How to Set Up and Track Conversions in Google Analytics and GA4

Katie Holmes
17th February 2022

We walk you through the basics of Google Analytics conversion tracking and show you how to quantify the results of your marketing efforts. 

During a study, we found that 90% of marketers considered Google Analytics their go-to solution of tracking marketing effectiveness.

If you’re not using Google Analytics to track your conversions, you’re essentially missing out on valuable insights that can drastically transform your business.

With conversion tracking in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to judge the performance of your sales and marketing efforts and make smarter decisions about where you should be spending your time and money.

In just a few simple steps, you can set up conversion tracking to identify where your leads are coming from and determine which channels deserve the most credit for your results.

Topics we’ll discuss:

💡 Pro Tip

Tracking conversions is useful, but they’re not meaningful to your overall business goals.

To get more out of your lead generation, you need to go beyond tracking conversions and focus on the marketing sources that drive the most revenue for your business.

Not sure where to get started? The guide below can help.

Learn how to unlock marketing revenue in Google Analytics

What is Google Analytics conversion tracking?

Firstly, a conversion is an important action that you want your users to complete.

Google Analytics lets you track conversions on your website.

Any action or engagement that happens on your website can be tracked and labelled as a conversion.

Think of things like:

A “conversion” in Google Analytics is essentially any action that you define as being valuable to your business.

You can create Goals or Events inside your Google Analytics account to ensure you’re tracking every conversion that’s valuable to your business.

In the next section, we’ll walk you through exactly how to track conversions using Google Analytics.

Setting up your Google Analytics account to track conversions

So, you’ve installed the Google Analytics tag on your website.

The next step is to start creating your goals to ensure that you’re tracking the metrics you need to measure your marketing performance. Here’s how to create Goal conversions.

Step 1: Go to your admin panel

Firstly, you’ll need to head to the “Admin” section of your Google Analytics account. You’ll find it in the bottom left-hand corner of your Google Analytics account.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking - Step 1 -

Step 2: Within the relevant view, go to “Goals”

Then, head to “Goals“. If you already have different Views you’ll need to ensure you’re in the right view, as Goals only apply to the View you create them in.

We’ll assume you’re using a View that’s relevant to your needs.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking - Step 2 -

Step 3: Create new goal

This is relatively self-explanatory. Assuming you have no existing Goals (or are new to Google Analytics), you’ll see a big red button saying “+ New Goal“.

Hit that, and you’ll be on your way to setting up your first goal.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking - Step 3 -

Step 4: Choose your goal type

Google Analytics includes templates for a range of Goal types. If one of these fits your use case exactly, then you can use it.

However, the “Custom” goal option gives you the flexibility to set up your conversion goal precisely as you need it.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking - Step 4 -

Step 5: Describe and select your goal type

Next, you’ll need to give your goal a Name.

Make this something clear and descriptive enough that you know what it is at a glance.

If you anticipate having a large number of goals, consider spending some time to come up with a logical and easy to read naming convention, as it’ll save you time and energy figuring out what your Goals are tracking in the long run.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking - Step 5 -

Step 6: Add goal details and verify the goal

Finally, you’ll need to add in the details about your goal. There are a few options for this.

The goal can be based on someone visiting a particular URL, which can work well if you have a “success” page for actions like visitors booking demos or after they complete a purchase.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking - Step 6 -

If you want to make sure things are working before you save your Goal, you can hit “Verify this Goal“.

Google will then see how many of your visitors over the past seven days have taken actions that would be defined as a conversion.

It’s quick and easy to see if your goal is set up correctly.

Once your conversion goals are created, you’ll be able to see an overview of them and how they’re all performing over the past seven days from the Goals overview.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking - Step 7 -

It’s important to remember that Google Analytics conversion goals are forward-looking and will only give you data on conversions that happen after the goal creation date.

How to track conversions with Google Analytics 4

If you’ve recently switched to Google Analytics 4, then you will have noticed that Goals are no longer a viable option to track conversions.

Instead, to track and measure key actions on your website, you’ll need to create a custom event in Google Analytics and turn that into a conversion. 

First, click “configure’ and select ‘events’.

You’ll see different events. All of these are options predefined by Google Analytics.

You can, however, set up a unique event to track a specific conversion. There are two ways to achieve this. 

Create a new event based on an existing option

The first option is to create a new event based on an existing option in Google Analytics.

For example, we could take the predefined event “page_view” and trigger a conversion whenever a user lands on a specific thank you page. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Log into your GA4 property, go to ‘Configure” > ‘Events’ > “Create Event“.
  1. Give your custom event a name and set up your condition settings. In the example below, the configuration will trigger a new conversion event whenever someone views a thank you page after submitting a form.

Configure a new tag in Google Tag Manager

The second option is to configure a new tag in Google Tag Manager that will successfully capture and report a unique event in GA4.

This method gives you a lot more flexibility and control over your conversions.

For this example, let’s say you have a form on your website that doesn’t redirect to a new page.

You could configure your event in Google Tag Manager to track the submission button as a conversion instead.

  1. First, log into your Google Tag Manager and select ‘Variables’.
  1. If you’re new to Google Tag Manager, then you’ll want to click on ‘Configure’ and ensure that all the boxes are checked under the ‘Forms’ section. 

