Unarguably, Google Analytics is the best tool to monitor the performance of your website. And chances are, you're already using it to track pageviews, unique visitors, bounce rate, etc.
There's also something important in there. Some might argue that this is the most important metric, out of all that Google Analytics offers.
Google Analytics Goals.
'Goals' is one of the most important business metrics you can track as it contributes to your business’ growth. That’s because ‘Goals’ are the actions you want your customers / visitors to take on your website.
For example, Goals can tell you how many people have signed up to your contact form along with the conversion rate for that form. That can help you keep track of your lead generation efforts very easily, along with any other ‘objectives’ you have, regarding your business.
Goal tracking in Google Analytics will help you understand if your site is helping you to move forward or causing a lot of confusion for your users.
Among the metrics you can track with Goals are...
- Number of conversions.
- Conversion rate of your website.
- Which marketing campaigns get the most conversions for your business.
- At what point of the funnel users drop off (you’ll have to set up funnels first to monitor the user journey).
- E-commerce (Here's how to setup Google Analytics E-commerce Tracking)
But, in order to monitor these metrics and make sure your business objectives are being met, you have to define your objectives, and set them up on Google Analytics in the first place.
But don’t set up goals just for the sake of it.
Note: Goals are limited to 20 per reporting view.
When you start to setup Google Analytics Goals, it is not an exercise you should complete just to tick a box in some to-do list. It doesn't work like that. A Goal should be something that truly contributes to the bottom line and/or growth of the business – for example, lead generating Goals like lead gen form completions.
Determining and defining your business objectives.
Essentially, this might be the hardest part on this. Because you need to clearly define your objectives in a S.M.A.R.T. way. If your business has multiple decision makers, then all of them need to be on the same page with these objectives.
Through collaboration, they should determine how the website needs to help the company achieve its overall goals.
Also, identify what these goals are worth to the business. For example, determine how many leads reach a sale. What is that sale worth? What are your profit margins?
After you've defined what a goal conversion is worth, you can get a better understanding of the return you’re getting from your marketing and advertising efforts. Note: It’s important to mention that all parties need to understand the difference between Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and site goals.
KPIs are metrics, which help us to reach a goal (i.e., items added to a cart, video starts, clicks to chat or contact an organization). It’s okay to monitor KPIs via event tracking in Analytics but they shouldn't be mistaken as goals, because goals are the overall end result that you desire from a site user’s journey through your funnel. This may be a newsletter signup, a lead gen form submission, a sale, a web chat session, etc. So they're different from KPIs.
Set Up Google Analytics Goals:
Step 1 – Set up a Goal in Google Analytics.
- Sign into your Google Analytics account and select the Admin account at the top of your screen.
- After you've agreed upon goals for our site, you can move into Google Analytics, within the Admin > Goals section to set up your goals.
- You’ll be given the opportunity to choose between a template-based goal or a custom goal format. These are basically the same and from our experience, and it’s easier if you choose the custom format.
Step 2 – Choose your goal type.This will help you decide the best Goal type(s) that will help you measure your digital marketing objectives and KPI’s.
Here’s a brief breakdown to understand description of each Goal type.
- Destination - html pages like thank you pages and confirmation screens that appear after landing pages downloads or sign-ups.
- Duration - minimum time period you would like users to spend on your website before it’s tracked as a Goal completion.
- Pages/Screens - how many pages were viewed in a session, e.g. you can set the minimum to 3 pages.
Event - e.g. user interactions like when a user plays a video, clicks on an affiliate ad, signs up for a newsletter or leaves a comment on your blog.
It's usually not recommended to setup Google Analytics goals based on metrics like pages per session or visit duration. These aren’t goals, they’re KPI metrics.
For example, if someone visited five pages on your site, or stayed on it for 3 minutes, it doesn’t create sales, or generate leads. It likely helps you, but it’s not an end goal.
Step 3 – Learn what each Goal type means, and how to set them up.
Destination Goals -
Destination Goals measure the end page your user has reached, after taking a specific action (i.e., completing a lead gen form, signing up for a newsletter, etc.).
When a user visits the set html page that you’ve specified, it triggers your Destination Goal. These are ideal for tracking ‘Thank You’ pages or confirmation pages for prospects.
How to set up your Destination Goals?
i. Set Your Goal URL -
The URL you select should be a page that your prospects see AFTER they completed your desired conversion action (i.e., select the ‘Thank You’ page URL, that appears after your user has signed up for your newsletter). You don’t need enter the complete URL – just the request URI.
Which means, use
Also, there are 3 choices to choose from, which will help meet your goal destination needs.
- Equals to: /lead-submission-thank-you -
Your goal page is one exact destination.
- Begins With: /receipt -
You have several different goal URLs associated to one goal family or URLs that are unique due to an e-commerce cart receipt.
