Marketing

Google Analytics Goals: 75 Marketers On How to Set & Use Goals in ‘GA’

Creating goals in Google Analytics can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. Over 60 marketers weigh in with tips to help you set, track, and customize your goals.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on June 18, 2020 (last modified on June 24, 2020) • 38 minute read

Goals are one of the most powerful features in Google Analytics.

You can use goals to track everything from the number of people who watched your demo video to the number of people who are adding to items to their cart.

Because it can do so many things, it can be intimidating to learn how to use it. This is something that I experienced, firsthand. 

The first time I tried to set up a goal in Google Analytics, I ended up going down a rabbit hole watching hours upon hours of Youtube tutorials.

Chances are, you don’t want to spend the better part of your workday watching video tutorials. So, we created this detailed post, which will walk you through how to:

How Do You Set Custom Goals in Google Analytics?

The hardest part of setting up goals in Google Analytics is deciding on what you want to track. 

First, get clear on your business goals before implementing anything  

“Google Analytics goals should reflect business goals,” says Boštjan Klajnščak of Spisek.  “This is why our agency is putting so much emphasis on getting to know the client and its business goals BEFORE implementation.

The only meaningful way of setting up goals in Google Analytics is setting them up so that they can be continually and meaningfully incorporated into the client’s business tactics and strategy.

Therefore, setting up goals for an eCommerce vendor is different than setting them for a content publisher.” 

Antonio Johnson of Power Digital Marketing adds, “Having goals configured in Google Analytics is an absolute must-have for all digital campaigns. Being able to accurately report how the work we’re doing is driving new business is integral in being able to remain nimble and strategic in our marketing approach. Whether its understanding form fills, the sales funnel, or eCommerce transactions, setting up goals for all of these touch points is a requirement to optimize marketing campaigns properly.”

Muhammad Tahir Iqbal of AbayaMarket.com says, “It all starts with a solid measurement strategy where I define the business objectives, targets, and KPIs. Then, based on the objectives and targets, I set micro-goals for signups and lead magnets and track the goal conversions against acquisition channels. In the next stage of the sales process, we track macro goals e.g. eCommerce transactions.”

Rachel Stuve of Golden Seeds adds, “Goals are a great way to discretely measure KPIs linked to specific business goals. I’ve used this feature to provide insight into the specific pages on a website that are engaging users for longer periods of time. We then use this insight to engage our sales prospects and formulate talking points that interest them.”

For example, Daniel Lynch of Empathy First Media says, “I used goals to help define key performance indicators (KPI’s) and attribute lead conversions to know where my efforts and marketing dollars are best spent to get the highest ROI possible for my clients.”

Scott Benson of Benson SEO adds, “Answer the question, “what is the purpose of this website?” will confirm which actions should be measured as the primary and secondary goals in Google Analytics. What we find is the secondary goals you create, like social sharing or social profile clicks, pdf downloads, or clicking on an email address, tend to indicate when a site visitor might be getting closer to converting to a primary goal. Those primary goals are things like resource downloads, demo requests for SaaS companies or the main Contact Us form submit.

The most important thing to do when creating these primary goals is to tie them back to real revenue data on your backend. For example, if you know your sales team can convert 20% of qualified leads to paying customers, then with a little math, you can determine, in real revenue numbers, how much one web lead is worth to your business. That value can be added to the Google Analytics goal details, which is then displayed in the GA reports. This allows you to accurately measure the Return on Investment for marketing and advertising programs, and also allows you to measure the value your content marketing has as it contributes to those revenue-driving goals. Creating the right goals, and with the right goal values is imperative to discovering deeper insights about your marketing and advertising programs.”

How to create a custom goal in Google Analytics

Once you are clear on your objectives, the process of setting up custom goals in Google Analytics is simple. 

Alex Birkett of Omniscient Digital says, “I actually don’t think one can really get maximum value out of Google Analytics if you’re not using goals. I mean, the site has to have *some* purpose, right? Some desired action? Goals are the fundamental way to track these actions, from which you can then layer on dimensions and segments for further audience analysis.”

“Setting goals in Google Analytics can be very simple,” explains Andrew Ruditser of Maxburst.  “You can set up to 20 goals per view, which divides into 4 sets, but you most likely won’t need to set up this many in one view. Once you figure out what type of goal you want to create, you must enter the information into your “goal” settings in your Google Analytics account. This includes your goal name, slot, type, etc.”

Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up a custom goal. 

To start, go to “Admin” and click on “Goals.

Select “new goal.

Then, you’ll name your goal and choose what type of goal you are setting up. 

There are four types of custom goals in Google Analytics:

  1. Destination – when a user reached a particular page on your site, such as the checkout, subscribe, or thank you page.
  2. Duration – the amount of time a user spent on your website or a specific page.
  3. Pages/per Screen – the number of pages that a user views
  4. Event – any custom action that a user performed, such as playing a video or downloading an ebook.

Then, you’ll fill out the goal details. This will vary based on the goal type you select. 

For example, Riddhi Elsner of Elsner Technologies says, “In the goal description section, fill out the name of the goal. Then, select the type of goal which suits you better for analysis. It’s very important that you only include the page path, which is everything after the first slash in the URL, like after your domain name. 

Then, there are options like Equals to (exact match path that defines the goal), Begins with ( path begin with the category and their subcategory page), Regular Expression (used for deeper insights and it is a powerful way to search and select the exact items you’re looking to track if you don’t follow a similar URL structure, but you want to measure them all together, you can write a regular expression to have the goal).

The next option is goal value, which allows you to assign a monetary value to each conversion. You can see the actual monetary value and ROI of each channel driving traffic and the pages on your website.

The next option is goal funnel, which allows you to see how a user reaches through your targeted goal on your website from page to page. If you have a multi-step conversion process, this funnel will provide even more useful insights by showing where users are dropping off. It has two values: Name and screen/page. In the name field, give a descriptive name, and in the Screen/Page field, add the page path of the page that contains the form, not the thank you page.

Finally, once everything is filled out, click “Verify this Goal” to see how the goal would have converted over the last 7 days. And then save your goal. Now within the last few days, you can see the conversion rate.”

How to Track Goals in Google Analytics

Tracking a goal in Google Analytics is also simple.

Go to Conversions → Goals.

Then, you’ll have a bunch of options to choose from Overview, Goal URLs, Reverse Goal Path, Funnel Visualization, and Goal Flow. 

If you are brand new, I’d recommend sticking with the Overview, Goal URLs, and Funnel Visualization sections. You’ll be able to quickly see how much people are converting, your goal conversion rate, and the most common paths that visitors are both finding your site as well as the steps they are taking once they are on your site. 

Prioritize tracking goals tied to revenue generation 

“To set a goal in Google Analytics is pretty easy,” says Phil Wiseman of Analytics That Profit.  “Choose events that lead to revenue generation. Work Backwards. You must identify the sales that were generated by your website. This could include visitor downloads before they called for a quote or Simple Form Submission. This requires meticulous attention to detail in record keeping and the patience to gather historical data. Your gut reaction might be to assign Total Sale Value as the monetary value of the goal. The problem is you have not accounted for all costs. Consider using some percentage of the profit after accounting for all costs. You must reach a consensus agreement with everyone involved in the process.” 

Editor’s Note: Check out this Google Analytics goals dashboard to keep an eye on goal completions on your website as well as phone calls and actions taken on your Google My Business page. 

How to Customize Goals in Google Analytics

Now that you know how to set up and track a basic goal. We’re diving deeper and sharing tips to help you customize your goals for a wide array of use cases. 

Customize your goals configuration

“I’m a big believer in customizing your Google Analytics configuration – you can collect a lot of valuable information using the out of the box setup, but leveraging features like goals and events really allow you to dig into data that’s specific to the goals and objectives of your website,” says Emily Gorman of Foundation Marketing. “At Foundation, one way that we’ve customized our GA configuration is by setting up goals for our resources that are available for download and/or purchase. This allows us to go beyond the vanity metrics (like pageviews and bounce rates) of these resources so that we can start identifying patterns. By identifying patterns between downloads/purchases and the audience, acquisition, and behavioral data collected in GA by default, we can pull out key insights and actionable items to optimize the customer’s journey.

For example: By tracking resource downloads and purchases, we can dig further into that dataset to determine more about our audience who is converting – what channel they came from, their location, the device they used to access the landing page, their demographics, etc. If there are patterns that emerge from this data, we can start to tailor our messaging and experience to that audience. Or, we may find that the audience we wanted to reach with a particular resource isn’t who is actually downloading/purchasing the asset. In that case, we can start asking “”why”” and shift our efforts where needed.” 

