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How to Create and Measure Goals in Google Analytics (And What Goals to Measure)

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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.

An Introduction to Goals

articleimage1714 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 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 conversions, 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

articleimage1714 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

articleimage1714 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 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

articleimage1714 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.

How to Measure Your Goals Effectively

articleimage1714 How to Measure Your Goals Effectively

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.

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Samuel Edwards

In his 4+ years as a digital marketing specialist, Sam has learned the ins and outs of online marketing. Additionally, he has worked with countless local businesses as well as enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including: NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP, and human rights organization Amnesty International. Today he continues to work with and establish SEO, PPC and SEM campaigns.

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