 

So, work at your own pace, and my advice is to work in phases. 

I have a GA4 migration roadmap called ‘The Helicopter Method’  that sets out a number of Theory and Practical items in set phases. This is a quick one liner on each phase.

Phase 1 is around setting up your Dual Tagging. Doing the basic configuration so you are collecting data and have some historical data to work with. 

Phase 2 would focus on customising your setup, adding more events to fit your business needs. 

Phase 3 is to start to use the reports in GA4 to review and compare between your UA reports

Phase 4 you can now start to enhance your setup, build your temp exclusion lists, build your segments and insights.

Phase 5 is when you are ready to dip your toe in the black box of data, BigQuery. 

I have been encouraging my students and clients to start to focus on Phase 1.  Learn the basics and get the core configuration done so you have something recording data in the background, even if it is just the automatically collected events that you get when you set up your GA4 config tag. And hey, you have already made a start by finding and reading this post. 

You may also want to start to edge in a few key metrics in your current reports to help with the shift. For example, your current website data reports, maybe add in the User metric instead of focusing just on Sessions? 

Start to look at the Demo Account. This is a sandbox account, where you can see the Google Merchandise GA4 setup.  

One thing is for sure, we are all going on a journey. 


If you found this post useful and want to hear about GA4 content from us, then sign up to our newsletter below.

The Coloring in Department offers Google Analytics training and consulting. If you would like to chat about helping your company get to grips with GA4 just drop me a note here or DM me on Twitter or Linkedin.  


Homeschool planning

Homeschool Planning: How to survive working from home, teaching your kids, and not lose your mind.

This is a slightly different post to the ones that we normally post here on The Coloring in Department.  Short gist of the situation. I am a working mum with 2 small kids. One of which is autistic, dyslexic and on a pathway official diagnosis for ADHD.  Currently facing trying to work from home, keep the business alive, AND home school a 4 ½-year-old and 7-year-old. Plus the normal house admin, shopping, cooking, washing up. Oh and I think I am supposed to do all that ‘self-care stuff’ so my mental state doesn’t decay into dust. Fun. Times.

I have tried to pull the best of my skill set gained over my career. I have worked from home for years, I have been in the self-employed bucket for the last 8 years. I am a process-driven mofo and have done instructional design for workshops, courses, and written a few templates and guides.

This is what I have put together to try and juggle the whole work-life-home-school-balance. My situation and workarounds will not work for everyone. However, I believe that sharing ideas is cool, so there may be something in here that can help you, my fellow working parent. Some ideas on how to plan your day and try and manage the situation we are in.

Just like you, I have gone through all the feels. Tick box for higher blood pressure, anxiety, a fear that someone I love is going to get sick and not make it. A worry of how I am going to make ends meet so the roof stays over my head *long breath*.

Ok, let’s dive in.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a school teacher. I am a digital marketing trainer. I am not a Special Education Needs Specialist, I just happen to be raising a NeuroDiverse child through the British Education System. I live in a flat on the 2nd floor of a building. We don’t have a garden. A printer. Or a fully-stocked arts and crafts cupboard.

We are super lucky to have a huge park down the road. I live about 350 miles away from my family, but I have childcare which we pay for, with our current situation, I have had to cut this down, but for now, it is leaving me with about 4 hours of the day to myself. I am expecting a situation where this may stop either due to lockdowns, sickness, or finance.

Welcome to “Pokemon Unicorn School” 

First thing first. I have sat down with the kids and explained that because of this virus, the school has had to close. It means that most likely they will not return until September. They are NOT on holiday.

They still need to do ‘school’ it is just now going to be from home.

They attend a school called ‘St Pauls’, so I said to them we need a name for our home school, and they get to pick it.

“Welcome to Pokemon Unicorn School.”

My boy is addicted to pokemon, and my girl, if she could get away with it she would be dipped in glitter and covered in unicorns all day.

Action: Give your school a name. If you are on social media, show me what ya got #HomeSchoolName


Having worked from home, I found early on that working in your jimmy jams is not quite productive. I have a ‘work wardrobe’ comfy clothes but not quite PJ’s and not quite what I would wear to say a meeting or conference. This helped me get into the mindset of ‘work’.

We are going to do the same for the kids. Monday – Friday they wear their school uniform top. Two reasons for this. Firstly, I think it will help the kids understand that we are doing school work that day so they are in the mindset of school. Secondly, I do not have 7 days worth of clothes and have not got the spare cash to go out and buy more. Also, their uniforms cost a bloody fortune, so I am getting my wear out of them!

They are allowed to wear their own trousers (tutu for my girl). We have said they can wear their own shoes, paint their nails, wear their uniform headbands. ‘Cos Pokemon School is down with that.

Weekends, and school holidays, they can wear what they want.

Action: Consider having your kids wear part of their uniform. If you don’t have a uniform, have some sort of color code or something that can be used as an emblem of sorts. Think badges, ribbons, a bracelet.

Learning Baskets 

Ok, I live in a flat, and we don’t have a spare room, a study, and it is going to get crowded. I also know it is going to be hard to make ‘home’ turn into ‘school’ and then back to ‘home again’.

I either work in a coworking space (obvs a no go right now) or I work from home. I work from our dining room table. Each morning when the kids would leave for school I would clear the table and ‘setup my deck’ with my work stuff. This all lives in a cupboard that I can access. It has helped me shift to a work mode.

The kid’s school has trays and lockers. So we are going to do something similar. I went around the flat to try and find something that would work. I ended up with these two baskets. I filled them with their workbooks from school. A pencil case and tin full of crayons. A ruler. Sellotape. Glue.

I have explained to them that these ‘Learning Baskets’ are their responsibility. They must keep all their schoolwork, books, pens, etc in here.

Action: Find something you can use to keep all their homeschool material in. Worth finding something portable so you can move it around the house. You can use plastic boxes, shoe boxes, bags, or trays.

Fill it with a new notebook, some pens, and reading books. I got the kids to pick their fave books to read over the next week. If you had anything from school. Bung it in there.

The School Day 

As I mentioned. Living in a flat, space is tight. I need to work from home. So does the husband. Plus the kids. Managing the space and managing expectations of what I can do and when I can do it is critical.

Again, thinking about my work life. I always ask, when possible, some notice so I can arrange childcare. I also make it known to our clients when I am available. My core hours are normally 8.30 am-5.30 pm. This has never been an issue with anyone we work with.

Routine is important, and especially with my boy who is on the spectrum. If we do not stick to a routine he is going to have more meltdowns and it is going to make things really hard.

As I mentioned, I am in a fortunate position to have childcare. During this time we are looking at me working with my boy during his learning sets as he has special needs and needs 1:1 support. I have slotted in the learning sets at the start and end of the day, so I can work between 1030am-245pm each day. I will communicate this with my clients and business partner that this is when I will do calls, meetings, and work. Making up the hours in the evenings and weekends. If you are on your own and unable to get help, there is nothing wrong with the kids doing work on a computer or Ipad with you in the background. Good enough is good enough.

I have planned the days to look like this.

Wake up 7.00am- 8.30am

Eat breakfast, make the bed, get dressed, PJ in the wash basket, brush teeth.

Walk 830am-9.15am

Getting them outside and doing some exercise is going to be really important. We will go for a walk. Get the scooters out. There is also some free amazing content for kids to do indoors if you are unable to get out. Joe Wicks has loads of kid workouts is doing a morning PE with Joe on his youtube channel 9 am GMT every day. There is also a Cosmic Yoga

Get Ready 915am-930am

After doing our morning exercise, time to get ready for home learning. Wash hands after being outside. Get a quick drink. Go to the loo. Then we are GOGOGO. Grab the learning baskets, sat at desks, lesson plans out.

Learning Set 1 9.30 am-1030am

Reading, writing, spelling, maths.