Or, Syed Zain of Startupbug.co LLC agrees, “We are using goals to record special conversion events and furthermore important actions such as. Visitor Chat with us, Fill a Contact Form, Download an Ebook, Or reached some important pages such and Success Pages after lead form.

Moreover, we do use Custom Events on GA to track deeper insights of visitors, and their flow and actions insights to improve the user journey processes.” 

Set up your goals using Google Tag Manager (GTM)

“We mainly use Google Tag Manager to set up goals in Google Analytics,” says Sean Carroll of Vixen Digital. “We utilize this for many of our clients. Google Tag Manager allows us to easily set up all types of goals for actions performed on a website, which we can then see in Google Analytics. 

The goal that we set up most often is an Add To Cart button click. We set this up in Google Tag Manager by creating a Google Analytics event tag that fires when the Add To Cart button is clicked. This information is then sent over to Google Analytics as a click event. We then create this as a goal in Google Analytics. This can then be used to analyze and compare how many people Add To Cart, but do not complete a purchase. 

In addition to this, we use this goal to set up a custom audience. In Google Analytics if you go to Admin > Audience Definitions > Audiences, you can create a new custom audience that includes all of the users that added to cart but did not complete a purchase. These are the users that we can call our ‘cart abandoners’. We then import this audience into our Google Ads account for the purpose of showing them remarketing ads with specific ‘cart abandoner’ promotions. This is a great way to improve your conversion rate.” 

Daniella Pozzolungo of PupDigital says, “You are able to track more than just a page destination or an ecommerce transaction. Using Google Tag Manager, you can set up tags to fire when certain events occur. For example, clicks on your telephone number or a form submission that doesn’t go to a thank you page.” 

Jonathan Stanis of Weidert Group adds, “In Google Tag Manager, we have triggers for both HubSpot form submissions, and telephone link clicks. Those triggers are connected to goals, which can then be associated with ad clicks. With this setup, it is possible to see what ads are leading to form submissions and telephone link clicks. That way, we can show directly how ads are resulting in new leads.”

For example, Justin Butlion of ProjectBI says, “I’m using goals in Google Analytics to better understand my visitors who become email subscribers.

I have set up form submit events using Google Tag Manager, and then use these events as triggers for certain goals I’ve set up in Google Analytics.

These goals allow me to see the sources that drive the most subscribers, and the pages in which they convert.

These types of goals allow me to determine the conversion rate from visitor to subscriber and allow me to see which forms are performing best. It opens a whole world of insights that would otherwise be unavailable to me.” 

Utilize event goals

“When Google Analytics is coupled with Google Tag Manager, you get access to the fourth goal type: Event,” says Jackie Jeffers of Portent Digital Marketing Agency

“To set up an event, you need to send data to Google Analytics from Google Tag Manager. Because Tag Manager has access to the website data layer, you’re able to access and send back more specific user information, such as button CTA clicks and form submissions.

Often, our most valuable goal tracking is done with an Event goal, based on form submissions. This gives us critical insight into bottom-of-the-funnel user behavior, and whether they are converting on our client’s websites, or not.” 

Sarah Petrova of Techtestreport says, “We are using event goals in Google Analytics in order to gain insight into how our users interact with our clients’ websites. Event goals allow us to track when visitors perform certain actions, such as clicking a banner ad, watching an embedded Youtube video, or sharing a post on social media. Doing this allows us to optimize our site’s average session duration, which ultimately results in more conversions.”

Drew Beechler of High Alpha explains, “I always prefer using custom event tracking for my goal conversion in Google Analytics. This allows me to track all the events that I care about now and the events that I might care about in the future. I put custom event tracking on all button clicks, outbound link clicks, and other specific events throughout the website. I then set up goal tracking based on which events I want to trigger a conversion. I prefer this way because you can track an unlimited number of custom events, but can only track 20 custom goals.”

Max Allegro of Intuitive Digital adds, “Event goals are excellent for tracking user behavior on a specific page or throughout a website. We’ve set up event goals on all our CTA button clicks for our various service pages to track which services our customers are most interested in, and which CTAs are the most compelling. We use these goals as benchmarks for changing up the text in our buttons and surrounding CTA copy, and to experiment with what brings in more clicks.” 

