Webinar Recap – “The Law Firm’s Marketing Playbook: Unlock the Power of GA4 for Better Marketing Data Analytics”

Date: August 2, 2023

In our recent webinar, we dug deep into the transformative potential of the newly released Google Analytics 4 (GA4) for marketing data analytics, breaking down the differences between Universal Analytics (UA) and GA4, and how these differences can be leveraged to supercharge your law firm’s marketing efforts.

The panel consisted of Taylor Tobey and Ryland Alkins, 9Sail Digital Strategists, and was moderated by Joe Giovannoli, founder & CEO of 9Sail.

Key takeaways:

  1. Overall, the major difference between UA and GA4 is a shift in terminology and a focus on active users, as well as increased privacy and an event-based data model rather than sessions.
  2. Consider your law firm’s website to determine what events you should be tracking that make the most sense for your firm, and which of those should be tracked as conversions.
  3. Understanding your data translates to an understanding of user behavior, which can be harnessed to better reach your target audience and generate better qualified leads.

Bottom line: the power of GA4 lies not just in its data collection capabilities, but in the potential of this data to be transformed into actionable insights.

Unraveling the Power of GA4

Understanding the shifts in terminology and the key differences when compared to its predecessor, Universal Analytics (UA), is the first step towards unlocking the potential of this powerful tool for your law firm’s marketing analytics.

Major Terminology Changes

The language of GA4 places a heightened focus on active user engagement. Unlike UA, which provided general user data, GA4 focuses on ‘active users’, defined as any user who engages with your site or triggers the ‘first_visit’ or ‘engagement_time’ event.

The term ‘sessions’ becomes ‘engagements’ in the GA4 lexicon. An ‘engaged session’ is a session that lasts longer than ten seconds, includes a conversion event, or has at least two pageviews. The ‘engagement rate’ now refers to the percentage of such engaged sessions.

Another significant change is the transition from ‘goals’ in UA to ‘conversions’ in GA4. In GA4, all conversions must be events that are subsequently marked as conversions.

Key Differences Between UA and GA4

Unlike UA, GA4 offers improved cross-platform and cross-device tracking, enabling your law firm to analyze user behavior across various channels and devices.

While UA relied on a session-based data model, GA4 uses an event-based model, where events represent various user interactions like pageviews, clicks, and conversions. GA4’s data-driven approach facilitates real-time data collection and longer-term trend analysis.

GA4 also leverages machine learning to provide more advanced insights and predictions, enabling firms to plan better strategies for the future. 

GA4 is also built to be compliant with user privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

How to Find and Analyze Your Data in GA4

As well as comprehensive historical reporting, real-time reports in GA4 show your website activity as it happens, offering a snapshot of user activity within as little as the last 30 minutes. Besides helping you understand your users’ current behavior, this also verifies that your tracking code is functioning correctly – if you appear in the report, your users are being tracked properly.

Traffic Acquisition

Understanding where your users are coming from is essential in evaluating the efficacy of your marketing campaigns. The traffic acquisition report provides this insight, revealing which channels are bringing users to your site. By comparing how different campaigns stack up against each other, you can identify the top-performing ones and those that need a revamp.

Engagement Reports

Engagement reports are where GA4 truly shines, offering a plethora of data on user behavior:

  • Events: GA4 sets up some events automatically, but you can also create custom ones using Google Tag Manager. Custom events allow you to track specific actions, like contact form submissions or phone calls. These can later be marked as conversions, giving you a more accurate picture of what actions lead to client acquisition.
  • Conversions: Within the engagement reports, you’ll find an enhanced breakdown of how people are finding you and then converting. Whether it’s paid search, organic search, or another channel, understanding the path to conversion can inform your marketing strategy.
    • Money pages: These are your service pages that drive the most leads. Tracking conversions that originate from these pages, as well as from your contact pages, can provide invaluable insight into your website’s most effective areas.
    • Blogs and other pages: These serve as supplementary content, directing users to your service pages. Understanding this hierarchy is crucial in formulating a coherent content strategy.
  • Landing pages: GA4 allows you to assess the performance of individual pages. A well-performing landing page can be a significant source of conversions, so understanding which elements work can guide design and content decisions for other pages.

