Are you running a website but have no idea how it’s performing? Without setting up conversion tracking on your website, online business is a little like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks.
Unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario for many website owners. Conversion tracking is the cornerstone of many advanced online marketing and business techniques. Therefore, many website owners never see the full potential of their websites.
Fortunately, there is a better way.
When you track your website’s performance with Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you can stop guessing and start making strategic decisions about how to grow your business.
In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of setting up conversion tracking in GA4.
What is Conversion Tracking?
Conversion tracking is when you put a tag on a website that tracks whenever a user makes a conversion action. A conversion action could be anything from making an online purchase to filling out a form.
The tag sends data back to a platform that records the conversion action. One of the most common conversion tracking platforms for websites is Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Once conversion actions are recorded in GA4, you can produce reports, analyze data, and gain insights.
Conversion tracking is a very important part of online marketing. This is because of the feedback it gives you on your marketing communications. Conversion tracking allows you to determine the effectiveness of your campaigns and make strategic decisions about how to optimize them.
Reasons Why You Should Set Up Conversion Tracking On Your Site
The reasons why you should have conversion tracking on your website are wide and varied. Here are some of the top reasons why you should set it up:
- Gain key insights – The most obvious reason for conversion tracking is to get visibility into your website’s performance. At the end of the day, you probably started a website to get results (leads, sales, exposure, etc.) Conversion tracking allows you to see how your results are doing and make strategic decisions to help achieve them.
- Gather conversion data for automated ads – Conversion tracking not only helps you make strategic decisions, but it also helps advertising algorithms. Nowadays, most online advertising platforms utilize automated ad-serving capabilities to place ads in front of highly targeted audiences. In general, these automations require conversion data to function. So when you don’t set up conversion tracking, you’re effectively leaving the most advanced advertising features off the table. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot and set up conversion tracking to leverage the power of automated ads!
- Establish website value – From a business owner’s perspective, you’re always trying to find ways to generate leverage. Leverage gives you negotiating power in the market. Whether you’re negotiating sponsorship deals or looking to one-day sell your website for a profit, it’s important to have “good numbers”. Conversion tracking gives you the cold hard numbers you need to communicate the value of your online assets. Best set it up now so you have it when you need it.
Step-by-Step Instructions to Setup Conversion tracking for GA4
To set up conversion tracking in GA4, you need to get a tracking tag on your website and configure your settings in GA4 to record properly.
Here’s how to do it step-by-step:
Step 1: Determine Key Conversion Actions
Before you go and set up the actual conversion tracking apparatus on your website, make sure you know what you want to track. There are almost endless possibilities of what you COULD track. Therefore, you have to decide what you SHOULD track.
Ask yourself what your key performance indicators are and how you would measure them.
Maybe the main sales driver for your business is calls. Or maybe contact form submissions tend to produce better leads. Maybe you are more interested in newsletter sign-ups than in making sales with a particular campaign.
Whatever your desired conversion action is, make sure that you know what your end goal is and the best way to track it.
Step 2: Get a Tracking Tag from GA4
Once you know what you want to track on your website, you need to get the actual tracking tag that allows you to track users on your website. To do this, you first need to get a unique tracking tag from GA4.
To get a unique tracking tag, sign into your Google Analytics account (if you don’t have one yet, create a Google Analytics account here).
Once you’re signed into your Google Analytics account, make sure you have a “property” setup for your website. If you don’t have one set up yet, go to Admin Settings on your account and click on “Create Property” – follow the prompts to create a GA4 property.
Once you have created a property on your Google Analytics account, you’ll need to create a “data stream.” Click on the “Data Streams” tab under your property settings to bring up the data stream menu. Click on “Add Stream” and follow the prompts to create a new data stream.
Once you have a data stream created, GA4 will make you a unique tracking tag associated with that data stream. You can view that tracking tag by going into your “data stream details” and looking directly under the “Measurement ID” header.
Step 2: Set up GA4 Tracking Tag on Your Website
Once you have your unique tracking tag, it’s time to set up that tracking tag on your website. There are two main ways to set up a GA4 tracking tag on your website – 1. inserting the tracking tag directly into your website’s code 2. Add the tracking tag to your website CMS.
Set up Tracking Tag by Inserting it Directly into Website Code
To install the website tracking tag on your website directly, you need to get the piece of code that google generates for your site and insert it into your site. You can find the tracking code in the data stream for your site property in GA4.
Click into your site’s datastream and then click on View Tag Instructions. Once you’re in the Tag Instructions tab, click on install manually. There will be a big chunk of code that starts with <!– Google tag (gtag.js) –> and ends with </script>. Copy the whole chunk of code.
Once you have the whole chunk of code copied and ready to paste, go to your site’s theme code and insert it directly underneath the <head> tag on your site’s header.php file. On WordPress, you can find the header.php file under “Theme File Editor” under the Appearance menu section.
Open the “Theme Header” file and paste your GA4 tracking code directly under the <head> section.
Congratulations! Your website is set up to track GA4 data!
NOTE: Make sure to set up a child theme on your website before updating the code. This will allow you to change the theme’s settings while maintaining any edits that you make to the theme (such as adding a google analytics tracking code).
Set up a Tracking Tag by Using your Content Management System (WordPress)
The other way, (and easier in my opinion) is to use a plugin or extension on your content management system (CMS). One of the most common and versatile CMSs in the world is WordPress. I highly suggest WordPress as a CMS for website building for both beginners and advanced users.
One of the best things about WordPress is the extensive library of third-party plugins that can solve your site issues without using code.
Use a plugin called “Site Kit” by Google to add your GA4 tracking code to your website. Once you have the Site Kit Plugin on your WordPress dashboard, all you have to do is copy-paste the “Measurement ID” tag from your GA4 into the plugin (remember, this is found in the Data Stream tab on your GA4 account).
Next, the plugin will prompt you to fill out some information to configure the tracking tag on your site properly. Follow these instructions for more on adding the “Measurement ID” tag to your Site Kit plugin.
I prefer using the CMS method because it’s really that easy – no coding, no second guessing, just copy-pasting the tag directly into the plugin.
Step 3: Configure GA4 Settings to Record Key Conversion Events
Once you have your tracking tag installed on your site, data will start rolling into your GA4 account. The final step to set up a conversion action is to set up conversion events.
GA4 uses “Events” as the base metric for site activity. When you first start gathering data on website activity, some events are automatically collected – other custom events will have to be added manually.
You can see a list of the automatically collected GA4 events here and a list of recommended custom events here.
To turn an event into a conversion action, all you have to do is toggle the “Mark as conversion” switch on events under the “Events” tab on your GA4 property.
Step 4: Test GA4 Conversion Events
The last step in setting up conversion tracking for GA4 is to test and make sure it’s working. Go directly to your site, and do something that should be recorded as a conversion event (submit a form, click on a call button, etc.)
Once you’ve done the conversion action, go to your GA4 account and take a look to see if it was recorded. Conversions will be recorded in many different places, but you should be able to see it on the home page under the conversion tab.
See the conversion action there? Awesome! You’re now tracking conversions for insights, and ads, and establishing value!
There you have it, the step-by-step way to set up conversion tracking for GA4. Website and online business can seem complicated at first, but its really not that complicated. Setting up the basics like conversion tracking from the start will set you up for success
Once you have conversion tracking set up, you’ll have the feedback that you need to not only run effective advertising campaigns but also set tangible benchmarks and keep pushing the limits.
At the end of the day, running a successful website is about incremental improvements – always be setting new goals and keep knocking them down.