GA Goals Simplified: Setting Up Goals Effortlessly in Google Analytics 4

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Before getting into the matter, it is important to remind you that for conversions and objectives to be correctly measured you must have Google Analytics correctly installed on your website.

With the evolution of GA goals, businesses leveraging GA4 now harness the power of events and parameters to track key user actions that matter—the ones that turn general website traffic into valuable customers or subscribers-.

This transition to a more event-driven model underscores the flexibility and richness of the data within the analytics arena, ready to be harnessed for strategic decision-making. The forthcoming sections will demystify the process of setting up and working with the new conversion-centric approach, providing a clear, step-by-step guide to make GA4’s capabilities fully accessible to users.

Understanding Conversions in GA4

In the transformative landscape of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the concept of conversions has been redefined to encapsulate user actions that hold significant value for businesses. These actions can range from purchases to newsletter subscriptions.

Here’s a deep dive into understanding conversions in GA4:

Event-Based Conversions:

Unlike its predecessor, GA4 measures conversions through events. These are specific interactions with a site or app, such as a user completing a purchase. GA4 allows for up to 30 events to be designated as conversions, providing a comprehensive view of user engagement.

Automatic and Custom Conversions:

  • Predefined Conversions: GA4 automatically identifies certain events as conversions. For instance, an ecommerce transaction triggers a purchase event, which is marked as a conversion.
  • Custom Event Creation: Users can create custom events and mark them as conversions using various match types like equals, contains, or starts with. However, it is important to note that regular expressions are not supported in GA4 for defining these events.

Conversion Rates and Parameters:

  • Conversion Rate Metrics: GA4 offers two primary metrics for analyzing conversion success: session conversion rate and user conversion rate. This dual approach provides insight into both the immediate and individual user interactions.
  • Event Parameters: The _event_name_ parameter is pivotal in GA4, with conversions being recorded each time the event name is transmitted. This parameter-centric tracking underscores the event-based nature of GA4.

When transitioning from Universal Analytics to GA4, it is crucial to understand that goals are now migrated as conversion events, aligning with the event-based model of GA4. This shift introduces a level of flexibility previously unseen, as every user interaction is treated as an event, allowing for a more nuanced analysis of user behavior and aiding in data-driven decision-making.

Additionally, GA4’s conversion events play a crucial role in the ACE (Acquisition, Conversion, Engagement) framework, particularly emphasizing the Engagement step. This integration allows businesses to not only report on conversions but also to bid on them, attribute credit, and target advertising towards users who have not yet converted.

While GA4 brings about a more flexible and feature-rich environment for tracking conversions, it is also essential to recognize its limitations. For instance, GA4 does not support offline conversion tracking directly within the platform and offers limited attribution tracking with a maximum 90-day window. Moreover, the anonymized nature of data in GA4 means it provides a partial view of website activity, without a complete picture of leads and customers.

To summarize, GA4 has revolutionized the way conversions are tracked, moving away from the “goals” terminology of Universal Analytics to a more dynamic and detailed “conversions” framework, where every interaction is an event, and marked events signify impactful business outcomes.

Marking Events as Conversions

To effectively mark events as conversions in Google Analytics 4, follow these steps:

Marking Custom and Existing Events as Conversions

  1. Custom Events:
    • Navigate to the “Conversions” section within GA4.
    • Click on “New conversion event.”
    • Enter the exact name of the custom event you wish to track as a conversion.
  2. Existing Events:
    • Access the Admin panel and select “Events” under “Data Streams.”
    • In the “Existing events” table, locate the event you want to mark.
    • Toggle the switch under “Mark as conversion” to the on position.

Managing Conversion Events

  • Adding New Conversions:
    • For new events, go to Admin and click on “Conversions” under “Data Streams.”
    • Select “New conversion event,” input the event’s name, and save.
  • Unmarking Conversions:
    • If you need to unmark an event, navigate to Admin > Events.
    • Find the event and toggle the switch off to stop tracking it as a conversion.
  • Automatic Conversions:
    • GA4 predefines certain events as conversions, including purchase and first_open.
    • These events are automatically marked and do not count towards your 30-event limit.