- Regular Expression: contact|directions -
You may have goal URL formats that belong in one goal family, but have very different URL formats. With a moderate understanding of how regular expressions work, you can typically accommodate any goal URL variation need that you could think of.
ii. Decide Whether to Set a Monetary Value -
If you know how much a conversion for a specific Goal type is worth to your business, you can enter that value here (i.e., €5), and let Google Analytics track each Goal completion as a monetary value, which in turn allows you to track how much money your business is making from those conversions. To set your value, just click the toggle on, and enter the value into the box. On the other hand, if you don’t wish to set a monetary value, then simply leave the toggle turned off.
iii. Set your match type -
Your match type allows you to decide how strict Google Analytics is in, when deciding if a URL counts. If you choose Exact Match only your specific chosen URL will work so this is not ideal if your system generates unique URLs for specific users. Head Match, on the other hand, tracks all visits to your specified URL no matter what comes after that URL so choose this if you’re adding UTM parameters or if you’re using unique URLs. Regular sessions are best left to the pros but you can visit this Google Analytics Guide if you’d like to give it a go.
iv. Decide Whether to Create a Goal Funnel -
Goal Funnels allow you to set up defined points you would like to measure, for how users move through your site in order to complete the goals you want them to complete. It’s ideal for seeing the exact points where users drop off of your funnel, so that you know where should you investigate and fix.
These are only useful when you need your visitors to follow a set of specific pages, before completing your Goal. For example, something like a landing page won’t require you to set up Goal Funnels, as users will automatically move from the landing page straight to the thank you or confirmation screen. However, if users are moving from a checkout process to make a purchase there may be many steps you’d like to track along the way, in order to make sure that your pages are well optimized for conversions.
v. Set Up a Goal Funnel -
Turn on the 'Funnel' toggle by clicking on it. Then enter the URL of each page you would like to track, in order to move users through the funnel and towards your Goals. To add another step/page to your funnel, click the ‘Add another Step’ button. To make sure you require the visitors to complete each step, click the ‘Required step’ toggle.
Now Create & Save Your Destination Goal.
To complete your set-up simply click ‘Create Goal’ or ‘Save Goal.’
(This one is rather easy, and pretty straightforward.)
Pages/Screens Goals measure (obviously) how engaged your prospects are, by tracking the number of pages or screens a visitor views throughout a session. Set the minimum number of pages (i.e., 3 pages) you would like your visitors to view, per session. Each time a visitor visits more than your specified number of pages per session, it'll be marked as a Goal completion.
Now Create & Save Your Page/Screens Goal
To complete your set-up simply click ‘Create Goal’ or ‘Save Goal.’
Note: Like I said before, it's usually not recommended to set goals based on metrics like pages per session or visit duration. These aren’t goals, they’re KPI metrics.
Just because someone visited five pages on your site, or stayed on your website for 3 minutes, doesn’t mean that it's a sale, or even a conversion. It'll help you decide whether your website can attract people, and retain them, but it's not an end goal.
Event Goals track specific interactions that visitors make with your website's content. For example, this could mean, playing a video, downloading a PDF, signing up to your newsletter, or even landing on your page from an external link.
To set up an Event Goal, first you need to set up the specific interaction you want your visitors to take, as an Event, using an Event Tracking Code. You can learn how to set up Event Tracking using this handy guide from Google. Once you've set up your Event Tracking Code, you can follow the steps outlined below to set up your Event Goal.
Set the Category -
Defining a Category helps you group a set of objects that you want to track. This is very useful - for example - if you want to group all of your videos together. In that case, your Category field could be something like ‘Videos.’
Set the Action -
Action means the interaction you want your visitors to take – for example, this could be clicking ‘Play’ for a video.
Set the Label -
Filling out the Label gives you the opportunity to fill in more information about your Event. If it’s a video you’re tracking this would be the perfect place to keep track of the video’s title.
The Value -
This is a numerical value, that's used to track your Event. The Report adds the total values, based on each Event count. It even displays the average value for the category.
You can add in a monetary value that triggers when someone downloads a form, for example 5 (for 5 $ or €), or the length of time you would like the video played for, for example 3 (or 3 minutes). You'll have to decide which type of value is most relevant for each Event.
- Decide Whether You Want Your Event Value as Your Goal Value -
If you'd like to set your Event Value as your Goal Value, (monetary value) then simply keep the toggle clicked as ‘Yes’. If you'd rather set your own Goal Value simply click ‘No’ and enter your desired monetary amount.
Now Create & Save Your Event Goal -
To complete your set-up click ‘Create Goal’ or ‘Save Goal.’
How to Track the Goals You Have Set Up & View Your Conversion Rate
- Sign into your Google Analytics account and click Conversions > Goals > Overview.
- From the drop-down list (above the table) select your Goal type.
- From here you can view the number of Goal completions, Goal conversion rate and abandonment rate, etc for your specific goal.
Note that goal conversions also appear in other reports throughout Google Analytics, including the Multi Channel Funnels report (in the Conversions section) and in the Acquisition reports.
Having properly configured Google Analytics Goals will give you the opportunity to truly understand your audience; who they are, what they're doing, their journey through your funnels, and whether or not they're converting toward your business objectives. Properly setup goals are one of the most important things you should be doing for your SEM strategy.
This ultimate guide contains everything that you need to know, in order to set up Goals in Google Analytics, so that you can reap its benefits.