The secret to managing a successful marketing campaign is making iterative, measurable progress. The key word here is “measurable”—without insight into how your campaign is doing, it’s impossible to make any meaningful progress. For example, if you make a change, you need both a baseline and a new figure to determine whether the change was appropriate or useful.
The trouble is, you might not know what’s important to measure, or the right way to go about measuring it. You might have a nifty call-to-action on your website and a separate landing page for paid advertising traffic, but how are you measuring the results of your efforts in both areas?
Google Analytics offers a simple solution with its Goals system, giving you the ability to set up and track virtually any meaningful user action you’d like. Though the system can be intimidating to a newcomer, it’s actually relatively simple and can give you significant insight into the ins and outs of your campaign.
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An Introduction to Goals
The name “Goals” makes it sound like you have a specific target in mind for achievement, but you don’t need a traditional SEO goal in mind to create a Goal. Instead, a Goal is simply a measure of the number of times a user takes an indicated action on your site. Goals are mostly used to measure conversion rates, such as making a purchase on an e-commerce platform or filling out a form on a landing page, but can also refer to abstract or otherwise important user actions, such as going from one specific page to another specific page, or completing a level of a mobile game.
Types of Goals
There are four main “types” of Goals that can be set up in Google Analytics. Each can be applied to a number of different situations. You may find yourself using one, several, or all of these Goal types for your site:
- Destination Goals. Destination Goals center on a user getting to a specific place on your site. For example, you could establish a Goal for when a user loads your contact page. More practically, you could assign a specific “thank you” page as a destination in mind, tracking anyone who fills out a contact form and successfully reaches the final target.
- Duration Goals. Duration Goals are focused on a user spending a certain amount of time on a given page or set of pages. For example, you could set a Goal for a user spending more than 10 minutes on the blog to determine how many people are remaining engaged by your material, or a user spending more than 20 minutes on your support page to evaluate how effective you are at resolving company problems.
- Per Session Goals. Per session Goals focus on users loading a specific number of pages or screens during a certain session. For example, you could create a Goal that a user loads 5 different pages before leaving your site.
- Event Goals. Event Goals are a bit of a “catch all” category for any user action that doesn’t fall into one of the above templates. You can set this type of Goal to be associated with practically any user action, such as playing a video, interacting with a graphic, or clicking a specific button or link.
Use these four categories as baselines to understand the main user actions you want to track on your site.
Funnels and Values
In addition to choosing a Goal type above and assigning it to a specific user action, you can establish funnels and values, two additional variables, for your SEO goals. Funnels work by establishing an intended path for your user leading up to a specific Goal; for example, if your Goal is a destination page like a “thank you” page, you can establish a specific pattern of pages required for a user to visit before a “Goal” is considered complete. This is useful if you’re trying to track specific patterns of movement throughout your site.
Values function like they sound—they’re inherent values ascribed to each Goal. When it comes to purchasing products, this is an easy process; just assign the value of the product to the value of the Goal in purchasing it. For less precisely measurable instances, like filling out a form for a B2B business, you’ll have to get more creative.
How to Set Up a Goal in Google Analytics
The setup process is relatively straightforward if you know where to look. In Google Analytics, head to the Admin tab and click into the Goals area. You can click “New Goal” or import an older one for modification here. If you’re just getting started, it’s best to create a Goal from one of Google’s pre-existing templates; they’re there to make the process simpler. If you want to get tricky, you can also create a custom Goal. From there, you’ll have a chance to add funnels, values, and other variables.
To create a goal in Google Analytics, you’ll need to have a Google Analytics account and access to the website you want to track. Once you’re logged in to your Google Analytics account, follow these steps:
Step 1: Click on the “Admin” tab at the bottom left corner of the page.
Step 2: In the “View” column, click on “Goals”.
Step 3: Click on the red “New Goal” button.
Step 4: Choose a goal template or create a custom goal.
Google Analytics provides a variety of goal templates, such as “Place an order,” “Submit a form,” “Engage with your content,” and more. You can choose a template that best matches your goal or create a custom goal.
Step 5: Set up goal details.
How to Measure Your Goals Effectively
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that provides valuable insights into your website’s performance. One of the most important aspects of using Google Analytics is setting and measuring goals. Goals help you understand how users are interacting with your website and can be used to track specific actions you want users to take.
Once created, you’ll be able to track your Goals within the confines of the Goal area. You can have up to 20 Goals at once, and create reporting for those Goals. Depending on the nature of your business and how aggressive you are in your marketing efforts, it’s generally a best practice to check on your Goals monthly. Monitor for any changes, and make adjustments to your campaign to gradually improve your results.
Depending on the goal you choose, you’ll be asked to set up different goal details. For example, if you choose the “Place an order” template, you’ll need to set up the confirmation page URL that users see after placing an order. If you’re creating a custom goal, you’ll need to define the specific action you want users to take and set up.