How to Setup Google Analytics Goals

The Google Analytics platform is useful in gathering metrics and informing business decisions in all sorts of areas, but the data provided are only as good as the setup behind what is to be measured.

If you’re not tracking online activity that’s relevant to the interactions between your business and its consumers, why bother tracking anything at all? This is where understanding the functionality of Google Analytics on a deeper level and, more specifically, goals, comes into play.

Goals represent a specific, tracked action completed by users when interacting with your online assets. These actions are measured as conversions at varying levels, which you can specifically determine. The goals you set up within Google Analytics will tell you if your visitors are taking specific actions you want them to complete, and provide a better understanding of visitor behavior when on your website. The more you track these moves towards different objectives, the more you’ll be able to identify which goals are critical for overall business success, and be better equipped to optimize for them.

Initial Setup

To begin, log in to your Google Analytics account, and navigate to the “Admin” menu at the top right corner of the dashboard. Select “Goals,” then “+Goal” to create a new one. You’ll be provided with options to either use a template, go customer, or create your own “Smart Goals”.

When naming a newly created goal, label it with something that’ll be easily identifiable and clear enough to associate what’s been tracked with it. Once created, a goal can be deactivated at any time, but never deleted. This is because Google Analytics permanently applies all goals to its tracking activity as it turns actions into data and inserts them into reports.

Goal Templates

If new to Google Analytics and/or averse to analytics in general, introducing yourself to goals using the templates provided is a good way to start out. With the templates, predefined business objectives are given and divided into four categories that include “Revenue,” “Acquisition,” “Inquiry,” and “Engagement.” If you’re unsure of what kind of goals to create, thinking about them in terms of these basic objectives is a great way to start wrapping your head around things.

You can begin by creating one goal for each category so as to gain a better understanding of overall user behavior and activity in conjunction with various campaigns. Set up a new goal from a present template, and select one of the four categories. In order to see available templates, make sure you have properly specified your industry in the property settings.

Custom Goals

Taking the custom route may sound a bit daunting, but it’s much easier than it sounds. After selecting “Custom” from the goal setup options provided, pick from the four “Types of Goals.”

  1. URL destination. This type of goal comes in handy when designating a page view (or screen view for apps) as a conversion. An example of this could be for thank you pages, confirmation pages, etc. By tracking specific URLs, whenever someone hits them, the goal is triggered and action is recorded.
  2. Visit Duration/time. This goal tracks the length of time people spend on your website. It allows you to track visits that are below a specific amount of time and understand where improvements can be made. An example of this would be in conjunction with support pages.
  3. Pages/visits. Somewhat similar to duration, this goal tracks not how long but how many pages a user visited before leaving your site.
  4. Events. Probably the most complex of the four, this goal requires setting up event points on your site for tracking. For example, an event could be designated as the “Add to Cart” or “Learn More” button. Whenever someone clicks those event buttons, the goal will be triggered. Any type of interaction your users might have with your site can be correlated with an event.

Smart Goals

Smart Goals are just that because of their ability to measure via automation and machine learning. They essentially examine a variety of signals through your website and compare and determine which are most worth tracking when trying to follow conversions. Under “Goal Setup,” select “Smart Goals” to get started.

Note that, in order to proceed with setup, you’ll need to have your Analytics account synced up with AdWords. The connected AdWords account must have at least 500 clicks, reporting view must not receive more than 10 million sessions in 30 days, and the “Data Sharing” setting for “Google Products and Services” must be turned on. With all of this enabled and in place, the learning can begin.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll continue our exploration of the goals concept and which types make sense for you based on your specific business objectives.