My plan here is to do the book and writing stuff in the morning. My son needs 1:1 support, so I have childcare coming in at 930 to take my daughter and I will be able to focus on my boy. If/ when I don’t have help I will just have to sit them both in the same room and set tasks and try and manage it. Again, good enough is good enough.

I will write more about how I am setting the learning tasks a bit further down in this post. Side note. Man, teachers deserve all the money and praise. Lesson planning sucks balls. I don’t know how they do it.

Break Time: 1030am-1045am

Time for snacks, a game if they have been good, a chill-out, dancing to music. Watch a short program or cartoon.

Creative Set 2 1045-12noon

Time for creative learning/ play. Lego, drawing, baking, playing games, making stuff. I suggested to the kids that Pokemon Unicorn School lets its pupils pick them for the week to learn something new. I gave them the option of learning about Henry the 8th, Medieval Times or The Aztecs. They picked the Aztecs. During this part of the day, we will watch some youtube videos about it, and try and make stuff. Now, I don’t know about you lot, but I am not an arts and craft shop. I do have some paint, playdough, crayons, various stickers. Then I thought….well we need more stuff. Just as I was taking the rubbish and recycling out, it was all there. Empty plastic bottles, cereal boxes, loo roll, old magazines, junk mail, an old book that the kids don’t read anymore, boxes our home deliveries came in (complete with tissue paper, bubble wrap, etc).

So I have kept a small box in the living room where I am saving bits and bobs for the kids to use. All I need is some more glue, which I can get in the corner shop, and I think we can make the most of this stuff.

Lunch 12noon-1245

Time for lunch. The kids had school diners, I am considering making them a packed lunch that they can sit and eat. If the weather gets nice, we could take it to the park.

Walk 1245pm-145pm

Back outside for more walks and running around. Also, a good excuse to walk to the corner shop and pick up stuff for dinner (assuming all the panic buying has calmed down). Even if it rains, the kids are going out.

Creative Set 2 145pm-245pm

Finish what we were doing in the morning. Thinking here is we painted or glued anything it should be dry.

Learning Set 2 245pm-345pm

Back to school stuff, this time, focus on the online programs that you can use. Our school has given us access to some online platforms where the kids have been set work. There are also apps and games you can use during this time. Tip: If your kids are using a device, get some headphones for them.

Tidy Up 345-4pm

Time to make the flat feel like home again. Tidy up, put away baskets ready for the next day. Tidy up the room, put away toys, wash hands and get ready for dinner. The kids have a ‘tidy up song’ that we use for this. They both pick their fave song, I put it on full blast and they get to work. Reminds me of that scene from Mary Poppins minus the magic snapping.

Dinner 4 pm-5 pm

Now they can get changed into a different top if they want. Or chill watching telly, help me prep and cook dinner. Set the table, and chow down on dinner.

Show and Tell 530pm

Given the pandemic and the social isolation, and lack of friends. I have asked my family to do a group online call at 530pm where the kids will show the family what they have done that day. This means we get to check in with our parents and sisters/ brothers. And I hope that this will give the kids some accountability. If they don’t have a good day and didn’t do any work, they have to face family and say ‘I made a bad choice today’. If they have done some school work, it gives them a chance to show off and get some praise for doing a good job.

I also spotted a post online where homes are posting their pictures in their front windows. Even though we are on the 2nd floor of a building, I will let the kids use one of their windows for show and tell. We have a hospital across the road, so I will try and get the kids to write nice things for the doctors and nurses.

Wind down 

After this it is the usual routine for us of showers, supper then bed. They are going to bed at the same time as they did for school. For my girl Robyn, she is going to be at 7 pm and Ethan is at 8pm.

At the end of the day, I will either do a bit more work. Most likely, I will have a biscuit, a bath, watch some trash on Netflix. I am not giving myself any expectation to try and read, write a novel, do yoga, I just need to survive. The house is likely to be a mess, but hey, no one is going to visit right now so who cares.

Action: Map out a routine that works for you. Try and include set times for exercise, doing school work, doing something creative (I count gaming as creative for what it is worth).

The rules of Pokemon Unicorn School 

Knowing that their school has values and rules, the same goes for us. Some simple rules I have written out for the kids.

1- Be kind

2- Listen

3- Wash your hands

4- School work completed each day

5- Keep learning basket tidy

6- School polo top on during the day

7- NO TV or Ipads during learning sets.

Action: Agree on rules for the homeschool. Include wash your hands, cos, well, you know. Pandemic and all. I always have ‘Be Kind’ which is going to be really important as we are about to live and work in a way that will test anyone’s last nerve.

Communicate it 

I have written this out using a blackboard that sticks on the fridge. It was gifted to me a few years ago, and getting some good use now. You can use paper or cardboard. We decided to stick it on the fridge so we can always see it.

Action: Write up your rules and schedule. Share it or post it somewhere all the family can see it.

Reward charts

My kid’s school has reward charts in class. These are colored paper to show how you are doing.

Blue = really good.

Red= really bad,

This works really well for Robyn as she is in the pre-school class. For my boy, this doesn’t really work. However, he does respond well to small and immediate rewards. I have a board for the week where Robyn gets a color for her behavior in the morning and afternoon and Ethan, we will use points. For him points = time on his computer games. Although to be honest, with what is going on, who knows if I will stick to it. I have said ‘Feck it’ and reached for a biscuit a lot these last few weeks.

Lesson Planning 

You may have seen that there are some really generous companies unlocking their paid content for parents. I will list them all at the end of this post. I created an account with Twinklr and there is loads of content. I spent about 2 hours just clicking through stuff and going ‘Oh this looks good’. Then I took a deep breath as I looked at my husband and said “I have no idea what I am doing’.

There is a lot of information. I didn’t know where to start. I am not a primary school teacher.

So here is what I am going to try and do. Emphasis on ‘Try’ I am winging this as much as the next working parent!

After I worked out what my Pokemon Unicorn Scool schedule looks like. I have 2 blocks for core learning. Learning Set 1 and 2, each has 1 hour. I would like to do more, but I need to work…bills to pay and all that.

The 1st learning set, I am not going to try and work during this time, the kids will have my full attention, and work and meetings will just have to wait. The second learning set will be focused on stuff they can do online, with me in the room. The aim here is to hopefully fit in some time to also do some work.

For my boy, we have some tools we use to help his neurodiverse needs. He needs to work in short 5-8 min segments. Lots of movement breaks. Fidgets toys and weighted pillows. Therefore we will aim to work in 2 short segments, and then have a quick movement break. Rinse and repeat.

During these Learning Sets we will try and cover:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Reading
  • Writing

If you are using a website like Twinklr you can select the school year your child is working at, and drill down by topic.

Learning Objectives 

Start with the aim of the lesson we start with the learning objectives, keeping it quite simple as communicate this with the kids what we are trying to achieve. For example:

Example: English, preschool for my daughter Robyn

An objective could be working through Phonics Phase 2 eg words and sounds like pat, dog, hat, cat etc. When you have an objective you then think about how you are going to teach it, how do you know when it is done.  Monday’s lesson could be working through a PDF download from the website Twinklr. One activity is Pictures and Captions where you get the kids to match the word card with the pictures.

Then you finish with the time you will give to do that lesson. Eg 8-10min

For my son, with his learning needs we use Now and Next as well as a detailed lesson plan. I will be using the same for Robyn.

The Now and Next board works to help complete specific tasks. We write down the literal and descriptive instructions. EG I would not say to my boy ‘You now need to read your book’ I need to structure it to say

Now: Read page 1 and 2 of this book

Then: Tell me what the pictures are doing

Something like that.

You can use a small whiteboard or a piece of paper inside a plastic A4 wallet and mark up the lesson name. If you have a dry marker, you can also write on windows or a plastic surface. Just make sure you check it is not a permanent marker.