For example, Malte Scholz of Airfocus says, “We track how much time someone spends watching our explainer videos, so we can see if the video makes sense and whether it’s more effective than our landing page copy. At the same time, we track how visitors interact with our lead capture elements, such as pop-ups, downloaded PDF lead magnets, outbound link clicks, and others. Basically, we want to see what the visitors are doing and how much of an effect each event has on our total conversion rate.”

Use event goals to identify customer pain points

“One method we use to gain an enhanced understanding of our website analytics is through the use of event goals,” says Will Craig of LeaseFetcher. “This type of goal allows our team to monitor each stage of our preferred customer journey with pinpoint precision; monitoring ‘on-site’ interactions such as page scroll length and button clicks.

These insights allow our team to identify any potential customer ‘pain points’ on our site, while also informing improvements we may look to roll out in the future.”

Maysa Rabadi of The Perfect Mark adds, “When we see a huge drop in completion, then we have to pause and figure out the pain point of the customer and how we can solve it.” 

Assign monetary values to goals 

“We use goals and assign monetary values to them based on the conversion rate we have,” says Brett Downes of Studio 54. “Out of 10 website inquiries, we convert 1 into a paying customer at an average of $3000 per project. Hence each visitor that completes the goal of requesting a quote is assigned a monetary value of $300.

This helps us target where we lose potential customers and try to address that. It also helps us forecast our revenue and budget better for the next month and year. The more we know the more we can adjust our marketing budget accordingly.” 

Kevin Miller of The Word Counter adds, “I am setting up conversion tracking goals and tying it to revenue per product that I sell. I do this to be able to determine the revenue I am making per conversion, and I’m isolating it by the referring purchase source.

This way, I know where the purchase came from and what the total revenue value is, allowing me to make better business decisions with regards to which products are selling and which aren’t.” 

Never leave empty ‘value’ fields

“When setting up goals, never leave the “value” field blank,” says Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media. “If you don’t know what to enter, just enter one. If you don’t the “Page Value” column in the Site Content > All Pages report will be blank. 

You can get fancy and try to specifically calculate the actual monetary value of the conversion (for example lifetime value of customers x sales closing rate x % of MQLs proposed x % of leads that are MQLs), but this is hard to do, and most companies don’t have super accurate data in their CRMs. So just add one.”

Set destination goals

“To measure conversions like form submission for signup or registration or purchase, I usually set a destination goal,” says Soma Talukdar of YRSK Marketing. “A Destination goal will trigger when a visitor reaches a certain page. 

The destination goal gives me an insight into how the conversion happens, on which path, and what is the source of conversion. I check the average session on different sources. device category, and whether it is on mobile or desktop.”

Andre Oentoro of Breadnbeyond adds, “The first thing that I do when setting a goal in Google Analytics is knowing what action I want to track, and that would be my name for the goal. For Goal slot ID, I normally leave it as the default selection.

Then, I preferred to choose the Destination goal as a Goal Type, which allows me to see if the audiences reach a particular page within the website. For my example, I have an email signup form at the bottom of my pages and when the visitors fill out the form, they’ll get taken to a confirmation page. I can then define the Thank You page as my goal conversion and see how many visitors have performed that particular action on the website.

For goal details, I choose “begin with” in the destination section since it will match the URL with or without query parameters which also means more convenient for my business needs (which only to track the conversion).

Next, for conversion value, I usually fill it out with a calculated value. In my case, since I’m in an explainer video company, I have a contact form where I’m trying to get people to connect with my business for video projects but now every single one of those people completing the form is going to end up being a client. That’s why I do a rough calculation and set it as the conversion value. Last, for the funnel steps, I lead the visitors to the thank you or the conversion page.

That’s the one example of how I set and use Goals in Google Analytics to discover deeper insights for my digital marketing efforts. For me, it’s crucial to think of all the different actions that I want to perform on the website and configure all of these as goals (both macro or micro-conversions) inside Google Analytics.” 

Create a thank you page

One simple way to get better at tracking results is to set a destination goal to specific thank you pages for any forms submitted or lead magnets downloaded.  

