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How To Set Up GA4 Custom Events Using Google Tag Manager

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Posted on 11/23/2022 at 10:00 AM

Tracking interactions on your website can yield valuable insights into how users interact with your website so that you can improve your website content and increase interactions and conversions. In your Google Analytics 4 account, there are a variety of ways that you can track user interaction on your website. In this mini Google Analytics 4 tutorial, we’ll cover how to create custom events in GA4 using Google Tag Manager (GTM).

What Are Custom Events

There are four different types of events in GA4.

  1. Automatically Collected Events 
    • Automatically collected within your GA4 property
  2. Enhanced Measurement Events
    • Automatically collected within your GA4 property
  3. Recommended Events 
    • Generated by Google based on industry and are not automatically collected
  4. Custom Events
    • Custom events give you complete control over the specific website event that you want to track. Custom events can be set using Google Tag Manager to track any interaction on a website that is not automatically collected. This can include a button click, form submission, event sign-up, and so much more.

Why Create A Custom GA4 Event In Google Tag Manager

Creating custom events helps bridge the gap between informative data that is automatically collected and informative data that is not automatically collected. Custom events can provide vital information on how your website is viewed and used by your target audience. Different types of custom events, such as scroll depth, time on page, clicks, etc., can tell you what content/pages is performing well and what are not. This can provide data to answer content strategy questions such as:

  • How should I arrange my content? 
  • What type of content and/or content format does my audience respond to best?
  • What content is performing well and should be left alone?
  • What content is not performing well and should be modified? 

How To Up GA4 Custom Events Using Google Tag Manager

What You Need 

To set up custom events with Google Tag Manager, you will need certain permissions in both accounts. Once you have the following items, you’re now ready to learn how to set up Google Analytics 4 tags:

  • Access to the website source code
  • Editor permissions in the Google Analytics 4 account
  • Access to the Google Tag Manager container
  • A Google Tag Manager Container with Google Analytics 4 Configuration set up

Step By Step: How To Set Up Custom Event Tracking on Google Tag Manager

Step 1: Identify the event that you would like to track 

This could take the form of a button click, form submission, scroll threshold, YouTube play button, or many more. 

Step 2: Mimic the event that you would like to track 

Click on the preview button on the top right of your Google Tag Manager container and enter your website URL in the designated space. This will open your website in a debugging view - this is when you should mimic the exact event that you wish to start tracking.

image of GA4 and GTM tutorial by Global Reach

Step 3: Take inventory of your variables

After recreating the event that you wish to track, take a look at the variables that come through on your Google Tag Manager preview window. This is going to determine how you set up tracking. 

TIP: For the best results, ensure that you have enabled all variables on your Google Tag Manager container.

image of GA4 and GTM tutorial by Global Reach

Step 4: Start putting together your trigger

Navigate to “Triggers” and select “New”. This step can take many forms, depending on the event that you wish to start tracking. In this example, the trigger is when a user clicks on the text that reads “GET STARTED”.

TIP: Name your triggers and tags in an organized manner, to ensure ease of management as your Google Tag Manager container grows.

image of GA4 and GTM tutorial by Global Reach

Step 5: Create your tag

Now that you have your trigger created, create a tag to put the trigger into. Navigate to “Tags” and select “New”. Under “Triggering”, be sure to select the trigger that you created in step 4.

image of GA4 and GTM tutorial by Global Reach

  • Tag Type: This is the type of tag that you wish to create. In this situation, you are trying to set up an event in Google Analytics 4, so select GA4 event.
  • Configuration Tag: Select the Google Analytics 4 property that you wish to send event tracking to.
  • Event Name: This will be the category that the event will appear under in Google Analytics 4. If you are tracking a button click, calling it “Click” will suffice.
  • Parameter Name: This is the name that the event will have on Google Analytics 4. Be sure to include underscores or else it will not work!
  • Value: This is the value that is going to be associated with the parameter name on Google Analytics 4. Refer to the screenshot in step 3 to determine which value to select. Make sure that the value that you select is the value that you want reporting on.

Step 6: Preview to ensure that your Tag and Trigger are properly set up

Click on the “Preview” button on the top right of the container and once again, mimic the event that you wish to track. If your tag successfully fires after you mimic the event, great! If not, it’s back to the drawing board to determine what is wrong with your trigger.

image of GA4 and GTM tutorial by Global Reach

Step 7: Submit your changes

If everything looks good, go ahead and submit your changes.

image of GA4 and GTM tutorial by Global Reach

Step 8: Import the custom dimension onto Google Analytics 4

After no longer than 24 hours, you will be able to complete the setup process. In your Google Analytics 4 property, navigate to “Configure” > “Custom Definitions” > “Create custom dimensions”. After this step is complete, it will take another 24 hours to see it come through in Google Analytics.

image of GA4 and GTM tutorial by Global Reach

Under “Event parameter”, ensure that you are selecting the Parameter Name that you defined in step 5.

Step 9: Harness the data

Once your data comes through for your custom event, you will be able to use it in custom reports, dashboards, and many more data visualization tools. 

Now that your tag is set up, you can play around with different types of Google tracking tags to gather all of the data you need to hone your digital marketing strategy! Be sure to give your tags time to collect comprehensive data before making adjustments based on those insights. 

More GA4 Tutorials

Each month we will be doing a blog on “How To in GA4” to help you and your business take full advantage of all the features your GA4 account has to offer. Be sure to check out last month’s Google Analytics tutorial, How to Link Google Ads to GA4!  With a variety of GA4 tutorials, Global Reach is here to help you learn how to use Google Analytics 4 for maximum benefit. Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for more information on GA4 and other Google tools.

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