GA4 Explorations – Use Cases

GA4 Explorations – Use Cases

Curious about Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and what Explorations can do for you? Think of Explorations as your digital magnifying glass, helping you zoom in on customer behavior. With them, you can quickly ask custom questions, tidy up your data, and focus on what truly matters. You can even export your discoveries and use the data in other apps. This article introduces you to different exploration types and what you can use them for.

So, if you’re new to GA4 or want to explore its full potential, keep reading.


What Are Explorations in GA4?

Explorations are a tool in Google Analytics 4, offering a set of advanced methods that go beyond basic reports. They allow you to dig deeper into your customers’ behavior.

With Explorations, you can:

  • Swiftly run on-the-fly queries.
  • Easily customize and switch between various techniques.
  • Organize, reshape, and dive deeper into your data.
  • Concentrate on essential data through filters and segments.
  • Craft segments and audiences.
  • Collaborate by sharing your explorations with fellow users in your Google Analytics property.
  • Export your exploration data for use in other applications or tools.

CTA button


Getting Started With Explorations

To access Explorations, click “Explore” on the left side of the interface. When you go into the Explore section, you will see a few options at the top of your screen.

You can use the “Blank” option to create a brand-new exploration. Additionally, you can use predefined possibilities to evaluate your data from various perspectives while utilizing a collection of standard dimensions and metrics. 

These are the explorations you can use: 

  • Free-form exploration: Analyze your data in a familiar crosstab layout. You can also apply different visualization styles, such as bar charts, pie charts, line charts, scatter plots, and geo-maps.
  • Cohort exploration: Discover patterns in the performance and behavior of user groups that share characteristics.
  • Funnel exploration: Visualize people’s steps to complete tasks on your website or app.
  • Segment overlap exploration: See how different user segments relate to each other. This is useful for identifying new user segments that meet specific criteria.
  • User exploration: Examine the users within the segments you create or import. You can also delve into individual user activities.
  • Path exploration: Visualize the user paths on your website and app.
  • User lifetime exploration: Explore user behavior and value over their entire customer journey.


GA4 Explore Report Structure

free form exploration GA4

GA4 Explore reports follow a consistent structure, comprising three main sections:


1. Variables

The first section allows you to:

  • Name your report.
  • Define the time frame for analysis.
  • Create user segments for specific analysis, like users from Google Ads campaigns or desktop users.
  • Import the dimensions and metrics you intend to use in your report.

ga4 dimensions and metrics


2. Settings

The second section varies across reports but generally offers the following options:

  • Switch between GA4 Explore templates (e.g., User Explorer, Cohort Explorations, Free Form, Funnel Report, etc.).
  • Select the visualization type for your report, particularly for Free Table reports (options include donut charts, line charts, bar charts, etc.).
  • Apply previously created user segments, such as Google Ads campaign users.
  • Using a drag-and-drop system, Configure dimensions and metrics for columns, rows, values, and axes.
  • For Free-form reports, pivot your data to improve readability.
  • Change the cell type from plain text to a bar chart or heat map (usually, a bar chart is the default).
  • Create filters and apply them based on your selected dimensions (e.g., filter data to display only “page_view” event data).

GA4 Settings


3. Report View

The third section displays your report data. Here, you can:

  • Add more reports to your GA4 explorations for context.
  • Undo or redo recent changes.
  • Export the report in various formats, including CSV, .PDF, and Google Sheets.
  • Share your GA4 explorations with others.

These sections provide the tools you need to delve into your data and extract valuable insights in a structured manner.

Now, let’s check out how to use each of the Explorations mentioned. 


Free-Form Exploration

Free-form exploration in GA4 is a versatile tool that helps you analyze your data in a user-friendly way. It allows you to visualize data in tables or graphs, giving you different ways to look at your information. You can customize how your data is organized, almost like arranging puzzle pieces to fit your preferences. 

It also lets you compare different aspects of your data side by side and group related information together neatly. Filters allow you to zoom in on specific parts of your data for a closer look. If you find something interesting, you can save it for future reference. It’s like having a tool that tells you a data-driven story, making it easier for you to make informed decisions without overwhelming complexity.


Cohort Exploration

Suppose you’re curious about how a specific set of users, defined by their shared characteristics, behaves over days, several weeks, or a couple of months. In that case, this GA4 exploration report is just what you need.

Cohort exploration provides valuable insights into how these user groups respond to various strategies and how their engagement patterns evolve.

You can select the event that best fits your needs according to the Cohort Inclusion criteria, whether from predefined options or custom events tailored to your specific objectives. 

