November 29, 2023

Ensure a Flawless GA4 Setup and Ongoing Tracking Functionality


You’ve migrated from UA to GA4; now what?

Whether you opted into automatic migration or updated GA4 manually, you’ll likely still have some changes to update, both to the data itself and for the stakeholders who review the data.

To break this down into a manageable process, here are three concrete steps you’ll need to take.

Step 1: Understand the differences between UA and GA4

Generally speaking, GA4 covers more than just traditional ‘conversions,’ but the extension of events now also heavily tracks customer engagement. Overall, customer engagement tracking is super important nowadays with so much competition for every industry, as well as a new focus on content optimization for long-term strategies.

Here is an overview of the differences between UA and GA4:

  • Conversions are no longer just purchases and sales actions:

GA4 goes beyond the traditional concept of conversions, which typically refer to specific actions like purchases in e-commerce or demo requests in B2B SaaS. While tracking these conversions remains essential, GA4 recognizes that user engagement is a more nuanced and comprehensive metric to consider, which is why GA4 focuses on the concept of “event tracking.”

  • Emphasis on Event tracking:

GA4 relies heavily on event-based tracking. It allows you to track a wide range of user interactions and events on your website or app. These events can encompass traditional conversions but also include a broader spectrum of user engagement activities like engaged sessions and other customer engagement metrics.

  • Tracking customer engagement:

Customer engagement refers to the interactions and behaviors of users on your platform. GA4 provides the tools to track various customer engagement metrics, such as:

  1. Content Consumption: Tracking how users engage with your content, including pageviews, time spent on pages, and scroll depth.

  2. User Interactions: Monitoring actions like clicks on specific elements, video views, social media shares, and downloads.

  3. Site Search: Measuring how often users utilize your site’s search feature, what they search for, and how successful their searches are.

  4. User Journeys: Using the path exploration report, you are able to understand the path the user takes through your site or app. You can see all engagement metrics for each touchpoint on your website, allowing you to understand the user journey better and make decisions around improving the lead or purchase cycle.

  5. Audience Engagement: Analyzing how users engage with your website or app over multiple sessions and their frequency of visits.

Tracking customer engagement is vital because it provides insights into how effectively you’re capturing and retaining your audience’s attention. By understanding how users engage with your content, you can adapt your strategies to better meet their needs, address pain points, and create more compelling and relevant website experiences.

This step should also include comprehensively updating event tracking, which you can find instructions on in the section “How do I track an event in GA4?” below.

Step 2: Update all ongoing KPI reports & tech stack integrations

Many marketers use GA4 to live import marketing data to other dashboards such as Looker Studio, so updating these reports to ensure a smoother transition (particularly when stakeholders review them) is essential.

Another area to consider is utilizing the GA4 reports, including Event reports, User reports, and Conversions reports. GA4 offers more flexibility in customizing and creating reports, so it’s worthwhile to explore the options available.

You also have the ability to create endless custom reports tailored to your specific reporting needs. Use the “Analysis” section in the GA4 interface to build custom reports and dashboards that provide insights into your marketing KPIs

How do I track an event in GA4?

Tracking an event in GA4 is an essential part of understanding user interactions and behavior on your website or app. Conversions in GA4 now span across a wide variety of events. Events are user interactions (may be termed conversions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean purchases) that you want to measure, such as button clicks, form submissions, video plays, event sign-ups, or any other action that you consider important for holistic conversion tracking.

To track an event in GA4, you’ll need to follow these steps:

1. Set up a GA4 Property

If you haven’t already, create a GA4 property for your website or app in your Google Analytics account. Go to Google Analytics and sign in to your account.

Click “Open” on the property where you want to track events, as shown in the below image, or create a new property if needed.

What events does GA4 track automatically?

GA4 automatically tracks several events without requiring additional configuration. These events provide valuable insights into user interactions and behavior on your website or app.

This includes:

  • Pageview (Page View): GA4 automatically tracks when users view different pages on your website or screens in your app. This fundamental event helps you understand how users navigate your site or app.

  • Scroll Tracking: GA4 can automatically track when users scroll down a page. This data can help you gauge user engagement with your content.

  • Site Search: If you have a search feature on your website, GA4 can automatically track when users perform searches and what they search for, helping you understand user intent.

