According to the GA4 checklist, one of the ways to advance your analytics setup is to create custom and remarketing audiences in Google Analytics 4. GA4 audiences enable targeted marketing, remarketing opportunities, campaign optimization, and identification of high-value customers.
I dedicate this article to explaining how you can improve your business’s bottom line using GA4 audiences.
What are GA4 audiences?
Let’s start with the audience definition. Audiences are groups or segments of users based on one or multiple criteria. GA4 audiences allow you to group and categorise users based on their actions and characteristics, such as their demographic, geo, or user behaviour data.
This means you can use the whole amount of data in Google Analytics 4 to build audiences. You can create GA4 audiences for reporting purposes or customised advertising by linking your GA4 property to Google’s Ad platforms.
For instance, you can create the following audience:
- Facebook Ads Traffic from the USA
- Google Organic Search Mobile Traffic
- Google Ads Desktop Traffic Paris, France
- Users who started their first session visiting the specific landing page and scrolled more than 50% of the page
All of those above are examples of GA4 audiences. However, if you use segments in GA4 Explore, you may be wondering about the difference between GA4 audiences and GA4 segments. This is an excellent question. Let’s delve deeper into this in the next section.
Core difference between segments and audiences in GA4
Yes, there are many similarities between audiences and segments in GA4, and the fact that audiences can be created from the GA4 Explore report when you create segments makes us wonder even more.
Let me quickly explain to you the key differences between audiences and segments.
First, audiences can be used in comparisons in all GA4 default reports, while you can use segments in GA4 explore.
Secondly, audiences can trigger an event that allows you to use it as a conversion. You don’t need to use GTM to create a complex goal anymore. You can build it inside GA4 with audiences. Such an event is called an “Audience Trigger”.
Thirdly, you can’t use segments for remarketing Google Ads campaigns. You should use audiences.
Additionally, you can use up to 5 segments in one GA4 Explore report to compare while you can build up to 100 audiences in GA4.
Furthermore, segments can use GA4 historical data, while audiences can use only new data after creation.
Lastly, you can edit segments whenever you want, but if you edit audiences, you create a new audience, and GA4 will remove all data collected before. So please be careful about it.
I’ve already slightly explained why you need to use audiences instead of segments. Let me add a few examples of best practices.
GA4 audiences’ types
In GA4, there are several types of audiences that you can create and utilise. Here are some common types of audiences in GA4:
Prebuilt audiences are predefined audience segments provided by Google Analytics. Common user behaviours and characteristics, such as engaged users, active users, or high spenders, form the basis for these segments. Users can use these audiences to analyse and target specific groups of users without the need for the user to create an audience group. They offer a quick way to analyse and target specific user groups without manual configuration.
Machine learning algorithms generate predictive audiences in GA4. These audiences are created by analysing user behaviour patterns and predicting the likelihood of specific actions or outcomes. For example, analysing their past behaviour allows you to create a predictive audience of users who are likely to make future purchases, and you can categorise this audience as the top 28 spenders. Other examples include likely 7-day purchasers and likely 7-day churning users. Its usage is to identify users likely to take specific actions or outcomes.
Custom audiences are created based on specific criteria and configurations the user sets. You can define custom audiences using a combination of user attributes, events, or other parameters. For instance, you can create a custom audience of users who have completed a specific conversion event or have visited a particular page on your website. Its usage is to define audiences using user attributes, events, or other parameters.
You can use remarketing audiences to target users who have previously interacted with your website or app. These audiences are created by analysing user actions, such as visiting specific pages, adding items to the cart, or completing a purchase. Remarketing audiences allow you to re-engage with these users through targeted advertising campaigns, encouraging them to return or complete a desired action. In short, its usage is to re-engage with users through targeted advertising campaigns.
In summary, these audience types in GA4 provide different ways to segment and target your users based on their behaviour, characteristics, and predicted actions.
How to create a custom audience in GA4
To create the audience in Google Analytics 4, you should open GA4 and follow this path: GA4 -> Admin -> Data Display -> Audiences and click on the “New Audience” button.
Next, this opens a new window where you can select the type of audience you want to create. In our example, we will create a custom audience, so we choose the custom option.
Suppose we target users who made a refund during the last 30 days. We want to show them an ad with other products they can like.
We simply click the “create a custom audience” button and select event “refund” and “event_count” as a parameter > 0.
Next, we will have to set the membership duration. To select users who made a refund during the last 30 days, we will set the membership duration to 30 days.
Let’s save our audience and name it “Users with Refunds”.
What’s membership duration in GA4 audiences and how to use it?
Membership duration in GA4 audiences refers to the length of time a user remains in the audience after meeting the defined criteria. It determines how long a user stays in the audience before being automatically removed. To set the membership duration in GA4 audiences, follow these steps:
- When creating or editing a custom audience in GA4, you will find the option to set the membership duration.
- Choose the appropriate duration based on your requirements, typically ranging from 1 to 540 days.