“The first Google Analytics goal I set up on any website is for loading a /thank-you page or similar,” says Jeremy Cross of Online Team Building. “We use this data to track leads generated from the site, which is the most valuable metric we have. When we can track how people get to /thank-you, it informs which content is performing highest, which sources are best and similar. About once per month, we review this information and come up with actionable next steps, like publishing related content or reallocating our ad buys.

Brian Barwig of Integrate Digital Marketing says, “Form goals can be set up and redirected to a Thank You page. In GA, you can see which page led to a form or phone call conversion. If there are pages which are getting a good amount of conversions, why is that? What is working? Can we implement more Calls To Action on other pages to get them to convert in similar fashion? Can we add different content, images, or links to the pages?

Once you know what is converting and why you can begin to implement similar tactics to other pages in order for them to drive conversions as well.”

Lynne Wilson of Kiwi Creative agrees, “We commonly use goals to track conversion points. For example, our contact forms bring users to thank you pages upon submission. So, in Google Analytics, we create goals corresponding to views of our ‘thank you’ pages. This helps to streamline our reporting. While we could technically view the number of visits to the pages within the content listing, it is easier for our clients to just look at the number of goal completions over time.”  

For example, Anthony Hanson of iFinance Department explains, “As a service-based business, I needed a way of tracking how well my website was converting. With eCommerce websites, it’s easy as you have a whole suite of eCommerce reports within Google Analytics.

One of the best ways to do this is to track contact submission forms, or quote submissions. My favorite way of doing this is using ‘thank you’ pages. 

So, upon a contact form submission, it redirects the user to a thank you page. You use this URL (e.g., www.example.com/thank-you) as a destination goal in Google Analytics, and you’re done.

You can then see how well channels convert, which drive the most leads etc. and even work out a CPA. So if you’re running Facebook ads or Google Ads, you can see how well your spend is working.

You also get the added benefit of acknowledging users who have contacted you. On the page for example you can advise on contact times, for example, we’ll aim to get back to you within 24 hours.”

Obaid Khan of Planet Content adds, “Setup two new goals, especially if you have a subscription/product CTA and a form on your blog. During the goal setup, the page you enter should be a ‘Thank You’ page that pops up after someone buys your product/subscription.

The second goal should be a ‘Thank You’ page for whoever fills the form. This will tell you how many people end up buying something and how many just fill out a form when they come to your blog.

You can compare this data with the blog page’s traffic to check the ratio of people converting.” 

Use blogs as landing pages

“We have dedicated goals set up for free trial completions and demo bookings,” says Trina Moitra of Convert.com. “We use goal values to segment our blogs for Page Value. We also use goals in the context of blogs used as Landing pages. The content with the higher page value helps us model how our blogs should look and gauge the flow of user actions from content (low commitment) to conversion (higher commitment). The blogs that act as solid landing pages driving important conversions in the session are of course good candidates to spread out wider. We also segment these blogs by traffic sources to see what is really ticking, and what’s not.” 

Monitor session duration length 

“In Goals, a great source of insight is to see how long your visitors are staying on a specific page,” says Carrie McKeegan of Greenback Expat Tax Services. “Perhaps, this is a sales page or a how-to guide on how to use your services. Whatever the case, you know you have some work to do if it’s a quick click and less than a minute before they’re off browsing elsewhere.

Allison Chaney of Boot Camp Digital says, “I use Goals in Google Analytics to set a goal of average session duration over 1.5 minutes. It’s important to pay attention to both quality and quantity metrics, and time on-site helps to understand the quality of traffic you’re driving to your site through various channels. The amount of time a user spends on your site may indicate their level of interest in what you have to offer. You can optimize your campaigns against this metric to help focus your efforts on not only driving traffic but driving quality traffic to your website.” 

Or, as Jason Finn of Ergonofis explains, “We sell high-value items through our eCommerce website, so our number of monthly transactions was not high enough for machine learning algorithms to optimize ad targeting based on our data. We did a correlation analysis and found out that people who visited 4 website pages and more were 5 times more likely to buy than our website average visitor. So, a 4-page website session is now a goal, and we optimize based on it.” 

Measure goal completion time

Krzysztof Stanislawek of metrics.agency says, “A very interesting way to set up goals is to measure goal completion time in terms of Conversions or Form Submissions. In this way, we can measure how much time it takes to finish a specific goal and if the time is above average for a specific Device/OS we can look further for the source of the problem.”

