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Goals & Events: What is the difference and how should I use them?

Tony Villanova - July 1, 2020

Goals and Events are interactions or conversion points that you tell Google Analytics to record. Although each can act as a conversion point, it may get confusing when to use one or the other. We will explain the difference between Goals and Events as well as when to use one or the other and how to use them together.

Goals are used to measure how often a User completes a specific action on your website. Goals can be based on Destinations (pageviews), Events, Pages/ Screens per session, and Duration. In a Google Analytics View you can create up to 25 Goals per View. Typical Goal examples would be Form Submissions, Order Thank You / Receipt pageview, or content consumption (time on page).

Events in Google Analytics are User interactions that occur on your website and can be just about anything you would like to track such as; video interactions (play, pause, percentage viewed), button clicks, link clicks, or form submissions just to name a few. Although there are hit limits in Google Analytics (10 million hits per month) there is not a limit to the number of Events that you can create.

In the past every Event would be its own block of script that would be in the coding of your website which depending on the number of events you have on a given page could slow down your page speed. With the help of Google Tag Manager, hard-coding Events is a thing of the past and deploying Events through GTM bypasses the large amounts of coding and time that would be required for each Event.

In this example we have a Complimentary Consultation Form that we would like to track how many Users are filling out the form successfully. Once the form is filled out successfully and submitted, the User is taken to a thank you page “/consult-thank-you”.

Since we have a final conversion point of a “/consult-thank-you” pageview, we can set up a destination-based goal to capture just the “/consult-thank-you” pageviews. This will give us a total number of Complimentary Consultation Form submissions for any future timeframe after we have created the goal.

Now let’s say our Form does not have a thank-you page, but we would still like to track how many users have intent to submit the form. This can be done through GTM where we would create an Event that would fire on all of the “Get Started” button clicks on the Complimentary Consultation form. Although the Event could capture false form submissions (if the form was only partially filled out and submitted) it will also capture form submissions that actually occur. In the Event reporting this would be the difference between Total Events and Unique Events. Once the Event has been created and tested, we can then use this as the base of our Goal when we create it.

Keep in mind that Goals and Events like many things are not retro-active in Google Analytics.

Goals and Events are great indicators of how your website is performing towards your company’s initiatives no matter what they may be. With the help of Google Tag Manager it is now easier than ever to track all of the different interactions a User may take on your website.

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