Marketing

How to Set Up & Use Google Analytics Conversion Tracking

60 demand generation pros share their best tips for setting up Google Analytics conversion tracking in order to measure all lead activity on your website.

Jakub Rudnik Jakub Rudnik on November 12, 2019 (last modified on November 18, 2019) • 23 minute read

Your website has pages and pages of content. Your email subscriber list is growing, and your lead forms are being filled out.

But without setting up the proper tracking, it is impossible to determine exactly where your conversions are coming from or how customers move down your funnels.

Data is the lifeblood of the modern digital marketer – long gone are the days of sending out campaigns we can’t measure and hoping for the best.

Instead, we can measure every touchpoint, every impression, every click, determine what worked (and what didn’t), and then test something new.

No software program in the marketer’s toolbox is more powerful for providing data than Google Analytics. But that power can only be unlocked when it is set up and used correctly, and then when you know how to take action on all the data at your disposal.

Google Analytics can reveal insights on seemingly countless actions on your website, and conversions are one of the most crucial for digital marketers.

How to Set Up Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics

If you already have Google Analytics running within your website (or your client’s), then getting basic conversion tracking set up is fairly straightforward:

  • Use Google’s Campaign URL Builder to create custom URLs. This will allow you to pinpoint the source of a click within Google Analytics.
  • Define your goal within Google Analytics. You can follow the steps below to set up basic goals.
Under the “Conversions” tab, select “Overview.” Then, click the button “Set up goals.”
Select the red “New Goal” button, then use a template or custom goal slot.

These are truly just the first steps to tracking conversions in Google Analytics. The program can be difficult to set up effectively, even for the experienced user. And setting up a goal in Google Analytics is just the start – the ultimate mission is to increase conversions and grow your business.

To help you get beyond the basics and get the most out of your conversion data, we asked 53 digital marketing experts for their best tips on using Google Analytics to track conversions. The tips included work you should do before even setting up your Google Analytics dashboards, how you should configure Google Analytics itself, and what you should do to improve results once everything is up and running.

Steps to Take Before Setting Up Google Analytics Conversion Tracking

Our experts gave six tips on steps you can take on your own website or in your planning to best take advantage of Google Analytics for measuring conversions.

Create a Thank You Page

One way to confirm a conversion is to create a “Thank You” page appear after an action is taken. Many experts recommended using this trick to help save time and show accurate data.

  • “When users submit a ‘lead,’ have them redirected to the ‘Thank You’ page in order to easily track the amount of leads by tracking the analytics on the Thank You page,” Dustin Moore of Ivio Agency says. “Be sure to not link the page anywhere else on your site so your metrics are accurate and clear. Following this, set up a “goal’ in the GA account in order to easily access the analytics.”
  • “The best way to measure your conversions in Google Analytics with the LEAST AMOUNT of coding or site revision is to create destination ‘Thank you’ pages in Google Analytics to count your lead conversions,” says Phil Mackie of TopSailDigital. “By configuring your Google Analytics goals to fire when a visitor lands on your ‘thank you’ page, you can skip custom Javascript implementations and get your goals tracked sooner, rather than later.”
  • “It’s a basic tip but with so many small businesses not measuring conversions and often lacking the technical know-how to add event tracking snippets, etc this can be an influential step,” says Quentin Aisbett of OnQ Marketing.
  • “To track proper conversions, we should use thank you pages rather than thank you messages,” says Chiranjiv Joshi of Rank the Web. “For enterprise-level websites, it is good if we use individual category wise thank you pages to track the conversions in better ways. We should also track phone clicks using GTM.”
  • “For typical B2B sites (non ecommerce), use GA Goals and page-level metrics to measure landing page activity and post-conversion ‘Thank You’ page hits,” says David Kamm of iBeam Marketing Consulting Services. “Enable event tracking as well to measure other important pre-conversion indicators, such as file downloads. All of this activity can then be tracked to specific acquisition channels and campaigns, geographies and sales territories, and even specific visiting companies in some cases.”
  • “Create a conversion goal for views of the pages that a visitor sees after submitting a form,” recommends Theresa Keller of Delta Marketing Group. “An example is: /contact-us/thank-you is the page you want to trigger the conversion. Based on which form/thank you page they submit, you can also assign values. A generic contact us submission might have a lower value as a conversion than a form on the pricing page or a specific content offer/services page.”

Use UTM Codes and Properly Structure URLs

UTM tags are Google’s own solution for tracking traffic data and properly setting them up is key to measuring conversions.

