The Difference Between Google Analytics Goals and Events

On your organization’s website, you have key actions that you are driving people to take: you want people to click buttons, watch videos, fill out forms, etc. But most of all, you want to know how many people take those actions, and when. Google Analytics doesn’t just track traffic (say that 3 times fast), but it can also be used to track when these actions take place. It’s pretty easy to understand that “goals” and “events” refer to actions on-site, but knowing the difference between the two terms is where it gets hairy. Here we break down the difference between Google Analytics goals and events, and when to use them on your site.

Goals

Google Analytics Goals have to be a destination, duration, pages per session or based on an event, and should be set up to track your Key Performance Indicators – those metrics of success that align with your organization’s overarching mission. GA highlights goal conversion rates so you can understand how effective your digital strategy is at driving impact. You can even visualizes your conversion flow to see what traffic channels are leading to the most goal conversions and where users drop out of the funnel of engagement. You can find this chart in your Google Analytics account under Conversions –> Goals –> Goal Flow.

 

google analytics goal flow

 

Examples

Signup goals

Determine when people take the key step of giving you their contact information.

  • Email signup
  • Contact form completion
  • Volunteer signup
  • Resource downloads

Note that goals, unlike events, are only recorded one time per session. So, for example, if someone comes to your site and signs up for your newsletter with two different email addresses, it will only be recorded as 1 goal conversion.

 

Content and interested user goals

For organization’s that focus on content creation and have content-heavy pages, these goals allow you to measure reading or viewing and count those actions as goal completions.

  • Pages/Session
  • Time on page >5 minutes
  • Scroll depth to 75%
  • Video view
  • Video watched to 100%

 

Events

Events should be used to track actions on-site that are supplementary to your key goals. They can be anything on your site, from button clicks to video views. Unlike goals, events are not related to your organization’s KPIs; they are just actions that someone would take on the way. Another difference between goals and events is that events can be measured more than once per session, so you can see if someone is really smashin’ that button.

You can track event flow in Google Analytics to see what traffic sources drive users to complete what series of events, and where they drop off. You can find this chart in your Google Analytics account under Behavior –> Events –> Events Flow.

 

google analytics event flow

 

Examples

  • Video views
  • Button clicks
  • Pop-up impressions and/or clicks
  • Homepage slider clicks
  • Outbound link clicks

Cheat Sheet to Goals and Events

Phew, that’s a lot of info. Feel free to bookmark this page, or save the cheatsheet above so you can keep track of the difference between goals and events when setting up your Google Analytics account. Got some GA questions? Tweet us @WholeWhale.