You can also link the lesson with the creative learning set. For example. If we were learning how to use the letter S, you could get them to draw it, make shapes with playdough, wet cotton wool balls, lego, etc.

I am taking it a day at a time, working out what lessons we will cover and adapt each day, as I honestly don’t know how much the kids will do or if what I have set is doable. Work in progress and anything is better than nothing.

The key for me is structure and routine.

Action:  Give yourself a goal of doing some lesson, you are not a teacher, so do not think this has to be super detailed. I have a bullet point list in a notebook of what I want the kids to try each day.

Other ideas

I have joined a local Covid-19 group on Facebook for my area. Have a look to see if you have a local group that you could support or get help from.

Some ideas I have had to help keep home-work-school life going.

  • Walking the dog for someone who is unable to leave their house
  • Do a quick food shop for someone in need
  • Make cards and pictures for people in care homes or people stuck indoors
  • Ask to see if anyone local wanted to give a lesson over skype or google hangouts. Supervised by me- think about internet safety. I am wondering if someone local would want to share learning some basic languages, music, lessons about different cultures and faiths.

Internet Safety 

Last, but a very important point. Our kids are likely going to be on devices, either for learning or just so you can have some peace and quiet to function. Please check your phones, computers, and tablets for internet safety. Make it impossible for kids to download apps (and spend money on the apps). Check your virus software. Have a conversation with them about being safe online. No giving personal information, not downloading stuff they shouldn’t. Be really careful with Youtube content. We let it roll once as we thought, what is the harm it is only Peppa Pig….. After 20min it started to autoplay some really horrible content. We caught it in time as we were sat next to the kids. Lesson learned. If I leave the kids with devices, they play something from an app I know and trust. Like CBBCs or Netflix.

Action: Check your phone settings, passwords, internet settings, firewalls, security. Talk to your kids. The bad people of the internet are also sat at home with nothing better to do. Keep safe.

Hopefully, this has been helpful and given some ideas on how to tackle working from home and teaching your kids. I am a work in progress on this, and if you have found it useful, let us know and we can see what we can knock up.

Now, stay at home and wash your hands.

A list of helpful sites: 

Chatter Pack did a super job at bundling together a whole load of sites,head over here.

I also got this list from Nick Wilsdon from group I am in. Thanks for sharing Nick 🙂

*Scholastic has created a free learn-from-home site with 20+ days of learning and activities.

*Pretend to travel the world..Go on a virtual tour of these 12 famous museums.

*This is the awesome free curriculum that we use. Everything from preschool activities to 12th grade is here! *

List of thinking games by grade: More awesome free learning websites that we like to use

Google Analytics

What is Data Import?

Data Import: What it is and how can you use it?

Data Import is underused, again in our humble opinion. If the previous lesson was to get you to think about creating new dimensions and metrics, Data Import lets you upload data from external sources and combine it with data you collect. Naturally, we have a handy explainer on data import in Google Analytics. This post will explore the concept and give you some ideas for the use cases. 

First.. You need a ‘key’ to ‘lock’ the data together.  You don’t have to create Custom Dimensions and Metrics in order to use Data Import. If it already exists, you just need to work out what data you are going to Import. Data is usually uploaded into your GA account with a formatted CSV file. You can also look at pushing data into GA using the Analytics Management API, but this will take some additional help from your dev team. 

A really good use case for data import, and to really highlight the use-cases for this feature, is cost data for marketing programs that are not part of the Google party.  If you have linked your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics property, it will push in additional data into your acquisition reports, things like the cost of that traffic, the Impressions, and the click-through rate.  But what if you use in Bing or another search engine that offers PPC as a channel? 

Well, you could create a dataset and import that data into Google Analytics which means that when you’re looking at your data you see a better apple for apple comparison.  

Another example, we worked with a business that specialized in outdoor activities (for those of you that take pleasure in the great outdoors). A causal factor that really impacted sales was the weather.  So, we imported the weather reports. When we did our analysis for their marketing campaigns which were sent to the board. It helped to show why, at times, marketing campaigns were really good but if the weather was really bad sales went down. 

Now since the arrival of Google Data Studio, you may not need to import data into Google Analytics.  You may want to look into something called ‘data blending’. This is where Google Data Studio will link up with another data source. This could be a Google Sheet or an Excel document and you can blend that data together.  This would be the go-to option if you knew a causal factor, or it wasn’t necessary for you to import it directly into Google Analytics to get the information you needed.

So, it’s really thinking about information that sits in different data pots that would be really useful for you to see it together in Google Analytics to help you understand causality,  and to get a better insight into how your marketing campaigns are working, your content, and how well this is being received by your visitors.

Data Types for Data Import 

When you are looking at Data Import, there are three types of data that you can import. 

1- Hit-Data Import 

Lets you send hit data directly into Analytics. This is an alternative way to get data into your account outside of using the tracking code, or Measurement Protocol. You would use this for Refund Data. If you want to import your internal E-Commerce reporting with GA so you can see Refund Data, this is an option for you.  

2- Extended-data Import  

This lets you upload data that has already been collected, processed or being processed for your reporting views. You may need to create a Custom Dimension or Metric for this to happen. 

  • User Data—No Personal Identifiable information here, but if you have user metadata, from your CRM or equivalent data pot you can load this in. Think about things like loyalty rating, lifetime customer value, Monthly Recurring Revenue, Churn Rate. 
  • Campaign Data—can be used to expand and reuse your existing non-Google campaign codes by importing ad campaign-related dimensions, such as source, new campaign classifications, or variations of the campaign.
  • Geographical Data—create custom geographical regions, that are better aligned with your business’ organization. Think about businesses that want to move out from GA’s settings for say, the USA as a whole. You may wish to put in your own Sales Regions to help analysis 
  • Content Data—who wrote the content, when was it published, what type of article, did it have a video, how many words, etc. 
  • Product Data—this uses the SKU as a key and you need to have Enhanced E-Commerce for this to work. Use it to gain better-merchandising insights by importing product metadata, such as size, color, style, or other product-related dimensions.
  • Custom Data—basically anything that doesn’t fit in the above 🙂 

3- Summary- Data Import 

This lets you import metrics into the reporting views that have already processed your data. You use this option for Cost Data. So anything that you pay for outside of the Google Ecosystem. 

Think about the non-Google costs for marketing campaigns, ad network clicks, cost, and impression data to gain a more complete picture of your ad spend. Twitter Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, can all be pushed here. 

You can create up to 100 data sets. That doesn’t mean you can only load up data 100 times. It just means you can create 100 data sets to load. 

So, if we were to create data sets for our non-Google marketing I would create: 

1- One set for Twitter Ads

2- One set for Bing Ads 

For your GA audit, have a look at your Property> Data Import to see if you have anything in there already. If you see a use for this feature, write it in your measurement plan. 
Did this content tickle your fancy? Well, we have something we think your brain will love. Our online Google Analytics course is packed with everything you need to understand how GA works. So, if you have been using it for a while, but feel like you are not making the most out of its potential. Well, walk this way.

Google Analytics


Think of Google Analytics as a bunch of instruments. Sometimes you try and compose something and it sounds, well, awful.

Get it right on the other hand, and you’ll find yourself with a song that gets everyone moving, and gets you a record deal – ‘Oh, hi marketing budget!’

This webinar will show you how to use Google Analytics to pump out the best tracks and avoid the one-hit wonders.

You’ll learn how to report on content across the customer journey, as well as make sure that its t impact, (and of course you!), get the much-needed credit.

We have spent years and years learning how Google Analytics works. It is not always that intuitive to use, but this is why we are here to help.

If you want some additional notes to read based on the content from this webinar, well you are in luck. We have a nice blog post diving into the tracks of this webinar. Head this way to read about the content marketing mixed tape for Google Analytics. 

