What are your business objectives and how do you plan to achieve them with your website or app? For many brands, business objectives include driving conversions such as increased product or service purchases, donations, video views or even email list sign-ups. No matter what type of conversion brands want to focus on, they all use their website and/or apps to facilitate and drive conversions.
Therefore, it is vital that marketers track how users behave on their website so that they can understand which user actions drive the desired conversions. But with so many different ways to track and measure user interactions on your website, how can you make sure that Google Analytics measures the specific interactions you are most interested in as they relate to your business objectives?
Setting, measuring, and achieving your business objectives often require tracking smaller goals related to your website objectives through your Google Analytics data first. Measuring how often you meet smaller goals, and why, can help you understand how well you are progressing towards your larger business goals like driving revenue. No matter what product or service your brand sells, setting up Google Analytics goals allows you to track and measure different types of conversions (micro-conversions and macro-conversions) so that you can see how users’ smaller actions on your site contribute to your desired website objectives.
In this blog, we will cover the three most common types of goals available in Google Analytics, what they measure, and when to use them depending on your unique website objectives. We’ll also cover how and why each type of goal can and should be applied to your overall website and business objectives.
As a result, you’ll be able to set up the right types of Google Analytics goals to give you the data-driven insights needed to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your marketing measures. Understanding the effectiveness of your marketing measures allows you to react appropriately and allocate your limited marketing budget only to the channels that drive the most traffic to your website, and therefore contributing to efficient use of your marketing budget.
Before we dive into which goals are available in Google Analytics, let’s better define Goal Setting.
What Is Goal Setting in Google Analytics?
Goal setting is a way of telling Google Analytics which specific conversions you want to measure as part of your overall analytics measurement plan. These goals measure micro-conversions.
Micro-conversions are defined differently depending on if a brand’s website has eCommerce tracking or not. For eCommerce brands, micro-conversions are a completed activity, such as an email sign up, that indicates a user is moving towards a macro conversion. For these brands, macro-conversions are completed purchase transactions on your site that align with your overall business objectives, such as increasing product or service sales.
However, non-eCommerce brands only focus on micro-conversions as there are no products or services for sale on their website. These brands define conversions differently, so for example, instead of defining a micro-conversion as an email sign-up and a macro-conversion as a completed online purchase like eCommerce brands, a non-eCommerce brand might define a micro-conversion as a contact us form fill as the ‘macro-conversion’ will happen off-site. It’s important to note that ECommerce tracking is only used for macro-conversions and therefore goal tracking is the only way for non-eCommerce brands to measure their website conversions, no matter how they choose to define them.
Google Analytics goals allow you to create goal funnels, which are Google Analytics data visualizations of the different steps needed to complete each goal. These funnels can show you when and how different audience segments perform towards one goal over another, and more importantly, highlights where users are dropping off in the conversion process.
Setting up goals in Google Analytics also allows you to create segments of each website page so that you can track how users engage with each unique page. It also helps brands understand how their micro-conversions relate to their macro-conversions so they can better customize their website’s customer experience.
Finally, Google Analytics goals allow you to create goal reports in the Audience and Acquisition sections of your Google Analytics account. These reports help you see user activity on your website during each stage of the funnel, and measure different metrics based on how you have set up your goals in Google Analytics. These metrics align with the three most common types of goals: URLs/Destinations, Duration, and Events.
Image from Google Analytics Support.
Setting up goals in Google Analytics helps you understand why each activity on your website is or is not successful in driving business objectives such as increased revenue, increased ROI, or improved ROAS.
Without understanding how and why user engagement on your site relates to your conversions you won’t be able to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your digital marketing campaign and strategy as they relate to your overall business objectives.
Most importantly, you need to set up the right goals to give you the specific Google Analytics data relevant to your website’s goals for driving your overall business objective. You can use the combination of goal reports, funnel visualizations, and segments to help you decide which actions you need to take on your website to optimize the user experience and best contribute to your overall business objectives.
Many brands use a combination of some of the three main types of Google Analytics goals. Let’s walk through each one, what they measure, and how they help you evaluate user engagement with your site. As a result, you understand how and why your website is successful in driving your overall business objective and optimize the user experience on your site where needed.
Which Goals Are Available in Google Analytics?
URL Destination Goals
Destination goals fire each time someone hits a certain predefined page. For example, you could set up a destination goal for each time a user fills out a form and lands on say, a thank you page.
Destination goals help you track how different sources and mediums of traffic come into your website and convert by downloading gated content, filling out interest forms, or signing up for a new user account, for example. These types of Google Analytics goals can also give you the data needed to understand the value of your leads. You can determine how successful a channel is in driving traffic to your site, and also how well users from that channel engage once they get to your site. You can then measure their engagement against whether or not they fulfill your goal, and how that relates to your overall website objective.