  • “Use UTM tags for paid non-Google campaigns plus import costs of Google campaigns in order to analyze campaign costs, ROI and payback,” recommends Viacheslav Ponomarev of 49.95 Agency.
  • “Make sure you have a clear success URL to define goals in Google Analytics and that all pages are tagged,” says Julien Coquet of Julien Coquet Consulting. “That way you can collect extensive data on all pages and events contributing to conversion.”

Integrate Google Analytics with Your Other Software

You likely will use other tools that integrate into your Google Analytics or can be used in tandem with it. Software can be extremely powerful in automation and scaling your processes in every area of business, and conversion measurement is no exception.

Google Ads

“The most important thing is to have all your Google activity connected,” says Andrés Ossa of Mudango. “This means connecting your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts so that you can measure your paid and organic traffic and conversions. Organic conversion rates tend to be lower, so it is important to measure both to understand the unit economics of each channel.”

Google Tag Manager

  • Use GA in tandem with Google Tag Manager,” recommends Fiona Kay of Nigel Wright Group. “Google Tag Manager gives marketers the ability to set up conversion tracking on their website which can then be reported on and tracked in Google Analytics.”
  • “[One tip is] tracking landing page activity in GA and defining a lead-gen form submission as a destination goal in GA,” says Amir Tohid of Analytics Effect. “For other events such as pdf downloads, email submissions, we can track using Google Tag Manager.”

Call Tracking

  • “For lead generation, in particular, B2B, integrating call tracking with Google Analytics can provide a lot a valuable insight,” explains Lars Larsen of AdNudging.com. “In many branches, people prefer to call, and with call tracking you can link your online marketing with offline calls.”
  • “Don’t forget about tracking offline conversions,” reminds Owen Ray of Invoca. “If you are spending your paid media budget sending customers to your sales call centers or to get them to make a purchase in a brick-and-mortar store, you’re probably not getting adequate attribution for the offline conversions your marketing is driving. For conversions that happen on the phone, you should be using a call tracking and conversation analytics platform that can push call conversion data directly to Google Analytics in real-time. This can give you precise campaign data down to the keyword that you can use for both attribution and campaign optimization.”

Web Development Tools

Don’t let the choice of web development technology determine how many steps you want to track in the conversions that are important to your business,” advises Vernon Riley of Smart Marketing Reports. “The business can choose – and the technology can be coerced to feed the data you want to Google Analytics.”

Define the Stages of Your Funnel

A major aspect of measuring conversions is knowing the funnel you’ve created and understanding how your prospects move down it. Knowing all your funnel stages will help you set up proper goals and events in Google Analytics (as we’ll get into later).

  • “Pay attention to your funnel and define the path the visitors need to take to convert,” says Edin Sabanovic of Objeqt. “By accurately tracking each touchpoint in the funnel, you can optimize the conversions at the point where it matters the most.”
  • “Make sure when measuring conversions you understand the best goal paths on sites and channels with the best conversion rates,” recommends Matt Sellars of Converted. “This will help to understand the best channels to push resource through and what pages of your website you should take a user through for the best experience.”
  • Before diving into Google Analytics, take time to categorize website activity into upper-funnel engagement versus lower-funnel engagement,” advises Jackie Jeffers of Portent. “Upper-funnel engagement is usually interaction with content that’s ungated and easily accessible, such as a blog. Lower-funnel engagement comes from users who are further along in their research process and are more willing to exchange personal info, like an email address, for gated content.
    “Categorizing web activity gives you a roadmap for a user journey,” Jeffers continues. “By doing that pre-work before going into GA, you’ll have a better idea of which metrics to focus on for conversions at different phases of the conversion funnel.”
  • “Don’t just measure bottom-of-the-funnel activity,” warns Thomas Bosilevac of MashMetrics. “What percentage of users come to your site and purchase on their first session? Likely less than 5% if you are an ecommerce site. By tracking conversion queues such as watching a video, scrolling through 75% of blog content, clicking on partner content you can start to understand what leads to conversion…the other 95%. Furthermore, these queues can also be used to remarket your audience at different levels with unique messages.”

Properly Define Success

Before setting up goals in Google Analytics, it’s important to know what a conversion actually is for your site or page. If you’re measuring the wrong thing, you ultimately will be testing and iterating on something that doesn’t actually prove that you are converting visitors.