And if this got you thinking 🤔 ‘I am totally up for building my knowledge on Google Analytics’ then you should totally check out our Online Google Analytics Course. We dive into all the topics from this webinar. And by dive in we are talking about the nitty-gritty, no-nonsense, how it works, how to do it…you get the picture…

Plus enough editable templates to shake a measurement stick at #winning!

Google Analytics

How does ecommerce tracking work?

How does Ecommerce Tracking work in Google Analytics?

If you have a website where you are selling stuff. As in, I would have the ability to go to your website, add to cart, give you my credit card details and pay you for the order. Then you need to set up ECommerce Tracking.

You may think that this has something to do with Goals, and it kinda does. It’s quite conversion orientated, to show that your website traffic equals dollar-dollar bills. If you have a thank you page for your orders (as in a page you get to which only happens if you complete the sale (e.g. /thanks-for-shopping) which is highly probable, then you will, of course, want to create a goal to show that people converted. Which is obviously very useful in itself.

But, if you sell lots of things, like a clothes shop, or software as a service with bespoke product options, you’ll need more than just a ding-ding of the bell to say you made a sale. You need and dare I say it, you should want to know more.

We have a super resource for you to download (for free) which is a handy explainer that summarises this blog post. Head over here for the ecommerce tracking goodies.

You want to record and report on the transaction total (so how much cash did you make on that sale). You want to know which products you sold. If there was any tax added to the sale. You would want to know the name of the product. So, yeah. More than you get from just the thank-you-page-we-have-your-money destination goal.

Hopefully, you’re sold on the idea that you should be getting this extra information inside your analytics.


You are going to need to work with your developers to make the magic happen. Which is going to require some work.

First things first, let’s understand the concepts and the process to make it happen.

There are two types of E-Commerce tracking that you can use.

Basic Ecommerce Tracking

Basic Tracking works by adding additional code to your thank-you pages that confirm a sale. There will be code on that page that will push data into your Google Analytics Account. There are two types of data types that are used, which are:

‘Transaction Data’, which is as it sounds, the revenue, shipping, tax data. And ‘Item Data’, which is data about the items you are selling, be it services or products. So, think about the name and price of the items you are selling, the SKU code (that means stock keeping unit, which is used in managing inventory). Then you have things like the item category for example Dresses, Shoes, the quantity (how many you sold) and the transaction ID. All useful information, as a start, we think.

Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking

Enhanced ECommerce needs a bit more work from you so that you get the lovely data into your Google Analytics Account. As a side note, depending on what you sell and how much money you make, you may decide to start out with Basic ECommerce. As you build and expand your business, move up a level to Enhanced ECommerce. It all depends on your business model, marketing strategy and budget.

Ok, so back to Enhanced ECommerce. Unlike Basic tracking, which happens on the thank-you page, for a completed order – here, there’s additional code that needs to go on other pages of your website, like the product pages and checkout steps.

Enhanced ECommerce gives you more than you get from Basic, unsurprisingly, and it has five data types which as you will see can overlap between each other.

‘Impression Data’ gives you insights regarding how the product was Viewed on your website. Things like the brand that is associated with the product,  variants of the product, for example, black dress, white dress, the position the product was in if it was in a list or collection.

‘Product Data gives information on individual products. So, things like the brand name associated with the product, and if say a coupon code was used for the product purchase.

‘Promotion Data passes information about any promotions you have that were viewed by customers. Things like the creative, did they see a promotional banner and click to the product page.

‘Action Data’  is the bottom line stuff, all the ECommerce action data = money data stuff.  This is where you can send the revenue data to Google Analytics if any tax was associated with the transaction or shipping costs. It also has the ability to track the specific steps in the checkout process, which is very handy when you want to see if you have a leaky bucket. Do people get to the last page and just leave? This would give you at least, a starting point to investigate what’s going on with your checkout flow and ideas on how to fix it, so you make more money.

‘Product and Promotion Actions’ helps you to interpret product and promotional data that you send to GA. Like people adding products to shopping carts, or removing them, if they initiate the checkout process, that kind of thing.

All sounds wonderful doesn’t?

Now, how do you get the goods into Google Analytics?

Setting up E-Commerce for Google Analytics

Short answer – ask your developers. This also happens to be the lazy, kind of useless answer.

The real answer, working with your developers. You need to map out a clear plan, which will vary depending on how your website is built. We’re after all our own individual and special snowflakes, so the implementation can vary from one ECommerce setup to the next. It really should, if we are honest.

The first thing to check in your Google Analytics Admin audit is to check your Conversions> ECommerce reports. Is there anything there?

If you don’t find anything in the reports but you think you had the ECommerce data added to your website by a developer, the next check is to go to your View settings and for each View you have, check if the ECommerce toggle is turned on. Is it?

This may seem really bloody obvious, but I have done many audits that HAD the data on the website, but nobody knew to go to View>Settings and turn this toggle ‘Enable E-Commerce’ to ‘On’. So they both had their data and did not have the data. Fun times.

And as you know all too well now dear readers, Google Analytics will not go back in time and re-process your data. I had a client that missed out on two whole years of data because someone didn’t turn this toggle on. And, I’ve seen an Account where one View had Basic turned on, and the other reporting View had both Basic and Enhanced ECommerce turned on. It happens.

For some of you, you either have it set up (thank the analytics gods) and you just need to check if you have or need the Enhanced option.

Some of you, just need to turn on the toggle to receive this information in your Account.

For the rest of you.

You need to get this specced up, and briefed in, with your technical dev-people.

There are a few ways to do this. How it’s done for you will depend on your ecommerce platform, your shopping system as it were.

If you are using something like Shopify, or WooCommerce, they have plug-ins to help setup ECommerce within Google Analytics. So, go check out what types of integrations you have with your shopping system provider and how they might work with Google Analytics.

After that, you can either manually do it, as in manually tag your site. Admittedly, almost no one really does now because it ain’t 2005 anymore. Instead the common, the go-to option, is to use Google Tag Manager (hello again GTM).

Google Tag Manager will help you populate the data layer with ECommerce transaction and product variables (those data types we just chatted about) that one would have on their thanks-we-have-your-order page.

Or, if you are going into the Enhanced ECommerce route, populate the data layer with data for the product and checkout pages on your website.

A few things may be going through your head right now, as they went through mine when I first learned about ECommerce tracking.

One thought was, why can’t I just pop the code from the Google developer help pages onto each page, like adding the Google Analytics tracking code? Well, each sale is unique to the user, so the data is dynamic, as in, it is unique to the user. Plus, your business is unique too, so you need to tell our lovely GA computer program which data types it should be looking for, for example, what your brand names are for a product, because, how would it know?

What is a data layer?

The next thought, for me anyway, was “what is a data layer?” 

Good question.

So, let’s just chat about the Data Layer.

If you Google ‘Data Layer’ you get an answer like this “A data layer is a JavaScript object that is used to pass information from your website to your Tag Manager container.” 

So, think of the data layer like an intermediary. You pop your data into the data layer, and it keeps it nice and safe, to then pass on to your website, which has other things linking to it, like your Google Analytics javascript.

Provided you have sent your data to the intermediary, and that data is written in the language of the platform it’s passing the information onto, it works. Oh, and don’t forget about turning the toggle ON to receive the ECommerce data.

Your Ecommerce Tracking Plan

So your plan is, as mentioned, to check if you have ECommerce data in your Conversion reports first.

Then head to your View settings, and make sure you have turned on the toggle to receive the data. If you have more than one View, check each View to make sure.

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the View you want
  3. In the View column, click E-Commerce Settings
  4. Set Enable ECommerce to ON
  5. Click Next step
  6. Click Submit

Check your Ecommerce platform to see if there are any plug-ins that will help with the heavy lifting.

