If you’ve been following along with my Beginners Guide series on Google Analytics then you’re already familiar with how to set up your Google Analytics account, and how to apply Google Analytics filters to cut through the information overload and pinpoint the relevant traffic to your website. In this article, we’re going to take it a step further, and show you how to create analytics goals, which focus on measuring specific actions you want your readers to perform. These are called conversions.
Before you can set your goals, you first need to ask yourself what is the purpose of your website. Google Analytics collects a mountain of data, but it isn’t much use if you have not defined your website’s purpose. Are you collecting email addresses to build a mailing list? Are you selling a digital product through a BUY NOW link? Whatever your website’s purpose it must be closely matched by the goals you create to track these conversions.
As your business goals change over time, so too will your website goals. Eventually, you will need to update your goals within Google Analytics.
Creating Your First Goal
The goals section of Google Analytics is found in the same admin dashboard where Filters and Views are located. In fact, you will create a goal within the property view that you have created (or the default view, if you have not created any additional ones).
Once you have selected the Property and View that you want to create the goal in, click Goals under the View settings.
Click New Goal, and a 3 step window will appear. You must select one of the following:
- Template – Pre-filled configuration options
- Smart Goal – This will automatically measure the most engaged visits and turn these into goals.
For total flexibility, choose option 3 (Custom) and Continue.
Assign the Goal Description an easily identifiable name, and move to the Type of goal. This is a critical selection, and it’s here where understanding your website’s purpose becomes important. You want to measure the appropriate user conversions, so you know whether or not your site is performing well.
There are four types of goals:
- Pages/Screens per session
A destination goal is created to track any time a visitor ends up on a specific page. You might have a goal set to track the number of visitors who reach your Thank You page after signing up for your newsletter. You might have a goal set to track every visitor who lands on your Add to Cart page.
Duration goals are set to measure any individual session that lasts longer than a specified time. Consider this type of tracking to be the opposite of tracking a bounce rate. <- Good place to link to “how to lower your bounce rate <- Instead of focusing on sessions that last very little time, you may want to track those that exceed a set amount of time. Perhaps these are your most engaged users.
Pages/Screens per Session Goals
Maybe you consider an engaged user to be someone who visits a certain number of pages during a single session. This can be tracked as a conversation goal as well.
An event is a particular action that falls outside the others listed. It might be when a website visitor plays a product video or clicks on an ad. Configuring Event goals can be slightly more involved than the first three types, which we will outline in the following section – Goal Details.
After you have completed the Goal Setup and Goal Description phases, the last section is the Goal Details. This is where you will define the exact parameters that a user must execute to consider the goal achieved, and marked as a conversion.
Different goal descriptions will naturally result in different goal details. If you are tracking Destination Goal conversions, you must include the exact URL which will trigger a successful conversion. If you are interested in Duration Goals, then you must set the minimum amount of time for a single session to last before it is marked as a conversion. Similarly, Pages/Screens per Session Goals require you to set the minimum pages/screen per session to some value. Each of these types of goals also contains a setting for assigning a monetary value to the conversion. Let’s say that you sell an ebook for $20. You would want to have that goal equal $20 for the conversion. This makes it easier to determine how effective your site is at selling your ebook, especially if you sell the same book through multiple channels.
When it comes to entering the details of an Event Goal, things get a little more complicated. You must choose at least one Category, Action, Label or Value event and assign a parameter to it.
Goals are powerful tools for any webmaster, but they are not without some considerations.
- The maximum number of goals that can be applied to anyone View is 20. Still, this is plenty of room for anything but the most complicated website.
- Goals use the data collected from the moment the goal is created. They are unable to use any historical data. Because of this, goals should be created when Google Analytics is being configured. It’s perfectly acceptable to add goals after the fact, but they will only use data beginning with that period.
- Goals cannot be deleted. You can turn data recording off, but you cannot delete a goal once it has been created. Even a test goal.
Goals are an important part of any Google Analytics implementation. They allow site administrators to quickly measure the effectiveness of their websites and determine the worth of specific conversions.
Need more help with your Google Analytics? Try these Google Analytics Tutorials:
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