Google Analytics 4 Insights from Julian Juenemann

Google Analytics 4 Insights from Julian Juenemann

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After starting a few venture-backed startups, Julian Juenemann founded MeasureSchool, where he teaches the data-driven way of digital marketing. He began sharing his digital marketing knowledge on his YouTube channel, which is now a prime destination for hundreds of thousands of digital marketers. Julian is also a co-host of an annual virtual event called MeasureSummit where they bring the top minds from the analytics industry.

1. Could you please share more about your background in digital marketing?

I started my career as a digital marketer working and leading different startups. This is where I’ve learned the fundamentals of channels like SEO, PPC, and Display Advertising and how important data was to make this all work.

Data fascinated me tremendously, and in 2013 I went out on my own to help businesses use their data more efficiently in digital marketing. I was a freelancer assisting businesses in making sense of their Google Analytics data for a few years, then Google Tag Manager entered my world and pulled me in right away.

Finally, I was able to implement Tracking myself for my clients and add additional value. I liked this tool so much that I started teaching it in courses and videos I published on our YouTube channel.

Fast forward to now, and MeasureSchool is the company where we educate marketers about the data-driven way of digital marketing. We still publish videos and courses and coach students to become tracking specialists in our MeasureMasters membership.

2. What projects have you launched recently that you are proud of?

The big challenge for everyone in our community is getting used to the changes around Google Analytics 4.

Recently, we started a new series inside of our membership, where we get together with our members once a week for a MeasureMinds call.

MeasureMinds is a discussion round to facilitate an idea exchange between members. It’s a very insightful round where ideas are shared, findings are discussed, and questions are answered. I always leave the call with new ideas and lots of learning.

3. What do you do to further your own data-driven marketing skills to the next level?

I mainly listen to more intelligent people than myself. There is a whole world of interesting people sharing, researching, and talking about data-driven marketing, which keeps me on my feet to upgrade my knowledge.

Once a year, I also have the privilege of being the co-host of a virtual event called MeasureSummit, where we interview the top minds of the analytics industry. MeasureSummit gives me further opportunities to connect and again listen to great people.

4. You also run a popular marketing course. What is the most common problem your students struggle with the most?

Overwhelm. There is a lot to learn when tackling the art of data. Tools and technology change, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is no different than learning a new language or moving to a new country.

We aim to help people in this situation and focus on the next step they have to do to get from A to B. They must know where to go next and take the steps needed to move forward.

5. What are the most important soft skills for digital marketers?

Once you have mastered one or more marketing techniques and can confidently market a product or a new website, I think it becomes all about communication. You will realize that you can’t always do it alone and need others’ help to reach your goals.

In Analytics, this is no different. If you know how to track specific metrics, analyse them with your tools and get insight, you are halfway there.

The last step is to turn this data into action, which involves a lot of communication. Convincing, presenting, and storytelling are still skills I try to improve each day.

6. What are top mistakes website owners make when working with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager

Many website owners use these tools because they have heard about one or another feature they like. Then they can implement it relatively quickly—for example, Button Click Tracking, Scroll Tracking, and some eCommerce. That’s all great, but later they realize that this data is not as valuable for them, and it doesn’t help answer their questions and, with the recent Privacy laws, may even be a liability to their business.

A proper implementation needs a strategy and a plan that ensures the correct data is captured. This has become far more important with the rise of Google Analytics 4. The new data model is more flexible than the old GA and requires some thought before implementation.

7. Google Analytics 4 has many bad reviews on Twitter and forums. What do you think about this Google Analytics version?

I can understand the uproar that the rollout of GA4 has caused, and I think Google could have done a better job of communicating the launch. I hope more people will give it another shot.

For me, the change is mainly positive and an opportunity. Universal Analytics was broken for a long time, as it was built on an old paradigm and didn’t allow for much flexibility. With this new tool, Google has the opportunity to catch up on existing tools in a big way and bring in new functionality that will enable analytics for a modern era. Sure, it will take some time to get used to, but isn’t that always the case when it comes to new technologies?

8. Google has announced that old Google Analytics won’t work from July 2023. What do you advise to website owners who don’t want to migrate to Google Analytics 4?

