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Google Analytics 4

An Interview with Jeff Sauer

For this episode of E Coffee with Experts, Matt Fraser interviewed Jeff Sauer, the founder of Data Driven U.

Jeff shares his extensive knowledge and experience with Google Analytics 4, including what it actually is, as well as his tips and advice for migrating to the new GA4.
He also provides helpful resources to help you learn GA4.

Google Analytics should never really be your primary source of data. It’s not the best data source, but it’s the only one that touches on everything.

Jeff Sauer
Founder of Data Driven U.

Hello everyone, and welcome to this episode of E Coffee with Experts. I’m your host, Matt Fraser, and on this episode, I have a very special guest with me, Jeff Sauer. Jeff is the founder of Data Driven U. He’s also an agency coach. He previously owned an agency, scaled it, and sold it. He is a business coach, lecturer, and digital nomad. He is a firm believer in digital and data-driven marketing. He was named one of the top 25 most influential PPC experts. His work has been featured in many industry publications and “best of” lists. Jeff has trained 14,000 digital marketers into Google-certified professionals, in addition to delivering more than 100 presentations and workshops in 15 different countries around the world. When not working on marketing campaigns for clients, Jeff enjoys traveling with his wife and family around the globe. Jeff, thank you so much for being here. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show.

Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m really excited.

No problem. Hey, Jeff, how would your university professors describe you as a student?

It’s funny. I had one professor in particular who thought that I was never going to make it or never going to be anything because I got on his nerves because I didn’t really want to listen to him. I was always looking for a way to do things more efficiently and effectively. And I thought that he was sort of trapped in the old way of doing things. I was always a futurist and always thought about how to do the most work with the least amount of effort. And I am still the same, by the way.

Well, it’s a good thing. It’s a good quality to have that exact same way. I think you passed his class, obviously. Do you think any of your former professors would be interested in becoming digital marketing consultants, looking back?

Yeah. I was always inspired by some of my professors. I went to school for computer science starting in 1999, and I graduated in 2003. I saw the wave of like the dot com boom, people dropping out and becoming consultants. You know, my instructors had pagers on them in the middle of a class, and they got to answer the page. So, l saw all these people who were consultants or who were really in the real world. Those are always my favorite professors as well. People who were out there, practitioners who were teaching because they wanted to or they wanted to give back. I saw people do that. I talk to professors, and I teach at the same university I graduated from. When I see people, they’re like, Holy crap, you really made something out of yourself. So, it was fun to see that.

Yeah, that’s awesome. So, what inspired you to pursue digital marketing? I know you mentioned you were in computer sciences and programming or whichever. How did you then make the jump from that to getting into digital marketing?

I can say laziness to a certain extent. I was a pretty good coder. I always did really well in school. I probably could have been a software engineer pretty easily and been successful at it. But I didn’t really want to. The Internet was just starting, and the only options, though, the only jobs were in C++ programming or mainframe programming. So, there was really no web programmer job. It was before Web 2.0. I learned how to do JavaScript. I learned how to do like cold fusion and PHP stuff while I was in college. Then I graduated, and there were no jobs doing that, and I was like, what am I supposed to do? There was probably a three-year gap before it took off again. Where I was like, okay, well, I have to go and do something, and so I sort of went into just trying to find any job. And honestly, the job market didn’t really help me. I didn’t make enough money to support my ambition, and so I sort of got into a lot of debt, and I started side hustling to get to pay off all my credit card bills, pay off the next student loans, and all that stuff. So, I side-hustled my way into things, and the thing that you could get paid for when you’re 22 years old was creating websites for people. It was an understandable thing in the mid-2000s. Everybody needed a website, and most people didn’t have one. The barrier to entry was just like, hey, as long as it works on the internet, I’m fine. We didn’t really have too much security, didn’t relate to it, and cloud hosting was basically a brand-new thing, so it wasn’t really a big deal to have to trust me to do it, but not that long after it. They’re like, Okay, I paid you a couple of thousand dollars for a website. Now, how do I get people to go to it?

There you go.

I was in markets, and I was minted a marketer because I was making their website.

That’s a familiar story of a lot of people, how they started out. Most of them started doing websites. And in that regard, I was the same way I went back to school and took web design, and then people were like, why don’t I get traffic to it? I’m like, Well, that’s interesting. I got to learn how to do that. Anyway, what do you love most about digital marketing?

