Mastering User Journey Tracking: Creating GA4 Event Funnels with Audience Triggers

10/3/202310 min read


Mastery of user journey monitoring is vital for comprehending how visitors engage with your website or application. In the previous iteration of Google Analytics (GA3), event funnels offered a potent method for visualizing and examining particular user routes. Nevertheless, with the advent of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), audience triggers have taken the place of event funnels. In this article, we will explore the concept of event funnels, discuss the constraints of GA3, and reveal how GA4's audience triggers can be utilized to establish event funnels for monitoring specific user journey paths.

What is an Event Funnel?

An event funnel is like a roadmap of the steps users take on a website or app. It's a way for businesses to track and study how people move from one action to another, leading up to something specific they do, like making a purchase.

Think of it as a story with different chapters, where each action users take is a part of the plot. For example, they might start by clicking a link, then watching a video, and finally buying something. Event funnels help us understand this journey and see if there are any hiccups or delays along the way.

With the newer GA4's audience triggers, this concept becomes even more interesting. It's like having a toolkit that allows us to make custom event funnels for different groups of users. So, whether users quickly buy something or take their time exploring, these triggers help us capture those unique stories.

By using audience triggers and event funnels together, we get a clearer picture of what users do and why. It's like learning from their actions and improving how websites and apps work based on that learning.

In the end, an event funnel is like a storybook, showing us how people journey through websites or apps. With GA4's audience triggers, we can craft custom storybooks for different user groups, learning from their actions to make online experiences even better.

Example: A typical event funnel might comprise events such as "visited homepage," "added item to cart," "initiated checkout," and "completed purchase."

Limitations of UA Funnel Visualization in GA3:

Limited Scope: The earlier version of Google Analytics, known as GA3, had its strengths but also some limitations, especially when it came to understanding user paths through what we call "funnels."

One of the significant drawbacks was its limited scope. In GA3, the funnel visualization mainly relied on tracking website addresses (URLs) and counting how many times pages were viewed. While this approach worked for tracking steps between different pages, it struggled to capture the intricate details of actions that happened on a single page or within an app.

This meant that if users were interacting with different elements on a single page, like clicking buttons, filling out forms, or watching videos, GA3's funnel view had a hard time capturing these interactions accurately. It could give you an idea of the general flow between different pages, but the granular actions within each page remained a challenge to comprehend.

Inflexible Setup: GA3 event funnels necessitated predetermined steps and lacked the flexibility to accommodate variations or deviations in user paths.

Fragmented Data: Since GA3 relied on pageviews, it frequently failed to capture critical user interactions and events, resulting in incomplete or inaccurate funnel data.

Introducing GA4's Audience Triggers:

Enhanced Tracking: GA4's audience triggers allow for more comprehensive event tracking and analysis by capturing specific user interactions across pages and applications. Dynamic Setup: In contrast to the pre-established steps of GA3 funnels, audience triggers can be dynamically configured to adapt to user behaviour and changes in the user journey.

Event-Based Funnel Tracking: With GA4, it is possible to create event-based funnels by defining specific events as trigger points along the user journey, providing a more detailed and precise depiction of the conversion path.

Setting up GA4 Event Funnels with Audience Triggers:

1: Figure out the path your users take as they go through your website, and identify the particular events that mark important interactions or milestones along this journey. This involves recognizing the key steps users go through and the actions they take that show they're engaging with your content. By doing this, you can gain insights into how users move through your site and what actions are most meaningful to them.

Let's dive into an example that can help us grasp the concept of Audience Triggers within GA4 more easily. Consider a situation where we're keeping track of people who fill out a form in GA4, something we'll call the "form_submitted" event. Now, what we're interested in is watching folks who spend at least 30 seconds on a particular webpage (like the one with "/offers" in its web address) that talks about the company's services. But there's a catch – we're only looking at people who come from a specific place where the company pays for ads, like those Google ads you see (google/cpc).

2: You can set up audience triggers by choosing specific events and arranging them in a sequence that outlines the funnel you want to create. This involves selecting particular actions that users take and arranging them in a way that represents the steps they go through. By doing this, you establish a clear pathway that helps you understand how users progress from one action to another.

  • Begin by Clicking on ‘Admin’

  • Click on ‘Audiences’ and then click on ‘New Audience’

  • Click on ‘Create a custom Audience’

  • On the Audience Builder select ‘Add sequence to include’

  • In the example that we are considering for this article, we first need to check if the user spent more than 30 seconds on the /offers page. We will be using the native GA4 event page_view and its metric engagement_time_msec to achieve this as shown in the screenshots below.

  • Click on Add Parameter and select page_location under other and define the condition as per screenshots below.

Click on Apply once done.

  • Next, proceed to the option labelled "Add Parameter," where you can establish the criteria to assess whether a user's time spent on the page surpasses the 30-second mark. Take the following steps to set up this condition.