Nobody is forced to switch to GA4. There are great alternative tools, depending on the use case. And the use case is what you would need to determine first. What are you using your Analytics tool for? What data will you still want to have access to? How will data be stored, processed, and presented? These are just a few questions you might want to be asking yourself when looking for a solution. And for anyone asking, “Isn’t there ONE tool that can replace GA”? Remember that GA is an enterprise analytics solution Google provides us for free.

9. What are the biggest advantages and pitfalls in GA4 you have found so far?

There are many advantages to using GA4. Some highlights include BigQuery export, Debug View, Funnel Exploration Reports, Machine Learning, and Audience groups. The most significant advantage for the average user is probably the ease of setup with Enhanced Measurements, which will give you data on interactions by default (Clicks, Scrolls, YouTube Plays, etc.).

As for the pitfalls, it’s still a tricky tool to navigate, as many minor bugs might trip you up. Other than that, you might struggle to wrap your head around the new data model.

In GA4, everything is an event, and as a consequence of that, you have new metrics and dimensions you need to get used to. Also, the new interface is a bit hard to get used to.

10. What are your GA 4 tips and tricks?

I have 3 Tricks for you:

1) get started now;

There is no better time than now. GA4 needs some getting used to, so why not start now. Gather some data and explore the reports. Since Universal Analytics will be going away (July 2023), you already have a lot of data gathered to be working with.

2) it’s not an upgrade; it’s a new tool;

Don’t think of GA4 as an upgrade to Universal Analytics. It’s an entirely new tool. Discover it with a sense of openness and try not to compare it to the old UA.

3) explore the advantages;

There are many things to complain about in GA4, but why don’t we focus on the positive? You can already have a great new view of your data if you learn how to build Funnel Explorations in GA4 or play with the Anomaly detection. If you ever wondered what the raw data of GA4 looks like, now you have the ability to see it in BigQuery as well. There are many other features to discover.

11. What are the key Google Analytics 4 metrics every digital marketer needs to use to better understand user behavior?

Google Analytics 4 has a new data model, and with it, new metrics are being introduced. You need to wrap your head around using events (instead of page views, etc.). The event count becomes the primary metric that ties together your data. Another new metric to point out is Engagement Time. Google Analytics 4 has a better concept of time and can calculate the time the user engaged with your site. This gives you a clearer understanding of engagement than using what was previously the Bounce Rate.

12. In your opinion, what are the top trends in digital marketing in 2022?

Three trends I have seen emerge:

  • Machine learning
    The usage of machine learning sweeps up all Digital marketing. It’s natural since the industry produces easily consumable data, which lends itself to the techniques.
  • Privacy
    Consumers have been pushing for privacy, and it has become law in certain countries. Even private companies (like Apple) get involved and build in privacy restrictions. As marketers, we’ll need to get used to working with data that is restricted by privacy laws and regulations.
  • Short-Form Video
    This trend is already here to stay. Having published hundreds of YouTube videos over the years, I understand the tendency to shorter and shorter content, which will spread further to advertising and more.

13. Can you share your professional and business plans for the next 2-3 years?

We have mainly focused on education and community building for the past few years. In the next few years, I foresee that we’ll be branching out into other revenue streams and expanding our offerings. Maybe in the software or services space.

14. How do you see the future of digital marketing (in 5 years)?

I believe a lot of the mundane tasks will be automated, and we’ll be able to do more in less time. With that, we’ll be able to concentrate on the strategic pieces of digital marketing rather than the implementation.

15. What advice can you give for those who are just starting their career in digital marketing?

Start producing right away. The great opportunity of the internet is that we can publish our thoughts and learnings freely. If you learn something new, why not publish it in some way? It’s not about gaining a following but having a record of doing. You will build an invaluable muscle that you can use later on to build the marketing for another brand. And besides, it’s a great way to show something when applying for a job.

16. The best piece of advice I have ever been given is…

Watch your thoughts!” I’m a big believer in meditation and observing your mind. It has taught me a lot over the years, from making more thoughtful decisions to knowing when to stop doing something altogether or not taking on advice that I don’t want. Catching myself thinking specific thoughts is still something that surprises me from time to time and is a source of great learning.

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