Conversion Tracking and Verification

  • Verification:
    • Once marked, conversions might take up to 24 hours to reflect in reports.
    • Historic data will not be altered; only new data going forward will show conversions.
  • Counting Method:
    • To prevent multiple counts of a non-purchase conversion, set its counting method to “Once per session.”
  • Monetary Value:
    • Assign a monetary value to conversions via the Conversions section in Admin for better revenue tracking.
  • Viewing Conversion Data:
    • Conversion data is accessible in the GA4 interface through the Admin > Conversions section, various reports, and the Explore tool.

By adhering to these guidelines, users can ensure that their GA4 account accurately reflects the most critical user interactions as conversions, thereby optimizing their data for better insights and decision-making.

Creating Custom Events and Conversions

Creating custom events and conversions in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) allows for detailed tracking and analysis of user interactions that are most valuable to your business. Here’s how to set up these tailored events:

Creating Custom Events in GA4

  • Event Naming: When defining a custom event, adhere to the naming conventions by using lowercase letters and underscores for consistency. For example, use form_submission instead of FormSubmission.
  • Custom Event Creation: To create a custom event:
    1. Go to the “Events” section in your GA4 property.
    2. Select “Create event” and enter the event name following the naming conventions.
    3. Specify the conditions that trigger the event, such as a particular page view. For instance, to track a thank you page as a conversion, set the event to trigger when the page location contains ‘thank-you’.

Converting Custom Events into Conversions

  • From Existing Events: You can create a new conversion event from an existing event like page_view without altering your website or app setup. Simply navigate to Admin, select “Events,” then “Create event,” and fill in the details, including conditions that specify the desired outcomes.
  • Adding Value Parameters: If applicable, include parameters such as value and currency to quantify the conversion, ensuring value is a numerical representation of the monetary value.

Utilizing GA4 Interface and Google Tag Manager

  • GA4 Interface: For straightforward tracking needs, use the GA4 interface to:
    1. Define unique events within the character limit, avoiding reserved names.
    2. Register custom parameters as dimensions for in-depth reporting.
  • Google Tag Manager: For more complex tracking scenarios:
    1. Set up custom events in Google Tag Manager to capture specific data points.
    2. Once triggered, verify the event in GA4 and mark it as a conversion in the “Configure” section.

By carefully setting up custom events and conversions, you enhance the capability of GA4 to provide a granular view of user behavior, leading to more informed strategic decisions. Remember, custom events will not appear as existing events until they are triggered, and any event in GA4 can be adapted or newly created and marked as a conversion to measure user success on your website.

Implementing and Verifying Conversion Tracking

Implementing conversion tracking in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a pivotal step in understanding user interactions that drive business success. To ensure that conversion tracking is set up correctly and functioning as intended, follow these essential steps:

Configuring Event Tracking for Conversions

  • Set Up Event Tracking: Before conversions can be tracked, events that signify valuable user interactions must be configured.
    • Use Google Tag Manager (GTM) to set up tags for specific actions, such as form submissions.
    • In GA4, navigate to the “Configure” section and toggle the “Mark as conversion” button for the relevant event.
  • Counting Methods: GA4 provides two counting methods for conversions—Once per event (default) and Once per session.
    • To avoid inflating conversion numbers for non-purchase events, change the counting method to “Once per session” by going to the “Conversions” section in the admin area and selecting “Change Counting Method”.

Verifying Conversion Tracking

  • Real-Time Monitoring: Utilize the Realtime report or DebugView to verify the tracking of custom events.
    • Trigger the conversion event on your website or app and look for the event name with a flag next to it in the DebugView report.
    • For immediate confirmation, the Debug view in GA4 allows for real-time testing and debugging of event tracking.
  • Reporting and Insights: After setting up and verifying conversions, it is crucial to monitor the data for actionable insights.
    • Access predefined reports in GA4 to verify event registration as conversions.
    • View conversion data in the GA4 interface, including sections like ‘Admin > Conversions’ and ‘Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition’.
    • Analyze the Conversions by Event name card in the Realtime report for immediate event tracking results.

