A Quick Look at Google Analytics Goal Setting

Posted in: Marketing, Work on December 7th, 2011

Every website should have goals, whether you are selling buttons, campaigning to become class president or posting cat pictures for your mum to see. Some common goals are reaching a specific page (eg, the thank you page at the end of a sale), number of pages visited, time on website or a specific path through your website ending up at a specific page.

In this article we are going to look at two useful goals: tracking website form completions and tracking external social media clicks. This tutorial is based on the new Google Analytics interface and assumes you have Google Analytics installed on our website (if you don’t check out my Intro to Google Analytics post).

Goal 1: Track Website Form Completions

For this to work you must have your lead generation form set to direct to a unique page on completion. This enables us to identify the unique destination page in an Analytics goal and track hits to this page as a conversion.

For this tutorial let’s say we want to tracks a form that directs completed leads to this page: http://mywebsite.com/thanks-for-contacting-us-form123

The first thing to do is login to your Google Analytics account, click the settings icon in the top right corner, choose the profile you want to set goals for and click the Goals link to expand the list of goals.

Google Analytics Goal Setting
Login and go to Google Analytics Settings

Then you will choose a name for your goal. Let’s call it Form123 Completions.

Next we define the Goal URL. In this case the full URL is http://mywebsite.com/thanks-for-contacting-us-form123 but since we don’t need the actual domain name, we can just enter /thanks-for-contacting-us-form123

The match type will be exact match. Match types are somewhat confusing, but unless you are using a substantial amount of dynamic content you will probably only need the exact match option. You can find out more about match types from Google.

You can also enter a goal value (useful if you are selling products or if you assign values to each lead generated) and track a funnel which is a series of page views leading up to the goal. But in this case we are just creating a simple greenhorn goal with no bell and whistles.

You should finish up with something like the screenshot below. Click save!

Google Analytics Goal Setup Form
Google Analytics Goal Setup Form

Goal 2: Track Clicks on Links to External Social Media Websites

To enable this goal you must tag your outbound social media links with a track page view snippet. Here is an example of a complete HTML link…

<a href="http://www.facebook.com/myfacebookfanpage">onclick="javascript: _gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/GA-VirtualPageview/Facebook-Fanpage']);"</a>
<a href="http://www.facebook.com/myfacebookfanpage">onclick="javascript: _gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/GA-VirtualPageview/Facebook-Fanpage']);"</a>

If the above looks like gibberish to you just ask your web agency to include the following on your outgoing Facebook fan page links. You can also switch out the /Facebook-Fanpage part for any other text if you want to use this for other links.

onclick="javascript: _gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/GA-VirtualPageview/Facebook-Fanpage']);"
onclick="javascript: _gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/GA-VirtualPageview/Facebook-Fanpage']);"

Now you have setup your links you just follow the exact same procedure for setting up the goal in Goal 1, except enter your Goal URL as /GA-VirtualPageview/Facebook-Fanpage

What Should I Do With This Data?

So now you should have all sorts of goal conversion data pouring in – to see some of this data you can check the Goals Overview report in Google Analytics under Conversions -> Goals -> Overview (look in the left sidebar). We can use this Goal data in a wide range of reports to identify high/low converting traffic, gauge social media engagement directly from your website and check advertising costs against online sales.

Here is a sample report that shows the Goal conversion rate from different sources. To get this report you go to Goal Overview -> Source/Medium -> See Full Report

Google Analytics Goal Source/Medium Report
Google Analytics Goal Source/Medium Report

I can then use this report to find which traffic is converting well and which traffic isn’t. I could even drill down further to see this data by Cost per Click (cpc) campaign (useful for identifying where I am wasting cpc advertising dollars) or by other sources to test which marketing campaigns are driving traffic and converting well.

This is a very brief introduction to what you can do with Google Analytics Goals, but hopefully it will get you motivated to get some goal data flowing and apply this data to various reports in Google Analytics… Happy data wrangling!

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