I think I like the most about it is that it’s an impact you can make without really having to leave your house. It’s something you can do from anywhere. Definitely the work from anywhere and the understanding of it. And I also liked it because it was such a new industry and I was so green. I always knew that I knew more than the next person. That’s all that I cared about at that point, and so if I had gone into a more established, entrenched industry, I would have had to put in five or ten years paying my dues the whole time to get there. That wasn’t my ambition, and that wasn’t my personality.

Yeah. And you’ve established yourself as an expert, obviously, for anybody who knows about you. So, what influenced you to focus on web analytics? I know you have been connected on your email list and so on and so forth for many years. Well, I know that you specifically love talking about web analytics, or it’s your thing. Even though you do other parts, my question is, what was it that gravitated toward that part of digital marketing?

In my agency, day to day, the agency grew significantly. I did almost no web analytics. I had set up a PPC and SEO practice, and they were both going simultaneously. Some clients would take on both. Some would take on just the PPC. Some would take on just the SEO. The PPC business took off like crazy to the point where I just knew how to get results. I understood PPC, and I could just do it every day for anybody, and I’d get really good results. But I got sort of like, okay, is this it? Is it just really just me sitting in a spreadsheet? I was like, I solved this problem within about six months, and now it’s just repeating it. I was like, is that the rest of my career just doing the same thing repeatedly. It got so boring to me because I had achieved success so quickly, and it was running laps around anybody else. Like, I run laps around digital agencies with people who don’t get it. They just didn’t get it, and it came to me so quickly that I was like, there’s got to be something more. And then SEO actually didn’t have as much success from an agency perspective. I never really found a way to make it as a practice because there were too many variables, and I didn’t charge for it. I couldn’t guarantee success. You know, it’s like it was a whole thing where you talk to a client with a straight face, but it could take 3 to 6 months for these changes to take effect. And it’s like, how many times can you say that? Am I even telling the truth? Like, I know that it takes as long. It was too far out of my control, but PPC was in my control because I was just getting great results. And then the analytics, it’s this thing right in the middle that is sort of like analytics involves technical. So, it’s returning to my programming background at C JavaScript. So, it’s a little bit more like using my that skillset. It’s a little bit more discreet, meaning that I can go in there and be the hero, fix some of these analytics or get them the insights, train them in everything, and then be done with that. So, it’s not as much of a long-term commitment as just being on a retainer. Somebody is just doing their stuff for years. Like we’ve had agencies and the same client for ten-plus years. That wasn’t my idea of what to do. Frankly, the final part was that I went out on my own, and I knew that I couldn’t be branded as an analytics guy, a PPC guy, or an SEO guy all in one. You had to pick your lane. So, I picked the lane, the one where I knew I could get gigs and it could satisfy my lifestyle. So, I chose it. Funny enough, not because I was like, there was that thing that I was the best at, but it was the one that I thought was the best one to go to my next chapter.

Okay, that’s very interesting. I mentioned before we started on camera that at one point, you sent out an email to your list about imposter syndrome, which helped me tremendously in my life. It kind of revealed that to me. Have you yourself ever suffered from that?

For sure. The other side of the coin of being really good at PPC and being young is that did people trust me? And did I really belong there, or did I just think my way into it until I made it right? And then the analytics thing, because I had cut my teeth and been really accomplished in the PPC world, was I really qualified to be an analytics person? Especially when I taught anybody else, I’ve learned from somebody else. So, it’s like, I had my influences. There is a certain point where you’re learning, and then you switch from learning to teaching. That’s definitely a trip. Like, I’m no longer learning. I’m now the guy who has to come up with the answer. That’s a weird and interesting transition for me. Now I’m fine with it because I’m still learning something every day, or I have to retrain my brain significantly.

Wow. That’s amazing. Well, what advice would you give to agency owners or people who feel like they’re frauds?