One crucial step in transitioning to GA4 is importing your events from Universal Analytics into GA4. This ensures a continuity of data, enabling you to maintain a consistent overview of your law firm’s online performance and success metrics.

Applying GA4 to Your Law Firm

The application of this powerful tool to your law firm’s marketing analytics can supercharge campaign tracking and performance. Here’s how GA4 can provide value to law firms in three critical areas:

1. Tracking How You Get Traffic/Your Engagement

GA4 offers superior tracking capabilities compared to Universal Analytics, empowering law firms to monitor website traffic from various sources effectively. With this insight, you can optimize your website to improve engagement, ensuring that you attract and retain the right audience.

2. Understanding How Your Data Translates to Leads

With GA4, law firms can monitor specific user actions on their website, such as form submissions, button clicks, and video plays. By tracking these events, you can gain valuable insights into user behavior and identify potential lead-generation opportunities. These data can help you optimize your website’s conversion funnels, leading to improved lead generation and, ultimately, higher client acquisition.

3. What Events Are Worth Setting up as Conversions?

Typical conversion events for law firms might include form submissions, email sign-ups, document downloads, and appointment bookings. By tracking these specific actions and identifying the most successful traffic channels, your firm can make informed decisions about where to invest your marketing efforts. The goal should always be to track events most likely to translate to leads – you’ll want to focus on the ones that make the most sense for your law firm.

Additional GA4 Value Adds for Law Firms

Here are a few areas where GA4 analytics and Google Analytics generally shines:

  • GA4 as a marketing guide: GA4 is an excellent tool to assess your firm’s marketing progress. If you’ve invested in promoting a specific service area, GA4 can help quantify the return on your investment. It serves as a testing ground to continuously experiment and identify the most effective marketing strategies.
  • The role of brand recognition: You don’t necessarily need to track events for brand recognition. Tools like Search Console might be better suited to that purpose. GA4’s strength lies in understanding user interactions and conversions, providing a more transactional view of your website’s performance.
  • Content as a conversion driver: Don’t overlook the role of content in driving conversions. Having strong Calls to Action (CTA) encouraging visitors to contact you, or offering downloadable content, can significantly enhance engagement and lead generation, interactions with which can be easily tracked by GA4.

Navigating the New Era of Law Firm Marketing Analytics with GA4

The shift from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) represents a large-scale movement towards a more user-focused, privacy-centric approach to data analytics. We believe that mastering GA4 is not just an option for law firms, it’s a strategic necessity. From better tracking capabilities and a richer understanding of user behavior to enhanced privacy and the power of machine learning, GA4 offers numerous opportunities for law firms to refine their marketing strategies and generate better qualified leads.

However, law firms must overcome several obstacles to fully leverage GA4, including understanding the tool itself, interpreting data, integrating data across platforms, and allocating sufficient time and resources. Meeting these challenges requires commitment from all stakeholders, not just the marketing team. By making this commitment, law firms can ensure they’re not only keeping up with the digital evolution in their field but also staying ahead of it, using cutting-edge data analytics to drive growth, success, and excellent client service.

Contact us for more information about 9Sail’s comprehensive, custom-tailored digital marketing services for law firms. Whether you rely on in-house marketing staff or outside consultants, we can help craft and guide your marketing strategy to achieve the best possible results!

Audience Q&A

1. Is Google Tag Manager a necessity for using GA4?

Yes, familiarity with Google Tag Manager is a prerequisite for effectively using GA4. Once you’ve grasped its workings, it’s easier to set up events and conversions, extracting the most value from your GA4 data.

2. How does GA4 handle redundant traffic, like different traffic sources for Facebook (ex: l.facebook.com, m.facebook.com, and lm.facebook.com)?

Unfortunately, users are currently unable to apply

a filter in GA4 to combine all Facebook traffic. Previously in UA, one was offered the ability to combine all similar traffic into one line item, but Google has taken that functionality away in GA4. GA4 simply states “Displaying Filters for Universal Analytics Properties only. Filters cannot be applied to Google Analytics 4 Properties.” within their filters section.

3. Does GA4’s machine learning help fill in gaps from users who opt out of cookie tracking? Relatedly, can you provide any insight on “Consent Mode” and how it might help fill in gaps in data?

