How to Use GA4 to Power Marketing Decisions in 2024: Part 2

How to Use GA4 to Power Marketing Decisions in 2024: Part 2

By Desire’e Martinelli, Esq. , Jeff Lantz, Esq.
May 09, 2024 | 8-minute read
Technology Management Analytics and SEO
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While Google Analytics 4 (GA4) collects a wealth of data, it’s important that legal marketers know how to filter spam and irrelevant traffic to get a better picture of user behavior and campaign effectiveness. In the second part of this series, we’ll show you how to use GA4’s pre-formatted reports, filters and the Exploration function to get the information you need to enhance marketing campaign effectiveness and boost return on investment (ROI).

Limiting GA4 Referral Spam with Google Tag Manager

Referral spam in Google Analytics can significantly skew data, making it difficult to analyze genuine traffic trends and user behavior. Here's how you can use Google Tag Manager (GTM) alongside GA4 to filter out referral spam:

  • Identify Spam Referrals. Start by identifying the spam referrals in your GA4 property. Look for referrals with zero engaged sessions and zero seconds for engagement time.
  • Use GTM to Create Filters. While spam referrals can be filtered in GA4, GTM can be utilized to block spam referrals from being sent to GA4 in the first place. This is highly beneficial, as it globally updates the data across all reports instead of having to apply a custom filter, report-by-report.
  • Create a Trigger in GTM. In GTM, navigate to the Triggers section and create a new trigger. Choose “Custom Event” for the trigger type. Under "this trigger fires on," choose "Some Custom Events." Create a condition that filters out the spam domains. For instance, set the Referrer to "does not contain" and then enter the domain name of the spam referral.
  • Assign the Trigger to GA4 Configuration Tag. Go to your GA4 Configuration Tag within GTM. In the Triggering section, add the new trigger you created to ensure the tag fires for all events except those from the spam domains.
  • Blocklist Referral Spam in GA4. Although GA4 does not have referral exclusion list settings like Universal Analytics (UA), you can use the “Data Streams” feature to exclude certain parameters:
    • Go to the Admin section of your GA4 property, then navigate to “Data Streams.”
    • Find your web data stream, then go to “Configure Tag Settings” and "list unwanted referrals."
    • Create a new rule with the match type “referral domain contains” and list the domain of the spam referrer to be excluded.
  • Maintain and Update Regularly. Referral spam sources can change, and new sources can appear. Regularly review your GA4 traffic and update your GTM filters as necessary.

Filtering Out Non-US Traffic in GA4

Law firms often target specific geographic locations due to the localized nature of their services. If a firm only practices in the United States, then non-US traffic might be irrelevant and skew user metrics. Here’s how to filter out non-US traffic using GA4:

  • Use GA4 Geo-Targeting Filters. Within GA4, create audiences based on geographic locations. Set the location condition to exclude non-US locations. Although this won’t prevent the collection of data from outside the US, it allows for the analysis of user behavior and conversions for US-based users only.
  • Adjust Data Stream Settings. In the GA4 property, navigate to Admin and under the “Property” column, click on “Data Streams.” Here, you can adjust settings to focus more on US-based traffic, although this won’t entirely filter out non-US traffic.
  • Server-Side Filtering. Implement server-side filtering to pre-process requests before they reach GA4. This approach involves setting up a server-side endpoint that receives hits, filters out non-US traffic and then sends the remaining hits to GA4.
  • Filtering at the Reporting Level. Within your GA4 reports, use the location dimension to filter the data. Create custom reports that only include users from the US.

 Determining the Effectiveness of SEO and Content Marketing Strategy

Using GA4 to identify your most visited pages is a powerful way to guide your search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing strategy. By understanding which content resonates with your audience, you can tailor your efforts to create more engaging content and improve user experience, as well as to better reach prospective clients.

As an example, an estate planning firm may believe that potential firm clients will not only be searching Google for terms like “estate planning lawyer”, but they may also search Google with estate planning questions before searching for an estate planning law firm. To reach such potential clients before they engage in a search for an estate planning lawyer, a law firm may create FAQ blog posts like “What happens if I Die in Arizona Without a Will?” or “Will a Trust Help Me Save on Estate Taxes?” Through this strategy, potential clients may click a link on Google to read the FAQ post and then contact the firm for representation without ever doing a specific Google search for “estate planning lawyer.”

Here’s how GA4 can be used to evaluate marketing initiatives and SEO effectiveness:

  • Access GA4 Reports. Log into your GA4 property and go to the “Reports” section. Under “Life Cycle,” select “Engagement” and then “Pages and Screens.”
  • Analyze Top Pages. Review the list of pages/screens to identify which ones receive the most traffic. Look for metrics like views, unique views and engagement time
  • Evaluate Content Performance. Determine why certain pages are performing well. Is it the topic or the quality of content, or did you run any specific campaigns that drove traffic to those pages?
  • Cross-Reference with Conversion Data. Check which of these pages also have high conversion rates. This will give you insights into not just traffic, but also which pages are driving valuable user actions.
  • Look for Patterns. Identify any commonalities among your top pages. Are they all covering a certain topic or format? Do they rank for specific keywords? Use this to inform your content creation.
  • Content Gaps and Opportunities. Assess where there might be content gaps or additional questions users might have after visiting these pages. This can help in expanding your content to cover related topics or deeper information.
  • SEO Strategy Refinement. Analyze the search queries leading to these pages in Google Search Console. Optimize your top pages for those keywords and consider how you can use similar keywords for new content.
  • Linking Strategy. Use your most visited pages as linking hubs. Link out to less visited, but strategically important pages to distribute page authority and visibility.
  • User Experience (UX) Improvements. Review the user experience on the most visited pages. High traffic with low engagement or conversion might indicate that UX improvements are necessary.
  • Content Updates and Repurposing. For evergreen content that continually attracts users, consider updating it with fresh information or repurposing it into other formats like videos or infographics.
  • Content Promotion. Boost the visibility of your most visited pages through additional promotion, such as social media sharing, email newsletters or paid advertising.