If your shopping system has no plugin, or you have a bespoke shopping system on your website, you need to brief your development team.

You will need to get the ECommerce Plugin setup on your site, which is referenced in the Google Analytics Developer Guide. This is not the same as say a Shopify plug-in. This is a Google thing, and in their words:

To reduce the size of the analytics.js library, ECommerce tracking is not provided in the default library. Instead, it is provided as a plugin module that must be loaded before being used.

To load the E-Commerce plugin, use the following command:

ga(‘require’, ‘E-Commerce’);

This command must occur after you create your tracker object and before you use any of the E-Commerce specific functionality.

Once loaded, a couple of new commands specific to E-Commerce tracking will be added to the default tracker.”

There are two types of ECommerce Plug-ins for you to use, one for Basic ECommerce tracking and another for Enhanced Tracking.  If you are bumping yourself up from Basic ECommerce to Enhanced you need to get your dev team to migrate your plugin from the Basic plugin to the Enhanced plugin, as they can’t work together.

Basic ECommerce Tracking

For Basic ECommerce to work on your site, you need to populate the data layer with the following data variables, and they need to be triggered on your “thank-you-confirmation” page.

The data variables that are required in order for it to work are:

  • transactionID
  • transactionTotal

Optional data variables are:

  • transactionShipping
  • transactionTax
  • transactionProducts

Although it’s optional, most ECommerce sites would add the transactionProducts to the list, as it gives you richer information. Using transationProducts means you have to use these variables:

  • Name
  • SKU
  • Price
  • Quantity

There is an additional optional data type too:

  • Category

This one is used a little bit less often.

These transaction tags will then show up in your Conversions reports. See this example from an Account that is just using Basic ECommerce. We can drill into the product performance to see out of all the products we sell, which ones have been sold on the website in a given period of time. How many were sold, and our product revenue.

Sales Performance is a report that shows how much you made in a given day. And remember here guys, it is going to pull in data as per your time zone for that View.

The Transaction report will populate all the Transaction IDs which will link up to your shopping system. Time to purchase shows the number of days between a user purchase and the campaign referral.

This is very valuable information.

Enhanced ECommerce Tracking  

If you want to level up from there, this is going to take a lot more work from your developers. All five data types we have mentioned work together to give you so much more information, and a totally different report in Conversions> E-Commerce.

Now, I am not going to go through all the data types in detail, as that would probably send you to sleep. You can have a look at them all here. What I will say, is that there are a set number of requirements that I would have as my go-to ECommerce enhancements.

  • Clicks on a product link
  • Viewing product details
  • Impressions and clicks of internal promotions
  • Adding / removing a product from a shopping cart
  • Initiating the checkout process for a product
  • Purchases and refunds

In addition, I would want to have my ECommerce funnel mapped out so I can drill down into the ECommerce data further, by looking at the Shopping and Checkout Behaviour reports. Now, just to note, this is turned on at View level, where you type in the name of the steps into your funnel set up.

These have to match the name you have given in your enhanced ECommerce settings. So please, please, sit down with your dev team and agree on user-friendly, idiot-proof names, as they are going to show up in your Account.

This example from the Google Demo Account is a good example of clean, user-friendly labeling.

  • Billing and Shipping
  • Payment
  • Review

Things to Keep in Mind 

I have done a lot of GA audits and when it came to E-Commerce companies, they always asked why there was a data discrepancy.

The first thing I do is an audit of their Admin settings. Common culprits are things like having staging sites active, but not filtered out so you get the staging/test data. View settings with the wrong timezone, not having the correct Account structure can all make the data murky. If you have ECommerce set up correctly, there will always be some gaps.

Why? Well, Google Analytics was created to track what your website visitors are doing on your website. It was not designed as a customer relationship management database or a shopping accounts system. Let’s be fair.

Which means, it will tell you how many people bought a particular product, the transaction ID, all that glorious stuff. However, it will not tell you if someone who bought the clothes then decided to send them back to you in the post because they didn’t quite look right on them. Or if they buy the hotel room, and then cancel the order. All that refund data, yeah, that will not appear in the Account.

Although, there are some workarounds to fix this. It is possible to link up CRM and Sales systems to push data back into Google Analytics so you get a better picture with Custom Dimensions and Metrics. 

Like what you read here? We have a whopper of a Google Analytics Course in which we cover your Admin Settings, so you can find out how to clean up your data ecosystem. And our Advanced Analytics module in our Google Analytics Course talks through the workarounds we just mentioned. You should check it out.😉.

For students on our Google Analytics Course,  you get access to all our editable templates. In particular, we have one for Ecommerce Tracking and Briefing 👊. 

This template has been created to bridge a conversation with what you, the marketer or the business owner wants to have in GA. This process to get ecommerce data into Google Analytics could be much smoother  IF marketing and development work together. And that needs a good brief. With clear outcomes.

So use this template to get everyone on the same page, agree on timelines and what needs to happen in order for the ecommerce tracking magic to happen.

Go check out our Google Analytics Course details here! You know you want a peek.


SearchLeeds 2019 – Women in Digital Panel – Balance

This year at SearchLeeds, a Women in Digital panel was introduced to cover the topics of Balance, Confidence and the Industry. For the first panel discussion, Sarah Beaumont from Edit, hosted a talk on how to have a healthy work-life balance within the Digital industry, and she was joined by three inspirational speakers: Jill Quick, Catherine Shuttleworth & Arnout Hellemans. You can re-watch the panel here, and we have written up some of our notes for you as well.

Sarah outlined the importance of finding a positive/healthy work-life balance, and went on to say that all of us at some point will be affected by this in our careers. In the discussion, the panelists discuss the challenges, what hinders getting a balance and what we need to do as individuals and businesses to help improve this for everybody.

What does work-life balance mean to you?

Sarah started the panel discussion by asking each panelist to share personal insights about who they are, and the challenges they have when trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Jill shared her story on how to have a work life balance by describing life as being like a triangle, and how life is made up of 3 points. You have yourself (self-care/self-love), your family (partner and or children), and your work. Although the triangle has been described as the strongest structure to man, when it comes to having a work/life balance, something is always going to be slightly out of sync. Sara then went on to ask Jill what she thought were the biggest things that people don’t talk enough about when trying to find that equilibrium between work and life. Jill went on to say that, for her, it was failing to admit that sometimes her mental health wasn’t okay. But nowadays, Jill has created a safe space to open up to her husband, asked for external help and tried to manage anxiety through meditation.

For Arnout, creating a work-life balance is all about having fun and to do work that gives him energy. He went on to say that it’s important to be fully focused in both work and life, to be fully engaged with work and fully present in your personal life i.e put the phone down when you’re with the kids and being mindful. He also opened up about the importance of talking to our partners, his wife opened the discussion so that he could open up. This allows him to unload, and let go of a lot of stress by communicating and being open and honest. He advised to either open up with with your partner or friends, and that only when we share can we find solutions.

Our third panelist, Catherine, took this point of view as an employer. She talked about how there’s been a huge shift recently in what employers are demanding (and rightly so she adds), about processes within the workplace, and these demands aren’t just coming from people who have children. She enlightened the crowd by saying that employees are coming into the workforce at a great time for equality, flexible working and balance. She went on to say that during life, we will all encounter difficult stages in our work life and that there will be moments when we may feel a bit trapped, feel like we can’t get out of a job or move because our responsibilities are quite significant. She stressed the importance for employees to have an open dialogue with their employees, and that if they’re not willing to listen or make reasonable adjustments, then you should look elsewhere for work.

Catherine went on to share that “success is a personal thing, and only you can make a decision on what that is”. Sharing that her daughters look at her life and probably don’t want the life she has, but that’s okay. Catherine explained that we’re all different, and to think really carefully about what you want, and what success looks like to you, and how you want your life to be balanced. She also stated that “the most balanced employees you’ve got, are the best and are the most effective”, and to embrace this new-age work-life.