- Consider the purpose and behaviour of your audience when selecting the membership duration. For example, if you want to target recent website visitors, a shorter duration, like 7 or 14 days, may be suitable. For analysing long-term user behaviour, you can choose a longer duration.
- Remember that users who meet the audience criteria will be added to the audience and remain in it for the specified duration. After that period, they will be automatically removed from the audience.
What are audience triggers in GA4?
In GA4 (Google Analytics 4), you can define and create audiences using audience triggers, which are events or conditions. These triggers assist in identifying specific user actions or behaviours that allow for the segmentation and targeting of specific user groups. These triggers include events such as visiting a specific page, scrolling down a page, watching a video, or completing a purchase. By using these triggers, businesses can understand what people do on their website or app and create targeted marketing campaigns to reach them more effectively.
GA4 allows you to create a maximum of 20 audience-trigger events per property. When building an audience, you can create a trigger event by clicking on the option to “+ Create new” next to the condition builder under Audience Trigger. Give the event a name and select the option to create an additional event when the audience membership refreshes. This ensures that an event is triggered every time a user meets the audience criteria, even if they are already members. Remember to save your settings to finalize the process.
How to create a remarketing audience in GA4 and import it into Google Ads
To create a remarketing audience in GA4 and import it into Google Ads, first, you need to create an audience, and you can do so using the steps shown above.
Next, you have to link GA4 with Google Ads: In your Google Ads account, go to the “Tools & Settings” menu and select “Linked accounts” under the “Setup” section. Link your Google Ads account with your GA4 property. Another option is to do so through your GA4 property; in your admin settings, go to Product Links and select Google Ads to create the link.
You should activate Google Signals in GA4 Data Settings -> Data Collection.
If you followed my GA4 checklist, you should have it enabled already. If not, take your time to do it.
Afterwards, import the audience into Google Ads. You can do this by navigating to the “Audience Manager” under the “Tools & Settings” menu. Click on the “Audience sources” tab and select “Google Analytics”. Choose your GA4 property and select the audience you want to import. Click on “Apply” to import the audience into Google Ads. Once the audience imported, you can use it to create remarketing campaigns in Google Ads.
After that, the audience is available in Google Ads, and you can see it in Google Ads -> Tools & Settings > Shared Library > Audience Manager.
How to use predictive audiences in GA4
In GA4, predictive audiences can be used for different things, one of which is for advertising. You can share these audiences with advertising platforms like Google Ads and Search Ads for target advertising. GA4 uses machine learning to identify unique user behaviour patterns, making it possible to predict churn or likelihood to convert or other events. The user gets the opportunity to use already existing predictive templates or build on them by customising them. GA4 users can use the audiences created by the machine learning algorithm as remarketing audiences or in re-engagement campaigns.
Real examples of using GA4 audiences.
There are several benefits of using calculated metrics in Google Analytics 4; let’s discuss a few of them below:
Example #1: Using GA4 audience to grow number of loyal blog readers
I will give you an example of how I use audiences. I’m interested in acquiring more qualified readers (“loyal blog readers”) than other readers because they help me grow my business more than anyone else. If you want to help grow this blog and learn about deep analytics, consider taking the actions below and subscribing to my newsletter.
So, the users are qualified if they take the following actions:
- At least a user spent 10 seconds on two blog posts (user_engagement event_count > 1 and blog page_view > 1)
- At least two website visits were made (session_number >= 2)
- Share at least one article via social media (social_share_buttons > 1)
- Subscribed to my newsletter (newsletter_submission >= 1)
- City is not Warsaw (country ID != “PL”, city != “Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship”)
Thus, I created an audience using these criteria, and this audience generated the “loyal_blog_readers” event that I used as a conversion in GA4. Because of that, I can analyse these users quickly and learn every detail about them to bring more such users. And let me tell you that it works.
Of course, I can consider improving it over time by using membership duration and adding or removing some parameters, but it’s more than enough to start with.
How you use analytics can be your competitive advantage; remember that we are not interested in total website traffic. We are interested in growing a segment of loyal users who like our website and our business and are ready to take specific actions, including making a purchase.
Example #2: Using GA4 remarketing audience to convert users who abandoned checkout process
In this example, let’s look at how to use GA4 remarketing audience to convert users who have abandoned the checkout process.
First, ensure you have enabled Enhanced Ecommerce tracking in your GA4 property. This will allow you to track user behaviour throughout the checkout process.
Next, create a remarketing audience. To do this, we will take the following steps.
In your GA4 property, create a custom audience and give your audience a name and description.
Follow up by defining the audience criteria. Specify the criteria for your remarketing audience. In this case, you want to target users who have abandoned the checkout process. You can define this by setting up a sequence of events or conditions. For example, you can create a sequence where the first event is “Add to cart” and the second event is “Begin Checkout,” but there is no “Purchase” event.