  • “Make sure you have your goals configured correctly and you’re measuring the right things,” says Donna Duncan of B-SeenOnTop. “I can’t tell you how many Analytics campaigns I visit that are tracking contact form visits (versus submissions) and failing to track cell phone calls initiated from a site link.”
  • “Set clear goals and create metrics to measure each one,” recommends Sanem Ahearn of Colorescience. “Knowing what metrics you’re measuring will help you determine whether or not your efforts are successful. If you find that you’re not seeing an increase in metrics and conversions, adjust your strategy and repeat the process.”
  • “Remember GA is just a tool, it doesn’t define your business or how you should run it, and not even how you should measure it,” says digital thought leader Stéphane Hamel. “So start by defining what is a successful conversion: is it an ecommerce conversion? A qualified lead? What qualifies a good lead? Maybe even something else.”

Measure Blog or Content Conversions

Your blog may be used to build top-of-funnel traffic, but it can also actually convert visitors – it doesn’t just need to happen at the landing page level.

  • “My best tip for measuring conversions and lead generation using Google Analytics is not to ignore the impact that your content marketing can have,” says Nathan Chandler of Zippy Shell Louisiana. “Many people are not properly tracking leads from blog posts and other parts of their website. It’s easy to set up a page where you can use Google Analytics to measure which pages are generating the most leads from content.”

Tips for Setting Up Google Analytics

Setting up Google Analytics to do exactly what you need can be difficult and take lots of technical skills. Fortunately, our experts dove into the nitty-gritty of the software tool.

In a survey, conversion rate was the metric most often tracked by our experts. Leads generated and lead source followed closely behind.

Ensure Data Quality

Your decision-making about conversions will only be as good as your data. There are some simple steps you can take to ensure it is as accurate as possible.

  • “Make sure to filter your company IP addresses within Google Analytics,” says Daniel Cooper of Lolly. “As you develop your site and work on things you don’t want your own visits to your website counting as pageviews as this can potentially skew not only data like bounce rate and dwell time but also your website’s conversion rates.”
  • “Conversion tracking in Analytics is not retrospective,” reminds David Miles of the PPC Machine. “So make sure you install Analytics and set up all your required goals and events as soon as your website is launched.”
  • “One of the biggest challenges for measuring conversions in Google Analytics is that goal tracking can easily break (whether it’s double-counting, updates to the site, or forgetting to add a new conversion flow),” says Ryo Chiba of Topic. “Our best tip to overcome this is to bake Google Analytics goals into regular, highly visible reports that are sent to senior management. This forces us to regularly audit the accuracy of the goals and increases trust in the numbers.”
  • “Never view data with your blinders on!” cautions Sarah Donawerth of Carro. “By that, I mean that data should be taken in context. Even if sales are down for the day, what does the weekly view tell us? Monthly view? The bigger insights are not in the smallest of changes, but in the overall trends of your data.”

Simplify Your Data and Dashboards

And even when your data is good, looking at too much at once can add unnecessary clutter and noise.

  • “Set up a clear overview of the metrics and charts that focus just on your lead generation goals,” says Lennart Meijer of TheOtherStraw. “It is easy to get distracted by all the data in Google Analytics. However, if you have clear lead generation goals for certain pages, setting up simple dashboards that just track what you need is key to using this data to optimize your lead generation strategies.”
  • Have a separate landing page for each goal conversion,” advises Luke Wester of Miva, Inc. “This way, you can track individual conversions easier. It will also help you decide which campaigns or pages generate the best leads for your business.”

Editor’s Note: E-commerce sites can see monthly revenue, transactions, recurring customer value, and more with Databox’s free Google Analytics E-Commerce Overview dashboard.

Properly Set Up Goal Tracking

We explained the basics of setting up goals in Google Analytics. However, doing it the best way for your site will take more than just the basics.