What tools or learnings have helped you with balance at work?

Jill believes that there are still some businesses out there that want to do the whole Digital Transformation piece and put all their focus on the customer and be amazing – which is great, but they don’t put the same effort, and consideration into the teams that are meant to be doing the work! From her own personal experience of being a mum, she believes there’s a huge chunk of talent that is abandoned in the workplace because businesses won’t be flexible with shifting work hours, hindering professionals whom may have gone for maternity leave and struggle to find a job to work around daycare and their schedule. Jill went on to say that companies need to show more empathy and take a more humanist approach to work, so that each and every one of us can thrive.

Catherine mentioned that life isn’t like a fairytale, but a number of incidences that we work through with others. She went on to share a personal story and gave some examples of how a ‘typical day’ looks in her household. Despite her success, she wanted to be raw, open, and to share what really happens behind the scenes to help others realise that life really is a juggling act. Catherine is extremely flexible with her employees (think 10am starts and yoga in the office), and spreads the message that “it’s okay not to be okay”.

Sarah asked the panel to share their top tips for a work-life balance. Arnout believes that it’s important to make decisions, and stick to them. He discusses the need to be open and honest with how we’re feeling and not to presume that everyone is always okay. Sometimes just by asking people if they’re okay, even if they’re not ready to talk about it, it lets them know that you’ve created a safe space for them to open up, which is the biggest key.

Jill shared top three tips for a healthy work life balance that have helped both her, and the clients she consults with:

  1. Jill shared the importance of having a community and suggested an email community for a women only network called ADA
  2. Have a look at what other role models are doing in the workplace. There’s a company called Push, Mind and Body who help companies create healthier working environments whilst also helping businesses to support mental health and create a positive and productive work culture
  3. To have confidence in yourself, and with others within your work environment (being able to have the ability to talk to your teammates and/or boss about conversations that can sometimes be quite difficult).

Sarah summarised the discussion by saying to “find your reality, find what’s true for you, find what your values and drivers are and stick to those things” for a work-life balance.

User Experience

SearchLeeds 2019 UX and Marketing, a Tinder Match Made in Heaven

For another year running, Jill went “up north” back to her Northern roots and joined another amazing lineup of digital industry specialists for THE biggest search marketing event in the North of England, SearchLeeds.

Her talk “UX and Marketing: A Match Made in Tinder Heaven” was all on, why Marketing and UX merge a lot more than you think.

In today’s business world, you will find no marketing channel that stands alone, they all merge and bend into each other somehow. Especially when it comes to UX and Marketing. Whilst marketing aims to create value for a business and drive profitable customer interactions, UX aims to improve the quality of a user’s experience with your brands offering.

Below you will find some notes from the video transcript. If you want the super  The Consumer Cross Stich template she mentioned you got it!

Thanks for having The Coloring in Department again SearchLeeds!

We’re going to have a little bit of fun with the love match and the fanciness between these two disciplines. You’ll know who a UXer is because they’re really kind and they’re really sensitive and when they ask you a question they’re going to say why five times every single time they ask you a question. And they really want to get to know you and get to know what’s going on inside of your mind. And then you have your marketeer. A little bit loud, always needs money. Probably recording your conversations, listening to your conversations, hash tagging your conversations. We’re slightly needy as well. But actually these two randomly seeming people have a lot of verve that they can have together.

This talk walked through five love matches. Starting with the 1st Love Match, Personas and Customer Empathy map. Now, personas are something that we all as marketers have got, we all have a persona shoved up our sleeve, haven’t we? Possibly a tad controversial, but we think they’re a bit useless if we’re honest.

One thing that we’ve found with personas is they’re a little bit flat. They’re a little bit one dimensional and they don’t really help us with our marketing. With a persona, you’ve got something that goes a bit like this….

Here is John, he’s 42. He’s got a dog. He likes to read the Telegraph on a Sunday.etc etc

How are we supposed to write creative content and find marketing that’s going to really connect with them when it’s such a flat surface to begin with?

Now match this with an empathy map. This is a user experience tool, and the idea is that you’re trying to get in a little bit deeper into the mindset of your ideal customer. There’s quite a few sections to it, but here’s a quick summary.

The think and feel, this is all that washing machine stuff that you have in your head, all your fears and your thoughts and your dreams, all the stuff that you’re going to be talking about, but it’s all trapped inside of your head.

You’ve then got the see stage. This is your environment, your commute to work. What does it look like? Who am I seeing? Who am I talking to? When it comes to thehearing stage, who’s influencing me? Where’s my advice? Who do I go to? Who am I following on Instagram? And with one tweet I will dump your brand within a heartbeat.

And then we’ve got the say and do, and these are my actions, my final actions and do my thoughts and feelings live up to what I actually say I’m going to do? And one of the things with a customer empathy map is that we really need to start thinking about the language that your customers are using.

So, the first love match is to take your personas and go to another level. Start digging into them, like really get to know them. Ask them why five times before you find out what you want them to do.

The second love match in this talk focused on your now, deeper persona, and the customer journey.

You’ve got a typical customer journey. We’ve got the unaware stage. As an example, “I didn’t know that I wanted some sparkly trainers until I saw somebody on the tube with said sparkly trainers”. You’ve then got pain and problem aware. So this is where you’ve got a problem and an issue and you’re trying to find a solution. So it could be what user experience is your problem. You don’t know what it is. You’re going to go away and Google it. You then move on to your solution stage of awareness. So depending on your problem, what are the solutions available? You can watch a YouTube video, get a book, go on a course. Out of that bundle of solutions, there will be brands and products and services that will match them. So you move on to product aware and might decide you’re going to get a book. You are now most aware.

Now, what we find interesting is when you look at your customer journey and then you start thinking about how keywords actually work, the things that we’re actually typing into the search engines. At the beginning of the stages of awareness, they’re typically non brand focused, aren’t they? They’re questions, what is user experience like? You don’t know what you don’t know yet. And then as you move through there are different phases that you want to be optimizing for.

Which leads us to a model called the consumer cross-stitch. What we found out early on in my career, is if you map the stages of awareness and then have a look at the customer empathy map and then the keyword modifiers, they all fit in really, really nicely. So it means that you’re building your website and your information architecture and your content in a way that fits every single stage of the journey, but you’re really doing it for the cause of the customer.

So we’ll walk you through an example. Stage of awareness, pain and problem aware. “I need a hotel, I’m going to Tokyo”. I don’t know what I want yet. When you’re thinking about the customer empathy bit, this is the thinking and feeling. So all of these are kind of questions and I’m going to be typing them into Google and the search results as a result of that are probably going to be featured snippets, probably going to be questions, and obviously you want to optimize your URLs to make that.

When we move on to the next stage of awareness. we’re like, “oh I could either get an Airbnb, I can get a hotel”. We are playing around with the different things that we could be looking for and because it’s the see stage, this is because we am focusing on looking at campaigns and messaging from brands. It is worth remember at this stage as well,  how is your competition being presented to your customer.  When you start thinking about going on holiday, you’ll start listening to more people talking about holidays, and you’ll notice other brands as a result of it. Question for you, where are you in that positioning side of things? And then search results. In this case it’s probably going to be local packs. It’s probably going to be a lot of reviews.

When we move on to our product stage. We am now starting to think about actual branded keywords. So we’m going to be putting in the Hyatt. We’re going to be putting in the Imperial Hotel. I am seeing what people are saying about you. I’m listening to influencers, I’m reading travel blogs. We’re really getting into it. We’re buying a guide and again, what are the search results? What’s the content format that you want to have to make sure that you are found.

