When we speak of goals in terms of analytics, we aren’t speaking about the ones that come from hours of drawn-out meetings, when overarching company-wide goals are set. We are referring to the goals that help marketing teams understand what efforts are helping the bottom line and which ones are simply just non-starters.
Looking through the numerous metrics of Google Analytics can sometimes be overwhelming. While most people will dwell over page views and sessions as benchmarks for website performance, those metrics are more in line with overall site health, not performance. They are great tools to know if your website is discoverable, but how do they relate to the bottom line?
They really don’t. Remember, if you aren’t filtering and segmenting your data in the first place, those page view and session metrics will be inflated due to ‘bad spiders’. Also, a pageview is just that, a view of a single page. As far as we know, that pageview could represent a tab opened in a person’s browser window that is never even viewed. In order to see the marketing results online, you need to track action and behavior.
The real winners that will lead you to successful campaigns are metrics like these:
- Newsletter sign-ups
- Account creations
- White paper and e-book downloads
- Lead generation
- Online purchases
Metrics like these have direct impact on the company’s bottom line. These are types of conversions. But, Google Analytics won’t track these actions (or events in GA speak) unless you take the time to identify proper goals and build them in your account. There are four ways you can track goals in Google Analytics:
- URL Destination
- Visit Duration
Let’s look a bit further into each one.
URL Destination goals will keep track of specific URLs and the traffic they receive. Remember, overall traffic (pageviews and sessions) was not a proper KPI because it’s simply too broad a goal.
By tracking a specific URL, however, you can learn if your eBook offer is working based on how many people hit the thank you page or whether you received an online sale from a PPC campaign. These are goals that directly affect bottom lines.
Visit Duration is exactly as it sounds. This goal will allow you to track how long a person stays on your site. When you pair this with conversion tracking you can find on average how long a person typically spent on your site before making a purchase, how long people spend reading your blogs, or by contrast, how quickly people are able to find information on your support pages.
Page/visit goals on the other hand, will track how many pages a visitor consumes while on your site. Don’t get this confused with the general ‘Pages Per Session’ metric that is standard with Google Analytics. Here’s why:
Say you have a goal in mind of four pages per visit and two people come to your site. One person looks at a single page and leaves and the other looks at ten pages and leaves. That averages to five pages per session.
Without setting up a proper goal, Google Analytics will show five pages per session and you’ll be under the assumption you are reaching your target when in reality, you are reaching it just 50% of the time. Remember, it's showing average, not actual.
Now for the main event.
But how do you know the value of these goals in relation to increasing the bottom line?
With all four of these goals, you are able to assign a Goal Value. Say you find that an account sign-up results in $100 of revenue--you can assign that goal with said value and really start to see how effective your marketing dollars are, or it’s CPA (cost-per-acquisition). With a bit of programming, you can also have that value be dynamically generated from a shopping cart or donation amount when revenue can fluctuate between visitors.
Ultimately, Goal Values are the crème de la crème of analytic data. By understanding how much these goals are converting and the associated value of each, you can make more informed decisions on what efforts are helping the bottom line and which ones are simply just non-starters.