Keep an eye on goal click-through rates 

“We use the goal CTR for each individual page to determine what content is working well for our site, and what content needs to be altered or deleted,” says Russell Michelson of Paper Box SEO. “Google Analytics can be an extremely useful tool for your content marketing strategy, and you can make data-driven decisions based on the insight the platform provides.”

Meg Marrs of K9 of Mine adds, “I’ve been using goal tracking to measure click-through rates for our affiliate links and partner offers. This allows me to see which of our articles have the highest affiliate click-through rates and use that info to heavily promote high-performing articles, as well as focus on those articles for our targeted link-building efforts.” 

Compare different customer or visitor segments

“We use a goal to help us identify client purchases on our site,” says Elliot Reimers of Rave Reviews. “This is vital info as we then put them into a particular segment,

We compare the ‘consumers who’ve bought’ segment against the ‘consumers’ who haven’t bought segment. This gives us fantastic, actionable insights into the difference a customer takes on our site compared to non-buyers.

We use this info to try and guide all visitors to the site down the same path to try and increase our conversion rate and ultimately client purchases.”

Track the number of pages users visit 

“It’s important to set a goal of how many pages a user visits during a session,” says Andrea Loubier of Mailbird. “It can be imperative to your content marketing strategies to know whether a user is simply clicking a link and visiting that one page, or if they’re exploring further.” 

Measure page scroll depth 

“Set up a scroll down goal tracker so you can see how many users and how far did they go when reading your long blog post,” says Milosz Krasinski. “You can set this up as 25 / 50 / 75%, and I would measure this against new and returning visitors.” 

Sam Olmsted of Pelicoin Bitcoin ATM adds, “We use well-researched blog posts to draw in readers, raise the authority of our website, and educate our audience. We have set up scroll depth goals on each of our blog pages, so we can see if people are actually scrolling down and reading the whole posts. By setting these scroll depth goals in Google Analytics, you can get a better understanding of what content is effective and actually impacts your audience.” 

Look at the Reverse Goal Path report

“Our organization set up Goals in Google Analytics to track contact form submissions on our website,” says Ashley Glenn of SSPR. “While this sounds simple, there are so many insights you can pull just by setting up this one simple goal.

Not only can our team see which marketing efforts are responsible for generating the most conversions on the website, but we can also use Google Analytics’ Reverse Goal Path report to see the journey users took on the website before submitting a form. This information tells us which pieces of content were the most valuable in getting a visitor to submit a contact form. We can use this information to further develop our content marketing strategy and create resources we know users will find informative when looking for a company such as ours.

In addition to looking at the specific Goal conversion and Reverse Goal Path reports, we look at the Assisted Conversions Report to see where our other channels played a role in any website conversion. It’s unlikely that a visitor will submit their contact information to your website on their very first visit – you have to build that relationship first! The Assisted Conversions Report tells us which other marketing channels contributed to getting users to complete that final conversion. This information is helpful to determine where our audience is most engaged and where we should be focusing on marketing efforts.” 

Track affiliate link clicks and sales

“I use goals to track affiliate link clicks throughout my website to see which are performing well and which are not,” says Derek Lenze of Floating Authority. “This data helps you figure out which pages are more profitable and engaging, which affiliate programs work best, and which goals thrive in Adwords.

A trick that I learned recently is to set up your goal and then divide the affiliate income you make with the number of clicks your affiliate links get over the same period of time. This gives you a rough dollar amount of what each click is worth to you. You can then use this information to see what affiliate programs perform best, which are the best-performing pages, and find out if you are overpaying for keywords in Google Adwords.” 

Freya Kuka of Collecting Cents adds, “I own a personal finance website, so making affiliate sales is really the final aim for me. I use Google Analytics’ Goals to figure out what freebies of mine are converting best.

I do this by tracking micro-conversions or opt-in form sign-ups.

I will normally use the URL destination goals option and create a goal that tracks how many users are signing up for a particular opt-in form.

This helps me decide whether that freebie was enticing enough to reel a reader in or whether I should be creating a new one.” 

Set up a phone call goal 

“I almost always set up a phone call goal within Google Analytics accounts that I manage,” says Tony Mastri of MARION Integrated Marketing. “Ideally, I integrate a call-tracking tool (like CallRail) that allows me to only register calls that are a certain duration or come from first-time callers.

