Google Analytics overview: Setting goals to measure success

03.20.13_technewsrprt_img_stories_sadhiv-mahandru _google-analytics

Goals are a fundamental concept of any analytics package, without goals you are nothing more than a fancy hit counter. Goals will allow us to evaluate quality traffic from poor performing track. In other words in order for us to say that site A is sending you much more valuable traffic than site B we need some criteria to base that on and that is where goals come in. This will become clear as we examine the anatomy of a web site visit and role analytics can play in that evaluation.

The first step is to attract traffic. This is fairly obvious and it’s where the vast majority of online marketing is devoted. There are many options to getting visitors to your site like AdWords, Microsoft Adcenter, Ask.com,

Facebook ads, even low-cost or free options though like organic search engine traffic or email marketing which cost you time, effort and resources which are often more precious than money. We also have to consider all of the offline marketing where we publish our website address in hopes that customers will pull up our site the next time they hop on the web. There is no doubt that a lot of effort goes into getting visitors to our site and traditionally this is where almost all our focus has been.

We mistakenly believed that if we get enough visitors to our site somehow that will be good enough. But just dropping them off on the front door of our site and hoping for the best is not good enough. We need them to actually take that next step. Whether it’s to put something in the shopping cart, fill out a lead generation form, download coupons or even just find our phone number so they can pick up the phone and give us a call. And not all visits behave the same by any stretch of the imagination. There is high performing traffic and low performing traffic and everything in between.

In order to analyse which sources and types of traffic are valuable we need to track what those visitors are doing when they are on the site, what content works, how are they are using the site and ultimately figure out how to segment them to understand why they are doing what they are doing.

Finally, we are going to measure how many folks and which segments of those people reach that final step to convert whether it’s putting money in your bank account, or filling out that lead generation form. We get to tell our analytics package exactly what we consider successful visit by setting goals and calculating our conversion rate based on our goals. One very important point about goals is not to overlook intermediate goals. We are often so focused on that last step such as a shopping cart checkout that we forget about all the factors in between that contribute to the sale and get them to take that next step. Think about an actual grocery cart; once you fill that up and get to that checkout, the chances that you take that next step and pay are very good because you have taken all the previous steps that lead up to that point.

We have equivalents online. So we are doing our web analytics analysis tracking these intermediate steps and funnels are very valuable. Determining our primary and secondary goals is critically important but not difficult. We simply ask ourselves why do you have a website, what is the purpose of your site and what do you want visitors to do when they visit? If you have an e-commerce website then your primary goal is simple, you want people to check out with your shopping cart and put money in your pocket. Simple enough but do not forget about intermediate or secondary goals as well.

But the reality is most businesses are not e-commerce companies or they do not accept credit cards over the web. This does not mean you do not have goals. Many websites are designed to generate business leads. If you have a contact or lead generation form on your site, that is a perfect goal and a fantastic way to determine good traffic from bad.

Mailing lists are another great example one where we can easily put a value on each goal conversion. For example if you know that you average five hundred dollars in sales for every one thousand people on your weekly e-mail newsletter you can easily calculate how much each additional sign up is worth. Email marketing lends itself very well to tracking the analytics in both getting people to sign up for your list as well as tracking the success of the business generated from sending out those mails.

Now, perhaps your goals to get the phone to ring, there are many ways to track both the number of visits that reach that ‘contact us’ info page but also within a greater analytics with tracking a reading of your actual phone system. Or perhaps you know how to get the results of an industry study in the hands of prospective clients is likely to influence them. Well, tracking downloads of that study or white paper is a great intermediate or soft goal.

Maybe you are publisher and your goals are to get folks to click on ads or affiliate links, we can do that too. Now this one is interesting because it’s often the opposite of the previous score if you just launched a new tech support knowledge base, it’s very likely you are trying to shift calls away from your expensive call centre towards the online knowledge base. So you certainly want to measure that goal and perhaps even measure contact requests as a negative goal.

Do not forget about other areas of your business website. For example many of us have a career section on our site and we know hiring can be costly and an arduous process, so many times we can even associate the value with resume submission. If we know that it generally takes X amount of resumes to find the right candidate then we can put a value on each resume submission or job application that we received through the site and we can evaluate which job or site are sending quality traffic by tracking in measuring the application process on our site.

You can see there is no shortage of goals that we can track on our site. These goals are fundamental to our ability to gain insights and perform analysis. For now you want to be thinking in the back of your mind why you have a site and what goals you are going to track.

[author ]Sadhiv Mahandru has been involved in online marketing for over a decade covering PPC, Affiliate Marketing, SEO , Content Creation and also creating effective websites. Specialising in Quality SEO Manchester UK and you can learn more about Internet Marketing and SEO by reading my own blog which is updated frequently.[/author]

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