Now that we have officially entered the Google Analytics 4 (GA4) era, you should know that the main difference between the previous version and GA4 is that GA4 gathers information based on events.
Google Analytics 4 offers a flat data model where everything happening on your website is recorded as events, regardless of what you want to track.
Understanding events in GA4 is fundamental for eCommerce businesses. It enables a person to follow and analyze important actions that provide valuable insights toward optimizing conversions, improving user experience, and driving growth in a highly competitive online marketplace.
Keep on reading if you want to know more about GA4 events for ecommerce businesses and how they work.
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Events in Google Analytics 4
To better understand GA4 events, let’s begin with a simple analogy. Imagine you have a physical store selling smartphones. One employee has to take notes on the actions a customer takes:
- Customer enters the store.
- Customer checks out new smartphones.
- Customer asks about smartphones advertised on sale.
- Customer looks at smartphones on sale and compares them to newly released smartphones.
- Customer decides on a smartphone on sale but also buys the latest screen protector at full price.
- Customer leaves the shop with their purchases.
All these actions represent events in the eCommerce process. Analyzing them helps evaluate smartphone sales, optimize inventory, forecast sales projections, and explore potential product expansions. The ultimate goal is to gather information for data-driven decision making rather than relying on intuition alone.
Types of Events in GA4
There are four types of events in GA4:
- Automatically collected events. These predefined events are typically the ones that most businesses would want to track, such as First_visit, Session_start, etc.
- Enhanced measurement events. These capture data without requiring tech support or setting up events in Tag Manager (page view, outbound link click, site search, etc).
- Recommended events. Implementing them using Google Tag Manager is pretty easy because Google has already done some of the work for you (such as purchase, search or refund).
- Custom events. These events can be any interaction on your website that is not tracked by default such as button clicks or form submissions.
What Are Parameters in GA4?
Parameters provide extra details that enrich the event data.
In the example of a smartphone store, you can track the event of a customer entering your eCommerce website. If you need additional information about this customer, such as their gender for example, it can be captured as a parameter.
All four types of events in GA4 already collect a predefined set of parameters, but you also have the flexibility to add your own custom parameters. This allows you to collect and analyze specific data points that are relevant to your business needs and goals.
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What Are Custom Dimensions and Metrics in GA4?
In GA4, custom dimensions and metrics allow businesses to gather and analyze additional data tailored to their unique business requirements.
You have the option to configure four types of custom dimensions and metrics:
- User-scoped custom dimensions. These dimensions are defined based on a custom user property.
- Event-scoped custom dimensions. Event-scoped dimensions are defined based on a custom event parameter.
- Item-scoped custom dimensions. Defined based on a custom event parameter within an items array.
- Custom metrics. These analyses are based on custom event parameters defined to provide specific data insights, such as transaction value for instance.
Recommended Events for eCommerce Website
When you want to track a specific event and send it to GA4, the first step is to come up with a name and parameters.
Instead of randomly creating names, check if GA4 already tracks this event automatically. Next, explore the enhanced measurement options. If you still can’t find your event, refer to the list of recommended events in GA4.
Google highly recommends using their naming convention in Google Analytics 4 because it will unlock additional reporting capabilities in the future and get a clearer understanding of the events you’re sending and tracking.
Recommended events for eCommerce websites:
For instance, if you want to correctly implement an eCommerce tracking event like “add_to_cart” it should be named exactly as recommended. If you use a different name, such as “add_to_cart_completed” Google will not recognize it as “add_to_cart” and the event will not appear in the eCommerce reports of Google Analytics.
GA4 Custom Events for eCommerce Website
Custom events are where GA4 really shines. For instance, in enhanced events, the default definition of “scroll” might refer to someone scrolling through 80% of the page. However, if you want to track when a visitor scrolls only 20%, you would need to create an event in Google Tag Manager and then receive it in GA4.
Configuring GA4 custom events is quite similar to recommended events, with the only distinction being that you have to create your own event names. For example if you want to track clicks on an image the name of your event should be “click_image”.
When tracking a custom event, make sure that your event name doesn’t match those already defined by Google in the automatically collected events, enhanced measurement events, and recommended events.
Examples of Custom GA4 eCommerce Events to Set Up
Here are three examples of GA4 eCommerce events that you might consider tracking for your website:
- Review_seen. As reviews get added to the site, you can start seeing how review_seen metric correlates with conversion metrics.
- Out_of_stock. Although not every product detail page visit leads to a sale, you can conduct a quick analysis to understand the relationship between product page views, events, and revenues. This analysis can provide insights into the approximate value of your out-of-stock items.
- Homepage_banners. Consider tracking homepage banners as custom events in GA4, where the banner details are stored within the event parameters. This allows you to gather specific data about banner interactions and analyze the effectiveness of your homepage banners in driving user engagement and conversions.
Setting up New Events in Google Analytics 4
Creating a new event is now easier, eliminating the need to go to the website or app code. Here’s a simplified guide on how to create a new event:
- From the “All Events” page click on the “Create Event” button located at the top right of the event table.
- On the Custom events screen, click “Create.”
- Provide a name for your event, following consistent naming conventions to avoid duplicates and simplify event management.
- Set the conditions for your event. For example, you can select a “page_view” event and specify a targeted “page_location” condition to track page views on a specific page.
- Optionally, choose additional parameters for your “page_view” event or stick with the default configuration.
- Click “Save” to create the event.
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Once you have configured your events, it’s important to test them to ensure proper functionality. Follow these steps to test your events:
- Open your website and visit each page that is associated with an event or conversion.
- Test the triggers that are designed to capture those events. For example, click buttons, submit forms, or perform actions relevant to each event.
- After completing the interactions, return to your GA4 dashboard.
- Access the Realtime report to verify that your events are being executed correctly.
- Monitor the Realtime report to see if the events are appearing as expected in real-time.
With GA4’s streamlined data model, all website activities are captured as events, unlocking valuable insights. By tracking predefined events, customizing them, and leveraging parameters, businesses can optimize their analytics, make data-driven decisions, and boost their ecommerce performance.
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