GA4 was created with data privacy in mind. In fact, the tool relies on first-party cookies as opposed to third-party cookies, which keeps it compliant with privacy laws such as the GDPR. With that said, GA4’s machine learning capabilities do have the ability to fill in data gaps as the world moves to rely on cookies less and less.

GA4’s consent mode is a new feature that helps manage which types of tracking are occurring when cookie consent is and is not granted from each user. There are 5 basic types of content within GA4’s _storage data, but you are able to add more on top of these. You don’t necessarily need to use consent mode, however, it is a huge benefit if you want to save time from manually triggering tracking based on each type of consent status. Long story short, if you are using a CMP (Consent Management Platform) – turn consent mode on.

4. Should we continue using the pageview metric in GA4?

While the pageview metric does show which users have viewed your page, its utility depends on your specific data needs. The pageview metric is primarily useful for understanding which pages attract the most views. However, if you’re aiming to understand user behavior in more depth – such as what users are searching for and how to guide them – the pageview metric is merely a starting point.

5. How long does it take for conversions to reflect in GA4?

After you’ve toggled on a conversion, it can take up to 48 hours for it to appear in GA4.

6. Does GA4 track bots and crawlers?

Yes, however, any data from bots and crawlers will typically be categorized under ‘unassigned’ within GA4.

7. Is There a Way to Exclude Traffic From Bots, Crawlers, and Internal Traffic?

While there is unfortunately no way to exclude traffic that comes from bots or crawlers there is a way to filter out your internal traffic. It’s important to note though that once you apply the data filter, the effect is permanent.

  1. From within Google Analytics, Click into the Admin Settings 
  2. In the Property Column, select data streams 
  3. Click a Web Data Stream 
  4. From within the web stream details, click into the Configure Tag Settings 
  5. Now click Show All 
  6. Click Define Internal traffic 
  7. Click Create 
  8. Enter a name for your rule 
  9. Enter a value for the traffic_type parameter
  10. In IP Address under Match Type and select an operator that makes sense for you 
  11. In IP Address under Value enter the IP address or range of IP addresses that identify traffic from the location you identified in Step 8
  12. Click Create

Now it’s time to create the actual Filter:

  1. From within Google Analytics, Click into the Admin settings 
  2. In the Property Column, click Data Settings and then click into Data Filters 
  3. Now click Create Filter  
  4. Choose Internal Traffic 
  5. Create a name for your filter. Please note: there are certain parameters to naming your filter to be aware of: 
    1. It needs to be unique among data filters in the same property
    2. It needs to begin with a Unicode letter
    3. It must contain only unicode letters and numbers, underscores, and spaces
    4. It can contain up to 40 characters
  6. Choose Exclude to filter out events where the value of the traffic_type parameter matches the name you entered in step 9 above.
  7. Choose from the following filter states that fit best for you:
    1. Testing: Analytics identifies matching data with the “Test data filter name” dimension
    2. Active: Analytics applies the data filter to incoming data and makes permanent changes
    3. Inactive: Analytics isn’t evaluating the filter
  8. Click Create 

For a visual walk-through of how to do this, watch this video from Google.

8. What’s the difference between ‘page view’ and ‘pageview’ in GA4?

‘Page view’ refers to an instance of a page being loaded in a browser, whereas ‘pageview’ captures the total number of pages viewed, providing a more holistic view of website activity.

9. Will my historical data expire in GA4?

Yes, historical data stored in Universal Analytics will eventually expire. It’s advisable to export this data as soon as possible to ensure you maintain access to this valuable resource.

10. We Used to be Able to See the Page Name Instead of the URL in the Landing Page Report… can that be changed in a view setting?

While you are unable to see the page name instead of the URL in the Landing Page report, if you go to the Pages and Screens Report (Under Engagement) you are able to see the Page Name instead. Both reports give very similar data.

Webinar Poll Results

Comfort with GA4: 

On a scale of 1-5, how comfortable are you with GA4 (1 being extremely uncomfortable and 5 being extremely comfortable)?

Analytics data:

How often does firm leadership (outside of marketing) review analytics data?


What challenges or obstacles does your firm face when it comes to measuring website performance and user behavior?