GA4 has reintroduced the once-per-session conversion counting method. Find out what this means and how to implement more accurate conversion tracking.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has been a topic of much debate since its introduction. While GA4 brought a slew of new features, it also left out some of the functionalities that digital marketers had come to rely on in Universal Analytics (UA). One such feature, the ability to count conversions once per session, has finally made its return to GA4 conversion tracking.
GA4's Conversion Counting: A Familiar Tale
In its initial phase, GA4 counted every event (including those classed as conversions), even if a user completed the same action multiple times within a single session. This approach, while detailed, led to inflated conversion numbers and potential inaccuracies. For many, being able to track GA4 conversions once per session would be the ideal metric so this wasn't a new feature but rather a glaring omission, especially considering that UA already had this functionality in place.
Restoring What Was Once Lost
On April 20, 2023, GA4 reintroduced the "once per session" GA4 conversion counting method. And yet, most people still don't know about this! While this might seem like a step forward, for many, it felt more like a restoration of what should never have been removed. The method ensures that GA4 conversions within a single session are counted just once, aligning more closely with the familiar functionality of UA.
Why this restoration matters:
- Accuracy in reporting: By avoiding the multiple counts of the same conversion, marketers can now get a more accurate representation of conversion rates - since conversions are usually meaningful engagements, they should only be triggered once per session.
- Consistency across platforms: This change brings GA4's functionality more in line with what marketers were accustomed to in UA, ensuring a smoother transition for those migrating.
- Meeting user expectations: While GA4 promises a new era of analytics, it's essential to retain functionalities that users have come to rely on. This restoration is a nod to that sentiment.
Going further - this change now means that marking events as conversions is genuinely doing something different. Be aware though, that this change does not work retrospectively - you will see a difference in your GA4 conversion tracking and reporting only from the date you make the change. For users still wanting to see the full scope of data, they can, instead, report on events, which will still be collecting every trigger.
Activating the Restored Feature
So, how do you activate once-per-session conversion tracking in GA4? The steps are very simple:
- Go to the Admin tab in GA4.
- Choose the Conversions property.
- Access the Conversion events table.
- Click on the 3 dots icon next to the desired conversion event.
- Opt for "Change counting method."
- Select the "Once per session" option.
- Confirm with "Save."
While GA4's reintroduction of the "once per session" conversion counting method is a welcome change, it's essential to recognise it for what it is: a restoration of a previously available feature. It serves as a reminder that while innovation is crucial, so is preserving the functionalities that digital marketers have come to trust and rely on. As GA4 continues to evolve, one can only hope that it strikes the right balance between the new and the familiar.
Find out how you can set GA4 up for success. Get in touch for your analytics consultation.