Mastering Explorations for Deeper Legal Marketing Insights

Explorations are a powerful set of advanced analysis tools within GA4 that allow users to delve deeper into their data beyond what's available in standard reports. These tools provide the flexibility to create custom analyses and uncover insights about your website's user behavior, engagement and conversion paths. Explorations are designed to help marketers, analysts and business owners make informed decisions based on user interactions.

As an example, it may be extremely helpful to see the path that users take after first arriving at the home page or a particular landing page of your website. An exploration can be created that will show the specific paths of one or many users. The path might show that of 100 visitors to your firm’s home page, 40 of them then clicked a link to view a profile of one of the attorneys, 40 others clicked a link to go to a practice page and 20 of them clicked the link to contact the firm. The path would continue to show where visitors went after clicking each of these pages. Through seeing a path analysis of website traffic, law firms can better understand user interaction and engagement and potentially make changes to improve user engagement and conversion. 

Key features of GA4 Explorations include:

  • Custom Reports. Unlike the preset report templates in GA4, “Explorations” allows custom reports to be built from scratch, focusing on the specific metrics, dimensions and segments that matter to your analysis.
  • Multi-dimensional Analysis. You can examine data across multiple dimensions simultaneously, offering a more comprehensive view of user interactions. This capability is crucial for understanding complex user pathways and the impact of various factors on user behavior.
  • Advanced Segmentation. Explorations enable the creation of custom segments based on user attributes and behaviors, allowing for detailed analysis of specific user groups. This segmentation is more flexible and dynamic compared to standard GA4 audience definitions.
  • Visual Data Exploration. The tool offers various visualization options, including line charts, bar charts, pie charts and scatter plots, making it easier to identify trends, patterns and anomalies in your data.
  • Funnel Analysis. One of the specific types of explorations, funnel analysis, allows you to visualize the steps users take toward completing a goal and identify where they drop off. This is invaluable for optimizing conversion paths.
  • Path Analysis. Another type, path analysis, helps you understand the sequences of pages or screens users navigate through, revealing common user journeys and potential points of friction.
  • Cohort Analysis. This type of exploration examines the behaviors of user cohorts over time, such as users who completed a specific action or reached a particular milestone, providing insights into user retention and engagement trends.
  • User Lifetime Analysis. Focus on the lifetime value and behaviors of users, identifying patterns that correlate with high-value users.

GA4 Explorations are crucial for legal marketers, attorneys and law firms seeking to understand their data at a deeper level and tailor their marketing, content and product strategies based on nuanced user insights. By leveraging these tools, they can pinpoint areas for improvement, identify successful strategies to replicate and ultimately drive better outcomes.

From GA4 Data to Informed Marketing Decisions

Embracing GA4 and its comprehensive suite of tools like GA4 Explorations is not just an option but a necessity for forward-thinking law firms. With its advanced features, including event-based tracking, enhanced engagement metrics and sophisticated analysis capabilities, GA4 offers unparalleled insights into user behavior and interaction patterns. By leveraging these insights, legal marketers and law firms can craft highly targeted, effective marketing strategies, optimize user experiences and ultimately drive growth and success in an increasingly competitive digital landscape.

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Desire’e Martinelli, Esq.
Esquire Interactive LLC

Desire'e Martinelli is the director of marketing and analytics at Esquire Interactive. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Mississippi School of Law with a concentration in business law. Following graduation, Martinelli worked in private practice as a business and intellectual property attorney, where she represented clients in business, employment, trademark and patent matters. In addition to her work with Esquire Interactive, Martinelli is also an entrepreneur, strategic advisor and part owner of two non-legal businesses.

Martinelli is also passionate about helping lawyers succeed. She finds that the biggest hurdle in attorney success is that most attorneys have no background in marketing or business management, and that attorneys often do not know what to do or even how to get started.

Martinelli leverages her business background by helping attorneys develop personalized strategic business and marketing plans, navigate the unique marketing challenges law firms face and drive strategic initiatives to completion. She also is a frequent presenter at Bar Association events and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars on law firm marketing matters.

Jeff Lantz, Esq.
Esquire Interactive LLC

Jeff Lantz is an attorney and the CEO of Esquire Interactive LLC, an interactive digital marketing agency that has served hundreds of attorneys and in-house law firm marketing professionals since 2009, and the developer of ePRESQ™, the leading WordPress website platform for law firms.

Lantz is also an ABA book author (Internet Branding for Lawyers: Building the Client-Centered Website). He has given dozens of presentations and written numerous published articles about law firm marketing.