When I don’t have access to a call-tracking tool, I use Google Tag Manager to track website click-to-call clicks to determine which pages generate the most calls.

For high-converting pages, you can test how the click-to-call links are styled on your website to optimize this type of conversions.” 

Map out goals through the entire customer journey 

William Chin of ProlightingRental.com adds, “We use Google Analytics to discover deeper insights is to have multiple soft-conversions leading up to a hard KPI conversion (like a lead or purchase).

What I mean by that is, it’s important to understand your traffic and how your users (personas) interact with your application or website. By having soft-conversions (Click-throughs, scroll-rate, soft sign-ups etc..), you’ll have a better understanding of whether there is a choke-point in your conversion funnel. 

So, for an eCommerce store a conversion funnel, it might look like this in Google Analytics:

  • Goal One: User Scrolls to Inquiry about Products Widget (Scroll Threshold);
  • Goal Two: Inquiries about product availability (Contact Form Submission);
  • Goal Three: User chooses products to checkout with (Checkout);
  • Goal Four: User checkouts and deposits are made (Conversion, Thank you Page).

With an understanding of your buyer funnel, you might find out that maybe not enough users are scrolling down to find your product widget, and therefore you need to place it higher on your page!

Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles adds, “Sales funnel goals are absolutely crucial for our eCommerce clients. Finding out where users are leaving during the checkout process can be the difference between profit and loss. It helps to identify if the checkout process is too cumbersome or onerous or when they’re asked for specific information that they’re not comfortable providing. As such, a goal funnel is essential to help ensure you’re running an optimized checkout process for maximum ROAS.” 

Editor’s Note: Use this Google Analytics eCommerce dashboard to measure every step of your funnel, so that you can quickly spot any problem areas

Use the goal funnel visualization report 

“As a business that generates income by funneling our readership to our affiliate partners, we use Google Analytics’ Goal Funnels to determine if and how the site visitors are navigating the steps in our marketing process,” says Reuben Yonatan of GetVoIP. “Essentially, if after visiting the site via a blog post, they will proceed to the products page, followed by filling out a form that will have them schedule a call to become a customer. By determining the number of people who are deserting at each of these steps, we are able to figure out which pages we need to fix.”

Track both micro and macro conversions

“Most marketers are dreaming of the perfect customer who starts a session, finds what they want, and checks outs immediately,” says Yigit Yazgi of Digitailor. “But, we all know that customer behavior is more complex than this. So, it is important to understand the milestones of the journey of the customer and setting goals (or with a wider perspective, micro-conversions) around this. It is always a good idea to define some micro-conversions, even between two well-known micro-conversions. For example, if you know the users who visited more than 6 product detail pages are more likely to add an item to their basket so it would be a great conversion (and Google Analytics goal as well) to track. Then you could analyze your traffic sources, campaigns, or landing pages to understand the difference between the users that are completing this goal and the others. Keep in mind that we are measuring to optimize, so try to erase the barriers between your users and your defined goals.”

For example, Anna Perez of algofy says, “Our main goal is tracking sales, and we use eCommerce transactions, but we want to track other micro-conversions for example subscriptions.” 

Annie Clare of Annie Clare Consulting adds, “I set up goals to track performance of warm leads. Actions such as clicking on a Contact Us email link or form submission, requesting or downloading an agenda for an event, or accessing content such as whitepapers. As many user journeys involve more than one site visit, this is critical to understanding performance through the top and middle of funnel steps. When combined with campaign and channel tracking enables optimization of marketing activity in these higher funnel steps rather than focusing only on the final conversion visit.”

Jenny Tourliansky of ARG adds, “Every action leading to purchase should be monitored as an event in the Google Tag Manager. Next, each of these events should be defined as a goal in Google Analytics.

For example, goals of micro-conversion in standard e-commerce website will look like:

  • Product click | Add to cart | Remove from cart | Checkout -step1| Checkout – step2 | checkout – step3 |

An example of a goal of macro conversion:

  • Transaction

The aim is to build a horizontal panel while using an instrument: a Custom report in Google Analytics that will enable analysis in the highest possible resolution.

