Google Analytics: Setting Up Goals
If you don’t have Google Analytics (GA) set-up on your website yet you need to do that right away. I provided instructions about how to add Google Analytics to your site in a previous post.
GA is a very powerful tool and the majority of websites aren’t leveraging the full value of what they have at their disposal.
This post is for those business that are using GA and are interested in tracking some form of goal or “transaction” on the site. You don’t have to be running an e-commerce business or website to benefit from GA goals. What this function does is calculate a conversion metric. The “conversion” can be:
- a completed email subscription form
- a completed PDF White Paper download form
- a product trial request
- a reservation (restaurant, hotel, oil change)
- or an online purchase
Google offers the following requirements:
The name of the goal: Specify a name that you will recognize when viewing the goals within each set of your reports. Examples of names you might use include “email sign-up”or “article ABC download.”
The defined funnel: You may specify up to ten pages in a defined funnel. Although funnels are optional, defining one can help you map where visitors drop off during the path to completing a goal.
The value of the goal: Google Analytics uses an assigned goal value to calculate ROI, Average Score, and other metrics. A good way to value a goal is to evaluate how often the visitors who reach the goal become customers. If, for example, your sales team can close 10% of people who request to be contacted, and your average transaction is $500, you might assign $50 (i.e. 10% of $500) to your “Contact Me” goal. In contrast, if only 1% of mailing list sign-ups result in a sale, you might only assign $5 to your “email sign-up” goal.
Defining a value for your goals is useful especially if you have more than one goal with subtle differences that don’t directly impact the bottom line (sales), like an email subscription or white paper download. Having a goal value will also help to determine the ROI if you have a number of tactics for driving traffic to the site e.g. natural search, referring sites, and social media.
Here’s how Google suggests you set-up your goals:
Setting up goals
After you’ve thought of what your goals will be, start setting up them up by following these instructions:
- Sign in to your Google Analytics account at https://www.google.com/analytics/.
- Select the account that contains the profile you’ll be creating goals in from the Overview page.
- Find the profile for which you will be creating goals, and click ‘Edit’ under the ‘Actions’ column.
- Under the ‘Goals’ section, select one of the four sets to create your goal in (each set contains up to five goals) and click ‘Add goal.’ You can create up to 20 goals if you use all four sets.
- Enter the goal’s name so that you can quickly recognize it when viewing reports.
- Turn the goal ‘On’ or ‘Off.’ If you choose ‘On,’ that means you want Google Analytics to track this conversion goal at this time. Turning it ‘Off’ will only make the goal inactive without deleting it.
- Select the goal’s position. The pull-down menu lets you select a goal’s position from within a set so that you can control the order in which it appears from the ‘Goals’ tab in your reports, or lets you move a goal from one set to another.
- Decide one of the three types of goals you want. This can be URL Destination, Time on Site, or Pages/Visit.
I almost always choose URL Destination as the goal and will focus on that type of goal today in the interest of brevity.
This goal lets you specify a page with its own URL as a goal. Simply copy and paste the goal page URL from the browser address bar or Top Content report in GA. In the case of a registration, the goal page might be the Thank You page (e.g. For the goal page “http://www.mysite.com/thankyou.html” enter “/thankyou.html”).
To begin setting up a URL Destination goal, follow these instructions:
- Select from one of the three match types that Google Analytics uses to identify the goal.
- Enter everything after the domain name (this is commonly called the Request URI) in the Goal URL box. For example, if your goal page is www.domain.com/whitepaperdownload, enter “/whitepaperdownload” into the Goal URL box. Reaching this page marks a successful conversion.
- If your goal URL is case sensitive, select the checkbox. This means your goal URLs are capitalized exactly like the visited goal URLs.
- Now click “save changes” to create this goal and you’re done.
It generally takes about 24 hours for goal data to start being collected and reported on so don’t be surprised if you don’t see any data in the reports right away. Of course there also needs to be conversions for the goal to be reported on as well.
You are now ready to start assessing how well a your site is fulfilling your business objectives. Use the graphs to identify conversion trends for any of your goals or for your overall conversions and conversion value.
And feel free to use my online marketing mantra; “test, track and tweak…”