Digipropolis Blog: Marketing Pros & Their Cons

How to Create and Use Goals in Google Analytics

Why Are Goals Useful in Google Analytics?

Goal_WinnerIn most conversations about using Google Analytics, the euphoria of gaining insight into who site users are and where they go will eventually give way to the consternation over whether they are “converting.” Everyone wants to know if their devotion of time (especially in the form of the hours it takes to develop content and maintain a site) and money (especially in the form of Google AdWords advertising campaigns) are meeting business and branding goals. After all that work, you’ve probably asked yourself, is my web program converting visitors into prospects, and prospects into customers?

By “conversions,” I hope it’s understood that we aren’t just talking about ecommerce purchases; we’re also generally talking about inquiries through lead generation forms such as newsletter subscriptions and quote requests. In fact, I’d say it’s more common to be concerned with these non-purchase conversions.

Now, I’m sure you’re already aware that your site is creating conversions – you receive email requests, inquiry forms, and purchase receipts. This information is great, but it is usually difficult to create a report about site conversion with this anecdotal evidence. The origins of leads, whether from the web, a trade show, a referral, etc. are notoriously hard to track, especially when tracking is left in the hands of salespeople (no offense intended here – tracking is simply not the most important part of a salesperson’s job, and I don’t expect them to spend much time on it).

How To Create Goals in Google Analytics

Creating “Goals” in Google Analytics is an easy and automated way to determine whether your site is producing conversions, and to produce reports that allow you to track and compare performance over time. There are three types of Goals you can create: URL Destination, Pages per Visit, and Time on Site.

Finding the Goals Set-Up Page in Google Analytics: I personally find it difficult to locate the Goals set-up page because I always forget that it isn’t in the Google Analytics report. Rather, Goals are established in the Account Profile. Here’s how to find Goals in Google Analytics: Sign into your account and (if you have only one website), read across the columns of metrics until you see the hyperlinked word “Edit” under the “Actions” column. Click on Edit. This brings you to the Profiles page. You’ll have to scroll down until you see Goals (it’s listed under “Main Website Profile Information”).

Basketball_in_HoopSelecting a Goal Parameter: As I mentioned before, you can create Goals by configuring individual Goals based on the three types of Goals. Here’s what the Goal Type terms “URL Destination,” “Pages per Visit,” and “Time on Site” mean:

URL Destination: This is a particular website page that a visitor will only arrive at after completing a measurable action on your site. The most common URL Destination used is probably the address of the “Thank you” page that a user arrives at after submitting an inquiry form. It’s pretty easy to copy and paste the URL of your thank you page into the Goal field.

Pages per Visit: This is literally the number of pages that an individual visits before exiting your site. A higher number of pages is correlated with greater visitor interest, so a reasonable conversion Goal might be sessions of greater than 3 page visits. 

Time on Site: You guessed it! This is literally the number of minutes and seconds that a visitor remains on your site before exiting. Since more time on site is correlated with greater visitor interest, a reasonable conversion Goal might be sessions of more than 3 minutes (that would be a successful conversion). You might also want to track sessions of less than 1 minute (that would be a problematic conversion).

stacks-of-moneyMatch Type: Select the radio button for “Active” Goal. If you’re using a URL Destination Goal (high recommended), select “Exact Match” for match type. Then, copy and paste the URL for your “thank you page” into the Goal URL. Come up with a descriptive name for your Goal, like “Inquiry form.”

Assigning Goal Value: This is a tricky area for a non-ecommerce website. The advice I’ve received is to either a) estimate an actual dollar value for the goal, based on your knowledge of your marketing cost-per-lead, or b) guess, using a relative dollar value for each of your goals (maybe an inquiry form completion is worth $50, more than 3 minutes on site is worth $35, etc.)

RightBlueArrowGive it a try! Log in to your Google Analytics account and set up some goals! It’s an easy way to judge which page content and keywords are bringing home the conversions, and which ones need a little attention from you to bring about improvement!


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