Understanding Conversion Data

  • Enhanced Measurement: With GA4 Enhanced Measurement, easily track interactions like scrolls and outbound clicks.
    • For more complex tracking needs, GTM facilitates the installation of tracking codes beyond GA4’s built-in features.
  • Conversion Reports: GA4 offers detailed reports to assess conversion performance.
    • In the Conversions report, events are sorted with popular ones at the top, and clicking on an event filters the report to show specific data.
    • The default Channel group in the report provides insights into the performance of conversion events across various marketing channels.

Remember, conversion events may take up to 48 hours to appear in the conversion report, so patience is necessary when waiting for events to show up in the “Events” section of GA4. Additionally, conversion metrics such as session conversion rate and user conversion rate are calculated by GA4 and can guide optimization efforts by monitoring channel results over time. For tracking Google Ads conversions, ensure that Google Ads is linked with GA4 through the Admin → Product links section.

Leveraging Conversion Data for Insights

Leveraging conversion data for insights is a critical component of a robust analytics strategy. Through Google Analytics 4 (GA4), marketers and analysts can dissect conversion data to optimize marketing campaigns, improve user experience, and drive business growth. Here’s how to make the most of conversion data in GA4:

Analyzing Conversion Reports for Strategic Insights

  • Conversion Event Overview: Navigate to Reports > Life cycle > Engagement > Conversions to access the conversion event overview report. This report showcases the most common conversion actions, their frequency, and associated revenue, enabling businesses to prioritize and refine their marketing strategies.
  • Conversion Counting Methods: GA4 offers two methods for counting conversions: ‘Once per session’ and ‘Once per event’ (the default setting). Selecting the appropriate counting method is crucial, with ‘Once per session’ being ideal for non-purchase conversions to avoid duplication.
  • Conversion Metrics: Key metrics such as the number of conversion events, total users, total revenue, session conversion rate, and user conversion rate provide a comprehensive view of performance. These metrics help in understanding the effectiveness of different channels and guide resource allocation.

Utilizing Conversion Data for Campaign Optimization

  • Advertising Reports: Delve into the Advertising reports to gain insights into conversion paths, channels, and attribution models. This information assists in understanding and improving online advertising efforts.
  • Google Ads Integration: For those utilizing Google Ads, ensure it is linked with GA4 for seamless conversion tracking. Use the insights from conversion data to fuel manual or Smart bidding decisions to optimize campaigns.
  • Remarketing Opportunities: Create audiences of users who haven’t converted and import these into Google Ads for targeted remarketing campaigns, increasing the chances of conversion through personalized advertising.

Practical Tools for In-Depth Conversion Analysis

  • Funnels and Heatmaps: Employ funnels to visualize where potential customers are dropping off in the conversion process. Heatmaps can reveal areas of the site that receive the most attention, guiding design and content placement.
  • Session Recordings and Surveys: Use session recordings to identify bugs or friction points that may hinder conversions. Surveys can provide direct feedback from users about what drives them to convert, offering invaluable qualitative data.
  • Monitoring Over Time: Keep an eye on channel results over a period of 2-3 months to discern patterns and identify the most effective strategies. This longitudinal analysis can reveal trends and inform future marketing decisions.

By effectively leveraging conversion data in GA4, businesses can not only track and measure important visitor actions but also gain deep insights into marketing campaign performance, guiding strategic decisions and maximizing ROI.


Throughout this exploration into Google Analytics 4, we’ve unveiled the transformative approach to tracking and analyzing user behavior through the refined lens of conversion events. Embracing this event-based model offers a granular view of engagement, allowing businesses to distill valuable insights from each click, form submission, or transaction. The inherent flexibility of GA4 caters to a dynamic digital landscape where every interaction is an opportunity for growth and optimization.

As businesses continue to harness the robust features of GA4, the focus should remain on the strategic application of these insights to enhance user experience and drive meaningful outcomes. The meticulous setup and analysis of conversion data is instrumental in fueling informed decisions that can significantly elevate marketing efforts. Take the first step in unlocking the full potential of your analytics data and consider integrating your business needs with GA4’s powerful tracking capabilities here.