Any successful business knows how to get into the hearts and minds of their customers—and Google Analytics makes that more possible than ever. Traditionally, market research was reserved for the big corporations with deep pockets who could afford to conduct their own field studies. Their findings would inform their business model and advertising campaigns to yield greater results, while small business owners struggled to compete.
In the digital domain of today’s 21st century, Google Analytics levels the playing field. The search engine giant offers the tool as a “freemium” service, meaning small business owners can use it without paying a monthly charge, or they can upgrade to access more advanced features.
But even at the base level, Google Analytics (GA) is an instrumental resource. It helps you truly understand your website audience including who they are, what they’re doing, and whether they’re converting toward your site objectives—otherwise known as “goals”.
Keep reading to learn how to set up GA Goals and track traffic to better understand your online audience, so you can then tailor your marketing approach to your customers for increased success.
What are Google Analytics goals?
Google defines a goal as “a completed activity, called a conversion, that contributes to the success of your business”. Some examples might include:
- Submitting a contact information form on a lead generation page
- Making a purchase on an eCommerce website
- Finishing a video game level on a mobile app
Goals can also be tied to how long a user stays on your site, how many pages or screens they view in a session, and how many events they trigger within their activity. (Note: An “event” refers to user interactions, such as watching an on-site video, clicking a link, or scrolling past the fold of a page.)
Why measure Google Analytics goals?
Essentially, GA goals are indicators of whether your online audience is taking the actions you’d like them to take for the success of your business. They measure how well your website or mobile app is fulfilling its target objectives, whether that may be to generate leads, sell goods or services, display advertisements, so on, and so forth.
You can also assign a monetary value to each conversion and translate every action into a dollar amount. This enables you to draw reports that show the financial impact of your marketing initiatives.
By configuring goals, you can see what’s working and what’s not. They allow you to monitor metrics that matter most as they contribute to your business’ growth. Several bottom-line key performance indicators (KPIs) you can track with goals on GA include:
- Number of total conversions
- Overall conversion rate
- Most effective marketing campaigns
- Drop-off points within the funnel (so long as you set up funnels to document the user path—more on that to come in a moment)
Weak results indicate opportunities where you may be able to make adjustments for conversion rate optimization (CRO) to acquire more customers and increase sales revenue for overall profitability.
How do you set up goals on Google Analytics?
To set up goals and start tracking site traffic, you first need to log into your GA account and select “Admin” at the top of your screen. You’ll be presented with three separate columns that read “Account”, “Property”, and “View”; select the last option and click the “+ New Goal” button at the top of the table.
Then, you’ll need to decide which type of goal you’d like to set up. There are four different categories: Destination, Duration, Pages/Screens, and Events. Each type of GA goal is configured differently.
Destination – Measures when a specific location loads
- Select a URL a prospect will see after completing a certain conversion activity, for example, a “Thank You” page after submitting a contact form.
- Decide whether to set a goal value.
- Define your Match Type (Exact or Head) to determine how strict GA is when deciding if a URL counts.
- Create a funnel if you’d like to measure how users move through your site to reach a certain destination and complete a desired goal. Enter the URL of each page on the user path you’d like to track in order to move them through the funnel
Duration – Tracks sessions that last for a specified amount of time to measure user engagement
- Specify the minimum amount of time that qualifies a conversion in the “Hours, Minutes, and Seconds” fields.
- Any session that lasts longer than this amount of time will count as a completed goal and generate a conversion
Pages/Screens – Measures the number of pages or screens a user views as another indicator of engagement
- Set the minimum amount of pages you’d like a prospect to view per session.
- Each time a user sees at least that many screens after entering your site, it will count as a conversion.
Events – Tracks specific interactions users make with your content that triggers an event
- Define which actions constitute an event by creating an Event Tracking code.
- Establish a Category to group a series of acts you wish to track; for example, if you have multiple videos you’d like users to watch, you might label the Category field as “Videos”.
- Set the Action you’d like the prospect to take, such as pressing “Play” on a video.
- Fill out the Label to provide more information about the event, like the title of a specific video.
- Set the Value of the event that assigns a numerical value to the desired action.
- Choose whether you want the Event Value to equal the Goal Value; if not, enter your desired monetary amount.
Whichever type of goal you create, make sure to complete the configuration by pressing “Save Goal” before exiting the template.
How do you track goals on GA?
Once you have your goals in place, monitoring your conversions is easy. Simply log back into your GA account and click “Conversions> Goals> Overview”. You can then use the drop-down menu to select which type of goal you’d like to view, and you’ll see the number of completions, conversion rate, abandonment rate, and so forth. (Note: You should wait until enough sessions have occurred to deduct meaningful data.)
These metrics are far more insightful than simply tracking site traffic and page views alone because they can help you find out whether your website is actually helping your business. By identifying areas for improvement, you can optimize where necessary to improve your bottom line.
This article was kindly written by Tom Mumford. Tom is a co-founder of Undergrads Moving, a gig-economy platform that connects college students to customers in the area who need moving services. He is an accomplished entrepreneur with experience in industrial engineering, business administration, and product management. He writes about a variety of topics from entrepreneurship to lifestyle improvement while growing his on-demand moving platform.