  • Video Engagement: GA4 can track video-related events, such as video starts, pauses, completions, and other video interactions, if you have videos embedded on your site.

  • Outbound Clicks: When users click on external links that lead to other domains, GA4 can automatically track these outbound clicks, helping you understand where users go after leaving your site.

  • File Downloads: If users download files from your site, GA4 can automatically track these events, including the types of files downloaded.

  • Engaged Sessions: GA4 can automatically measure the duration of user sessions and categorize them as “engaged” when users spend a certain amount of time or view a certain number of pages/screens.

  • Scroll Depth: In addition to tracking scrolls, GA4 can measure how far users scroll down a page, providing insights into content engagement.

  • Page or Screen Views per Session: GA4 can calculate the number of pages viewed by users during a session, helping you understand user engagement with your content.

Please note that you can turn off these features if you prefer to track everything manually.

How many events can be tracked in GA4?

In GA4, there is currently no fixed limit on the number of events you can track. You have the flexibility to track a wide range of events, and the platform is designed to accommodate a substantial number of events. Unlike Universal Analytics, which had a fixed limit of 20 goals, GA4 operates on an event-based tracking model that is more flexible.

How do you track conversions in GA4?

Once you have set up your events following the steps in the first section, you can easily select which ones you prefer to be marked as a conversion, depending on what is important to you and your business. Conversions can be anything from form submissions to purchases. You can also create a combination or sequence of events and track this as one conversion.

How do you track conversion value in GA4?

You can track conversion value by associating a monetary value with specific conversion events or user interactions on your website or app. This allows you to measure the financial impact of those events.

Here’s how you can track conversion value in GA4:

1. Define your conversion events: Identify the specific user actions or events that you want to track as conversions. These could be purchases, form submissions, sign-ups, downloads, or any other valuable interactions.

2. Implement event tracking code: Ensure you have implemented the appropriate event tracking code for the conversion events you want to track. Use gtag.js, Google Tag Manager, or the Google Analytics for Firebase SDK for mobile apps, depending on your platform.

3. Include the value parameter: When sending data for the conversion event, include a “price” parameter in the event parameters with your data layer. This parameter should represent the monetary value associated with the conversion. For example, if a user makes a $50 purchase, set the “price” parameter to 50.

Below is an example of what a data layer would look like for an online shop where the “price” parameter has the value of the item.

4. View conversion value in reports: Once you’ve implemented the tracking code with the “value” parameter, GA4 will capture this information. You can view conversion value data in various reports, including the Conversions report, as shown below, and other custom reports you create.

Solutions for common GA4 migration issues

UA and GA4 have some gaps in how data is reported, so you’ll likely run into some areas where you’ll have to troubleshoot to ensure tracking is set up and functioning well over the long run. To help identify areas where there may be easily identifiable solutions, I’ll go over some scenarios with suggestions on how to fix them.

Problem: Duplicate event tracking

One of the key challenges during migration from UA to GA4 is ensuring that your existing data, especially custom events and dimensions, can be correctly mapped to GA4’s event tracking model. GA4 relies heavily on event-based tracking, and the structure of events, parameters, and user properties may differ from what you had in UA. Ensuring a seamless transition of your existing event data and custom tracking can be challenging, and you may need to make adjustments to your tracking code and data layer.

If you opted into an automatic migration, Google has likely tried to transfer across the already existing events you have set up. This can lead to events being tracked twice, especially if you have used GA4 to track events previously.

Solution: Within GTM, duplicate your already existing tracking and change the tag type from Google Analytics to Google Analytics: GA4 Event. Re-add all of your event parameters if needed and reconnect all triggers. I recommend not choosing the automatic migration of events from Google Analytics to GA4. Once you have set up all of your events in GTM with the new GA4 tag, these events will begin to populate automatically.

Mastering GA4: Your key to seamless conversion tracking

Every business, regardless of its size or industry, relies on accurate event and conversion tracking to drive growth — and mastering GA4 is the key to unlocking this potential.

To thrive in today’s evolving online landscape, commit to consistent conversion tracking and keep stakeholders informed about data and KPI tracking updates. By doing so, you’ll harness GA4’s power, ensuring it guides you to marketing success in the long run. Happy tracking!

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