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How To Use Events as Goals in Google Analytics (V5)

Google Analytics (Version 5 Only) now allows you to use events as goals. If you are like us, you probably thought this day would never come!

Events as a goal type…why does this matter? Well, because you can now track more types of site interactions as goals.

Top 4 Benefits of Using Events in Goals

  1. Track visitors who don’t convert with traditional transactional or lead generation goals
  2. More easily track Influencers/Advocates on your site
  3. Measure “interactions” that can lead to better understanding of site engagement
  4. My absolute favorite…Measure “interactions” in the early stages of the buying cycle that demonstrate the quality of the visits that increase the top of the funnel and ultimately lead to increased revenue producing goals.

How To Use Events as Goals in Google Analytics

Ready, to take a tour of how to use events as goals? We breakdown the setup into four key parts of an “Interactions” goal based on multiple event categories and actions:

  1. Events as a Goal Type
  2. Flexibility to Use Event Category, Action and/or Label
  3. Event Value Conditions as Threshold Triggers
  4. Use Dynamic or Static Event Values as Goal Value

#1: Events as a Goal Type

Events as a Goal Type!

As you can see, there is now a fourth goal type option called “Event” on the goal setup screen. The three previously available goal types were limiting and didn’t allow you to easily track user behavior that didn’t initiate a pageview.

In Version 4 of Google Analytics, it was fairly easy to track basic site activity, as well as clear lead generation and sales funnel pathways as goals.

However, the challenge was tracking lower commitment site interactions that signal high levels of site engagement (without inflating pageviews via a virtual pageview call). It is these signals that help us measure the quality of visitors who are in the early stages of the buying cycle. Without this measure, clients often neglect these vital visitors and thereby don’t see the value of investing in online marketing efforts to identify and drive good potential customers to the site.

#2: Use Event Category, Action and/or Label

Use Event Category, Action and Label as Goal Conditions

This is where the power lies in tracking events as goals. You can use one or more event category, event action and/or event label as a condition to trigger your goal. The simple matching options of “head match” and “exact match” are available, or you can use the awesome power of “regular expressions” to come up with sophisticated solutions that can match a variety of site interactions in one goal.

This is often the case when attempting to measure engagement. By the way, if you want to explore complex ways to consider measuring engagement check on Eric Peterson’s post “How to Measure Visitor Engagement.”

Some examples of site interactions you can track:

  • printing pages
  • emailing to friends
  • liking your site on Facebook
  • tweeting your site on Twitter
  • sharing your site on LinkedIn
  • bookmarking on Delicious & Digg
  • listening to audio
  • watching videos
  • using site tools (such as calculators, quizzes, etc)
  • downloading PDFs
  • commenting
  • rating
  • requesting a shipping quote
  • clicking the add to cart button
  • interacting with a slideshow (such as the rotating content on many home pages)

Keep in mind that many of these examples require additional tracking code setup.

#3: Event Value Conditions

Event Value Conditions

If the event value does not meet a certain condition (i.e. threshold) it won’t trigger the goal. You can set the event value threshold to be “greater than”, “less than” or “equal to” an event value. This allows all kinds of creative goal tracking solutions.

For example, you can measure video engagement and determine how many people watched a video for at least 2 minutes by enabling the event value condition and using a threshold greater than ‘1’ (assuming you have properly set up event tracking for your videos). Note that we use ‘1’ here because it is a condition of ‘greater than’ and event values are integers/whole numbers.

#4: Use Dynamic or Static Event Values for Goal Value

#4: Use Dynamic or Static Event Values for Goal Value

You now have the ability to pass in the actual event value (i.e. a dynamic value) for the event or you can have the goal value default to a constant value. Keep in mind this must be a whole number/integer.


If you have been waiting for better ways to measure overall and individual types of site interactions that help you to better understand user engagement on your site…then your wait is over.

The inherent custom nature of event tracking coupled with the flexibility of using the event category, action and label with regular expressions as the match type, allows limitless potential to create unique, creative goal tracking solutions.

Share your ideas, experience and questions for using events as goals below in the comments. Thanks for reading and make it a great day!

Kayden Kelly
About the Author

Kayden is the founder and CEO of Blast Analytics & Marketing. He leads overall strategy and execution in positioning Blast as a leading analytics and digital marketing consulting company. An industry trailblazer who stays ahead of trends and opportunities, Kayden has spent nearly two decades building his expertise in all areas, with a deep focus on analytics, search engine optimization, and user experience. He is an evangelist for “the customer,” helping clients create sustainable competitive advantage by developing, optimizing, distributing, and connecting valuable content to customer needs. Connect with Kayden on LinkedIn. Kayden Kelly has written on the Blast Digital Customer Experience and Analytics Blog.

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