Moving on to the Return Criteria, you can select from a range of predefined events or define custom events to suit your needs.

The following crucial aspect of this exploration is the Cohort Granularity, which can be conducted daily, weekly, or monthly. 

To wrap it up, you can also choose the Calculation method you wish to employ, with three options: Standard, Rolling, and Cumulative.

cohort exploration GA4


Funnel Exploration

If your website has a well-defined funnel, pinpointing where users drop off within the funnel can enhance conversion rates and guide users further down the pathway. Reports that delve into funnel analysis, complete with visual representations and segmentations, prove invaluable for gaining this insight.

Furthermore, you can create audience segments for each step of the funnel and leverage them for remarketing efforts or A/B tests tailored to optimize conversions for these specific audience segments. In addition to exploring user pathways, you can conduct qualitative research to unearth any obstacles preventing users from progressing to the subsequent steps.

funnel exploration GA4


Segment Overlap Exploration

It’s a common practice to categorize your website traffic based on factors like geographic regions or device types. However, exploring the interactions between these audience segments is equally essential.

Using GA4 exploration reports that emphasize segment overlap, you can delve deeper into the connections between your diverse audience segments.

This data can be valuable in identifying shared characteristics and strategically prioritizing segments that demonstrate higher conversion rates, giving preference to one combination over another.


User Exploration

In GA4 Explorations, you can dive deep into individual users’ details. If you have the client_id or user_id, you can utilize the filter in this report to locate the specific user and access their user profile. 

The user profile page displays the user’s events and any user and event properties you’ve designated as custom dimensions. Remember, if you haven’t registered a property as a custom dimension, you won’t be able to view it in the GA4 User Explorer report.

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Path Exploration

This report offers insights into how users navigate your website and move between pages, focusing on guiding them to key pages like the lead form or checkout.

As a result, you can identify pages or actions that make users leave the site. If you see users going back and forth frequently, it might be due to confusion. To address this, you can use tools like heatmaps and session recordings on these pages to uncover and fix any sources of user confusion.

path exploration GA4


User Lifetime Exploration

This report offers a detailed analysis of user data, including their anticipated lifetime value. It’s a valuable resource for gaining insights into distinctive user behaviors, such as their recent purchase history and the campaigns influencing purchase decisions.

For instance, by identifying the traffic sources contributing significantly to user lifetime value, you can strategically allocate more resources to these channels, optimizing your marketing budgets. Additionally, this report aids in recognizing the effectiveness of your campaigns and ways to attract more valuable customers.

Furthermore, including demographic segments provides another avenue for understanding which demographic groups are your most valuable users. This information can be harnessed to fine-tune your creative content, messaging, and other marketing strategies, tailoring them to this lucrative audience.

user lifetime exploration GA4


Sharing and Exporting Your Exploration

When you initially create an exploration, it’s for your eyes only. But you can easily share your findings with colleagues:

  1. To share an exploration, click “Share exploration” in the top right corner and choose “Share analysis.” Remember, you need at least an Analyst role in the property.
  2. Others can view the explorations you share but can’t make changes if they have the Viewer role in the property. To make edits, you must duplicate or copy the shared exploration first.

For exporting your data for use in other tools:

  1. Go to “Export data” in the upper right corner.
  2. Choose your preferred export format from the options:
  • Google Sheets
  • TSV (tab-separated values)
  • CSV (comma-separated values)
  • PDF
  • PDF (all tabs)


What are the Limitations of the GA4 Explore Section?

In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), there are certain limitations to be aware of: 

  1. You can create a maximum of 200 individual explorations per user per property.
  2. You’re allowed to make up to 500 shared explorations per property.
  3. The maximum number of segments you can apply to a single exploration is 10.
  4. You can use up to 10 filters per tab.

These limitations are typically minor and are unlikely to be a concern in most cases. So, you can make the most of GA4 Explore without worrying about hitting these constraints.


GA4 Explorations: Final Words

As you can see, Explorations are a valuable addition to the somewhat limited standard reports. They feature visually engaging presentations that simplify data interpretation. Each exploration technique has a specific purpose, and it’s essential to understand their applications. 

You don’t need to master every report type, as you may not use them regularly. The primary goal is to extract actionable insights and collaborate with stakeholders. These GA4 exploration reports can help you achieve this effectively. Don’t be overwhelmed by the variety; concentrate on the insights and their potential to deliver results.

If you need help digging deeper into setting up explorations, don’t hesitate to contact our team! We’re here to share our GA4 expertise and guide you along the way.


Good luck!

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