Building a cloud analytics data warehouse 102: Google Analytics 4 and Google Cloud BigQuery Benefits

5 July 2023

15 minutes reading time

Unlock the power of Google Analytics 4 with BigQuery for enhanced data insights. Learn how to export GA4 data, create a data warehouse, and drive data-driven decisions.

102 Unlocking the Power of GA4: Connecting with BigQuery for Enhanced Data Insights

Are you grappling with the limitations of GA4 and Looker Studio when it comes to advanced data analysis and reporting? If so, it’s time to explore a solution that goes beyond the confines of these tools and empowers you to harness the full potential of your data. In this article, we will delve into the transformative benefits of exporting your GA4 data to BigQuery and creating your own data warehouse.

Amplify Data-Driven Decisions

We’ll take a deeper dive into the process of exporting GA4 data to BigQuery, unlocking a wealth of possibilities for advanced analysis and reporting. Along the way, we will explore three major use cases that will revolutionize how you derive insights from your data. From extended analysis capabilities to integrating additional internal or external data sources, we’ll show you how this connection can amplify your data-driven decision-making.


“By effectively analyzing your existing data, you can unlock valuable insights that can greatly benefit your organization in the long term.”


A Solution For (Almost) All Data Environments

While our focus will be on use cases related to behavioral analytics data, the concepts discussed can be applied to various data warehouse environments such as Redshift and Snowflake. Whether you’re working with a different cloud provider or leveraging a data lake or data lakehouse implementation, the principles and benefits shared here remain relevant, so keep reading.

What is a data lake vs data warehouse?

Data Lake: A data lake is a vast and centralized repository that stores raw, unprocessed data from various sources in its original format.

Data Warehouse: A data warehouse, on the other hand, is a structured and organized repository that stores data collected from different sources after it has been transformed and modeled. 

Let’s unlock the true potential of your GA4 data by connecting it with BigQuery and paving the way for a new era of data insights.

The Benefits of Integrating BigQuery

Before we get too deep into the use cases for coupling GA4 with BigQuery, let’s recap the benefits outlined in our previous article that come with enabling BigQuery for your data:

  • GA4 Export to BigQuery: Enables a more flexible and comprehensive data connection, especially if you don’t have a 360 account or require specific data points not available in GA4’s reporting API.
  • Seamless Integration with Looker: Utilize BigQuery as a data source for Looker Studio, ensuring your dashboards have all the necessary information and avoiding rate limits.
  • Set up is child’s play: Enabling GA4 export is a small step with significant implications. It opens the door to a Cloud Analytics Data Warehouse and unlocks numerous potential benefits.
  • Comprehensive Cloud Project: Gain access to a comprehensive cloud project that caters to a wide range of data use cases beyond Looker dashboards.

Major BigQuery Use Cases

There are several BigQuery use case scenarios to be aware of. We’ll take you through three of the major ones and zoom in on how you can approach each. 

  1. Extended GA4 Data Analysis: Uncover deeper insights by performing advanced analysis on your GA4 data beyond the limitations of the tool’s user interface.
  2. Integrated Data for Actionable Insights: Combine web/app analytics with internal and external data sources to gain valuable insights that would otherwise be overlooked.
  3. Data Activation: Learn how to extract direct value from your data by integrating prepared data products into digital marketing or internal systems, enabling more direct connections within the customer journey and other activities.

“[BigQuery] allows you to assess the correlation between marketing efforts and revenue.”


Use Case 1: Extended Analysis on GA4 Data

While GA4 is a powerful analytics tool, it does have its limitations when it comes to standard reporting. There will also always be questions for even the most advanced analytics tool to answer. However, there are ways to overcome certain limitations and extract more value from your GA4 data. Let’s explore these cases in a bit more detail:

Data Retention: By incorporating a data warehousing solution, you can store data for longer periods than what GA4 allows. This enables you to analyze historical data and uncover valuable insights, particularly when examining year-over-year trends.

Note: It’s important to adhere to GDPR requirements and ensure that your data processing practices are compliant with privacy regulations.

Improved Flexibility: Exporting GA4 data to BigQuery provides greater flexibility in working with your data. It allows you to preprocess the data and adapt it to your specific business context. For example, you can customize the data processing to align with your unique needs, rather than being limited to Google’s predefined attribution settings.

Sharing: One limitation of GA4’s explore functionality is the lack of robust sharing options. When sharing reports with colleagues, they see the data exactly as you built it, without the ability to make adjustments like changing the date range. This means you may need to restructure the report or rerun it to provide tailored results.

