With the sunset deadline for Google’s Universal Analytics having passed, the key question we are now being asked is; “Can I track forms in GA4 and how do I do it?”
The good news is that GA4 has native form tracking now built into its ‘Enhanced Measurement’ feature so you can quite easily get some basic form data.
The less good news is that getting the detailed metrics you need to optimize your forms is as tricky and long-winded as ever. This article shows you how to get the basics done and provides a jumping-off point if you want to spend additional development time trying to rig a GA4 set-up that will work for you.
Of course, as Zuko is a purpose built form analytics solution, we would advise that you just use that instead. Although Google Analytics is technically “free”, development time isn’t cheap and the time and effort saved by using a solution such as Zuko will be more cost-efficient in the long run.
That said, we recognise that GA is the starting point for many companies so hopefully this overview will be of use. Note that for more advanced work you’ll need to use Google Tag Manager as well.
To start with, open your GA4 Property and click Admin:
Then, navigate to the property column and click “Data Streams”
Click on the data stream you want to set up form tracking for:
Click on the cog to open ‘Enhanced Measurement’. Then make sure the ‘Form Interactions’ toggle is set to ‘on’.
GA4 should then start to pick up basic interactions with forms on your website.
Google Analytics 4 picks up two specific types of form interactions:
To view the data, navigate to Engagement > Events and the form_start + form_submit events should be displayed in the full enhanced event list:
Whilst the basic data is a good starting point for those who have previously had no visibility on their form performance, there are still a number of issues that make it an imperfect tool for making optimization decisions. These include:
With a bit of effort and trial and error, some of these issues can be overcome. You’ll firstly need to go back into Enhanced Measurement and make sure 'Form Interactions' is toggled to off:
You’ll then need access to Google Tag Manager to manually set the start and submit events. A good guide on how to set up GTM basic form tracking in GA4 can be found here.
If you’re serious about form optimization, you’ll need field level tracking to get any level of usable insight. Unfortunately GA4 does not provide this functionality, so to get this data without using a specialised package you’ll need to spend time hacking around with Google Tag Manager in the same way you did when using Universal Analytics.
Whilst we believe that a specialist tool is well worth the money, if you want to give GTM a go there are a few useful links on how to track important metrics here:
Which fields are users interacting with? Trigger interaction events if users click or keypress in a form field.
Where do users abandon? Log which fields have the last interaction before the user drops out of the form journey
How much time does it take for users to complete a field? Understand where users are spending the most time.
With these guides, you can adapt the tracking to infer these metrics:
You’ll have gathered from the above that using GA / GTM to set things up takes a heck of a lot of time and resources. So is there an alternative that is simpler to get up and running?
Whilst there are a number of form analytics products out there, we’re obviously biased towards Zuko, the only specialist form tracking tool on the market. It doesn’t require any developer time to set up - simply add two tags on your form and it will pull in all the field level data you need. If you make any changes to your form Zuko will automatically adapt (you’d need to remember to change your GTM set up each time you tweaked your form if you just went with Google).
If you need more to persuade you, don’t just take our word for it. Craig Sullivan, Optimiser in Chief at Optimal Visit is clear about the choice involved:
"Building this in Google Analytics assumes you have the developer time to do the coding. It will never be quite right, so expect it WILL take longer than you estimate and you'll need at least a couple of iterations. You'll also need to work out a decent event taxonomy and grammar structure, so you can actually read and analyse the data later on.
Then you need to create a series of calculated metrics using the event structure you've made and several custom or automated reports, so you can understand it all. It's an awful lot of work and almost nobody bothers for good reason.
I have only seen one half decent Google Analytics form integration after looking at thousands of sites and analytics setups. There's a reason why. It's a giant pain in the backside to build and maintain. Just install Zuko instead and save yourself the hassle."
Whilst it’s great that Google is giving forms more attention, GA4 still does not provide the field-level information you need to inform your optimization hypotheses. Even a jerry-rigged solution using GTM is far from perfect. Nevertheless, we recognise that the ostensibly ‘free’ nature of GA can be appealing for many finance directors, so you may need to justify the cost of a specialist tool like Zuko. To help you out, here’s the TLDR when considering the way forward:
If you’d like any more input on why using Zuko instead of relying only on GA4 could be right for you feel free to reach out and contact our friendly sales team.
Backed by 10+ years of expertise in form analysis and user behaviour studies, Zuko Form Builder lets you create high-performing no code forms that are a breeze for customers to fill in.
So you can capture more submissions and lift your form conversion rates.
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