Clicking on the "Apply" button concludes the process of outlining Step 1. With this configuration in place, the system will start monitoring individuals who navigate to the designated /offers page and invest a minimum of 30 seconds exploring its content.

  • Now to effectively sort out users who arrive via the Source/Medium label "google/cpc" please refer to the accompanying screenshots below.

    1. Click on And

  • Once again, tap the option labelled "Add a new condition." From there, proceed by choosing "Traffic Source" and subsequently selecting "Session source/medium."

1. Click on Add filter

2. Choose the necessary Source/Medium from the provided drop-down menu. As illustrated in this particular instance, I'll be opting for "google/cpc."

3. With our initial step now established, proceed by selecting "Add step" to set up the subsequent phase within the funnel. This next phase involves monitoring individuals who complete the form submission process. For this purpose, consider a scenario where a custom event has been previously arranged, denoted as "form_submitted."

  • At this point, a new option will emerge, accompanied by a configuration box dedicated to Step 2. This option will be presented as "is indirectly followed by." GA4 is essentially posing a question, asking whether it's important to you whether users engage in additional activities on the website subsequent to completing Step 1. In our provided example, the scenario is as follows: if our intention is to exclusively monitor individuals who directly proceed to complete the form after spending over 30 seconds on the /offers page, we would opt for "is directly followed by." Conversely, if our goal is to track users regardless of the actions they perform in between spending more than 30 seconds on the /offers page and filling out the form, then we would choose "is indirectly followed by."

  • For this example I will be selecting is directly followed by

Moving forward, we'll proceed to outline the conditions for Step 2, which involves users finalizing the form submission. As reiterated earlier, for the sake of illustration, consider that a customized event has already been established within the GA4 framework. This event serves to monitor all instances where users complete the form, carrying the distinctive event name "form_submitted."

1. Click on Add new condition and just like we selected the page_view event in Step 1, search and select the form_submitted event.

  • We can also include an additional parameter called Event count to ensure we only track users who fill out the form at least once.

  • Once done our setup will look something like this,

  • Click on the highlighted option in the above screenshot.

  • Within the context of Sequence scoping, there exists the option to determine whether we desire users to accomplish the designated steps all within a single session or extend these actions across multiple sessions.

  • The Sequence scoping option is also available for individual Steps defined as well.

  • Additionally, it's possible to establish a time limitation for the entire sequence. To illustrate, suppose there's a necessity to exclusively monitor users who successfully navigate through all the steps within a span of 10 minutes. In such instances, you can simply click on the clock symbol.

  • We also have the option to set time constraints for each step as well.

  • Once, happy with the setup, name this audience and define the membership duration as per requirement.

Congratulations, we've effectively generated an Audience to monitor individuals who devote over 30 seconds to the /offers page within a 10-minute timeframe, regardless of any other actions they might take on the website during the interval between these two stages.

  • Now to create an event for this scenario, click on AUDIENCE TRIGGER and name the event and Save the setup.

We have now successfully created an event with an active funnel.

The potential combinations of Events, Dimensions, and Metrics, coupled with considerations of time constraints and session scoping, create an immense array of possibilities. The degree of flexibility in terms of the various types of event funnels that can be devised is very expansive.

Note: Kindly be aware that all the definitions and conditions presented in this article serve as illustrative examples and might differ based on your specific needs and preferences.


In culmination, the evolution from GA3's event funnels to GA4's audience triggers marks a pivotal advancement in the realm of data-driven analysis. While GA3 did indeed provide valuable insights into user journey patterns, the emergence of audience triggers within GA4 introduces a paradigm shift in tracking and understanding user behavior. This transformative feature empowers businesses to dive deeper into user interactions, enabling them to sculpt event funnels that accurately mirror the intricate pathways users take through their websites or applications.

What sets GA4's audience triggers apart is their remarkable precision and adaptability. The ability to create nuanced event funnels that precisely delineate specific user journeys opens up a realm of possibilities previously constrained by the visualization limitations of UA funnel tracking in GA3. With audience triggers, businesses can transcend the one-size-fits-all approach, tailoring their analysis to various user segments and scenarios.

This heightened level of tracking proficiency serves as a beacon for businesses seeking to decode the intricacies of user engagement. By deciphering the stages users traverse, the stumbling blocks they encounter, and the conversion hotspots they reach, enterprises can orchestrate targeted strategies for optimization. This fine-tuned approach goes beyond mere data collection; it facilitates a comprehensive comprehension of user intent, enabling strategic enhancements in conversion rates and, by extension, overall digital performance.

By embracing the power of audience triggers, businesses embark on a journey of data-driven empowerment. The insights gleaned from these triggers offer a compass for marketing campaigns, website enhancements, and application refinements. It's not merely about tracking events anymore; it's about capturing the essence of user interaction and translating it into actionable intelligence. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, GA4's audience triggers stand as a formidable tool, guiding businesses toward a future where user-centricity is not just a goal but a reality that drives success.