I mean, you are a fraud to a certain extent, right? So just embrace it. You know, nobody’s ever qualified, and we’re in an industry where there’s really very few meaningful certifications. There’s like Google tests and stuff like that. Nobody really even had to go to school to do this. So, in some ways, you’re not qualified, and in some ways, you are qualified. I think that if you’re interested in this area and you take a deep understanding of it, you read articles, you read several sources a week about what’s going on, then you’re already further ahead than 95% of practitioners. If you actually get a chance to do it, then you’ve probably come under the 98 percentile. Then it’s like, okay, well, you already know more than the next person. It’s a specialty. So, you specialize versus other people who are your clients? They’re generalists, and they’re basically running general marketing for a company. They might spend an hour here talking about lead generation, an hour talking about their ad, and the yellow pages. They might spend an hour on a radio ad, and then they have paid media that 15 minutes to an hour with you. That’s all they really care about. So, of course, they’re relying on you to be that deep expert. And so, when you think about it that way, you probably are worthy of being there and deserving of being there as long as you do what you say you’re going to do.

Yeah, absolutely. Would you say that giving certification helps in some ways, then? Since you don’t have to go to school for it?

For me, it was a big thing to get my Google ad certification was an absolute waypoint for me that I was qualified. Back then, the Google ad certificate, I think it still does, but it came with like a spending requirement. You need to manage a certain amount of spend. So, I was like spend a thousand over the 90 days and then pass the test, and then you’re individually certified. Then I think it was 10,000 and 2 tests to be company certified. So, I made up a second employee and got company certified.

Right on.

Yeah. So, I created a persona, which was how I got certified. I was like, okay, now if Google thinks that I’m there, then I think I’m certified. Plus, eventually, we had stuff like Google reps, and we had competitive intelligence where I could see people’s results, and then I knew I could. It’s almost like seeing the Matrix. I can look at somebody’s numbers, I can find inefficiencies, and I can fix that. Then I know I can because I can tell where they’re out of whack or if you have enough experience. And that was really what drew me to the agency world because I could tell all these different experiences. I get to see tons of different accounts and make comparisons, and really spread the ideas across different areas.

That’s amazing. What inspired you to start Data Driven U? Was it a desire to give back, like you said, and teach? Help others in regards to what you’ve learned or other?

Yeah. So, I knew that I needed to leave the agency world because I was doing a lot of work, making lots of money for very large companies. And also making suggestions to large companies that they would never implement, and they would never do. So, it was like falling on deaf ears, and I was like, I really want to have a product. I also like the business model of having a product more than I like the business model of services because the service’s model it’s very human-intensive. You make your margin off of either paying your employees less or the people you have, right? So, keep your expenses as low as your profit versus a product. You go out there, and you get more, you sell more, and you use ads to sell more. If you generate more business, that brings more margin into the business itself. And so, I like the business model better, and I wanted the challenge of having a product of my own to market.

Oh, wow. That’s awesome.

And then I’ll just follow. The reason why the product itself is teaching is that I was like, okay, well, if all is said and done, I’m reaching more people, and I’m spreading the good word about digital marketing in a way that I could never do inside of an agency.

Yeah, and you’ve done an amazing job. I mean, I’ve taken many of your courses and received tremendous value and benefit from them. So, thank you for that. What is your vision for Data-Driven U?

So, I have a few different things. One of the goals that I have is to have a million students to learn with us, which is a long way away, where maybe 5% of the way there with 50,000 accounts on our site. So, it’s going to be a while. But that’s just sort of like a number just out there. But really, the goal is to offer and inspire people to become better and more interested in digital marketing through various levels of training programs based on their needs. If they want to do it themselves, we have SOPs, which are standard operating procedures. They can download and do it themselves. These are either free or inexpensive. Then we have classes, the prerecorded ones, which it sounds like you’ve taken a few of those, and I know you’ve taken a few of those. Then we have certifications, and then the final level is teaching people how to make money off of their skills. So, what I call agency programs are our freelancer programs. So, my transition was a side hustle to get out of debt, use that skill to leverage more things, and then make real money by going into business for myself. That was my journey, and I think that’s the most freeing thing that I ever did and that I can do. So, I want to pattern Data Driven around that, like, get the interest you have, get the skills you need, and then get yourself a better future by applying those skills to the companies that need you.

So, if someone wants to learn about digital marketing, they can do the whole thing. They can come to Data-Driven U, they can learn about digital marketing, can get SOPs that help them to execute it and learn it, get certified, and then also learn how to run the business side of things.


That’s awesome.

Especially for Google Analytics 4. We have a full vertical integration where you can start with how to do it and checklists all the way to technique, teaching with me, all the way to certification, and a sales deck that will sell your own services.