3. Afterwards, you’ll need to click on ‘Triggers’. Here you’ll want to create a generic form submission trigger. This will allow you to see the form submission event inside of Google Tag Manager, and you’ll know which form id to fire your tag and conversion event in GA4.

Once complete, go into preview mode, type in your domain and fill out a form.

If successful, you should be able to see the form submit event and your variables in Google Tag Manager.

You’ll want to scroll down to Form ID and make a note of the code as you’ll need this later on in this set up.

  1. Next, go to ‘Tags’, select ‘New’ and give your tag a name. Make sure to give it a name that is easy to remember. 
  1. Select ‘Tag Configuration’, click ‘Google Analytics: GA4 Event’ and complete the set up. Under ‘Event Parameters’ you can assign a value which is displayed in Analytics every time the event is triggered. Before you hit save, make sure that this tag is only firing once per event. You don’t want someone to fill this in multiple times as it’ll lead to many data discrepancies further down the line. 
  1. Now, for the trigger. Click the ‘+’ in the top right hand corner. Select ‘Form Submission’ and select ‘Some Forms’. In the drop down menu, look for ‘Form ID’. You’ll want to copy that code into the field that you took a note of earlier on in this step-by-step guide. Once complete, click ‘Save’.
  1. Now, you’ll need to go back into preview mode to make sure that the tag is firing correctly. To test it’s working correctly, complete another form submission on your desired webpage. Go back to your form submit event you made earlier in step 3. If set up correctly, you’ll be able to find your submission displayed in Google Tag Manager. Go back to ‘Tags’ and click ‘Submit’. 
  1. Go back to your GA4 property. Be mindful that it can take a few hours for your new event to be displayed in your ‘All Events’ view. Eventually, it’ll show and you can go ahead and mark it as a conversion. Once complete, you should be able to see your new event under ‘Conversions’ as well as other reports in GA4.

Tracking offline conversions in Google Analytics 

Google Analytics can track any visit to your website, including users that come from an offline promotion or advert.

If your offline advertising campaign triggers a visit to your website, then you can use Google Analytics to track and analyse the performance in a few simple steps.

We already have a guide on tracking offline conversions in Google Analytics that lists every step you need for tracking print, radio and TV advertising campaigns. So make sure you check that out for further instructions.

If you regularly engage with new clients through inbound phone calls, you’ll need to make sure that you’re tracking those in Google Analytics. 

Related: Quick guide on how to track phone calls in Google Analytics

Otherwise, you run the risk of underestimating the value of your marketing channels.

Google Analytics doesn’t have call tracking built-in, but you can use a tool marketing attribution tool like Ruler.

Ruler is an official Google Analytics technology partner and enables you to see data for all of your conversions, online or offline, so you can accurately track your marketing ROI.

This data can be viewed within Ruler, or sent directly to your Google Analytics account and displayed there. 

Related: How Ruler sends offline conversion data to Google Analytics

Ruler’s call tracking uses dynamic number insertion to assign a display of a unique phone number to every website visitor.

Then, when that phone number is called, Ruler will attribute the offline conversion to the marketing channel that the visitor arrived from.

google analytics conversion tracking - offline conversion tracking -

Here’s an example so you can see Ruler in action.

Sara lands on your website after clicking on a Google Ad.

As it’s her first interaction with your website, Ruler will track Sara as an anonymous visitor.

Ruler will collect key marketing data such as her source, keyword search and the pages on your site she visited during her session.

A few days later, Sara returns to your website via an organic brand search. Sara doesn’t convert, but Ruler still keeps a record of her interactions.

After a week, Sara clicks on a retargeting ad on Facebook, lands on your site and converts into a lead after making a phone call.

Ruler tracks all of this information and maps the phone call to Sara’s marketing touchpoints.

Now that Sara is a visible lead in Ruler, all of the information captured on Sara is sent over to your CRM.

When you log into your CRM, you’ll see Sara as a new lead, as well as the marketing channels and keywords she used along the customer journey.

Naturally, Sara will move through the sales pipeline as she learns more about the benefits of your services.

In Ruler, you can keep track of Sara’s progress in the opportunity stage report. 

Sara finally agrees to sign a deal.

The revenue is sent to Ruler and assigned to the marketing touchpoints that assisted in the customer journey.

For example, if you opted for first click attribution, then all the revenue would be assigned to Google Ads. If you went for last click attribution, then Facebook would receive all of the value from your CRM.

Remember that Sara converted over the phone?

As we’ve already discussed, Google Analytics can’t track phone calls on its own.

Ruler, however, allows you to integrate with Analytics to create goals for phone calls, allowing you to track call and revenue data against all your traditional metrics.

💡 Pro Tip

We have plenty more information on how Ruler works. Download the brochure on Ruler and see how it can help you go beyond basic marketing reporting to gain a single view of your leads and customers.

Download the guide on why you need Ruler

Ready to track your conversions in Google Analytics?

Tracking goal conversions in Google Analytics is vital if you want to assess how well your marketing is performing and how visitors are engaging with your website and content.

Without accurate conversion data, you’re flying blind.

Setting up Goals in your Analytics account is a great first step to having actionable information that you can use to make smart decisions.

Once you’ve created goals, you’ll be able to track your online conversions with ease. If you need more insight into offline conversions such as phone calls, you’ll need to use a tool like Ruler Analytics.

Book a demo with one of our experts to learn more about offline conversion tracking, or download our eBook for more information on our closed-loop analytics solution.