Such a report will have multiple aims:

  • Identifying monitoring failures
  • Identifying operational improvement opportunities by drilling down to deepest levels, where the goal is to identify 4% of the elements affecting 64% of results (20% of the 20% that affect 80% of 80% of the results), based on Pareto principle.
  • Using the above method, we have been able to identify not working the “add to cart” button in the desktop Mozilla browser. After applying fixes, we were able to better analyze the performance while making better business decisions.”

Sync Google Search Console to your Google Analytics data

“We use goals in Google Analytics to track the real performance of our SEO efforts,” says Stephen Greet of BeamJobs. “While organic traffic is great, the goal of SEO should be to get customers. To that end, we set up a goal on our blog posts to know when a visitor becomes a customer. By connecting Google Search Console data to Google Analytics, we can then track which keyword led that user to the blog post, which then led to them becoming a customer. In this way, we’ve been able to understand that some keywords that generate little traffic are way more valuable for us than keywords that drive a lot of traffic that doesn’t lead to those visitors becoming customers.” 

Connect your Google Ads account with Google Analytics 

“I use a simple, smart goal-setting method of linking Google Ads to Google Analytics, which provides me the count of total conversions,” says Alejandro Rioja. “Keep in mind that you need to have at least 500 clicks from your ad for this option to work.”

David Miles of The PPC Machine adds, “I always make sure I import my Google Analytics goals into Google Ads, so I can easily see which keywords are generating the best ROI and then optimize my PPC bids accordingly.”

For example, Nadia Pupovac of NoBounds Digital says, “We at No Bounds Digital mostly set Google Analytics goals to track activities of Google Ads that we are managing. This is a fantastic way to show how the audience interacted with the landing pages and website in general and adjust further strategy. We are setting up goals that show us the engagement of visitors – 5+ minutes per session, 3+ pages per session, click on the phone number on the page, click on the email on the page, contact page visits from the homepage (if we set a campaign to lead to the homepage). And of course, we set goals to track conversions on landing pages – signups, downloads, scheduled appointments, etc. We always make thank you pages and then set the goals to track when someone comes to it (destination) after signing up a form.

Then we import all of these goals to Google Ads, making sure that only goals that show conversions on landing pages (macro conversions) are shown in the Conversion column, and all the rest that are indicators of engagement are shown in All Conversions column as micro conversions.”

Analyze your findings to improve your website and marketing assets 

“Goals in Google Analytics allow us to track when and where customers on the site decide to call us for a free quote,” says Ken Christensen of Christensen Recycling. “Through this tracking, we can see what type of content converts best and how to create more of it.” 

For example, Alexandra Zamolo of Beekeeper says, “If your goal is for your visitors to download a white paper, what happens to the visitors who don’t make the download? Do you stop on the download page, or do they click other links and end up on different areas of your site? In either case, this provides you with the opportunity to make changes until more visitors actually download your content.”

Simon McCullagh of SEO Services NI takes this analysis a step further with his eCommerce clients.  

McCullagh adds, “Probably the most important goal to track in GA for eCommerce sites is the conversion of users to customers. We do that by setting up a destination goal of reaching the ‘Thank You’ page after making a purchase. This gives us a quick and accurate way of measuring the success of the website as a whole.

Having a conversion rate of approximately 3% is acceptable, but if that number drops then, it’s a very clear indication that something is going wrong on the site, and we can perform an analysis and get the issue fixed quickly. That’s a basic level of using goals to assess the success of a site as a whole.

But, it has become more important over recent years that our understanding of what happens on eCommerce is deeper and more granular to the individual user. We design content to fit a user journey, from the discovery of the product range, to understanding the pros and cons of individual products to choosing a specific product to buy. We need to know how successful this is for different users, which approaches to content are working for the user and which are not. 

To do this, we use a combination of behavior flow in GA (to get a baseline understanding of the user journey) and the funnel option when tracking goals on GA. This means we can track the success of specific content targeted at different stages of the user journey. In this way, we can guide a user through a website and increase the likelihood of a purchase. We have used this method to increase a website’s conversion rate from 3% to 5%, effectively increasing the revenue by 40%. This is obviously extremely pleasing for the client and would not have been possible without understanding goal setting in Google Analytics.” 

In sum, creating custom goals in Google Analytics can help you understand how both visitors and customers interact with your website and move through your marketing funnel.

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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