Staying Proactive With Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Custom Insights

Analytics should help you stay proactive in monitoring critical changes happening on your website, which can be positive or negative. 

The changes can be drops or drastic rises in conversions, website traffic, business revenue and other data anomalies that exist in the data you collect with your analytics.

The new version of Google Analytics (GA4) gives you the power to be proactive with changes on the website using the data you are collecting.

In this article, we’ll look at this proactive feature of GA4 from the perspective of setting things up, the strategy side of things and some ideas you should use.

GA4 Custom Insights For Data Proactiveness

CUSTOM INSIGHTS” is the GA4 feature that helps us take charge of changes in our business or performance KPIs.

In simplified terms, Custom Insights is an advanced custom alert feature of Universal Analytics (UA).

According to Google’s documentation;

It helps you create conditions that detect changes in your data that are important to you. 

The beautiful thing about this feature is that when these changes occur, you’ll see the insights in the Insights dashboard, and you can optionally receive email alerts. 

Here is a quick bullet point about custom insights;

  • You can create up to 50 custom insights per property.
  • You can edit or delete a custom insight once created.
  • It can detect anomalies in the data collected for a specific business KPI using ML.
  • You can monitor KPI changes for an audience bucket by applying data segments to the custom insights.
  • Suggested Custom Insights are modifiable before activation.
  • If you need something specific, you can start from scratch when creating one.
  • More than one email can receive email alerts of these changes.
  • Hourly custom insights are not currently available for app events at the time of writing.

Creating Custom Insights In Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

You can find this feature in the Google Analytics 4 (GA4) home screen or the “Report Snapshot Tab” in the report section.

From Google Analytics’s 4 home

From the Report snapshot tab under GA4 Reports

Suggested Custom Insights

If this is your first time creating custom insights in GA4, the process will start with creating a couple of Google’s suggested custom insights.

Suggested custom insights look for anomalies in the daily event, acquisition, pageview, conversions and revenue data you’re collecting in Google Analytics 4.

These options are;

  • Anomaly in daily event count
  • Anomaly in daily users
  • Anomaly in daily views
  • Anomaly in daily conversions
  • Anomaly in daily revenue

Note: you can review the configurations of these insights and make modifications if necessary.

Here is how to set up Google’s recommended insights.

From the “Report snapshot” tab, click the “view all insights” button or the “create” button if it’s your first time.

The “create” button opens a modal popup that allows you to create Google’s suggested custom insights or to start from scratch.

The view insights tab opens a screen where you’ll see all your custom insights, manage them or create a new one.

From the insights tab, you should click the “create” button.

You should see a modal popup like the one you’ll get when you click the create button directly from the report snapshot tab (when creating custom insights for the first time insight).

You can review the suggested insights configuration before making it live.

Click the “create selected” button, which does the magic of setting up the selected suggested custom insights.

Starting From Scratch

You can also create a new custom insight from scratch. You’ll do this by clicking the “create new” button.

The next screen is where you’ll be to create your custom insights, and it’s divided into three sections.

  1. Set Conditions; Where you select the evaluation frequency, add data segments, the metric/KPI and the type of change you’ll be monitoring.
  2. Choose Insight Name; This section is for giving a name to the insight you want to monitor. It’s also the name you’ll see in the notifications you’ll receive. Using a descriptive name is recommended.
  3. Manage Notifications; This is where you’ll add the emails that should receive notifications on the occurrence of these changes.

Strategy Side Of Things Of Using GA4 Custom Insights.

Let’s take a step backwards and use this formula when creating custom insights for your business.

I like to bucket the GA4 KPIs that you should be monitoring into the following categories;

  • Acquisition KPIs
  • Conversion KPIs
  • Performance KPIs
  • User Engagement KPIs

Monitoring changes in all these buckets of KPIs is key to being proactive with your business growth.

These changes can be positive or negative, but the end goal is to leverage the changes for the good of the business.

The questions that you’ll need to answer are; 

  • Should you be proactive with changes in that particular KPI you want to monitor?
  • What will you do when notified that the change has occurred? You don’t need to worry about creating the insight if you’ll do nothing.
  • How often do you want to check for changes?

Answering these questions and using the KPIs buckets as guidance will help you identify what to monitor or ignore.

Some Proactive Custom Insights You Should Create

  • Daily Users equal zero “0” – A performance KPI for monitoring when your tracking is down.
  • Weekly Users decrease by 30% – An acquisition KPI used for staying proactive traffic crisis occurs.

User acquisition decline

User acquisition growth

  • Daily Transactions is less than or equal to 0 – Performance KPI for monitoring if eCommerce tracking is working.
  • Weekly Negative & Positive change in Revenue by 30% – conversion type KPI for monitoring rise 

Positive change

Negative change

  • Weekly rise and drops of your website engagement rate by 30% – Engagement type KPI for monitoring usability.

Increase in user engagement

Decrease in user engagement

  • Daily Conversions is less than or equal to zero “0” – Conversion type of KPI for identifying conversion tracking issues.
  • Weekly rise and drops of your website conversions by 30%

Positive change in weekly conversion

Negative change in weekly conversion

  • When a user experiences a 404 error (using data segments)
  • Step one is to create an audience with the condition scoping set to “Within the same session
  • Add the audience name, select the 404 event name, set the duration to “1 day”, and save the audience.
  • In the custom insight creation process, set the evaluation frequency to “Daily”, the condition should be “Total users” greater than or equal to “1”, and add the created 404 audience as a segment, by clicking the change button.

In the segment click on the audience dimension values, to select the 404 error audience.

Select the 404 error audience and click “OK”.

Apply the audience

  • This is what your final configuration should be.

You can create more as long as it fulfils the requirement of the strategy formula.

Managing Created Custom Insights

After you’ve created custom insights in GA4, here is the list of the things you can do when it’s live.

  • View the insights (custom and automated) 
  • Disable email notifications of the custom insights you created
  • Edit the configuration of the custom insights
  • Delete the insights if it’s not needed
  • Share the insight link with your colleagues
  • Download the insight as a file

Parting Words

The Google Analytics 4 measurement model is great, and everything is an event. You can be proactive with the critical changes in the data (positive, negative or anomalies), and you can do these with the help of Custom Insights in GA4.

In this article, we dove into custom insights, looking at the type of insights we have in Google Analytics 4, how to set them up, the strategic steps you can follow, and some ideas to hit the ground running.

One key takeaway should be taking action when these changes happen, as it puts you a step ahead with leveraging growth opportunities and savaging crises.

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