Wow. Okay, let’s talk about that. For those people who may not know what it is. Just because I always like to assume that someone’s listening to this, it’s maybe the first time, and they don’t really know what GA4 is.

Yeah, sure. Let’s do it. So, back in the day, there was no way to know if people visited your website. So, when I was a web designer, I’d create people a website, and I’d throw it out there, and there’d be something on the Internet. An example would be a restaurant’s website, a restaurant in Minnesota, and they’re like, well, how many people went to the site? And I’d say, I have no idea. So, I did some research, and my web host had a stats package that would just tell you how many hits you had, like how many different hits went to your site. Basically, a stat counter. They called them stats back then, and that was what happened then. You just have to log into this thing, or somebody will email your report and tell you how many hits you had. It wasn’t qualified, whether it was a bot or a person. It was just it was really not meaningful at all, but it was all we had. And then Google launched its Google AdWords ad service, and it turned out that nobody wanted to buy ads unless they had the answer to what people do when they use the ads. They wanted some kind of measurement thing, right? And so, they bought a piece of software that provided the stats, slapped a coat of paint on it, called it Google Analytics, and they gave it away for free. Usually, these things were pretty expensive. It’s a free cloud-based analytics tool that anybody could use. At first, only if you had a Google AdWords account than anybody. It was 2005-2006. It went from like this free thing for Google ads users, and by 2008, 100 million accounts were out there, and now there are over 150 million websites that use Google Analytics. So, it became the industry standard for doing something because everything else was pretty bad, and it would cost you a lot of money. That’s 2005, and then in 2008, they released a second version of it. In 2013 they announced the third version of it, which is called Universal. And then, in 2020, they announced the fourth version of it, which we’re calling GA4. They basically said it’s not just like an upgrade where you click on a button, and you go from 3 to 4. We are going to delete all your old data from the internet. We’ll delete everything because your old data was a privacy nightmare. We collected IP addresses that we don’t really want to store in our books. You might have an email address in the data that’s against GDPR. There are all kinds of different privacy rules that didn’t exist in 2005 that we’re sticking in the data. So, they’re like. We need we’re getting sued left and right. We have all this liability on the books to store your data for the last 15 years. We have to wipe out everything to not be sued anymore and comply with all these new rules. And so, while we’re sort of like the fallout here, where even if we were good stewards, we did things right, Google is wiping everybody out and making everybody start fresh.

So, this is a huge update, then.

It’s a complete re-platforming, a complete reimagination of it, and that’s how I describe it to people. So, the first Google Analytics, which was called Urchin, which Google bought and then turned into Google Analytics, was started in 1999. And that something from 1999 basically still works now. So, 20+ years later, that same code base is there, and it causes a lot of problems. It caused a lot of breakages and stuff like that. The new G4 is built for mobile. It’s built for apps. It’s built for the modern world, which is much more lightweight and privacy-centric. Not relying as much on Cookie is not relying as much on collecting personal or invasive information. It’s a complete re-platforming.

Wow. You know, Jeff. I interview a lot of people, and I talk to a lot of agency owners because we do that, and on LinkedIn, there are so many people who are frustrated with GA4. Yeah. What are some of the biggest challenges with GA4? What are some of the biggest changes coming?

The biggest change that they introduced is that it wasn’t ready for prime time. It didn’t look like the old one. It was slower, and it didn’t always work properly. It was sort of rushed out. And then, not only was it rushed out, it never went to an alpha phase. It never went to a beta phase. They said this is just live.


They were like, you have to use it, and we recommend it. They like to sort of vanish their one off the air. So, the rollout was one of the most poorly rolled out things that I’ve ever seen, really, especially for how many users they have.

And I thought it was just me.

No, the role was terrible, and it was forced on you without any recourse, without any empathy at all, and without any improvements. Like they didn’t really improve between the GA3 and the GA4 version. They basically made a much worse version. It started from scratch, and then they’re starting to roll stuff in now. So, even today or yesterday, they rolled out some new features. They roll out about 5 to 10 different features a month that come out. And so they’re rolling it out, and they’re basically telling you that you have to get rid of all your stuff by next year. But I wouldn’t necessarily move over to the new platform right now. So, it’s like they want you to collect the data, they want you to use it, but it’s not the same. It’s not as good as the other one.

