GA4 for property websites: Making the most of your data

Sep 26, 2023

Google Analytics app icon on mobile screen

It’s been a few months since the switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. By now, you’ve likely noticed the difference in how the data is reported. GA4 is focused on interactions and engagement.

It’s a powerful reporting tool, but to take full advantage of the new platform, your marketing team may need to make a few adjustments. The below information assumes you’ve already completed the basic setup items we reviewed in our earlier article: Intro to Google Analytics 4 for property marketing (overview & quick start tips)

For property websites using the RentCaffeine website platform (which most REACH clients are on and so are many others with RentCafe websites), we approached GA4 tracking with fresh eyes and considered what we learned from Universal Analytics. Let’s go through some of the updates.

Conversions

Conversion events need to be enabled for each GA4 property. Conversions can be enabled from the events section or the conversion section in GA4.

We’ve taken the approach of grouping most of the conversion events under one conversion name, form_submitsuccess. This event fires anytime a form is successfully submitted through your website. This includes your lead generation nudge campaigns, floor plan assistant, schedule a tour and many other conversion points.

Registration for completing an online application remains its own conversion event (labeled as registration in GA4). Remember to flag that one too so it’s included in your conversion counts.

Marking your conversion events as conversions is a one-time setup. We opted to group our conversion points under one conversion event name so that you won’t have additional setup as we add new conversion features. In the long run, this helps your marketing team be more efficient.

Custom definitions

If you’ve been analyzing your data in GA4 and feeling like you don’t have as much information as you used to, you’ll want to check the custom definitions in the property setup.

While we grouped our conversion events under one name, we didn’t forget how important it is to have visibility into which forms are driving conversions, which pages those conversions are on, which button labels are working best and so much more! Setting up your custom definitions allows you to see granular information about your conversion events.

Per Google, custom definitions are custom dimensions and custom metrics. They’re similar to default dimensions and metrics in your Analytics account, except you create them yourself. You can use them to collect and analyze data that Analytics doesn’t automatically track. You must have an editor role on the property to create or edit custom dimensions and metrics.

Custom definitions are found through the admin section, then going to the property and selecting custom definitions.

For RentCaffeine properties, you’ll find a number of custom dimensions available to enable. Select create custom dimension. There are a handful of default dimensions Google makes available but as you scroll, you’ll find options such as button_label, form_name, floorplan_name and many other options.

Custom dimensions also make it easier to compare individual properties that are part of your corporate domain.

It’s important to take this step as soon as possible. Google only starts collecting the new details after custom dimensions are setup. The data is not retroactive.

Put your data to work

Once you’ve enabled your desired custom dimensions and started collecting some data, you can customize your reporting dashboard, add your desired reports to the library and utilize explorations.

Utilizing custom dimensions is a key element to conversion rate optimization. Your marketing team can refine button labels, test the timing and placement of lead generation nudges and analyze how different audiences interact with your website.

Google is automatically applying machine learning to your GA4 data and trying to provide useful insights. Enabling conversion events and adding custom definitions provides more details for Google to analyze and can lead to more relevant insights for you.

The advertising section of GA4 is a great example of how Google is highlighting important information for your marketing team. If you take a look at your conversion paths, Google is identifying how different sources are driving conversions at different points along the funnel.

We love the insights in the screenshot below because it highlights the importance of different sources along the rental journey. Paid search plays a small role in the early stage but becomes incredibly important as the renter gets closer to converting.

Chart showing conversion paths in GA4

Often, potential renters who are clicking on paid search elements are more rent-ready, as shown by our recent PPC lead-to-lease conversion case study.

Still have questions about GA4 for property websites?

If you’re a REACH client, connect with your search marketing specialist. If you’re not a REACH client, contact us to see what’s possible.

Catriona Orosco

Catriona Orosco is the director of REACH and a search marketing expert with more than a decade of experience in real estate-related marketing. She has played a prominent role in developing the search services for REACH clients, along with our Marketing IQ analytics platform. When she’s not in the office, she can often be found riding a tandem bicycle around Santa Barbara, CA.

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