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Google Analytics: Goals/Conversions

Takeaway

You should set-up goals in Google Analytics corresponding to the actual marketing goals you have for your website. Then you can track your website success based on your real bottom-line metrics, rather than less-relevant metrics like pageviews or even visits.

Determining Your Goals

Concept

  1. Determine what your marketing goals are. What is it you want people to do?
  2. Determine how you are trying to achieve those goals using your website.
  3. (optional) Determine how much those goal completions are worth to you, so you can calculate ROI.
  4. Analyze!

Example

  1. I want people to buy shirts.
  2. I will set-up an online store to sell shirts.
  3. Set up your online store to send actual purchase value information to Google Analytics.
  4. Who buys the most shirts? Are visits to my online store from my display ads or from my marketing emails driving more sales?

For example, let’s say that your department has a marketing goal of getting the contact information for prospective students (leads). That goal can be achieved in multiple ways, both online or offline.

To get leads offline: you might send someone to a college fair or similar event, meet prospective students, provide information, and try to get their contact information. Obviously there are real costs associated with traveling, and the administrative costs of collecting their information and getting it back into your systems.

To get leads online: you could create a website and provide a ‘Request Information’ form. When someone submits this form, you have the contact information of a lead.

And of course we can track in Google Analytics registrations that come-in online. (Actually you can use Google Analytics to track offline activity too, but that’s a different story.)

It is usually cheaper to accomplish your marketing goals online vs offline.

Using Goal Data

Having good goals set-up in Google Analytics is key to effective website analysis, because your users completing your goals is what really matters. If you want someone to sign-up, purchase, etc. then that is what you should measure. Who cares who many pageviews or visits it took for that goal to be completed; the point is that is was completed. That’s the bottom line.

Once you have goals set-up, you can segment your data and compare goal completion rates. Do certain marketing efforts (ads, emails, etc.) result in greater goal completion rates? How many goal completions are driven by each type of marketing efforts. Do your goal completion rates differ by geography? What about by landing page? Are people landing on specific pages more (or less) likely to go on to complete a goal? These are all great questions… that can only be answered once you have set-up your goals in Google Analytics.

How to Set Goal Values

So how do you determine a monetary value for your goals?

One method is to determine what the cost would be to achieve the goal off-line. How would you do it if you didn’t have a website? And if you did, how much would it cost? That’s your goal value. That is how much your website saved your department.

Going back to the request information form example: if it would cost you $5 per lead to send someone out to a college fair, get their contact information and put a brochure in their hand, then your goal value for the website doing that for you is $5.

What if the Goal Completions Don’t Pan-Out?

What if you are selling items online, and people later return those items? What if you are tracking registrations for an event, and the attendee doesn’t actually show-up for the event? How do you make sure you are tracking goal value appropriately when not every goal completion results in an actual conversion?

In short, don’t worry about it.

If someone purchases an item online, and later returns it, that is not a reflection on your website design and purchase process. The website did it’s job. It generated a conversion.

If someone registers for a campus tour online, whether or not they actually attended the event is not a reflection of whether your marketing efforts and your website worked. They already worked. The person signed-up.

University-Wide Goals

University-wide goals represent key performance indicators (KPIs) that apply to the university as a whole. These goals are tracked in the university roll-up property.

WhatWhoWhyValueNotes
Submit Undergraduate Request Information Form AdmissionsCapture lead infoImplemented for undergraduate on 7/14/2017.
Submit Graduate Request Information Form AdmissionsCapture lead infoImplemented for graduate (central) on 6/26/2017.
Register for Campus TourAdmissionsCapture lead info/introduce prospective students to MasonImplemented on 1/23/2018. Note that, due to technical limitations with our CRM (TargetX) implementation, this goal captures form completion, not actual form submission. This should be close enough to be useful.
Submit Online Application FormAdmissionsThis is our primary business purpose
Online Enrollment Deposit ?This is our primary business purpose
DonateDevelopmentIncrease revenue
Submit Job ApplicationHuman ResourcesAcquire effective staff

View our University-Wide Goals real-time report.

Unit/Department Goals

Unit or department goals are goals that are specifically important to your unit or department (KPIs for the unit/department), but do not represent KPIs for the university as a whole. These should be tracked in the relevant unit/department Google Analytics property.

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