All of your marketing efforts, whatever they are, need to be measured – a lot – in order to determine their effectiveness and your ROI on your marketing spend. A successful digital marketing measuring approach relies heavily on Google Analytics goals. You’re not getting much benefit out of Google Analytics if you’re not using Goals.
If you’re utilizing your website to generate any kind of business value, – which of course you are – you probably have a specific goal – or more likely set of goals – in mind for visitors to accomplish that reflects that value.
Goals in Google Analytics, in all of their forms and varieties, are mechanisms used to collect data on that goal value and present it in reports you can use to analyze behavioral, acquisition, and demographic data that can not only help you see at a glance what is, and is not working, but help you improve all kinds of things that will help you achieve your goals faster. And who wouldn’t want that? Especially as Google Analytics offers what is a mind-boggling amount of information – if you want it – for free.
Before however you dive into this free for all data playground you need to be aware of, and understand, which goals are available in Google Analytics. And that’s just what we are going to take a closer look at here.
The Differing Values of Website Traffic
It’s interesting to see how much of your website traffic is organic or social, but it’s even more interesting – and more useful – to use a website visitor tracking tool like GA to know if those visitors are delivering you business value. Although big traffic numbers are undoubtably really exciting, the simple fact is that traffic volume can be, and is frequently, little more than a vanity metric that dosen’t do much more than boost your business ego.
For example, let’s imagine you get 10,000 visitors each month to a particular blog post, on a topic that’s high-level and popular like “business success quotes.” Nice! Let’s also imagine you have a post that gets 100 visitors per month for something like “graphic design services in Kent,” which is exactly what your company sells. Not as thrilling right?
But, by stopping and thinking about which traffic is more valuable to your business growth for longer than a few seconds, you can probably predict which traffic is more valuable, but it’s still easy to slip into the cozy illusion that ANY increasing traffic amounts are fundamentally a positive thing.
You can quantify the worth of that traffic with Google Analytics goals. You can check to see if that traffic is translating into actual conversions, or visitors performing the actions you want them to. Because, while big traffic numbers are nice, conversions are better and actually translate into cash.
To answer the question of which goals are available in Google Analytics there are four basic types.
URL Destination Goals
This is one of the most widely used Google Analytics goal types. URL Destination goals will usually be the ones most businesses make use of most often and they are great because they can be used to provide quick, easy data on all kinds of important stuff.
As the name pretty much suggests, URL Destination goals maintain a close eye on certain URLs – URLs you specify, and the Google Analytics goal is triggered when someone visits them.
For instance, suppose you have a web page called “www.coolwebsite.com/thank-you.” If a visitor arrives at this URL in any way – a link in a blog posts, from a direct Google Search or even from a link in a social media post – Google Analytics will treat it as if your objective has been met.
URL Destination goals are ideal for sales pages, free downloads, confirmation pages and more. Let’s say that, for example, whenever anyone completes a contact form to get a free resource download, they are led to a thank-you page. You’ll be able to track how many people found the resource useful enough to download from you if you keep track of how many people visited that thank-you page.
For all of this to work, you need to make sure the URL is hidden so that no one can access it directly. As in the only way to get to that page is by clicking on a specific link and completing a specific action – in this case sharing their contact information.
Visit Duration Goals
This important Google Analytics goal type is one that is often overlooked, which is a shame, as even though it sounds simple, the data generated can be hugely useful.
Visit Duration objectives are used to track how long people spend on your site. As I said, simple stuff. But when you’re looking to boost website engagement and increase the amount of time users spend on your site, this type of goal can really help.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Visit Duration goal type can be used in two ways.
Assume you’ve established a time frame of five minutes for visitors to spend on a certain page on your site. Maybe a blog post that has an estimated reading time of six minutes. You can count how many visitors stay for more than five minutes, indicating they actually read the whole thing.
You can, however, also use these Google Analytics goals to determine the number of visitors who spend less than five minutes on the page, indicating that your blog post just didn’t quite hold their attention for long enough.
This can give you great insights into just which blog posts are interesting to your target market, which not only helps you create better, more engaging content but also offers you a glimpse into your target demographics’ minds, which can be tremendously useful too.
You can track how many pages users visit before leaving your site (Pages/Visit objectives) instead of how long they spend on your site (Visit Duration goals).
The Pages/Visit target works in a similar fashion to the Visit Duration goals.
This is the goal you should set if you want to keep your users engaged and have them visit lots of pages on your site. This is also a great Google Analytics goal type to gain audience insight. For example, an e-commerce site can follow which pages visitors head to while browsing, and then what they ultimately purchase.
Events are a little trickier and more complicated than the three objective categories I just described.
You must first set up the events before you can choose an event as a goal. You can choose any event as a goal once the events have been set up.
Then event objectives can be used to track whenever a user interacts with that component (for example, a download button).
For example, Affiliate sites profit from sales of the products and services they promote on their website. The affiliate site receives a commission if a visitor clicks on the link and subsequently purchases something.
However, the transaction takes place on a third-party website. The only way to find out is to go to the merchant’s website and look at the reports. However, if you’re an affiliate for lots of companies, going to each one takes a lot of time and effort. The clicks on these links, which can be tracked as a Google Analytics Event, are the closest proxy for conversion.
Or for a blog, often the desired conversion action is subscription to an email list. Setting up a Google Event can be a great way to track how successful each of your blogs is at achieving this versus the others.
Event goals are great, but lots of people avoid them as they call for a little more familiarity with code than many are comfortable with. And even accessing Event Goal data is harder. In normal reports, under Goals and Conversions, you won’t be able to see Events. To acquire Event insights, you must use Google Analytics’ Behavior report, which makes basic data analysis more difficult and time-consuming.
If you think Event Goals in Google Analytics would prove useful to you, but you fall into that less tech-savvy category of people, it might be worth getting some help setting them up, and then learning how to use them. Interested in getting that help? Pearl Lemon’s Google Analytics experts can do that. Contact them today to learn more.