If you're going to do only one thing in your analytics implementation, YOU SHOULD TRACK GOALS.
[caption id="attachment_2499" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Example of Goals in Google Analytics"][/caption]
A goal is an action that you want a visitor to take on your site and is something you can track in Google Analytics or a similar analytics package. People that are already tracking goals know how powerful it can be, but not everyone is tracking ALL of their sites’ potential goals.
Here are some common examples of goals:
- Fill out a lead form
- Call a phone number
- Complete an E-commerce transaction
- Sign up for a newsletter
- Download a whitepaper
- Pages Per Visit – (A visitor visits more than x pages on your site)
- Time on site – (A visitor spends more than x amount of time on your site)
Some goals are considered primary goals and those are usually the goals that are directly tied to revenue such as a lead form filled out with contact information or a phone call. Secondary goals are things like newsletter signups and whitepaper downloads that might eventually lead to a sale but are not as revenue driven as a form fill out or a phone call. It should also be mentioned that in the new version of Google Analytics (Version 5), Events can be setup as goals so you can track things like clicks on a video or a social media icon as a goal.
Why Are Goals So Important?
Without goals, you’re basically throwing “stuff” at a wall to see what sticks. You can see which keywords are driving traffic to your site, but you can’t tell which keywords or traffic sources are more valuable than others. You can’t tie money spent on a specific keyword to results. In other words, all of the data in your Analytics account is inadequate if it’s not tied to an action.
For example, if your website gets 100 visitors in one day and you know 5 leads were generated (forms filled out) out of those 100 visitors. If you don't have goals setup, you don’t know if those 5 leads came from a search engine, direct traffic or a referral from another site you are advertising on. You don’t know if the converting visitors came from organic results or Pay Per Click. Most importantly, you don’t know the actual keyword the lead used to find you. You can see all the keywords that delivered traffic that day but if they’re not tied to a goal, there is no actionable insight.
Many people look at analytics just to see how much traffic their site got. Who cares how much traffic you got? The more important question is how much of your traffic converted and how did those conversions find you? Now, you’re getting some actionable insight!
How Do I Set Up Goals?
Here is a link to step by step instructions on how to setup goals in Google Analytics.
Some principles to keep in mind when setting up goals:
- Name The Goal - Name the goal something that you can easily recognize in reports. Something like “Goal 1” can be hard to distinguish in a report, especially if you have many goals setup. If you have a contact us page and a lead form on a services page, it is best to create separate goals to track the two different ways that people can fill out a lead form. This could give you more insight into the way the site should be structured in the future.
- Define The Funnel (optional but recommended) – by setting up a goal funnel, you are defining the steps in the process. This works great if there are multiple pages that a visitor must visit to complete the goal. A good example of this is
[caption id="attachment_2500" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Example of a Goal Funnel In Google Analytics"][/caption]
the checkout process on an e-commerce site. Defining the steps in the funnel can help you figure out where people are dropping off in the funnel and help identify how to fix issues.
- The Goal Value – The goal value can help you figure out the ROI of your marketing campaigns. For lead based sites, it is important to try and figure out what the average lead is worth to your business and put that number into the goal value field. For example, if your sales people close 20% of the leads that come in through the website and your average transaction is $1,000, you should assign the goal value to be $200. The numbers aren’t always this cut and dry but it is amazing how many businesses don’t know how much their average lead is worth. If you can figure this number out, you can also figure out how much revenue a specific keyword has generated for your business. For E-commerce sites, the goal value can be dynamically pulled from your shopping cart every time a transaction is completed in the shopping cart. To set this up follow the instructions here.
Call Tracking and Goals
If your business doesn’t get a lot of call volume and you’re able to track most of your conversions through your website and google analytics, you’re lucky because it’s easy to track all of that data. If your business gets a lot of calls (which are offline conversions) then using Call Tracking can be extremely valuable. Call tracking can track calls that were generated by a search engine marketing campaign and are separate from calls made by direct visitors to your site. This can help you figure out if the money you’re spending on your SEO or PPC campaign is converting for you.
In summary, there are many different types of goals depending on what kind of site you have or what you want to track, but one thing is certain, if you're not tracking them, you're missing out on a lot of useful information.
George Zlatin is the Director of Operations at Digital Third Coast, a digital marketing company based in Chicago. George has an amazing capacity to digest information about SEO and fried chicken. You can find George on Twitter and Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.