What Is the Difference Between Events and Conversions in GA4?

While the two terms “events” and “conversions” sound eerily similar, especially in terms of reporting, they represent two separate actions in GA4.

It is important to understand the clear distinction so that you can gauge the success of your marketing campaigns in the proper way.

Keep on reading to find out the differences between conversions and events in GA4:

What Are Events in GA4?

In GA4, an event measures a certain action or occurrence on your website. Some examples of these are button clicks, downloads, purchases, scrolling, or page views. There are a number of events that will automatically track when someone views a page.

The automatic events include:

  • First_visit – This is collected the first time a user visits your website. GA4 will use this event to create the “New Users” datapoint in reports.
  • Page_view – Page views are reported on the page the user is viewing.
  • Session_start – This event determines when a user’s session is started. It’s important to note that after 30 minutes of inactivity, a new session_start event will be fired.
  • User_engagement – Engagement is reported when someone has spent at least 10 seconds on the website and is collected periodically.

These are automatic events and cannot be switched off. In addition to ones listed above, you also have the option to turn on Enhanced Measurements to automatically track other events.

Some examples of enhanced measurements include:

  • Scrolls
  • Outbound clicks
  • Site search
  • Video engagement
  • File downloads

With both default events and enhanced measurements, you can have the opportunity to create custom events that are tailored to your website goals. Below is a screenshot of where you will find your events in GA4.

events vs. conversions in GA4

What Are Conversions in GA4?

A conversion is an action that a user makes that analytics owns deem important to their business, like a form submission or purchase on the website. For most companies, these are key metrics of success for your business. Conversions in GA4 essentially replaced goals from Universal Analytics.

The way to measure a conversion in GA4 is to create a custom event that you would like to measure and mark it as a conversion. For every conversion you have, you need to create an event for it. You can learn how to set these up in our comprehensive guide on replicating destination goals in GA4.

Some common events marked as conversions include:

  • Phone calls
  • Destination goals
  • Purchases
  • Downloads
  • Appointment bookings

For some conversions, like phone calls, it must occur as an event on the site first for you to mark it as a conversion.

Key Differences Between GA4 Events and Conversions

While events and conversions can overlap, here are the specific differences between the two.

  • Events tracks any action of the user on the website, while conversions track specific valuable actions.
  • Events are meant to understand users’ behavior, while conversions help measure success and results.
  • Events are counted every time they occur, whiles conversions are counted once per session.
  • There can be multiple events on one page, but typically only 1-2 conversions.
  • Events can be tracked automatically in GA4, where conversions need to be configured.

Learn More About GA4

For more information on GA4, check out some of our other relevant blog posts:

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About the Author

Emma Iammarino

Emma Iammarino is an SEO Strategist at Sixth City Marketing and has been with our organization since 2019. In her role, she helps some of our clients in manufacturing, ecommerce, and various other niches.

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