Jake and I recently found ourselves in the same position as every other digital marketing agency that uses Google Analytics for their clients: How do we handle the transition from the current version of Google Analytics to Google Analytics 4?
But before we could even create a game plan, we first had to learn how Google Analytics 4 (GA4) works.
After hours spent reading documentation, watching YouTube videos, and wandering around inside this new version of Google Analytics, I can say one of the biggest changes for marketers in GA4 is conversion tracking.
The majority of our clients rely on thank you page views to track email and lead form submissions. This is pretty standard for lead generation — after completing a form on a contact page, users get sent to a “Thank You” page, which says thank you and sets expectations for what the user can expect next. The page isn’t linked from anywhere and is also set to no-index, so it isn’t accessible in any way to the average user EXCEPT by completing a form. Because of this, all page views of a Thank You page can be tracked as conversions.
This type of goal (destination URL) was built-in to the previous Google Analytics. Google has basically said that GA4 is a work in progress, so while it’s possible they will add this feature back sometime in the future, it doesn’t exist right now.
If you want to track form submissions to a thank you page as conversions in GA4, you’ll need to create a custom event and select it as a conversion.
[Disclaimer: I’m a marketer, not a developer, so sorry in advance if my custom events aren’t best-practice.]
If you haven’t already, make sure your website is tagged with the measurement ID for its data stream. The easiest way to do this and the following steps is through Google Tag Manager (GTM), which I’m going to assume:
- You already have or at least know how to create a GTM container and put it on your website.
- You have a basic understanding of how GTM works. If not, there are plenty of guides out there. Go learn and come back.
To tag your site with the new GA4 measurement ID, find your measurement ID in your GA4 property by going to Admin > Data Streams > click into your website.
In GTM, add a new tag and select the Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration tag, then paste in your measurement ID. Just like the previous version of Google Analytics, you want GA4 to fire on all pages, so set the trigger to all pages.
When you’re done, it should look something like this.
Next, we need to create a custom event that happens when a user views the thank you page (indicating a successful form submission).
Create another tag, but this time use the Google Analytics: GA4 Event tag. Under the Configuration Tag drop-down menu, select the tag you just made. In my case, that’s Google Analytics (GA4). If you named the previous tag the same as me, then that’s what you would pick too.
For the event name, enter
The trigger for this tag isn’t pre-made like the all pages trigger we used last time, so you need to make a new one. For the trigger configuration, select page view, then select the option so the trigger only fires on some page views.
The condition(s) you set will depend on the exact URL of your thank you page. Let’s assume your thank you page is literally
https://yourwebsite.com/thank-you/, so when someone submits a form on your website, they get redirected to that URL. In that case, your condition would be Page URL | contains | /thank-you/.
When you’re done, submit your changes to push them live.
The final step is to indicate in Google Analytics that you want to track the event as a conversion.
Google describes two ways to do this:
- Wait until the event has been logged then mark it as a conversion.
- Manually add the event as a conversion.
My experience is that it takes about a day before a new custom event will show up in GA4. Manually adding the event as a conversion has been buggy, so until Google fixes it, I recommend coming back in a day or two then marking the event as a conversion.
That’s it! You did it!