Wow. I thought I was the only one who thought that it was pushed out too soon. And I’ve been ignoring it because I know how challenging it is and overwhelming. So, Google is saying July 1st, 2023, and we are in November of 2022 right now. Here’s my question. If someone hasn’t updated already, will they be losing data? For instance, should they put G4 on their sites six months ago, or even at least the tag of the script to be tracked should be collecting the data. If they haven’t, there’s going to be an empty window of no data, is what I’m trying to ask.

100%. They won’t be able to quickly say how they did in July versus this year versus last year. That’s pretty much for certain if they haven’t moved over yet. If you look at built-worth stats, 18% as of today of all of the top 1 million websites have GA4 installed versus 85% that have GA3 installed. About four out of every five people have not installed it yet.

So, people are resisting.

Yeah. I think everybody’s waiting till next year. They don’t really care about this year. They’re waiting until the Shopify integration is better. They’re waiting till the integration of their content management system works. They’re waiting for an easy button. Frankly, the platforms are all sleeping. I don’t understand why they haven’t started to do stuff, why they haven’t supported it.

Do you mean platforms like Shopify or Facebook?

Yeah, exactly. Facebook supports it actually pretty well with its server-side solution. There’s a whole bunch of Facebook nuances. But yeah, essentially, they’re piggybacking on G4 to do their server-side tracking mechanism for the conversions API. So they’re actually probably one of the most advanced use cases. And then, if you want to run Facebook ads, UTMs will still have the campaign codes. But yeah, it’s more content management system. Like almost none of them support it in a meaningful way.

Okay. Has anything about GA4 surprised you so far?

I’m surprised by how sunny a picture it will be once everything works. It is a complete re-architect thing. It is a complete re-imagination. They have machine learning built in where if you can get your e-commerce data coming in or your in-app purchase data, they’ll predict if somebody’s going to buy in the next seven days, and you can spit that out for your remarketing to them. You can actually find people who are about to buy based on their behavior. So, they’re doing a lot of computations for you. I do like how they give a big query so you can export data a lot easier than ever before. I’m surprised by how tightly integrated it is with all the Google products. So, nearly every Google product has a feature that’s integrated with GA4 better than the universal version.

Yet, such as the console and tag manager.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, they’re as good, if not better.

Wow. Is it so basic because it’s pretty much like everybody has to start over? Has it leveled the playing field, then? Like everybody’s at ground zero.

Yeah. And not only is it leveling the playing field, but it’s a fresh start that we all needed. And it’s an opportunity for you to finally have your analytics tool match your company strategy. So, what I do a lot in our teaching, our life stuff, and our demos is that I’ll actually show you how you can completely customize the reports menu to only show things that matter to your company. So, if you have four KPIs, you can make it so that every other report is turned off in GA4, and all you see is those four KPIs. You can make it so that the charts are gotten rid of. You can make it only the metrics you care about. You can remove metrics. So, you can actually only show your users for reports, and it’s all that matters to your company, and you can name it. However, you want to name it. So, the interface is very customizable in a way that was never done before. You can basically say, here’s all you care about. Here’s all you need to look at.

Okay. So, I have a question. When I was running Google ads through the dealership where I was working, I created different views in Google Analytics. I kind of followed the advice not only to learn from you but also from Himanshu Sharma from Optimize Smart dot com. He talked about creating ten different views in Google, and one was a target market view. Another one was a test view or data view, and another would be a Google ads view. So, I connected that view with specific goals that were only pertinent and relevant to Google ads because I had other goals in the target market view, and I didn’t want them counting as conversions and so on and so forth. But that was good, and I had call tracking and all these things set up. But I know that views have been removed. So, what’s the solution now, and what’s the process in that regard?

