Total Events not matching Goal Completions – Google Analytics

A very short post but still relevant if you have ever come across this issue.

total events and  goal conversions are different! Why, surely they should be the same

So you have set up some events through additional event tracking – downloads, submit clicks, external link clicks etc.

You now make a goal* with the same event (good post on setting event based goals at sproutsocial)

Then you look at total events and look at goal conversions and they are different! Why, surely they should be the same?

Well no they shouldn’t. Goals conversions are unique per session, so the first time the goal is converted it is recorded. Any further goal conversions in that same session are not recorded. Events on the other hand are not unique. Each and every event is recorded no matter if it is the first time, second time or 10th time.

What you should be able to equate is roughly the following:

Total Events = Goal conversions x Events per visit (i.e. there is a correlation between goals converted, events and events per visit)


*Why make an event a goal too?

Firstly number of goals in GA are limited so only set up GA goals if they relate to your “Digital Marketing and Measurement Model“. Goals are used in several places within GA with some important benefits. You can look at which landing pages get the best goal conversion, you can look at the goal journey, see what sources led to conversion etc etc. using Conversions rather than pageviews/ visits is far better when it comes to measurement and site success.

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Posted in Goals
9 comments on “Total Events not matching Goal Completions – Google Analytics
  1. chantelleys says:

    What about unique events? I understand why goal conversions wouldn’t match total events, but why wouldn’t they match unique events, given that unique events are per session?

  2. Thanks for the great writeup, appreciate the information! By any chance would you know if there Is a way to use goals to track total events instead of unique events?

    • Hi Jason. Its not the events being unique, rather the fact its a goal. Same goes for URL based goals, once its been achieved its been achieved so always unique.

      If you have used events though, just create a custom report or dashboard widget to monitor specific events.

  3. Audrey C. says:

    Hi Dominic, hope you see my comment since it’s been 3 years! My situation is completely opposite though. Our goal conversion numbers are higher than total events! Do you know what could be the issue?? Thank you so much!

    • Hi Audrey. Soils for the delay, no idea how that happened. As for the question how have the goals been set up. Is it a direct match or using regex? Regex can be (and rightly so) complex so and “equals”, “starts with” or “contains” will give you different results.

  4. sbolduc9 says:

    Thank you so much I was wondering why it wasn’t matching !

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