How to Track Your Analytics Event as a Goal

My most popular Clix blog post has been “Time To Start Tracking Your Button Clicks In Google Tag Manager.” It’s a post that I still even refer back to often because I often set up button tracking or other events for our clients that either do not have the internal capacity or skill sets to use Google Tag Manager (GTM) to set them up themselves. Maybe you’re in the same boat.

Using GTM, you can set up a variety or button clicks or other events tracking (as explained in that post), but do you also want to track the event as a Google Analytics goal? Depending on what you’re tracking and why, you might want to take that next step.

What is the Difference Between an Analytics Event and an Analytics Goal?

This question gets into the differences between events and goals. Events are meant to report basic site actions such as button clicks, video watches, content downloads, etc. They are counted for every time they occur, so if a user completes the event multiple times, analytics events will count each time it’s completed (not by how many users actually completed it).

Typically events do not include revenue driving actions.

In Google Analytics, events appear in the Behavior Section.  You can see them under the Behavior Flow or in their own section:

On the flip side, goals are mostly intended to track actions that directly impact the livelihood of your business such as leads, sales or other key conversion actions. Unlike events, goals are counted once per visit, no matter how many times they occur. These appear wherever your events are not in Analytics.

There are five types of goals:

  1. Destination (a certain url)
  2. Duration (a certain time)
  3. Pages/screens per session (a certain number of pages visited in one session)
  4. Events as goals
  5. Smart goals (not available in all accounts but these determine the most engaged visits to your website and automatically turn those visits into Goals that can be used improve your Google Ads bidding)

Why Track Events as a Google Analytics Goal?

Really, this answer depends on your business model, but here are a few ideas:

  1. Your business model isn’t able to or isn’t designed for direct revenue. For example, maybe your product is only sold in select chain stores and not on your website and your goals are more focused on Brand Awareness.
  2. The event can be tied with a key potential revenue generation action, such as a request for a quote.
  3. Your leads are generated through gated content download strategies.
  4. You want to import the events into Google Ads for certain bidding strategies or to see the results in that interface.

How to Turn an Event into a Google Analytics Goal

  1. In Analytics, go to the Admin Section – it’s the last icon in the left panel.
  2. Click on Goals in the right-most section.

3.  Click the +New Goal button.

4. Enter the name of your goal.

5. Select a “slot” (ie Goal #) for your goal.

6. Pick “event.”

7. Click the Continue button.

8. Complete the goal details.

Use GTM to Find Your Event Information

If you used GTM, you need to enter the fields in Analytics exactly as you entered them in GTM. In GTM, just click on the tag for the event that you want to set as a goal.

Let’s look at my newsletter sign-up fields in GTM:

Now, we put the category and action values into the Google Analytics goal corresponding fields so it would look like this:

There isn’t a right or wrong value for the Label or Value. You can choose to keep either of them blank.  If you leave the Label blank, in this example, Google will fill in the page where the user completed the action. Analytics only needs Category and Action filled in here to create a goal.

Use Google Analytics to Find Your Event Information

If you prefer to see how your events are named directly in Google Analytics, then navigate to Behavior > Events > Top Events. Click on each of the primary dimensions (Category, Action, Label) to see how your event appears and input those fields into the goal corresponding fields.

9. Click on the Save button.

Verify Your Goal is Working

You can click the Verify this Goal link to see if the goal is tracking correctly. Just be warned that this metric uses the past 7 days as a data reference. Therefore, if you have a new event, then you’ll see a 0% conversion rate because there couldn’t be any data for the past 7 days.

Alternately, you can do a test of your action to ensure one has recently been recorded.  Then, go to Conversions > Goals > Overview. Set the date range for today. If you like, you can select your Goal from the drop down. Then, look below to see if you are seeing any completions for your new goal. If so, then you’re all set!

If you found this helpful, here are some other Google Analytics posts you might find helpful:

Cross-Device Tracking in Google Analytics

The Google Analytics Setting You Must Change Immediately

Understanding Site Speed in Google Analytics

Which events do you track as goals in Google Analytics?  Do you have any other helpful tips on the setting up events as goals? Comment below to share!

Comments (6)

  1. Hi Kristin,

    It is a very usefull article because I have the same experiences we are in the same boat…

    Our clients no have time and skills to put these trackings to GTM.

    But the tracking is very important to optimize campaigns and increase your traffic.


  2. You’re so very welcome! I’m glad we’re able to fill in the gap to help our clients out and get the data we need to make the best decisions for our campaigns. Thanks for the comment and happy tracking!

  3. Ki Kristin! Thanks for this article. It’s helpful! ¿Would you guide me?
    My events are showing signals in GA and I’ve created the goals as the blog says.

    But no goals are showing in GA. ¿What could it be?

  4. Hi Kristin,

    Thanks for writing this. I landing on this this page after reading (and acting on) your article about GTM event tracking. Maybe I’m doing this wrong, but it seems like something is missing for this goal. Let me explain…

    I’m trying to create a GA goal centered on my GTM event for tracking a button click on a specific page. Wouldn’t I somehow need to make the GA Goal’s Label the click_class and the Value the GA button code from my trigger? I’ve set up the goal as you’ve described, skipping the value, but I don’t think it’s tracking any specific event without that information. Did I miss a step?

  5. Hi – Thanks for reaching out. Sorry for the delay in responding as I was out of the office. I revised the post a bit to clarify, but I think you should try to leave the label blank in GA. Depending how you set up the event in GTM, then GA will just dynamically fill in the value you selected there. Only Category and Action need to match. I hope that works!

  6. Hi Walter! Sorry for the delay in responding as I was out of the office. A few ideas: 1. Double-check that you have the Category and Action matching exactly as they appear in GTM. Any misspellings or capitalization changes matter. 2. Try taking out any information you entered for Label or Value since those aren’t required. 3. Check your date in GA that you aren’t looking at a time period outside of when the goals existed. 4. Similarly, make sure you don’t have any segments applied that would filter users out. Without seeing what you’re seeing, I hope one of those might work for you!

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