Yeah. So, for every case study of somebody using views appropriately, as you mentioned, and effectively. I’ve been in thousands of accounts, and there are probably ten that do it poorly and wrong and in a useless way. So, a lot of people get filters wrong. Filters are basically completely neutered in GA4. They really work very well there, and they don’t have the same filtering capabilities or the same amount of stuff you can do. It’s really just like internal traffic and a few other things. Not only that, but filters are neutered, let’s just say. But also, you have properties. There is no sub property or no view unless you buy the 360 or premium version of GA4, and so I’m still coming up with my opinion as to whether we need them, what the workarounds are, and so on and so forth. I actually don’t really think that you really need views. I think that only most people needed three views in the past like I always advocated it. But I also don’t think the people used it properly. So, I think for 90% of users, not having to worry about views is a good thing. For 10% who extended it, the functionality of a view is there, but it’s just harder to find. So, it exists in a few different places. So, for example, it exists in the exploration report. You can filter an exploration report and get the equivalent of what you’re looking at. You can get your target market like you’re talking about. You can get ads only. You can build those reports, and then you’re going to like one click away from those reports. So, it’s not that bad. You can create a new audience section where you create audiences. You can use those as segmentations and you can view your data that way. There are not as many issues with sampling as there used to be. So, you can get to where you’re looking at, and you can actually probably do it in a more efficient way, in a way where your goals are not all over the place, they’re not different, and so on. The other thing you can do is you can create a second property and can data stream and double tagged to it in the same one. That’s something that I am experimenting with, having a second property and using that for cross-domain tracking or for basically roll-up reporting. So, there are some options to get around it, but none of them are officially sanctioned. So, I think what ended up happening is if you created ten views, you might create three properties.

Sorry. You froze out there for a sec. You said instead of creating ten views, you’d have different properties?

Yeah, I could see somebody who was sophisticated. Like you were at the dealership. I could see you have more than one property and then triple track or double triple tracking in order to get the equivalent of a view or the equivalent of a roll-up property.

Okay. What’s the best way to learn GA4?

I mean, I’m biased, so I think our stuff is the best. We have multiple ways to do it. So, I have a bunch of videos about G4 on my YouTube channel. We have a bunch of free resources on our blog. Our blog is very well-trafficked around GA4. There are tons of blogs out there, though. You mentioned Optimized Smart. That’s a good one. Analytics Mania is good. Measure School is good. Krista Seiden is good. Seymour is good. Charles Greener on Twitter is really good. Fred Pyke is also really good, and Benjamin at Loves Data is really good. There are so many good people out there, friends of mine, contemporaries, and then many of them offer a course, you know? And I think you should pay something for a course because it helps the instructors go. You can get cheaper courses on Udemy or whatever. $100 to $500 to $1000 for a course will really help you cement it. We have our cohort courses where we teach it live, and we have a community around it. And I think that’s really cool because you get to meet other people, you get to network, and you can find opportunities through that. So, we do that, and if you want to subscribe with us, we can sort of take you through the whole journey. And then, if there are other people out there for sure, that you can check out, too.

Where can people go if they want to get more information about signing up for your course?

Yeah, sure.

Any specific URL.

You can go to datadrivenu.com, And then we email our whole newsletter whenever we have a new product offering, depending on when you get on the newsletter. If you go on our blog, there’s a pop-up that will get you into our migration guide, and that’ll get you onto our email list too. So, there are a lot of different ways to get in there. And we do a weekly newsletter of just general-purpose knowledge, and then we do promotions whenever we have something to provide the community.

Okay, right on. Fantastic. What tips or advice can you offer to those who are migrating to GA4 but haven’t done so yet?

Yeah, I think that if you try to match up your GA4 to your Universal Analytics or GA3, exactly 1 to 1, you will find that it’s like pulling your hair out. Frustrating and not the greatest way to go because it’s really meant to be a replacement. So I’d almost look at it as like Marie Kondo I always say, like, if it doesn’t bring you joy, let it go. If you don’t enjoy the metrics, you have right now, just get rid of them. Again, this is the one time you can reduce it to what really matters to you. So, before you even program it or before you even put code on your site, maybe write down what are the things that I actually want to measure. Okay, I’ll tell you that 98% of that now exists in G4. So, it’s there. Might be a little bit buried but just really get back to, like, hey, this is the first opportunity you’ve had in many years to start fresh and to start with exactly what you want to measure. And if you look that way, then your analytics doesn’t need to be complicated. It actually can be a lot simpler.