And then when we’re most aware, when we’re ready to hand over our cash, this is us saying “hello, I’m going to go to Tokyo and I’m going to book on this day and this is what I’m going to do and I’m going to tell all my friends. I’m going to post it on Instagram and you’ll all going to hate me”. But that’s essentially marrying that whole customer empathy and the customer journey to make your information architecture and your content just a little bit nicer.

The third love match in the talk. This is about user flows and what we call campaign plumbing!

Now when it comes to user flows,we want you to start thinking about them, not just for a new website or an app that you’re building, but for all of your marketing and how that flow is going to work for the customer.

User flows are essentially made up of lots of different symbols. You’ve got a start point, you’ve got a decision symbol.

Here’s one we made earlier for a company and this was for a triggered email system. One thing that we wanted to make sure with this particular project is we were sick and tired of our customers complaining. I’m sure some of you have done this. We’ll click on an email link and we’ll go to a page that doesn’t exist anymore. It is annoying.

What we did here, is we mapped out for this client for a set of free resources. If people arrived on the page and where thinking about giving us their email address for content, what would happen? What options do they have on the page. Do I click on the link? Yes or no. If I do click on the link, what do I get? And then do I download the pdf? Yes or no?  We hadMailChimp and Salesforce and we wanted to make sure if anybody unsubscribed from one set of marketing, we had to make sure it happened at this end as well. This user flow helped identify what we needed to do to make sure we were compliant.

Anything that was marked as blue were landing pages that we didn’t have yet. So we were able to show this to the board and say, you want this triggered email sequence, then we’re going to need a Purchase Order for this many pages to be created.

When we had an idea of what that page was going to look like, we could think about our SEO. What the URL would be, what’s the content format, and because we didn’t want to miss an opportunity, we started to tag the website with Event Tracking and Google Analytics. So when people did something, but we didn’t quite finish what we wanted them to do, we built a re-targeting list for them with a message specifically to what they were doing. This was maximizing every opportunity of that customer journey, but it also meant that nobody got freaked out, nobody was in an infinite loop. To do this, you don’t need anything more than a piece of paper and some post it notes and you’ll start to see mistakes in your website, or email campaigns, and you can go and fix them. Which is a good thing, and you’ll also find opportunities for you to make more money. Always a good thing.  And that’s our job at the end of the day, isn’t it? Make more cash.

Next love match is our UX Design 101 and copywriting. We all know how a typical web page should be built right? This is how we’ve all learned to read, isn’t it? You’ve got to start thinking about how you layout your content. Start thinking about fonts, something like fonts can make a massive difference to your readers.

The next thing to remember with our copywriting is that if you need to understand and use more user centric copy. Lucky for us all, we leave a digital footprint of sorts with everything that we do.

When I’m writing content, when I’m thinking about my websites, when I’m thinking about doing anything fancy, I do a bit of review mining. There is free information on everything!

Start by putting my product name into things like Amazon. We did this for a charity that was renting out wheelchairs. Go to Amazon then and go through the 343 customer reviews where people have got common themes of pain points and issues and things that they really wish was in that product that you could build in your product and just beat your competition. Yay!

These questions, this user-centric copy, can all be used to build blog posts and start to pick out different themes and there’s information now with tools like Answer The Public, Moz, SemRush.

When you have an idea about your themes, map it into Google trends to see when people are searching for these answers, and you have an editorial calendar that matches your users timing.

The next thing with this is to think about, less about the FAB model. If anybody’s like a classic marketeer – features, advantages, benefits. Customers don’t really like to read features, advantages, benefits, but PAS – problem, agitate, solution works really well, especially if you’ve done review mining and you’re thinking about your customer. Think about how you can structure your content and think about using this as a framework when you’re writing your copy.

Last love match for this talk, wireframes and reporting.  You can use a lot of time doing your dashboards, can’t you?  Start to think about the people that you are reporting too with reporting personas.  Who is getting the report?  What do they are about? Everybody that you’re reporting to has a different need. They have different information points that you should be giving them.

Just like you can wireframe a webpage or an email campaign, I will sit down and think about my reporting persona and I’ll be thinking, what’s the point in this report? For example, Here is the CEO and they want to know what we’re doing with our marketing budget. Ask yourself “How can I make it really easy, thinking about my user experience hat here, to design this report so that they can look at it and not ask me any questions?” That it’s really easy for them to digest that information, and then we start to wireframe it and only then will I go and build it.

We have a free resource on what to report on in Google Analytics that you can check out.

Google Analytics

Reporting Tutorial

The aim of the Google Analytics, game, of course, is to see insights and make changes and recommendations to your website and marketing.

Those recommendations need to be both justified, reported on, and most importantly, correct.

I think we can all agree that reporting on your work is incredibly important for your future success. But sometimes, the reports we try and build, well, suck.

We know they can suck, because we have spent years training, teaching and troubleshooting Google Analytics, and are happy to share some of the things we have learned along that journey.

In our first webinar (*throws confetti*)  we covered a few key themes – which you can rewatch here, if you love a good webinar.

Give it a watch to find out how you can get to grips with reporting so that you can create and present a story with your data. In the webinar, we talked about how to plan your reports so you display data in a more straightforward, and more meaningful way.

We also explained why some numbers make your head hurt, and how Google defines certain metrics, so you can make sense of the data too.

And who doesn’t want to be an analytics badass?

We finished our webinar with some sweet advanced tips and techniques to build reports awesome reports in Google Data Studio.

As you are here, you should check out the free ‘Report like a boss’ explainer that you can download for free. Or this cool guide around the difference between a session and a user-based segment, and if you want a handy explainer on segments, we’ve got your back with a little guide on how to use segments in Google Analytics’.

If you liked the section in the webinar about where we talk about linking multichannel funnels assisted conversion data into Data Studio, yeah we wrote some stuff on that as well.

Not forgetting that if you like this sort of stuff, and want to get better at it, we have whole modules in our Online Google Analytics Course on your Admin Setup, Goals, Assisted Conversions, Building Reports. In fact, the course is 10 hours of content, across 17 modules, with a whole bunch of word and excel templates, all for $199.

Even still though, you can lose a lot of time trying to build your dashboards, can’t you? I’ve spent months, maybe even years, ok maybe not years. But, I’ve wasted time over my career building dashboards and worst-case scenarios, and nobody ever reads them. If you listen quietly you can hear the sound of tiny violins.

Aiden has a fun story about this actually, he went to a meeting with a large global agency group, by all accounts a fabulous building, but it had broken air conditioning. Sat in a stuffy room someone said ‘oh just prop the window open with this book.” 

Aiden asked what it was – because he’s nosy. The guy said our client analytics reports. We just print it off every month and send it to them because it’s something tangible that they can look at, but nobody ever reads. It’s fine, prop away!

You hear that…that was the sound of my jaw-dropping.

What’s the point of doing that? What a waste.

So, let’s dive into a process to avoid the data vomit and take a moment to plan how you’re going to show your work in a way that will identify insights and answers to questions you have about your marketing and website performance. So, people might actually look at your hard work, and celebrate you accordingly.

We want to help you get to grips with a process that we use so that you can create and present stories with your data.

We start with a set of questions.

What’s the point of the report?

Your goal here is to make decisions based on the report. Not report for the sake of reporting.  Tempting as it may be to throw everything together in a dashboard form. Try to remember, what is the whole point of the report? Of course, a big no-no is to pull data together, to make your work feel tangible, and to show that “stuff happened.”

So, what is it that you are trying to say?

What questions are you trying to find an answer to in your business, or for your client?

Is the point of the report to show how well your marketing budget is being spent? How well your campaigns are doing? How much money did the site make this month, and, are we improving from previous months? Etc.

Who’s getting the report?

Just like the idea of having personas. Old skool.

Think about the idea of having reporting personas.

