Now that you have your Google Analytics account set and you have your first traffic stats coming in, you know how many people visit your site, where they come from, where they land, how long they stay and so on.
But how many of them did exactly what you wanted them to do? How many subscribed to your newsletter, downloaded your eBook or followed you on Twitter?
Depending on what you aim with your online business, your goals might be different. As software providers, we at Link-Assistant.Com have goals set to download and purchase of each of our products: BuzzBundle, SEO PowerSuite, Rank Tracker, WebSite Auditor and LinkAssistant.
How to define your online goals
Your goal is the WHY behind your website. An e-commerce generates sales, a forum relies on paid membership, a blog is monetized via paid ads, etc. However, these are ultimate goals, you also need to look for smaller steps users make to get to the final goal.
If you’re running an e-commerce site, your visitor’s ultimate goal is buying stuff from you. However, as part of interacting with your site, users complete a series of smaller goals: they might subscribe to your blog’s newsletter, request a live demo, download an ebook by your company – and these are also goals you need to account for.
To define all your goals that make sense, start with making a sketch of how your prospects interact with your brand. That’ll be your goal tracking framework.
When it comes to internet marketing and web analytics, goals can be positive and negative.
For instance, a customer can contact support to ask for a discount for your great product or they can issue a complaint. For sales process, visitors may complete the purchase or bounce at the final stage.
Or you might notice that users with German IPs abandon their shopping cart at the final stage. Digging for the reasons, you might find out that there’s no delivery option to this country and fix that since there’s an obvious demand for your products there – that’s an example of how following a negative goal helps you make informed decisions.
If we treat goals not only as business incentives but as all possible scenarios, you can imagine their number is infinite.
Here’s what Google Analytics lets you track:
- Pages/Screens per Visit
These are URL-based goals often used to track sales, downloads, subscriptions, live demo requests, etc. When visitors subscribe, download, fill out a form, they’ll be headed to some sort of Thank you page, that informs them that they have successfully completed an action.
How to set up a destination goal
Get the URL of your Thank You page, e.g. http://yoursite.com/thankyou.html
To create your destination goal, go to Admin – Goals – Create a Goal and select Destination type.
Each goal you create has an ID and belongs to one of the four sets. You’ll be allowed to create 20 goals total with one Google Analytics account, up to 5 goals in each set.
Though you’ll be able to move goals from one set to another later, it’s worth organizing your goals neatly from the very beginning. Use different sets to track different types of actions. For example, you can use the first set to track purchase, ascribe the second set with form completion actions, reserve the third set for ebook downloads and such.
Now enter information about your goal. Provide a descriptive name, e.g. Book1_Download, Newsletter_Subscription, etc.
As a next step, provide additional information about your goal. In most cases you’ll have a specific URL to track, so you’ll choose Equals to option. You can read up on Regular expressions here.
When you’ve created your first goal, run some test transactions to check the goal was set up properly.
Duration-type goals are normally goals that let you check if specific pages of your site are user-friendly.
It’ll let you spot visits that last specific amount of time or longer. For example, you’ve set a support page, which is supposed to explain how your app works in very simple words. However, you wish to check out if readers get through your explanation really easy. So you set a filter a duration filter and get notified if your users get stuck on any page for longer than 5, 10 minutes or any other time span you choose.
Pages/Screens per Visit
This goal type will let you spot if there’ve been any visitors who looked through more than 5 – or 10 pages – of your site.
In some cases many pages loaded suggest a high engagement level. For example, a user lands on a post of yours they find in Google, gets interested in your site, reads similar posts, checks out your About page and signs up to your RSS feed.
As part of a totally different scenario, multiple pages viewed may suggest that a person couldn’t find required information straight away, so you may consider brushing up your navigation or content.
Whatever the outcome is, setting up Pages/Screens per visit type of goals will let you take a closer look into how your visitors interact with your site. You can use this data to visualize typical user scenarios or funnels and take actions to streamline your conversions.
Any action of visitors to your site can be viewed as an Event, from playing an embedded video and clicking a banner to pressing a Tweet button and hitting external links. In other words, with Events set as your goals, you can track any sort of action users perform on page, without being redirected to another page of your site.
To track goals for your Events, you’ll have to start with setting up Events in your site’s code.
For example, you want to see how many people watched your embedded video, you’ll have to set up this action as an event and then set tracking it as a goal:
How do I check progress on my goals
Now that you’re all set with your goals, you can check how well your goals are accounted for.
You’ll find your main stats on goals in “Conversions – Goals.”
You’ll get stats on the number of times each goal has been completed during a given period:
When you’re checking for traffic sources, you’ll see how well people coming from different places (from organic search, referral sites or accessing your site directly) complete target actions. With this data at hand, you’ll be able to take informed decisions about improving the performance of your site.
Your goals are the backbone of your online project. Set them properly from the very beginning and you’ll get a clear picture of whether you’re heading in the right direction with your web project.
Stay tuned for the third part of my Beginner’s guide to Google Analytics, in which I’ll give a breakdown of Google Analytics features you can use to understand whether your visitors interact with your site properly.
Also check out part 1 of this series to see how you can set your Google Analytics account depending on whether you have or don’t have a content management system.
Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics Series
- Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics – Part 1: Setting up your account and grabbing your code
- Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics – Part 2: Setting Up Your Goals to Measure Impact
- Beginner’s guide to Google Analytics – Part 3: Measuring how visitors interact with your site