Use Case 2: Integrating Additional Reporting Data To BigQuery

In addition to the valuable insights gained from behavior analytics, the true power of BigQuery is unleashed when you integrate data from external or internal systems that are related to your behavior analytics data. Let’s explore some examples:

Integrating Online Marketing Data with UTM/Attribution Data

Combining online marketing data, such as ad-spend or impressions, with default or custom channel grouping allows you to assess the correlation between marketing efforts and revenue. By leveraging UTM parameters and creating your own attribution models, you can dive deeper into specific campaigns and determine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Integrating Product Information Data

By analyzing the product information available in your company, you can gain insights into product interactions at a detailed level. This includes comparing price segments, exploring specific product types, and understanding behavior patterns across different categories.

Adding Backend Order Information

Incorporating data from backend order systems provides valuable information about customer journeys and the impact of different marketing channels on conversions, margins, and returns. By combining this data with behavioral and online marketing data, you can gain insights into the margin generated from ad spend rather than just revenue.

Extended Customer Information with CRM Data

By merging CRM data, which includes valuable customer information and preferences, with behavioral patterns, you can gain insights into how specific customer segments interact with your website.

Integrating Backend IT/Performance Data

Integrating information about website performance enables you to understand the impact of improvements or declines in website load performance. Mapping conversion rate fluctuations to code deployment moments helps identify the effects of UI or backend changes.

While these use cases hold great promise and value, integrating the necessary data can be challenging, particularly for teams unfamiliar with the technical aspects. In a future part of this series, we will delve deeper into the topic of data integration and provide guidance on overcoming these challenges.


“Unlock the full potential of your integrated datasets and drive personalized experiences.”

Use Case 3: Actionable Data Activation Tips

Once you’ve integrated your datasets, why not take it a step further and leverage the data to create direct value with systems outside your cloud environment? By incorporating company-specific data into your Cloud Data Warehouse, you can enhance various systems with valuable insights. Here are some examples:

Combine Merchandising Tools with Product Information

Expand your product information by adding first or third-party data. This allows you to create more relevant experiences for your customers by:

  1. Including behavioral segments to prioritize products for specific customer segments.
  2. Defining newness criteria for products in targeted campaigns.

Optimize Bidding Strategies through Enhanced Audiences

Enhance audience information in tools like Google Ads and Meta to improve ROI and reduce campaign costs. Examples include:

  1. Targeting campaigns based on RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) segments for high or low-value customers.
  2. Segmenting users into different styles or category clusters for automatic optimization of search engine advertising bidding.

Enrich Marketing Optimization Algorithms with Backend Conversion Metrics

Optimize campaign success metrics by incorporating enriched backend conversion data in ad management tools. Examples include:

  1. Uploading backend conversions with margin instead of revenue.
  2. Adjusting online order revenue to account for returns.

Increase Recognition with Backend Identifiers

Utilize backend identifiers to enhance customer recognition when sending event data or uploading audiences. Additionally, intelligently map customer identifiers to ensure accurate tracking and identification across visits.

Create Personalized Communication for Customers

Utilize behavioral, CRM, and order information to deliver personalized offerings across various channels, such as websites, apps, email marketing, and display ads. Examples include:

  1. Recommending products based on recent or long-term behavior.
  2. Tailoring campaign banners to match user preferences.
  3. Sending triggered emails based on specific user behavior.

Increase Personalization and Campaign ROI

By activating your data in the ways outlined above, you can unlock the full potential of your integrated datasets and drive personalized experiences, optimize campaigns, and increase ROI. Remember, the more personal the information being used in these kinds of use cases is, the more important it is to have the proper privacy and governance measures in place. Please see our data governance topics for more information on ensuring this, or reach out to us for more information. With regards to integrating data into your Cloud Data Warehouse environment, integrating your prepared data products with external systems can pose a challenge to get off the ground as well. We’ll be covering this topic more extensively in a later part of this series, so look forward to learning all about external system data integration. 


We’ve really only just scratched the surface of what can be accomplished when you embark on building your Cloud Analytics Data Warehouse in BigQuery (or any other environment for that matter). Getting started can be daunting. So, if you have any questions or need guidance on achieving the use cases discussed, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you navigate the journey and avoid potential pitfalls. Our exploration doesn’t end here. In the upcoming parts of this 101 Series, we’ll dive deeper into the practical aspects of running a Cloud Analytics Data Warehouse. We’ll provide you with actionable insights and tips to ensure a smooth and successful implementation. So, get ready to take your data analytics game to the next level.

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