Okay, let me put this to you then. And I always gotta bring it back to my experiences. It’s the only thing I know. When I was at the dealership again, I had all these all set up. You would be amazed at how many conversions dealers have. They have four different web forms for one single product page, which we call the vehicle detail page. That was the single product page for the car industry. And there were four different ways. I had four goals set up because there were four different thank-you URLs and different confirmation URLs for each of those. I had those goals set up. I had on-site time goals set up. Not only did I have an EDP view set up, but I also had goals for search results pages. So SRPs, then I had goals for new and used for both of those. For the KPI, I could see how much traffic was coming to those SRPs for doing use and how much traffic was coming to those VDPs new and used. And I had them segmented by model type for new and by vehicle type for use. I was putting all that data into a data studio, and I also was tracking the phone calls and the leads and so on and so forth. I had to do all that because, quite frankly, sales managers didn’t think I knew what I was doing was trying to get me fired. But anyway, I blew the dealership up with leads. But the point I’m trying to make, Jeff, here is, like you mentioned, there’s no way I could probably do all those things before. I don’t even know. So, the better doubt is for people to actually go take their data if they haven’t done it already and map their KPIs in something like data studio. So, then, later on, when they have GA4, they can create some of the similar KPIs in tracking in GA4 and be able to see similar data in Google Data Studio. Is that even possible?

Yeah. I mean, that’s a lot, right? So. I would say that. Some of that is capable in GA4, and some of it can integrate with other systems. So, you do have the ability in GA4 to pull in custom metrics and custom dimensions. So, if you’re tagging your site with something, the tagging ultimately can say this person, if any one of those things is known before the data goes into GA4, you can put the data in the GA4, and you can use it as a dimension. Now may not be useful to do that, you know, to tailor it to a page level so they can event on a page. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t. Maybe that’s better being in your database. Now at GA4, It really is a good collection mechanism, a good collection hub for your data. You have a lot more generous rules with custom dimensions and metrics and so on. You get up to 50 of them each, and then you can do much with them. So, there are parameters of up to 25 for each event. So, there are all kinds of stuff you can do if you map that out. And so, the best place to hold that is in GA4, then yes, you would want to store it in there because it’s a good store of data, and with the ability to access at their big query, you can easily query that and brought it up against your other systems. So, you could do a query with your big query and then your customer database or your auto database. Query those together and then spit that out to the data studio. Yes. So, it depends on if your analysis is done, where your analysis is done, and where you want that to be there. I would say, at the very least, you can attach data from one system into GA4, and it’ll be more useful if you do that before you collect it. And a lot of that is possible. It’s a little more frustrating. It’s more work to set it up than it was then maybe it was before. But then again, what you just described is not like a one-day setup. That was a lot of work to pull together. So, it’s almost like a business. You need to do a business analysis as to what you want, and then yeah, I mean, could GA4 do most of it? It’s actually more capable in many ways than universal was as far as what you can put into it. But also, expectations are a little bit more. There are not as many code-based examples. There are not as many people who are showing their experimentation. There’s not as much show and tell with GA4 yet because it’s still figuring it out.

Wow. Okay. I was laughing, by the way, because of the dealership. I don’t think they had any idea of the sophisticated level of marketing that I was running because they didn’t know anything about it. And I probably at that time didn’t know how to communicate what I was doing. Here’s another thing I did, and I’d like to know if this is possible. And I’m asking because I don’t know, and maybe our audience would like to know a case study or use case like this. Like, for instance, I set up custom dimensions and reporting so that the sales managers would be able to know. I set it up on the VIN-specific level so that they would know if they were asking for a deal. And for those people who don’t know desking deals, when someone’s trying to sell a car, they’re writing up the numbers so that they can hold gross on that number. I set it up so that they could know how much traffic was coming to that specific vehicle on a VIN level. And I also set up reports to send them daily, the top ten most popular used vehicles were, the top ten most popular used and new vehicles. Again, by model and vehicle type, using custom dimensions in universal analytics. To your knowledge, is that possible in GA4?

Yeah. I mean, if they’re on a page, you can capture the VIN of that page, that vehicle on GA4. You can try that. So, you could write a report on it.

Sorry if it’s a dumb question. I’ve really been ignoring GA4 to the point that I don’t even know what it is.

No, I mean the cost, dimensions, and metrics are essential. The big difference is that they’re like in GA universal. There are multiple hit types. There’s a session, user, and page or whatever. I’m trying to remember what they were. And then there are only event ticket types in GA4. They’ve consolidated it down into one hit type that you can do a user-based dimension or a page-based or event-based dimension. So, that dimension could be a user property or the page they’re on property. You can do both of them. You can run reports off of that. There are some weird things where it’s not going to be. Since you can’t tie it to a session or you can’t tie it in the same way, there might not be a 1-to-1 matchup, but it’s pretty similar and pretty close to how they go.

