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How to Set Goals in Google Analytics and Why it Matters

Ever hear the expression, “A goal is a dream with a deadline”?

That’s a great way to look at your marketing analysis, specifically, your work with Google Analytics. You’ve already done all the work setting up your account and you’ve started to look through some of the stats, like the number of visitors to your site, where they’re coming from, how long they stay, etc. Great!

Now, how does this information translate to your actual goals? In other words….how many of those visitors actually did what you wanted them to do while they were on your site?

Depending on your business, this could be getting people to download your eBook, sign up for your mailing list, make an online purchase, connect with you on social media, or any number of things. Regardless, every business has a specific goal that is the driving force behind their online presence. It’s the reason you paid to have a website designed in the first place.

In order to truly get the most out of Google Analytics, you have to channel the information it gathers for you into helping you achieve the results you’re after. Well, buckle your seatbelts and settle in because we’re about to bring you on a crash course in setting up goals within your Google Analytics (with a little insight as to what they help you track and why they’re so important). Enjoy!

Step One – Define Your Goals

There is, ultimately, one major goal that every single business has when it comes to their website, and that’s gaining more customers. While that may seem simple and straightforward, when you step back and analyze the steps it will take to reach that ultimate goal, it gets a little trickier. For instance, the main goal of an ecommerce company may be to get the customer to make an online purchase, but in order to get to that point, there are a series of smaller goals that also must be met, such as signing up for the email newsletter, downloading a demo or requesting more information.

Before you can begin setting up your goals, you must define each of them sequentially. Imagine every possible scenario, and their various outcomes, and you’ll be on your way to figuring out what types of activity you want to see from visitors when they come to your website.

It’s important to note that goals can be negative as well as positive. Negative goals, such as abandoned carts in your online store, can help you to identify problem areas and learn what’s causing them so that you can take the appropriate measures to correct them. When you analyze this negative goal, you can identify patterns of behavior, determine what the problem is and get to work turning those negatives into positives.

Once you’ve gone through and identified your goals, both positive and negative, you’re ready to move forward. Google Analytics lets you set goals in four distinct areas:

  • Destination-Based Goals
  • Duration-Type Goals
  • Pages/Screens Per Visit Goals
  • Event-Based Goals

Destination –Based Goals

A destination goal involves getting users to successfully reach a specific URL on your site. Typically, this is some type of “Thank You” page, and could be triggered by a demo download, subscription, purchase or some other action taken by the visitor. When you can track the number of times that page is visited, you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of what individual goals you’re reaching.

To set up your destination goal, you’ll need the specific URL you’re trying to track (i.e. html://yourwebsite/thankyou.html). Then, when you’re logged into your Google Analytics account, you’ll need to:

  • Go to Admin
  • Choose Goals
  • Click Create a Goal
  • Select Destination as the type of goal

Next, you’ll need to name your goal. Make sure to make it as straightforward as possible, like “Newsletter Subscription” so that you’ll be able to track progress quickly and easily.

The “Additional Information” section is where you’ll include the specific URL you’re trying to track. This is done by setting up an expression by using the “Equals to” option.

Duration-Type Goals

One of the most important components of a successful website is usability. That is, whether the site is easy to navigate and user-friendly. If people aren’t spending enough time on your pages – or, too much time on pages that should be simple and straightforward – it could be a sign that your site needs to be optimized better. It could be functionality or content, but either way, poor usability can drive visitors away – right into the open arms of your biggest competitor.

Duration goals can help you pinpoint how much time visitors are spending on certain pages within your website so that you can identify areas that may need attention. To set your duration goals:

  • Go to Admin
  • Choose Goals
  • Click Create a Goal
  • Select Duration as the type of goal

Enter the page you want to track, then set the duration filter to whatever timeframe you’d like to measure (i.e. 25 seconds, 5 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.).

Pages/Screens Per Visit Goals

Another important metric to track is the number of pages a visitor clicks through during their time on your site. This information could indicate either a positive or negative goal. On the positive side, a visitor clicking through multiple pages may show that they had a lot of interest in what you have to offer and spent time learning more about your business and/or what you have to offer. Or, it could mean that they had a hard time finding what they were looking for and likely ended up frustrated as a result.

You can track the number of pages and/or screens that your visitors are clicking through by doing the following:

  • Go to Admin
  • Choose Goals
  • Click Create a Goal
  • Select Pages/Screens Per Visit as the type of goal
  • Set your desired number (greater than or less than)

The information you gather from this can help you understand how users interact with your website and identify areas of opportunity where you might be able to streamline your conversions more effectively.

Event-Based Goals

This type of goal measures the actual activity being performed on any given page within your website. For instance, an event might be watching an imbedded YouTube video or clicking a button to share your content via social media. You can use this feature to track just about any action completed on a particular page of your site. This goal is a bit trickier to set up.

To begin, you’ll need to actually set up events right in the code of your site. (Here’s Google’s tutorial on doing this, if you need some help.) Once you’ve taken care of this part, you can then go to Analytics and set each goal accordingly by choosing Event as the type of goal and defining the conditions of each.

Start Measuring

Now that you’ve got all your goals set, it’s time to start tracking your progress.  You can locate your main stats in the “Conversions” area of your Analytics account under “Goals”. From here, you can narrow down your analysis to identify the number of times each of your defined goals has been accomplished during a specified period of time.

You’ve already got a dream in mind. Now it’s time to turn that dream into a goal by setting up real, measurable metrics that will show you not only how your online presence is performing now, but also help you find ways to improve and enhance that performance over time for optimum results.

If you would like to learn how Dialed-In Web can turn your online visitors into long term paying customers, please email us @ or call 615-241-2278 today! #GetDialedIn

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