Defining Transactions v Goal Conversions v Goal Completions
When viewing Google Analytics reports, I constantly need to remind myself of the difference between goal conversions , goal completions and e-commerce transactions (may be its just me that gets confused..!). Whatever, I thought I would share my clarification.
One obvious difference is that a transaction is associated with an e-commerce completion (a purchase) while a goal conversion is considered a non-ecommerce event, such as a PDF download, a form completion or visit to a special offers page. Of course these examples are all conversions, which is where I think confusion lies.
Explanation: The most important difference as far as Google Analytics is concerned, is that a goal conversion can only happen once during a visitor session – that is, a visitor can only become a customer (convert) once and that makes sense. So, if one of your goals is set to *.pdf for example (any PDF file download), then should a visitor download 5 PDF files during their session, it will only show as one goal conversion, for that particular goal, in your Google Analytics reports.
You can obtain the number of goal completions (5 in this example) from your Content > Top Content report – assuming you are tracking pdf downloads . Similarly, the number of transactions are counted in full within your eCommerce reports.
Where you see the discrepancy is when your transaction is also a defined goal conversion – you would do this for funnel analysis. It is likely that the number of goal conversions is less than the number of transactions because any multiple transactions from the same visit are not counted.