What to know about creating events in GA4 for your eCommerce store

As Universal Analytics is being phased out in July of 2023 and replaced by Google Analytics 4, it’s time to get up to speed with Google’s new tool for website data. 

With Universal Analytics, a lot of default, generic reporting features were included with every install, including many helpful reports for analysis of user activity. With GA4, tracking can be done at a more granular level, but events require a custom setup in each account. Let’s look at what you need to know to create a GA4 event for your eCommerce store. 

What’s New 

The user interface for Google Analytics 4 is vastly improved over previous iterations. For one thing, you are now able to create your events directly in the user interface, which makes it easier to configure your event to create targeted conversion events. In addition, with this improved user experience, you can now make changes to your events without getting into the site code. 

Before you begin, you should check to ensure you are operating in GA4 in the Editor role since you must be in the Editor role to complete these functions. 

GA4 Event Limitations

While GA4 offers increased functionality over UA, there are still some limitations you should be aware of. 

  • Modifications to events can take an hour or more to take effect
  • Any events you create or modify will not apply to historical data
  • Created events cannot be reordered
  • You can only create up to 50 events or modify up to 50 events at a time
  • Created events will take longer to take effect than modified existing events
  • Modified events will be activated in the order that they are listed

How to Name your Event

When it comes to the naming conventions you use for your events, you should know a few things. 

First, remember that event names are case-sensitive. For example, GA4 will read “my_first_event” and “My_First_Event” as two separate events. However you choose to name your events is up to you, but you want to be sure to include keywords related to the page or the parameters, so you understand what you are reading when you check your reports.  

Secondly, all of your event names can only include letters and numbers, and if you need a space, use an underscore instead. GA4 is not configured to recognize spaces and will not accept them in your event names. Your event name will also need to begin with a letter to be valid. 

Finally, you want to choose a naming convention and stick with it. Want to use all lower case? That’s perfectly fine. Do that for all of your events and conversions. All caps? Sentence case? Those are also perfectly good options. What is important is that you use the same method for naming your events and conversions so that your reports are easy to read and understand. 

Create an Event in Google Analytics 4

Setting up new events in Google Analytics 4 is easier with the new user interface. You won’t even need to go into the website or app code. Here is how to create a new event: 

  1. From the “All Events” page in GA4, click on the “Create Event” button, which is located at the top right of the table of events. 
  2. From the Custom events screen, click “Create.” 
  3. Now, you need to name your event. Remember that using the same naming conventions for all events will make it easier to avoid duplicates and make keeping track of your events simpler. 
  4. Select the conditions for your event. As a simple example, you could choose a page_view event and add a condition that targets a specific page_location. This event would track the number of page views that you have on the page of your choice. 
  5. You can also choose additional parameters for your page_view event or stick with the default page_view configuration. 
  6. Finally, click “Save.” 

Modifying an Event

Sometimes the events you create don’t seem to collect the data you need. When this happens, you can fix the problem with some minor adjustments to a current event. You can modify your events to: 

  • Fix naming conventions to make it easier to read reports
  • Adjust the triggers you have set to target the desired user behavior better 
  • Correct issues with measurement caused by a misconfiguration of conditions or parameters
  • Adjust the scope of an event 

You can modify events in two ways:

If you are comfortable using Google Tag Manager, you can also modify events using these tools. But, for now, we will talk about how to modify events in Google Analytics. 

Remember that when you modify events, it overwrites the existing event, which could have unanticipated consequences. For example, if you change Google’s default page_view event to exclude some pages, you could end up not collecting any data from those excluded pages. So instead, we would recommend creating an additional event to focus on the pages that interest you and leave the default event unchanged. 

Designating a New Event as a Conversion

Google Analytics 4 has also simplified the process of designating your events as conversions. Their user interface lets you make this change in two different ways. First, after creating your new event, you can let it run for one day. Once the event has run for a day, you will see it listed in your Events report. Next to the listing in the report, you will see a button to toggle for conversion. Just click this button, and voila! Your event has been designated as a conversion. 

Don’t have time to wait a day? You can also designate your event as a conversion by clicking on the Conversions report. On this page, click “New Conversion Event.” When prompted, you can label the conversion with the very same name you gave to the event and click “Save.” It’s as simple as that. 

Testing your Event

Now that you have set up your events and conversions, it’s time to test them. Open your website and navigate to each page that is set up for an event or conversion. Next, work through each of the triggers. When you are done, return to your GA4 dashboard and pull up the Realtime report to ensure that your events are executed correctly.