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Dec 02, 2022 BY Cassandra Hansen, former Mighty Citizen Marketing, Web Development

Google Analytics 4 for Associations: The 4 Events Every Association Must Track

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Every marketing team has an objective. You’re trying to draw your visitor’s attention somewhere to do something, be it a membership sign-up, an event, an online training, or otherwise.

Tracking events in Google Analytics gives you insight into your audiences, your website performance, and your performance as a marketer. And tracking the right events? That’s how you get a good pulse on your members.

Associations balance conferences, event planning, member recruitment and retention, education, and advocacy. The most effective association websites balance audiences and drive them toward their goals within your organization. Every association’s mission is different, but your association’s top goals should be obvious both on your website and in your Google Analytics account.

What are the actions you want your visitors to take on your website? If you haven’t identified those events and tracked them in Google Analytics to determine when, where, by whom, and how often they’re occurring, you’ll never know how your website is truly performing.

What Are Events?

In GA4, events now have a higher tracking priority than sessions. Now, every click, interaction, and scroll is classified and automatically collected as an event. In GA4, event setup occurs in the user interface instead of the traditional setup in Google Tag Manager. Events that are tracked by default will change upon GA4 setup, and the method of creating custom events has become more robust. Google will recommend events & parameters for you to track, and custom events will provide more meaningful precise analysis.

With this new update, events are everything. And setting up the right events is crucial to your understanding of your audiences. GA4 allows multiple streams of data to be tracked in one place, meaning that if you manage multiple domains, subdomains, apps, etc., you can now view that cross-device tracking seamlessly. The more data you have, the clearer your user journey becomes.

What Google Analytics Events Should an Association Track?

A Google Analytics event is any action someone takes on your website that your organization considers relevant to track. For associations, the most important and popular events include:

  • Membership signups
  • Membership renewals
  • Learning registrations (in-person and virtual conferences)
  • Use of e-learning resources

If there are more events you’d like to track, that’s encouraged! It’s ideal to have between three and five events set up in your GA4 account so you can see how many of your website visitors are completing each of the above actions and which pages of your website are driving them to do so. That percentage of total users who complete at least one of your specified events is your website’s conversion rate.

1. Membership Sign-ups

    Your association juggles quite a bit at once. Between advocacy, training, PR, and everything else, all of your efforts are in service of your members. After all, they’re the reason you exist! Which is all the more reason why you should have the best idea possible about their experience interacting with you online. Where are your members coming from? How can you use that information to attract more? This just might be the most important event you track!

    You can track membership sign-ups by building a custom event for a successful form submission, or by tracking a unique URL, like a thank you or confirmation page. You may want to cross-reference this with your CRM data to make sure it’s accurate. It’s also a good idea to create a custom report in GA4 to show the source of those sign-ups.

    2. Membership Renewal

      Associations have two major audiences: prospective members and existing ones. Your website can’t prioritize both. Existing members often take a backseat, but it’s just as important to track your goal completions for that audience so you can stay attentive to their user journey. If prospective members take priority and membership renewals are a secondary call to action (CTA) to new member sign-ups, you need to understand what’s driving renewals to create a well-oiled machine. You can track these the same way you track sign-ups, but you’ll need a way to differentiate between sign-ups and renewals.

      3. Learning Registrations (in-person and virtual conferences)

        Typically, associations have robust year-round event schedules. There are conferences, chapter meetings, trainings, advocacy days, and other educational opportunities. If your organization puts on even one of these event types, you should be tracking registrations as an event. How else will you determine which marketing campaigns are filling seats?

        Now, this is where things can get tricky. Often, associations use third-party services for event registration. That means you may not always have direct control over the user experience, and most importantly, the confirmation page. Fret not! Some of the third-party services will integrate with Google Analytics. If that’s not the case for you, you’ll at least be able to track button clicks to the external website as an event and compare that data to third-party registration data. For these instances, it’s critical that you have UTMs set up. This might require either reaching out to your third-party event service or searching Google for help.

        4. E-Learning

          Does your association provide resources online? Whether people pay for these or they’re able to download them for free, you should consider gating your content (requiring an email address in exchange for the content). This not only allows you to track who is accessing your content with a custom event (such as a form submission) but also gain their email address so you can work to build a relationship with them.

          The greater strategy here is to drive every visitor to achieve all four types of event completions—at least once! That means thinking comprehensively about your goals and your website flow. What’s the easy, non-committal request that can set you up now for the bigger requests later? Lead with that. Aim for consistency across the experience. Your users should feel a certain cadence when advancing from one request to the next. Example:

          1. Sign up for our webinar about what it means to be a member of the National Silly Dance Moves Association.
          2. Submit your best silly dance move using our online form for a chance to win free membership for life!
          3. You didn’t win the contest, but you should still become a member.
          4. Your membership is set to expire. Time to renew, you dancing machine!

          Remember—don’t jump right into creating custom events! First, check if your event is already included as an automatically collected event or enhanced measurement event. If it’s not available as either, then consult Google’s list of recommended events. Lastly, create custom events if not available otherwise. You don’t need to set up a million different events, either. Please don’t! Condense it down to the few showing value and laddering up to your business objectives.

          Mighty Citizen Can Help

          Are you looking for a partner to help champion your transition to Google Analytics 4? Our team of digital marketing experts can set you up on the new platform so you can get to tracking the data you care about. Drop us a line—we’d love to chat!


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