  • “Add a monetary value to the conversions, even if there isn’t an actual eCommerce transaction that triggers the conversion,” recommenddsTravis McGinnis of Leighton Interactive.
  • It’s valuable to set up multi-step goals that will allow you to retarget leads based on how they engaged with your website,” says Briana Michelle of KratomSpace. “For example, the first goal might be visiting your landing page; the second might be viewing a video; the third might be submitting an email address to receive a lead magnet; and the fourth might be completing a detailed request for additional information. This helps you gauge each prospect’s level of interest in your offer, and you can then retarget them with appropriate content.”
  • First of all, add goals in the admin->goals->new goal,” says Maggie Simmons of Max Effect Marketing. “By adding the goals, you will be able to check the goals in the conversions->goals menu. And you can check the overview of goals, goal URLs , reverse goal path and goal flow. The reverse goal path shows the last three URLs from where the user entered the site and how the user converted. Goal URLs show from which URL, we have got the conversion. We can also filter the conversions according to source/medium. We can also find the locations from which we have got the conversions.”
  • If you don’t have any goals set up you can’t measure how successful your campaigns have been,” says Osama Khabab of Motioncue. “Whatever your objective, always set up some goals for your website for lead generation, signups, purchases, add to carts, etc.”
  • At Venngage, metrics that matter to us are registrations, premium upgrades, creations (when someone creates a design using our templates) as well as completions,” says Aditya Sheth of Vengage. “By setting each of these metrics as goals, we can then visualize each step and address any issues between these goals by looking at them individually and as a whole.”
  • Make sure you set up the different goals at Google Analytics (leads and ecommerce),” offers Dinesh Thakur of Ads Triangle. “And then check from which sources you are getting maximum leads and revenue.”
  • Break your conversion tracking into Macro and Micro goals,” recommends Elad Levy of Fixel. “Macro goals are the ones that have clear monetary value, e.g. purchases or leads. Micro goals don’t have a clear monetary value, but are important for monitoring site health and traffic quality, e.g. engagement level (Scroll depth, time on site etc.).”
  • “Do not track your micro conversions as a goal,” counters Stéphanie Erné of Vsee Search Marketing. “Only track your most important conversion as a goal. This way the conversion percentage that is reported is not a higher metric than it actually is. You do not want your newsletter sign-ups to count towards this percentage. Keep your newsletter sign-ups and less important button clicks or pageviews as events or in the all pages report and analyze them from there if necessary.”
  • “The key to measuring conversions in Google Analytics is ensuring that your goals are set up correctly and that all stages of the funnel are including in goal completion (if necessary),” advises Liam Barnes of Directive.
  • “When we onboard clients that have attempted to use Google Analytics to measure their conversions and lead generation we see issues with how previous companies have set up goal tracking,” says Bryan Pattman of 9Sail. “Make sure you set up meaningful goals and create a system that allows you to check if the the goals that you set align with the amount of business that you are bringing in. Finding the right KPIs will help you make very important decisions that will help you continue to grow your business’ online presence.”

Use Conversion Path Reports

One tool within Google Analytics that was mentioned frequently by respondents is the conversion path report feature. It can help users determine how their site visitors became converters, not just the final conversion point.

  • “This tool shows you the most effective paths that led to conversions,” says Jacqueline Tihanyi of Fisher Unitech. “Navigating to the top conversion paths in Google Analytics is easy. To do this follow these steps: Conversions —> Multi-Channel Funnels —> Top Conversion Paths.
    “This will group channel paths and list the most effective conversion paths, showing the figures as well as the % share,” Tihanyi continued. “This gives you insight into the strategies that work and don’t work in a clear and concise fashion.”
  • “It is crucial to know how the customer gets to us, which channels strongly drive him to conversion,” says Krzysztof Surowiecki of Hexe Data. “Thanks to this, we can better distribute the budget between the sources that appear on the paths of customers, not only at the end but also at the beginning and in the middle of its path, who buy the most.”
  • “Google Analytics provides a wealth of information about how leads convert,” says Eric Anderson of elMejorTrato.com. “It is crucial that you set up an accurate conversion tracking within Google Analytics. By doing so, you make sure you’re catching all conversions that you want to follow without having to use another sales platform.”

Define Events and Identify Lead Sources

Creating and defining events in Google Analytics shows you when specific actions are taken on your site. Doing this correctly can help you in measuring conversions and better understanding your funnels.

  • “The best way to measure conversions and lead generation using Google Analytics is by creating events,” explains Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers. “With GA, you have the possibility to track events. In other words, you can see the actions your visitors take when visiting your website. If your goal is to have visitors signing up to your newsletter, you can track it on Google Analytics. If you want them to click a CTA button and go to a specific page such as a signup form or a contact page, you can create an event for this on GA.”
  • “A goal funnel is a navigation path that outlines how your online users are expected to follow to achieve a non-transactional website goal,” explains. Patricio Quiroz of Code Authority. “You can track actions such as submitting a contact form, button clicks, and account creations. Once a visitor performs the specific action of your goal then Google Analytics will record it as a conversion. This is a great way to analyze where your audience gets un-interested or where your audience is more prone to converting into a customer.”
  • “Understanding lead source is crucial to audience segmentation,” shares Dinah Adams of Futurety. “Knowing where your most qualified leads come from adds much-needed context and can improve future lead generation campaigns.”
  • “Build custom channel groupings so that you can measure the true impact of different sources and mediums,” advises BJ Enoch of Opendorse. “Your top conversion paths and assisted conversions become exponentially more valuable when you can drill down to granular levels.”
  • “With Google Analytics, considering the two selected segments, i.e., converters and non-converters, there are 4 variants of dimensions and metrics combined that derive the most precise results,” says Sanya Aru of MakeWebBetter. “Analyzing these 4 variant aspects may generate the most accurate insights. The 4 dimensions to look upon are-
  1. New Vs Returning Visitors
  2. User Pattern according to country
  3. Ads Campaign performance
  4. Cohort Analysis (non-converted returning visitors)”

