A typical Google Analytics 4 report offers a useful overview of performance over a specified period. However, to evaluate whether performance is improving or worsening relative to another period, Time Series reports are invaluable.
These reports provide a progression of our metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) over time, allowing us to instantly see whether we are improving or declining.
Standard GA4 Time Series Reports
Google Analytics 4 already comes with certain time series. In fact, each report on every page comes with both a summary and a time series graph.
These visualizations display the progression of the selected metrics over time, which can help you discern whether your performance is improving or deteriorating.
However, the standard reports and pre-templated reports in Google Analytics 4 are rather basic and not very flexible. Thankfully, the “Explore” section allows you to create your own custom reports.
Creating Custom Time Series Reports
Let’s delve into creating a Time Series report in GA4. To begin, navigate to the Explore section, create a new blank report, and select “Line Chart” under Visualization.
Now, it’s time to choose your dimensions and metrics. Let’s use “Device Category” and “Total Users” as examples. You can easily create the report by either double-clicking or dragging and dropping the chosen dimensions and metrics.
The resulting report shows the progression of metrics for each device category, providing a comparison of mobile, desktop, tablet, and even smart TV usage.
Exploring Further with Custom Time Series Reports
For further exploration, consider changing the metric to something like “purchases” or “purchase revenue.” For example, you might discover that despite most traffic originating from mobile devices, the majority of purchases occur on desktops.
This is a typical pattern in the hotel industry, where visitors often land on the site via mobile devices but tend to make actual bookings on a desktop.
This insight could prompt strategies to encourage mobile bookings or alternatively, to employ retargeting campaigns to draw these mobile visitors back to your website.
Tracking the Impact of Marketing Initiatives
Another valuable application of Time Series reports is to track the impact of marketing initiatives.
For instance, if you launch a campaign on Google, Facebook, or send out an email newsletter, you can track any subsequent surge in traffic and correlate it with the effectiveness of your initiative.
Understanding these trends can ultimately provide the knowledge necessary to optimize and target your marketing efforts more effectively.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to maintain a log of marketing changes for future reference and evaluation of your performance over time.
In conclusion, Time Series reports in Google Analytics 4 are a powerful tool for visualizing and understanding your website’s performance progression.
Using these reports can significantly improve your ability to make data-driven decisions and optimize your marketing strategy.