Okay. What are your thoughts on other web analytics platforms such as Adobe Analytics, Clicky or Mixpanel?

Yeah. I did a whole series on this. I think I compared 42 different ones on my YouTube Channel, and the bottom line is, my theory is that the second you do, even if it’s $9 a month, people are out. They want good GA. No other tool integrates with Google products as well. Google is still by far the number one advertising platform. So, if you’re running Google ads, Google Analytics is a no-brainer. Other ones can’t integrate the same way that Google does because they’re not native integrations or products. I think that the other ones just have their hands tied behind their back because they have to charge money to make money and get engineers and stuff like that. And Google gives you this for free. I mean, Google’s probably eating maybe 50 bucks a month per user of Google Analytics, I would assume. They’re not spending that much money, right? Like it has to be between $10 to $15 per user. I mean, if they probably spend $1,000,000,000 a year on analytics and if they have 150 million users, that adds up pretty fast. Well, maybe they spend more than that. It’s a lot of money that goes into storing your data, and so they absolutely have an advantage by making that a loss leader. I think every other argument around functionality and features only really comes into play if you’re willing to spend money for this thing, and most people I talked to aren’t.

Setting the costs of money aside and the fact that people don’t want to spend the money. Do you think that businesses should have more than one source of data to correlate or verify the data rather than just one?

Yeah. I mean, I’ve said forever that Google Analytics should never really be your primary source of data. It’s not the best data source, but it’s the only one that touches on everything. So, if you want to know how your ads performed, your ad platforms would be better. But GA can back it up. If you want to know what SEO is, SEO traffic can come from Google ads. You know it can come in from Google Analytics, but your search console data is probably more absolute or your ranking data. Those things from other systems usually are better. If you want to know how your emails performed, you can get open and click rates from an email platform in those compared to GA. GA is sort of like verification on everything else you’re doing. It’s really not giving you anything you wouldn’t find elsewhere. If you have an e-commerce platform, that all resides in there, and if you have a lead gen platform, that data should all reside in your CRM.

That’s Awesome. Absolutely amazing. So, what should agencies and businesses do to prepare for the release of GA4?

I think it really depends on where you’re at. And if you’re an agency, you should learn how to offer this as a service because there are 844,210 people as of the time or those who need your help. At least that’s at the top million websites. 844,000 haven’t moved yet. So, figure out how to do this and offer it as a service. Pitch it and do it. I definitely have a program that does that. I love anybody who is interested in joining it because we actually go through what services you offer, how much you charge for them, how to generate leads for your existing customers, and how to sell them. It’s like a live course we do. Also, get certified. Get your employees certified, so they know what they’re doing. Take either my course or another one that’s similar to it. So, that’s what I would say for an agency just get the knowledge in place because it’s going to be harder to get the knowledge and more urgent next year than it is now. So, do it as soon as possible. People think everybody will be moved over by July 1, 2023. No, that’s maybe 50% of people will be moved over by then. The rest of them will log in on July 2 and notice they have no data, and then they’ll panic. So, there’s going to be more demand than any other thing that’s ever happened on the Internet in the next year and a half.

Wow. Jeff. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here. What’s one big takeaway you want listeners to get from this episode? If there is one you haven’t mentioned over here.

People should use GA4 as their primary analytics tool. They should just install it, bite the bullet, try it out and use it. And then, if they can’t find something, go back to Universal. But like I said, most features are there now. You just have to learn how to find it. If you need help with that, then take training to do it. It’ll get you there faster without much trial and error and frustration.

Yeah, absolutely. Hey, how can our listeners connect with you online if they choose to do so?

Sure, they can definitely go to datadrivenu.com and get on our newsletter. You can connect with me on LinkedIn if you want to. I’m Jeff Sauer. LinkedIn.com/in/Jeff Sauer. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel, which I think is really helpful. We republish once a week, and those should be the ways they can get a hold of me.

Right on. Hey, thank you so much for being here. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you.

Thanks for having me. This is great. I really appreciate it.

Right on.



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