Who’s getting the report? What is it that they want? This will give you an idea of how much information to give those people – and allow you to highlight the metrics that matter to them.

For example, the CFO of a SaaS business may want very high-level metrics; that focus more on the finance side of things. Cost per visitor, cost per acquisition, ROI, churn rate – that kind of thing.

Whereas your VP of Marketing many want to know how many free trials were registered on the website, how many people are upgrading to premium products, that kind of thing – because those metrics are more aligned with their projects and workstreams.

What are the key messages? 

You want the reader to look at the report and walk away with your key message. Whilst, of course, making sure that they have the right message too, which is significantly easier when you know who you are reporting to and what the point of the report is in the first place.

How can you make it easy for them to get that message?

User Experience 101. Don’t confuse people, plan how you’re going to show your work, your data, in a way that is as smooth as silk and as easy to read as your A,B, Cs. As a result, those insights and answers will be easier to see and action. It is, after all, part of your job to communicate your findings.

The person looking at the report should very quickly get to their destination, their ‘aha’ moment. To get them there, think about how you can visualize the data in a very simple way, don’t make them think and ask questions, or be unclear about what they are looking at.

Select the right visual style for your message and make each data point clear – by giving each metric or section a heading in plain language.

Never assume that the person knows what they are looking at! Hint: they don’t.

Wireframe the Report 

The next step, once you have answered these questions, is not to dive right in and create a dashboard. I’m sure many of you have spent hours, days, weeks, and for some of you, months, creating reporting dashboards. Only to find that they weren’t correct, or someone wanted different information. Or worst crime of all, people didn’t even bother to look at them! That my friends, used to really upset me!

Creating reports can take time, and let’s face it, it’s not exactly the most exciting job in the world – sitting building dashboards.

So, save yourself time and future amends on your wondrous creation by creating a wireframe of your reports, get sign off, then build it. You may have used wireframes to sketch out landing pages, websites, or emails, but imagine how you can use this technique to build out a dashboard.

You can use good old pen and paper, or if you feel like it, use a tool like Figma to create a wireframe of your report.

Let’s walk through our process and see what we come up with for our wireframe.

Q: What’s the point of the report?

A: You want to isolate organic traffic from the website to see how your SEO strategy is working for you.

Q: Who is getting the report?

A: The CEO who has signed off on the budget.

Q: What are the key messages? 

A: Which Search Engines are we getting traction with? E.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo. How many users are coming from organic search, which pages they visited, and if they converted or not.

Q: How can we make this easy? 

Assuming you are going to build this report in Google Data Studio. Provide headers above each metric and data item. Display the search engines in a pie chart format, for any goals, provide the data as a % point AND the real number of conversions, use a bar chart to show the pages users visit, or heat maps. Add a calendar icon so the reader can change the dates, and an option to switch between reporting views.

Once your wireframe is signed off, then you build it! You are done.

Found this interesting? Enjoyed the webinar? You should totally check out what is in our GA course! Head this way, my analytics friend!

Google Analytics

Advanced Segments: Conditional and Sequences

Why you should use Segments in Google Analytics

Looking at all of your Google Analytics data at once sucks like a sour lemon. If you don’t segment the data, you will never find the good, the bad, or the wonderful. Plus, we all know that customers take different journeys to, and on, your awesome website. So, it’s great to know how your marketing channels are performing, and how to find your best customers, as well as how to enhance channels and help those customers that are struggling. 

Ideally, you’d want to use Google Analytics to find answers to your question like an easy-peel clementine, so let’s dive into what you can do with these little gems. 

In particular, if you use the Advanced Segment options, Conditions and Sequences, you can really power up your work.

This post dives into those Advanced Segments. 

If you want to learn more about what Segments are, we have a handy, free PDF explainer ‘How To Use Segments’

Segments in Google Analytics from The Coloring In Department

Google Analytics reports are all built on the basis of Dimensions and Metrics. Segments are looking at your data set to find a match for the Dimensions and Metrics you want to focus on. 

You can create user Segments on the following terms: 


You can look at your data – and dive into people, places, ages and language. 


Isolate users or sessions by device, so things like mobile/tablet/desktop. The browser they are using or the size of screen resolution. 


This is all down to recency and frequency, so the number of sessions. The days since their last session, how many transactions they had.

Date of First Session 

Create a Segment based on cohorts, that match a definition, for instance, the dates between their first and last visit to your website. 

Traffic Sources 

How do your users find you? Which campaigns, channels, mediums, sources, paid keywords etc.

Enhanced Ecommerce 

Segment your users by their shopping actions. Revenue per user, the product they bought, the brand they purchased etc.

Advanced Segments: Conditions and Sequences 

These options allow you to really build out and power up your work. This function gives you more flexibility, as you can layer Dimensions and Metrics, and mix things up. For example, you can create a Segment for Traffic Sources, but if you wanted to look at a Traffic source AND the page a user viewed you would need to use an Advanced Segment to do that.

They both work on the basis of you defining what the dimensions and metrics are; and you can opt to include or exclude dimensions and metrics. Then define what the conditions are, so which dimensions and metric values are we looking for, and then, if the next part of the Segment is to be included as an and/or.

Please note – And / Or statements behave differently. You are putting together two or more Dimensions and Metrics. You use AND to say that both conditions are required, the OR means that only one condition must be met.

Condition Based Segments

This is where you are building a set of conditions. You can pick what you want, provided that the dimension, metrics and their values actually exist in your data already. Segment your users and/or their sessions according to single or multiple-session conditions.

Sequence Based Segments 

This gives you the same flexibility as Conditional Segments, the difference here is that you are segmenting your users and/or their sessions according to sequential conditions. Specific steps in a journey rather than conditional ones.

You do this by  Filtering> Include or Exclude> Sessions or Users> then define the Sequence Start > Any User Interaction or First User Interaction.  Then you put in your Dimensions or Metrics and assign a value for each step.  That value uses basic math symbols (greater than, less than, etc) you also get the option to use And/Or statements to further qualify this.

You need to make sure that you select the correct type of Advanced segment as they behave a little differently overall.

Scope of Segments 

We’ve talked about getting the scope of the segment correct, but the difference between a user based segment and session-based segment are equally – super important. 

In your Condition and Sequence Segments, you can filter between Sessions and Users. As you might expect, this has an impact on your data, even more so when you are using the And / Or statements.

Let me explain.

If you create a Condition Segment that is Session based on Source = organic and, say for example Event = info pack downloaded and Event = Free resources sign up. This will only pull in an answer if these two criteria happened within the same session.

But what if the traffic from Organic doesn’t always assist in these events happening? You would need to swap this out to a User based segment.

Hold up, when we do this, look what happens to our data. Zero ? That can’t be right surely? There must be users that came from organic and downloaded content to fire our event tracking. What’s going on?

Well, if you change it to a User based in this Condition Segment, here’s the kink, it will only pull the data if the conditions happened within the same Hit.

That is down to the criteria box. This Segment works on what is in the box specifically.

So you need to change this by adding a new box (we will demo this in our Google Analytics Course).

Basically, if you want to see two conditions for a user based segment but not the same hit, then you have to split the box to capture the two respective criteria.

Now, to further emphasis the Sequences point. Here you can change the filter to have Session or User. But – for each of the steps, GA will look at each step as a single hit. This can be quite handy when you want to look back over a 90 day period (which is the limit for User Segments). When you build a session based sequence segment, it will give you the number of users too.

Found this post interesting?


We have a whole module on Segments in our Online Google Analytics Course.

You’ll work through all the types of Segments available to you, and understand the pros and cons of Segmentation in general, as well as some issues that come along with using it.

And, as no one likes a blank sheet of paper, we’ll walk through a process to work out the types of Segments you may want to consider for your business.

You know you want to have a look 👀

Head this way my measurement loving friend.