Google Analytics 4- How to build Segments & Audiences

janet wong
5 min readAug 21, 2021
Google Analytics 4- How to build Segments & Audiences

GA4 has brand new functionality for building audiences. Google has provided even more functionality and advanced features that users of Google Analytics have never had access to. Having the ability to build an audience and segments is vital for GA users. This is how people distinguish the level of GA user you are, i.e. beginner, intermediate and advanced. Your ability to answer any questions comes down to how well you can use the audience builder. Thus, knowing how to create audience segmentation within GA 4 is critical.

So, let’s deep-dive into the audience builder and features and show you everything you need to know.

The Overview of Audience Builder

To find the audience settings, go to your left navigation panel, and you should see the audience option under the configure tab. By default, Google has automatically set all users and the purchase audiences or you. If you want more insights, you have to create the audience to make a difference manually.

So, there are two options to build audiences in GA. Building audiences directly in the audience setting is permanent, in which it will become part of your GA property.

Audience Builder Overview — Creating inside Audiences. The slide is taken from CXL.

Or, you can create an ad hoc audience on the fly under the analysis tab. Audiences under the “Audiences” setting is being collected at a point in time forward whereby the audiences in the “Analysis” are available retroactive. Still, it might require an additional publish to use the data in Google Ads.

Audience Builder — Creating Inside Audiences

Let’s start with the audience options that are available in the Analysis. Note that the building functionality is essentially the same. It is up to users whether if they want to create the ad hoc or the permanent report. So, assume you are in Analysis settings, click create a blank analysis.

Here you will see the segment option on the left, and you need to click the “Plus” button next to the segment to open up the critical functionality that is different between the UA. Here, you will have the option to choose a blank custom segment ( user, session, or event ) or one of the templates from the suggested segments.

Audience Builder — Creating inside Analysis. The slide is taken from CXL.

To start with the available options, select the user segment. The segment builder is pretty elastic, containing pretty much everything you want to track about your audience. If you open up the “Add new condition”, you have the breakdown of both registered or automatic event, dimension and custom metrics.

Audience Builder — Overview. The slide is taken from CXL.

As you add the condition, you’ll notice on the RHS that it tells you the percentage of your users matching each condition.

In addition, Google allows you to build a sequence that is indirectly or directly followed the action. Indirectly means that this condition could have triggered the second step in the future at any point. Also, with the exclusion options, users can choose to temporarily or permanently exclude users. Note that to stop remarketing, the permanent exclusion will be the option. However, you may play with the temporary exclusion in some cases when you want the visitors to be re-eligible, i.e. Visitors who purchased a product but coming back two months later start looking at other products.

Audience Builder — Exclusion Options. The slide is taken from CXL.

So, there are a lot of features you can enjoy in the segment builder. Once you have that segmentation set up and publish it to the rest of the UI, you can hit the “ build an audience” option on the top right corner. This will enable data sharing into the core audiences report.

How to Publish Audiences. The slide is taken from CXL.

But the most powerful thing is that you can go to the acquisition and open up the comparison option with your new audience. Remember, the audience will only be available point-in-time forward there.

Moreover, note that your audience will be shared with Google Ads by default if you have the permission enabled and allowed personalised advertising. You can see the clearer details of your audiences in the GA 4 under the Audience Manager, which has made advertising much easier.

Audiences Automatically Imported to Google Ads. The slide is taken from CXL.

Now another component around audience building is called audience triggers. To find the triggers, go to the audience or analysis to create an audience from scratch. You will see the triggers in the top right corner.

So what trigger really does is to allow you to create an entry for users that match the condition to enter. This new concept of audience has allowed you to set up an event name along with the elapsed time. One thing to recommend for the event set-up is always trying the underscore, so you can easily find it under the directory.

Furthermore, make sure you always tick “Log in the additional event when audience membership refreshes.” This is helpful because if you create an audience by default, you set a membership duration, i.e. 30 days, and if your user comes back in 15 days, you’ll have the option to refresh and fire the event in the audience.

Audience Triggers ( Create Events from Audiences). The slide is taken from CXL.

Key takeaways

  1. Audiences are most useful in Analysis
  2. To use audiences in the standard reports, they must be published.
  3. If Google Ad is linked, audiences automatically show up for activation/targeting.
  4. The audience builder has more powerful features than UA ( event-scoped, elapsed time, etc.)

I hope you have a good read and put the reading into practice. Remember, practice makes perfect, and a few CXL resources to help you up GA 4 games. So enjoy!

Resources

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janet wong

“Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.” Robert A. Heinlein.