If you want to know the true results of your online marketing efforts, from social media to keyword targeting, you will want to set up goals in Google Analytics. Goals allow you to see which traffic sources and content lead to the most conversions on your website.

For a company that sell products or services on the web, “conversions” occur when a customer transitions from simply visiting a website or viewing an ad to actually responding to the content by signing up, purchasing something, or some other engagement activity.

It’s up to you to define these objectives, but Goals in Google Analytics can help you track them. Here’s how to do it.

Setting Up Specific Goal Types in Google Analytics

Set Goals in Google Analytics

To set up a goal in Google Analytics, log in to your Google Analytics account, then click on your website’s profile. Next, click on the settings wheel icon, in the top right corner of the orange toolbar. Depending on your definition of website conversions, you may use one or more of the following goal types.

URL Destination
This goal type is achieved when someone lands on a specific page on your website. For example, if someone purchases an item, the Goal URL would be the “thank you for your order” or confirmation page. If someone signs up for your mailing list, the Goal URL would be the customized thank you page he or he or she is redirected to once an email address has been submitted.

For the Goal Value, enter a value that represents the dollar amount of the conversion. If it is a product sales page, you can enter the average purchase price of the product. If it is a mailing list sign-up page, you can enter the average value of your subscribers.

Time On Site
This goal type is achieved when someone spends a specified amount of hours, minutes, or seconds on your website. This one is tough to associate with a Goal Value, but if you can estimate that people who have been on your site for over 15 minutes likely purchase an average of $15 in goods, you can enter 15.

Pages / Visit
This goal type is achieved when someone visits a specified amount of pages during one visit. Again, it is difficult to associate with a Goal Value, but if you can estimate that people who visit more than 10 pages on your site likely purchase an average of $20 in goods, you can enter 20.

Event
This goal type is achieved when someone clicks on a link or button to do things such as download a whitepaper PDF file, play a video, or leave the site to purchase an item elsewhere. To use this goal type, you must:

  • Have your Google Analytics installed before your tag on your website.
  • Add onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Category’, ‘Action’, ‘Label’]);” to your event.
  • Configure the Goal Details to match your event tracking code.

For example, if the event you are tracking is the purchase of an product sold on another website, then you would have a link that looked like the following:

<a href=”http://domain.com/yourebook.html” target=”_blank” onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Product’, ‘Purchase’, ‘ProductName’]);” >

You would then enter the following into your Goal Details under Configure, a combination of one or more event conditions from the list below:

  • Category > that is equal to > Product
  • Action > that is equal to > Purchase
  • Label > that is equal to > ProductName

Finally, associate a Goal Value to be the average amount of the common sale. So, if your product, on average is $50, then enter 50. Your completed goal setup will look like the following:

google-analytics-event-goal-setup

Note that the downside of tracking external events (like someone clicking on a link to go to another site to buy something) is that you are tracking visitors leaving your site, not making the purchase. Consider matching up the number of goal conversions with the number of actual sales you make in a month, and adjust the value of your goal accordingly.

Tracking Completed Goals in the Google Analytics Conversions Section

Tracking Goals in Conversions

After you have set up your goals, give yourself a couple of days to start building conversion data. Once website visitors begin to complete goals, visit the “Conversions” section of Google Analytics for more information about these completed goals.

You will be taken to a “Goals Overview” page (see below) which displays your goal completions, total goal value, and goal conversion rate percentage over the last thirty days. Below this graph, you will be able to see the top goal completion URLs. This will let you know which pages on your website lead to the most conversions.

viewing-goal-completions-google-analytics

If you have multiple goals set up for your website, you can use the dropdown under “All Goals” and select a specific goal from the list. This way you can see data pertaining to only that goal. It is especially helpful if you want to see data for your product sales separately from your mailing list conversions.

Tracking Your Completed Goals Throughout Google Analytics

Tracking Completed Goals

Another great benefit of having goals set up in Google Analytics is that you can see your goal completion data throughout your entire Google Analytics account. For example, if you want to see what traffic sources led to the most conversions, click on the “Traffic Sources” section. Under the “Sources” dropdown, select “All Traffic.”

You will be taken to the “All Traffic” explorer. Under the “Explorer” tab, you’ll see “Site Usage” and then “Goal Set 1.” If you click on Goal Set 1, the graph of visits will stay the same, but the information below the graph showing individual traffic sources will change. It will now show data for overall goal conversion rate percentage, per visit goal value, and goal conversion rate percentages for each goal you have set up as shown in the image below.

viewing-goal-completions-traffic-sources-google-analytics

You can also follow the same steps to learn more about conversion rates based on visitor’s demographics by clicking on the “Visitors” section. Click on the “Goal Set 1″ to see the overall goal conversion rate percentage, per visit goal value, and goal conversion rate percentages for each goal based on visitor’s location, language, and other demographic information provided by Google Analytics.

Editor’s note: This article uses screenshots and data from the new Google Analytics Beta, Version 5.

[Image Credits: Al_HikesAZ, Travis S., photobrad, edibleoffice]