How Can Destination Goals Help You Optimize Your Website to Meet Business Objectives?
Destination goals help you analyze drop rate and determine why users leave the funnel in different steps along the journey. As a result of these insights, you can make changes to any touchpoints in that funnel and optimize them to keep users moving forward through to conversion. This allows you to have a more complete picture of your customer journey and can therefore intelligently allocate media budget to the channels that drive the most traffic to your fill forms and bring in the best leads. This helps contribute to increased ROAS and better ROI since you can pinpoint which channels bring in the best leads at the lowest CPM.
When you understand which channels are most valuable to your brand, you are able to understand how and why customers choose to convert as a result of your marketing and advertising efforts, which is an important aspect of a strong overall data measurement plan.
What Are Duration Goals?
Duration goals track how long a user spends on your website, and help you understand if the amount of time users spend on your site is increasing or decreasing. These types of Google Analytics goals form an important basis for creating the funnel visualization that measures the overall user experience and also allows you to specifically track engaged users on your site.
If the time spent on your site increases, this is a good indication that you have built an engaging user experience that is helping drive the user through each step of the conversion funnel, and with Google Analytics you can see them move through this process with the funnel visualization reports. If the time spent on your site decreases, you will need to look at your funnel visualizations to determine if there is a common drop off point, and how you can improve that touchpoint experience or replace it with a better one.
How Can Duration Goals Help You Optimize Your Website to Meet Business Objectives?
The duration goals you define depends on your unique site. For example, if you find that users with a duration time of longer than five minutes tend to convert more, then it can be beneficial to set up duration goals for one, three, and ten minutes so you can see how duration affects a user’s likelihood to convert.
Identifying trends in how much time users spend on each page of your site is an important measurement tactic that can help point out and explain any pages on your site that might have lower engagement rates. As a result, you can restructure or eliminate any website pages that might prolong the conversion process without any real engagement benefits. If users are spending too much time on pages that do not lead them to the next step in the conversion funnel, they might drop off entirely, which prevents them from ever reaching your ultimate website conversion goal.
What Are Event Goals?
Event goals measure an action a user makes on your site that triggers a predefined event. that you have predefined. For example, Google Analytics event goals help you track each time a user clicks a particular button somewhere on your site, watches a video, or engages with a certain piece of content..
Event goals help you understand how users interact with the content on your site. An interactive site keeps users engaged on each page which increases their overall time-on-site and likelihood of completing your website business objective. This is especially important if the business objective of your site is to inform your user through content such as blogs, product or service descriptions, or videos.
How Can Event Goals Help You Optimize Your Website to Meet Business Objectives?
Event goals help capture non-page view based actions on your website, including all of the smaller actions that happen on a page, rather than just when the page is viewed. Measuring these allows you to understand when, where, and how users interact with all content on your site.
You can combine this knowledge with other Google Analytics goals to understand where you should place certain “clickable” items throughout your site to drive engagement that will move users closer to your conversion goal.
For example, if you notice that a lot of people click on a video that shows a demo of your product or service in action, but they spend a low amount of time on the page where that video lives, you might consider moving that video to the home page or another page on your site where users spend more time.
The more users interact with your site, the more Google Analytics data you can gather about their overall user experience and optimize as a result. If users engage with your site through lots of buttons, links, or video clicks how often do they end in conversion? Or is it possible that there are too many invitations to engage and users never reach your ultimate conversion goal because they are distracted by too many CTAs? Understanding the granular aspects of the customer’s experience with your brand allows you to make sure that each user is led down a logical and sequential path through your site towards your ultimate conversion goal.
The Bottom Line
Now that you understand which goals are available in Google Analytics, you can set up the right goals that best fit your unique website objectives. Once you’ve set up all of your goals, you’ll be able to access corresponding goal reports and use goal completions as a dimension in a variety of different Google Analytics data reports. The results of these reports can help you measure the overall success of your website in driving your overall business objectives, whether that includes increased purchases, sign-ups, or even content downloads.
Setting up Goals in Google Analytics allows you to get better, customized metrics about how your users engage with your website as they move through the funnel towards your ultimate conversion goal. As a result, you can discover which pages, links, buttons, and content are most impactful as well as tell Google Analytics which specific conversion metrics to measure, as they relate to your unique business objectives. Most importantly, you can take action on these insights to boost website engagement and optimize your site’s user experience.
To learn more about how you can track user behavior for a better understanding of your conversion funnel, read our blog on customer journey tracking in Google Analytics.
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