Set up Event Goals in Google Analytics: a Step by Step Guide


Every website has a purpose which can be tracked and analyzed in systems like Google Analytics. For these purposes, we need to use events and goals.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the process of setting up event goals in GA. It’s easy, and I promise you’ll get it, just read on 🙂

Why event goals?

Events and goals serve different needs, they provide you with different sets of information and are available in different types of reports.

For example, if you need to see which traffic sources sent you sales or leads, you will need to set up goals to track these important interactions:

google-analytics-goal-reporting-traffic sources

Here’s an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to track events goals in Google Analytics:

  • Configure a custom event
  • Test the event in Google Analytics real-time reports
  • Configure a goal based on the event
  • Test the goal in GA real-time reports

Configure a custom event

There are 2 ways you can do so: using Google Tag Manager or adding an event code to the action you want to track.

I usually use Google Tag Manager.

Here’s an example. I have this subscription form in my posts:

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I configured an event which is triggered every time a user subscribes to my newsletter (you are welcome to subscribe, btw if you want to get valuable tips and insights!). I see that this event is triggered in GTM preview:

While creating Google Analytics custom event, make sure to add the following event values:

  • Event Category (required)
  • Event Action (required)
  • Event Label (recommended)

You can pass valuable info with these 3 values. For example:

  • Event Category: Email Subscription
  • Event Action: Form Submit (this will be a dynamic field for me as I want to track which dorm placement brought most of the subscribers: in post, after post or sidebar)
  • Event Label: Page (this will also be a dynamic field in my configuration)

That’s what it looks like in my GTM tag:

Make sure to write down the event values, you’ll need them to configure a goal.

The next thing I need to do is to check if my custom event is firing in Google Analytics.

Navigate to Google Analytics > Realtime > Events. Perform an action you’re tracking on the website and see how it’s reported in Google Analytics:

Once we confirmed that the event is firing, it’s time to build a goal out of this event.

Set up an event goal

  1. Navigate to Admin in Google Analytics -> Goals (under View)
  2. Click ‘New Goal’
  3. Choose ‘Custom’ as a goal type
  4. Give your new cool goal a name
  5. Choose ‘Event’ as the goal type
  6. Click ‘Continue’
  7. Add your goal Category, Action and/or Label
  8. Verify the goal
  9. Save your new goal
  10. Pat yourself on the back, you’ve just set up your event goal!

Here’s an example of my event goal configuration:

Note a few things:

  • Using one value (only Category, only Action or only Label) is enough to configure an event goal. In my example, I used two: Category and Action.
  • Mind the match type for the values:
    • Equals to: this is the strictest match out of 3 options. Use only if your value is unchangeable.
    • Begins with: this option is handy if you have multiple conditions which begin with the same part.
    • Regular Expression: this is the most flexible option. It will let you include multiple conditions which might significantly differ from one another. But you should know how to build RegEx (I’m going to publish a post on that soon, so stay tuned and subscribe).
  • Goal verification might show 0.00% conversion rate if you’ve just configured your event. In this case, there won’t be any historical data.

Make sure your event goal is firing

Navigate to Google Analytics > Realtime > Conversions. Perform an action you’re tracking as a goal and see if it’s reported in Google Analytics:

Goals reports

Once you set your event goals, you can see reports including these goals. Here are the 3 most valuable reports.

Traffic Sources

This report is found under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Here you will be able to see which channels contribute to the goal completions:

google-analytics-channels-goal-completions

Landing Pages

To get to this report you’ll need to navigate to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. The report shows on which pages users who completed certain actions (goals) initially landed:

google-analytics-landing-pages-goal-completions

Goals

This report is specifically about goals and is found under Conversions.

It may tell you on which particular pages your goal has been completed (Goal URLs), which page a user visited before completing a goal (Reverse Goal Path) and more.

Are you sure your business decisions are based on the correct data?

Final Bricks

Tracking certain actions on the website is important as it gives an understanding how users interact with your website and if they really complete the actions you expect them to.

I’d also advise you to track soft conversions in addition to hard conversions. For example, Adds to cart in addition to sales as it gives more valuable data on the user journey.


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