Editor’s Note: See all your site’s acquisition data in one spot with Databox’s free Google Analytics Acquisition Snapshot dashboard, which includes monthly top organic keywords, percentage of new traffic, bounce rate, and more.

Create and Use Custom Segments and Multi-Channel Funnels

Segments are used for many things in Google Analytics. They can filter basic things, like just organic traffic, or help you drill down to specific audiences.

  • The use of Google Analytics tool called Multi-Channel Funnels can help here,” says Maksym Babych of SpdLoad. “This is the section in the ‘Conversions’ tab that shows the lead path for clicks on your site. This tool allows you to evaluate the contribution of previous visits and traffic sources: other websites, search queries and ads, how much time has passed from the first click or view to conversion.
    “It takes into account interactions with virtually all digital channels,” Babych continued. “These include, but are not limited to:
  • regular search and search advertising (in all systems, taking into account queries)
  • sites – referral sources
  • partner sites
  • social networks
  • electronic newsletters
  • special campaigns, including those in traditional media that direct traffic to shortened URLs.”
  • “Instead of only looking at the data overviews that Google Analytics gives you and calling it a day, I recommend going into the tool with a set of questions you want answers to,” recommends Ruba Aramouny of SOLID Marketing. One of the first things you can do is to use the ‘Segments’ feature at the top of the interface. To do this, create segments that are meaningful to your business and then use them to compare visitor behavior:
    – Do new users visitors behave differently than repeat visitors?
    – Do people from certain geographic locations convert better than others, or spend more time on your site?
    – Do different combinations of traffic sources and visitor types convert better or worse?

    Segments will help you analyze your site visitors in more detail and shape marketing efforts better in the future,” Aramouny added.”
  • I will highly suggest users jump into Conversions Tab and move ahead to multi-channel funnels where you can find top recommendation paths,” says Farasat Khan of IsItWP. “Within this report you might want to check on different mediums such as Organic, Social, etc. This shows picture-perfect conversion from first to the last touch of a user.”
  • “Analyze the Multi-Channel Funnels report more often,” offers Carol Hill of Analytics Help. “A lot of business owners and marketers use only the ‘All Traffic’ and ‘Campaigns’ reports when analyzing the performance of a particular traffic source or campaign but this is misleading since those reports usually use the default attribution model which in Google Analytics is last non-direct click and assumes that users use a linear path and a single source before converting.”

    “But what the Multi-Channel Funnels reports are showing is the opposite, with a big portion of users using multiple traffic sources before converting,” continued Hill. “And since those traffic sources don’t get any credit when analyzing the data with the last-non-direct click attribution model, this may lead some marketers to think that the other traffic sources are not contributing to the conversion, which is not true.”
  • “I love to use GA for creating buyer personas using advanced segments,” says Rob Boirun of Reviewster Network. “Basically this will drill down the site visitors into buckets from which I can then build out separate campaigns tailored for each. So if I see that the majority of the visitors are Female 25-34, then I’ll edit the content on the page to match this demographic. This dramatically increases the conversion on the pages.”

Tips for Improving Conversion Results

Once Google Analytics is set up and running properly, the work has just started. When you’ve got the right data at your fingertips, it’s time to take action and optimize your site. More than half of our surveyed experts said they check Google Analytics daily for lead generation measurement.

Test Your Results and Make Improvements

  • “Be creative and test conversions on pages other than a landing page,” says Kendall Demavivas of Gray Group International. “You never know when there is an opportunity for a user to take the desired action if you give them a chance.”
  • “Check the steps of your sales funnel and you will get to know which step is performing well and on which step your conversion stops,” advises Praveen Malik of PMbyPM. “Improve your sales funnel accordingly. Check which platform gives you a high conversion rate.”
  • Google Analytics is indeed helpful for monitoring bounce rate to increase the conversion rate and measuring overall organic traffic to better understand users,” says Rajat Chauhan of TutorEye. “Also, it is helpful in identifying slow-loading pages to enhance the conversion experience. You can use it for analyzing users’ behavior to better meet their needs.”



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