Goals provide a way to measure conversions in Google Analytics. Hands down, specifying goals is the most important configuration step because they directly align business outcomes on your website with your Google Analytics configuration.
A conversion occurs when a site visitor completes a task on your website. Why is this important? Every website exists for a reason. It is not enough to measure traffic to your website, you want to measure how often visitors complete the tasks and processes that you create.
While it is not necessary to create any goals or funnels, it is highly recommended. How else will you measure business outcomes on your website if you do not configure goals?
A URL destination goal is simply a pageview that indicates the visitor has completed some type of high-value task. This process could be filling out a contact form, purchasing a product, or downloading a file. Each process usually concludes with some type of thank-you page. In Google Analytics, this is called the goal page.
As Google Analytics processes site data, it increments the goal counter each time a goal page is viewed. If the goal page is viewed multiple times during a single session, the goal counter is incremented only once. This is important, because it means that a visitor can convert only once during a visit.
There are multiple ways to define a URL destination goal, depending on the complexity of your website. The easiest way to create a goal is to paste the URL of your goal page into the Goal URL field. Next, eliminate the domain name until all that is left is the information after the .com, .net, or .org. The image below shows the goal setup form and the Goal URL field.
So, if your checkout process ends with http://www.cutroni.com/thankyou.php, enter http://www.cutroni.com/thankyou.php in the Goal URL field and delete http://www.cutroni.com.
Tracking Defined Processes with Funnels
A funnel is a series of predefined steps, or pages, that a visitor must pass through before reaching a goal. Not every goal will have an associated funnel, so defining a funnel is optional. You should set up a funnel if you have a predefined process that the visitor must go through before reaching the goal. This can be as simple as specifying the form used on a Contact Us page or as complicated as a multistep checkout process. The funnel is an excellent way to visualize problems in the conversion process.
I absolutely love funnel analysis. Why? It is a very simple way to identify problems related to conversions. Think about it: if a visitor is in a funnel process, you have already spent a lot of money on that visitor! You’ve spent marketing dollars to get him to the site and more money developing the site and content to convince him to convert. Once he’s in the funnel, he’s literally a few clicks away from conversion. Don’t blow it now! Make sure your funnel works. Improvements to the funnel process can pay immediate dividends.
Setting up a funnel is very similar to setting up a destination URL goal. Each step in a funnel is a pageview. To create a funnel, paste the URL for each page in your process into the setup form and remove the domain name and extension.
If you enable the Required step feature, visitors who complete the goal without starting at the first step in the defined funnel will not be shown as completing the goal in the funnel visualization report. However, the conversion will be recorded in other conversion reports.
In reality, the Required step means that the visitor must go through step 1 of the funnel prior to conversion. This can be an incredibly powerful tool. For example, if you want to identify the influence that a certain page has on conversion, you can create a one-step funnel in which step 1 is the page you want to evaluate and the goal is the page that you want to understand step 1’s influence on. When the Required step is enabled, Google Analytics will only track a conversion when the visitor sees step 1 at some point prior to conversion.
Note: Google Analytics will backfill your predefined funnels. For example, if you have a four-step funnel and a visitor completes only the first step and the final step, Google Analytics will indicate that the visitor actually hit every step in the funnel process.
You can define destination URL goals and funnels for data created by
_trackPageview(). Remember, if you pass a value to
_trackpageview(), that data becomes a pageview in Google Analytics. These pageviews can then be defined as goals by placing the value passed to
_trackPageview()in the Goal URL field. This is very handy if you want to configure Google Analytics to track a visitor’s action as a goal. For example, you may want to create a goal for a visitor clicking on a button or an outbound link.
It is also common to use
_trackPageview()to create virtual pageviews for the steps in the funnel. If all the steps in your funnel process have the same URL, you will need to create a virtual pageview for each step and use those virtual pageviews in the funnel settings.
Learn more about this topic from Google Analytics.
Take advantage of Google Analytics' powerful and free tools to understand exactly how users behave when they visit your website or use your web application. This hands-on guide shows you how to probe general traffic, marketing, and ecommerce information with these tools, and teaches you how to supplement them with add-ons and external tools when you want to dig even deeper. You'll also learn how to create custom reports to analyze specific issues.