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Every business is distinct, and understanding the performance of different aspects requires tracking specific metrics.
One way to achieve this customization is through the use of custom dimensions. Rather than settling for generic data, you can delve deeper into your setup. While Google Analytics 4 offers improved automatic tracking capabilities compared to Universal Analytics, it may not cover all your requirements.
In this blog post, I’ll guide you through the process of configuring Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics 4 using Google Tag Manager.
Defining Dimensions Let’s begin with the basics for those new to the subject. A dimension is a parameter or attribute that describes data, such as the attributes of a product, event, user, or website. It helps provide context to understand what, where, and when something is happening.
In summary, dimensions help to define and describe various aspects of data. Now, let’s explore custom dimensions.
While Google Analytics offers various dimensions, they may not cater to every specific situation. This is where custom dimensions become indispensable. For instance, if your business involves selling online courses, GA won’t provide specific dimensions for that niche.
To fill this gap, we have Custom Dimensions.
User, Session, Hit, and Product. Each scope determined the level at which the dimension would apply.
Now, let’s see how GA4 has changed this.
the session scope is no longer available for custom dimensions. Currently, GA4 only supports hit-scoped and user-scoped custom dimensions. User-scoped custom dimensions work similarly to their Universal Analytics counterparts but with some differences:
Speaking of product-scoped custom dimensions, while you can send custom product data to GA4, viewing it properly in reports may not be possible at the moment. Hopefully, this will change in the future.
Update #1: GA4 now supports item-scoped custom dimensions.
Update #2: Google had previously mentioned that session-scoped custom dimensions in GA4 would be available at some point in the future.
Google Analytics 4 provides flexibility in sending custom data. If you mainly use it to stream data to BigQuery for analysis, you can send any custom parameters you want, visible in BigQuery.
To use these parameters in the GA4 interface and reports, you need to register them as custom dimensions in GA4. Here’s how you can do it:
The order of these steps doesn’t matter, but they should be done around the same time. If you delay registering a custom dimension, your reports will miss the data collected during that time. However, the raw data streamed to BigQuery will still contain the custom parameter.
Let’s take an example of tracking menu link clicks. Each time a visitor clicks on a menu item, an event will be sent with two additional parameters, menu_item_url, and menu_item_name.
To track menu link clicks, you need to create a trigger with specific conditions in Google Tag Manager. By enabling Preview mode and clicking on the menu links, you can verify that the Link Click event appears in the Preview mode’s sidebar.
If you don’t see the event, ensure that you have at least one Just Links GTM trigger activated on the page or have “File download” or “Outbound links” tracking enabled in your Enhanced Measurement Settings within GA4.
Once you’ve set up the trigger for menu link clicks, proceed to configure variables to enable link-tracking functionality in Google Tag Manager.
After creating the trigger, set up Google Analytics 4 event tags. You can send event names like “menu_click” and include parameters like “menu_item_url” and “menu_item_name” to track specific menu items.
To send custom parameters, expand the Event Parameters section in the Google Analytics 4 event tag and add rows with parameter names and corresponding values.
Once you’ve set up the event tags, assign the Just Links trigger to them. Save the tags and refresh GTM’s Preview mode to verify if the GA4 event tags for Menu Link Clicks have fired.
To view the data in GA4 reports, you must register the custom parameters as custom dimensions in Google Analytics 4.
Head to Admin > Custom Definitions > Custom Dimensions and create custom dimensions for each parameter, specifying the scope as “Event.”
Now, you’ll need to wait for up to 24 hours for the custom dimensions to start appearing in your GA4 reports.
Google Analytics 4 provides various reports where you can find the dimensions you’ve set. Some of these reports include:
For example, in the Free Form report, you can explore how visitors with different device categories interact with your site’s menu bar by including the custom dimension “menu_item_url.” Filtering the report by “menu_click” events will display the relevant data.
In summary, custom dimensions are vital for maximizing the potential of Google Analytics 4. By sending custom parameters and registering them as dimensions, you can gain valuable insights into various aspects of your business.
Remember, Google Analytics 4 offers numerous reports where you can access and analyze this data, providing a comprehensive understanding of your website’s performance.
By following these steps, you can effectively leverage custom dimensions to tailor Google Analytics 4 to your specific business needs and optimize your decision-making process. So, start customizing your data collection today to unlock the full potential of GA4.