Understanding Goals in Google Analytics

goal - google analyticsWhy set Goals in Google Analytics

The best thing about web ana­lyt­ics is also the worst thing – the sheer volume of inform­a­tion. To find action­able reports in the deluge of data in Google Ana­lyt­ics it is import­ant to set Goals. Hav­ing defined Goals for you web traffic iden­ti­fies the sig­ni­fic­ant vis­it­ors, and under­stand­ing their activ­ity is the key to improv­ing the con­tri­bu­tion your web pres­ence makes to the business.

If you are read­ing this then you are prob­ably start­ing to ask your­self why do I have a web­site and how can I improve it. Per­haps you have asked your web designer and been given access to your Google Ana­lyt­ics data and want to find the answers. Well it is worth under­stand­ing and set­ting up Goals cor­rectly early-​on in your endeav­our as ana­lysis will not be done on his­toric data. You must define Goals before data appears in the reports on Goals and Goal Con­ver­sions.

Select­ing and Organ­ising Goals

To get that big com­mit­ment and con­vert your web­site vis­it­ors into cus­tom­ers you will need to engage them in a pro­cess: build­ing con­fid­ence in your com­pany, learn­ing about your products and, of course, mak­ing con­tact with you or pla­cing an order. The vis­itor will first need to be enticed to com­plete smal­ler steps (micro Con­ver­sions) such as spend­ing time on your site or down­load­ing inform­a­tion, before pro­gress­ing to big­ger steps (macro Con­ver­sion) like com­plet­ing the ‘con­tact me’ form. To under­stand and improve this pro­cess you need to track each step that may con­trib­ute to a suc­cess­ful out­come, these steps are your Goals.

Take a moment to think how to organ­ise your Goals before set­ting them up. In Google Ana­lyt­ics you can divide Goals in to 4 sets, with 5 Goals in each set (a total of up to 20 Goals per Profile).

For a lead gen­er­at­ing web­site your could con­sider organ­ising your goals like this:

Google Analytics Goal organisation

Goal set 1 – Primary Goals (macro Con­ver­sions) such as con­tact form com­ple­tions, or news­let­ter subscriptions

Goal set 2 – Sec­ond­ary Goals (micro Con­ver­sions) such as watch­ing product videos or down­load­ing information

Goal set 3 – Engage­ment Goals like time on page or num­ber of pages visited.

Goal set 4 – You could even set some neg­at­ive Goals like news­let­ter unsub­scribes or error pages.

Google Ana­lyt­ics has great help pages explain­ing how to set up Goals. You can go back and edit your Goals at any time or make a redund­ant Goal inact­ive but you can­not delete Goals. Once Goal data is in your reports it is there forever, pre­vi­ously recor­ded data will not be re-​analysed if a Goal is mod­i­fied by edit­ing. For this reason it is worth adding an annota­tion to record the date of any sig­ni­fic­ant changes to your Goals.

What can Goals tell us

When a visit com­pletes a Goal, Google ana­lyt­ics records a con­ver­sion (max­imum of one con­ver­sion per Goal per visit). If a vis­itor is suc­cess­fully engaged then a num­ber of dif­fer­ent Goals may be com­pleted and sev­eral con­ver­sions will be recor­ded for one visit.

To view data on your Goals go to Con­ver­sions on the left hand side of Google Ana­lyt­ics and select Goals and you can see the Over­view report. Pull down the menu on the ‘all Goals’ but­ton at the top of the graph to see data on each Goal separately.

I find the Reverse Goal Path report provides the most action­able inform­a­tion in this sec­tion. It shows you the dif­fer­ent nav­ig­a­tion paths that vis­it­ors have used to com­plete the Goal, start­ing with the goal com­plet­ing loc­a­tion in the left hand column and work­ing back­wards. This is an inter­est­ing report as you can com­pare it to your pre­dicted route that you may have set up in the fun­nel. You can now see which pages entice vis­it­ors to pro­gress towards your goals and eval­u­ate ways to improve their experience.

The best use of Goals and Con­ver­sion rates is you can now more mean­ing­fully eval­u­ate the per­form­ance of the many other met­rics repor­ted through­out Google Ana­lyt­ics. You can identify the sources of leads or key words that cov­ert cus­tom­ers like crazy or that one land­ing page that has never con­ver­ted a customer.

Google Analytics screen shot - showing sources evaluated by Goal completions

The sources report now reveals where the traffic that actu­ally ful­fills our Goals is com­ing from. We can tell that the source bring­ing us the most hits is not the most valu­able source of vis­it­ors for our business.

The sources report now reveals where the traffic that actu­ally ful­fills our Goals is com­ing from. We can tell that the source bring­ing us the most hits is not the most valu­able source of vis­it­ors for our business.

I hope you find this post inform­at­ive please add your com­ments or feel free to con­tact me for any assist­ance on how to under­stand your web ana­lyt­ics and optim­ise your website.

Based in Mac­cle­s­field, Cheshire, Web Incite simply and cost effect­ively bring on-​line mar­ket­ing tac­tics into the hands of small and medium sized sup­pli­ers, spe­cific­ally in the labor­at­ory and sci­entific mar­ket­place. We have many years’ exper­i­ence work­ing with man­u­fac­tures, dis­trib­ut­ors and ser­vice organ­isa­tions to improve lead gen­er­a­tion activ­it­ies and sales res­ults. Please con­tact us to dis­cuss how we can help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>