Then, set the audience membership duration. Determine how long a user should remain in the remarketing audience after meeting the defined criteria. This duration should be long enough to allow users to complete their purchase but not too long that it becomes irrelevant.
Now, create a remarketing campaign. Once your remarketing audience is set up, you can create a remarketing campaign to target these users. This can be done through various advertising platforms, such as Google Ads. Please set up your campaign with relevant ad creatives and messaging that encourages users to complete their purchases.
Continuously monitor the performance of your remarketing campaign. Analyse the conversion rates, click-through rates, and other relevant metrics. Adjust your campaign as needed to improve its effectiveness.
Experiment with different strategies to convert users who have abandoned the checkout process. For example, you can offer them discounts or additional incentives to complete their purchase. Test different messaging and offers to see what resonates best with your audience.
Remember to comply with privacy regulations and ensure that you have obtained the necessary consent from users to use their data for remarketing purposes.
In this example, we will look at how to use GA4’s predictive audience to improve your business’s bottom line.
To begin with, we have to create a predictive audience. We can do this by using the steps GA4 -> Admin -> Data Display -> Audiences and click on the “New Audience” button. Then, choose the predictive pre-built option. GA4 offers prebuilt predictive models based on machine learning. Select the predictive model that aligns with your business goals, such as predicting users likely to make a purchase or become high-value customers.
You can further configure this selected option based on your requirements. Please note that there are criteria to meet to create a predictive model. See Google’s documentation for details on this.
Now, you get to analyse the insights provided by the predictive audience in GA4.
Understand the characteristics and behaviours of the users in the audience to inform your marketing and business strategies. You can utilise the predictive audience insights to create targeted marketing campaigns. Develop personalised messaging, offers, or promotions that resonate with the predicted behaviour of the audience. Track key metrics such as conversion rates, revenue generated, or customer lifetime value. Use this data to optimise your campaigns and make data-driven decisions to improve your business’s bottom line.
How to view audiences in GA4 (GA4 audience report)
To view audiences in GA4 and access the GA4 Audience Report, follow these steps:
In your GA4 property, click on “Reports” ->Under the “User” section, click on “Audiences”.
The GA4 Audience Report will open, displaying an overview of your audiences.
Now, you can explore and customise the report as you desire.
How to edit, delete or archive an audience in GA4?
As I mentioned, you can create up to 100 audiences in Google Analytics 4. So you can reach the situation where you need to delete, edit, or archive one of them.
Again, you can edit the existing audience without resetting users in it. Once you provide and save changes, this audience has 0 users and starts to collect new traffic.
You can archive the audience in GA4. It’s the same as deleting it. To do that, just go to the GA4 Audiences page, click on three dots on the right side of the audience you want to delete, and click “archive”
Once you do all the above, the audience is deleted.
GA4 audience limits
In GA4, you have the flexibility to publish a single audience to an unlimited number of destinations. However, it’s important to note that there is a limit of 100 audiences per property. So, while you can publish a maximum of 100 audiences to Analytics, you can expand their reach by distributing them across various destinations.
Core difference between UA and GA4 audiences
The core difference between UA (Universal Analytics) and GA4 (Google Analytics 4) audiences lies in their underlying architecture and approach to audience management. Here are the key distinctions:
- Data Model: UA uses a session-based data model, where audiences are primarily built on user interactions within a single session. GA4, on the other hand, employs an event-based data model, allowing for more granular tracking of user interactions across multiple sessions.
- User-Centric Approach: GA4 focuses on a user-centric approach, where audiences are built around individual users rather than sessions. This enables a more comprehensive understanding of user behaviour and better cross-device tracking.
- Enhanced Audience Building: GA4 offers enhanced audience-building capabilities compared to UA. It provides a wider range of audience creation options, including predefined audiences, custom audiences, and predictive audiences based on machine learning algorithms.
- Machine Learning Integration: GA4 incorporates machine learning algorithms that automatically create predictive audiences based on user behaviour patterns. This feature was not available in UA.
- Event-Based Segmentation: GA4 allows for more flexible event-based segmentation, enabling you to create audiences based on specific user actions or events. UA relies more on predefined segments and rules.
Do you need extra help with setting up GA4 audiences?
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Google Analytics 4 allows you to create audiences and use these audiences for remarketing purposes in Google Ads. Audiences are users that met the criteria you specified within creation. You can create up to 100 audiences.
If you have a unique way of using audiences for your business, feel free to share it by commenting below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Audiences are groups or segments of users based on one or multiple criteria of their demographic, geo, or user behaviour data.
Segments and audiences have 7 core differences: limits, report usage, retrospective data usage, remarketing purpose, audience triggers.
To set up an audience in GA4, you should open GA4 and follow the next path: GA4 -> Admin -> Audiences and click on the “New Audience” button.
To use GA4 audience in Google Ads, you should create the audience in GA4, connect GA4 to Google Ads, activate Google Signals, and, after that, you will find your newly created audience in Google Ads -> Tools & Settings > Shared Library > Audience Manager.