Google Analytics is a great a free tool available to anyone with a website. It will track all the activity on your site, where it came from, what your visitors do, and more. If you just set it up and never look at it again you will still be better off than without it. But by spending a little time with it and learning how to use the incredibly powerful but still simple features you can multiply the insight and knowledge you gain from it exponentially. Possibly the most useful of these "advanced" features are Goals.
Goals are an interesting and flexible tool within Google Analytics. The way to think about them from a web analytics standpoint is that they measure successful completions of positive actions. In general those are often inquiries, leads, downloads, purchases, viewing a certain important page, viewing a series of pages in order (aka a "funnel"), spending a certain amount of time on the site, etc.
Why Use Goals?
The power of Goals is that they allow you to more easily and accurately measure the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts. So if you are running ads on a site or through Pay Per Click, sending out customer newsletters, or using landing pages to capture traffic from a print ad, Goals will help you measure how well those channels are performing.
What Should I Track?
Google does a nice job of explaining how to set up goals in their help section, so I won't turn this into a technical post on how to do so. Much more important than how to set them up is deciding what to measure. I went through some general examples in the previous paragraph, but here is my list of must-track Goals for your home performance website:
- Contact Form Submissions
- Landing Page Submissions
The key thing to remember is that you want to track that someone has successfully completed these actions, not that they got to the page that they were on (for example, if someone goes to a contact page and then leaves, the goal hasn't been accomplished -- you'd need them to actually fill out the contact form and hit "submit."). So the goal should trigger only on the "success" page, which in most cases will be a "Thank You" page. (We'll be writing a post about what makes a great "Thank You" page for a home performance business soon, so keep an eye out.)
The Next Step - Goal Funnels
If you've already got some goals set up and want to take them to the next level you can start measuring your primary "funnel." What that means is the sequence of pages you want your ideal website visitor to go through before they contact you. It might be from your home page direct to a contact page, or with pages in between, but you can set them all up in a funnel within Google Analytics and find out how effectively each page is driving the visitor towards your Goal.
Have you set up goals already? Any ideas or suggestions not listed here? Let us know in the comments.