Google Analytics is the perfect analytical tool to be able to understand your audience and how your website is performing. There are many analytical tools out there but at Raindrop we believe that Google Analytics is a must for all website owners.

Below we discuss what goals are, why you need to track them and how to do this, not forgetting how on earth to interpret those complicated looking reports you get left with.

What are Google Analytics Goals?

Goals represent a completed activity on a website; this is called a conversion. 

Please don’t think that conversions mean your customers have to buy something from you and so goals can only be used for e-commerce businesses. Although buying a product should most definitely be a goal for a business that does sell online, there are other actions that can be tracked as goals to help give you an accurate conversion rate for your site.

Examples of a goal could also include:

  • Submitting a form
  • Downloading a file
  • Watching a video

There are two types of conversion that can be tracked in your analytics: micro and macro conversions. Macro conversions are usually the primary conversions that you want to happen, for example, a completed purchase or a completed lead generation form. Micro conversions are the steps that lead users to the macro conversions, for example, watching a video or signing up to a newsletter. 

Each goal is measured against the target objective which helps a business understand their successes.

Why do I need to track Goals?

A lot of content I’ve come across tells you how to track goals, but it doesn’t give you much of a background as to why you need to set them. Ultimately, it comes down to tracking your overall business objectives. 

From the overarching business objectives, you can breakdown strategies, tactics and KPIs to ensure you reach these. Your goals in Google Analytics should align with your KPIs. That way, when it is tracked that a goal has been completed, you know you’ve done something right to achieve your goals.

Review the performance of your marketing objectives

Goals are great way to see how your marketing objectives are performing. 

As long as you tag up any marketing campaign you run with UTM links, you will know exactly where your customers have reached your site from. So, when you see goal completions, you can see which marketing campaign the users came from.

Provide an accurate conversion rate

If you’re trying to track your conversion rate without tracking goals, you aren’t going to get an accurate figure. By setting up goals to track, you will know all points of conversion, not just transactions.

How can you track goals in Google Analytics?

There are four main ways to track goals through the Google Analytics interface, these are:

  • URLs Destination
  • Visit Duration (Time)
  • Pages per Visit
  • Events

URL Destination Goals

A URL destination goals is the process of tracking a specific page; each time a website visitor arrives at the page they will trigger the goal. This is ideal for confirmation/thank you pages.

When using URL destination goals, you can setup extra functionality called Goal Funnels. Goal Funnels allow a website owner to see how many website visitors pass through each step of the user journey. This shows how many visitors also abandon the process at each step of the process so you can carry out further optimisation on your user journey.

Visit Duration Goals (Time)

Visit duration goals measure the amount of time a website visitor stays on your site or page. Time based goals allow you to also measure each visit under a specific amount of time. This is ideal for support-based websites or for knowledge-based areas of a website.

Pages per Visit Goals

Pages per visit goals are like time-based goals but instead of tracking the amount of time a website visitor spends on a page; they track the number of pages a visitor lands on before they leave. Like time-based goals, this is ideal for support-based websites or for knowledge-based areas of a website.

Event Goals

Event goals are different to any other goal as they track a specific process when it is completed, you can use event goals to track:

  • Download of files
  • How long users watch a video
  • Social media shares and interaction
  • Widget interaction

Be aware that certain event goals rely on extra small snippets of JavaScript being added to the event process you want to track. Event goals are a great way to track how different functions impact the use of your website.

Setting up Goals

You can set up your goals by heading to the admin section via the cog symbol in the bottom left.

You will find Goals under View (note that you will need to set goals up for all of your views on the same site). 

Here are a few steps to follow:

  1. Choose ‘custom’ goal to fully customise your goal to track what you need. 
  2. Give the goal a relevant name so that when you look back at your data at a later date, you know what action has been tracked.
  3. Assign the type of goal you want this to be which relates to how you want it to be tracked. As discussed above, this could be a destination, visit duration, pages per visit or event goal.
  4. You can then set a value for the goal. You don’t need to do this, but if you know every time someone contacts you, it is worth £50, you would assign this monetary value to it.

Understanding the Goals reports

Goals Overview

Under Conversions, the Goals overview provides you with exactly what it says: an overview of all of your goals. 

You will get an overall value for goal completions and then a breakdown of your different goals and how many completions they have all had. You will also get a Goal Conversion Rate.

These can be useful metrics when looked at as a year-on-year comparison to see how much your conversion rate has improved since last year.

Goal URLs

The Goal URLs report shows you on which pages your goals were completed. 

This can be helpful if you have a contact CTA on almost all of your pages, you can see which pages lead to the most completions of that goal.

Reverse Goal Path

Reverse Goal Path tells you where your converted users originally landed on your site from and how they travelled through it before completing one of your goals.

This can be interesting to understand your customer’s journeys through your site. It may indicate that people get lost or that the path could be made shorter to decrease the amount of drop-offs.

Funnel Visualisation

The Funnel Visualisation report shows you how many people complete the goal compared to how many drop-offs there are in different areas of the funnel. This is especially helpful for purchase goals as you can see how many drop off in the cart and checkout.

A high number of drop-offs in these pages may indicate missing information, trust signals or a form issue. 

Goal Flow 

The Goal Flow visualises your users’ journey right from the start, showing which channel it was that brought them to the site, where they went from there, and again, how many dropped off.

This can indicate your most successful channels for conversions. But this is why we always recommend annotating when you launch a new marketing campaign so you can look back at these later to see what caused that sudden spike in visitors from Facebook on August 1st last year. 

Start tracking your Goals in Google Analytics  

Using each different goal allows your business to track key essential activities of your site. The more you can match each goal you set to your marketing activities that help generate overall revenue, the better your understanding of how your website is working for you.

If this sounds too complicated and you have no idea how to get started tracking your goals, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. We won’t just do the work for you; we will talk you through our steps to help build your knowledge and understanding of Google Analytics.