Is your school marketing program underusing the features of Google Analytics? It’s easy to fail to take the steps necessary to customize Analytics for your school. Goals are one of the easiest features to set up in Analytics that will provide you with immediate value to your reporting.
Goals are configuration settings within Google Analytics (GA) that can help us connect our marketing objectives to specific actions (or thresholds) that visitors take on our websites. This helps us gain insight into how well our site is performing. Setting up Goals also sends signals to Google about what is most important to you. Goals will vary depending on the purpose of your website.
What are Google Analytics Goals?
Goals are actions you want visitors to take on your website. Each time a user completes one of your Goals, this is called a conversion. A conversion could be any of the following:
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Buying a product
- Submitting an inquiry form
- Creating an account
- Downloading a .pdf or ebook
- Tracking visitors that stay on a site for a certain amount of time
- Tracking the number of pages each visitor sees before they leave
- Time spent watching videos
- Clicking on a social media button
- Widget usage
- Any element that your visitor can interact with on your site.
Google Analytics Goals
In Google Analytics, you can use a feature called “Goals” to track conversions. Once you configure Goals, GA will create conversion-related metrics, such as the total number of conversions and the percentage of visitors that converted (referred to as the conversion rate.)
When you set up a goal in GA, you can also set up a goal funnel. A goal funnel is a visual layout of the different steps your visitors need to take to complete that goal. The visual helps you identify where users are dropping out of the conversion process.
Get Ready to Set Up Google Analytics Goals
Here are a few things to keep in mind before setting up Google Analytics Goals
- You must be an Administrator on the View in which you want to enable Goals in GA.
- You can only set up 20 goals per View, so take the time to select the most important goals to your school.
- Decide what conversions you want to track.
- For example, you might choose to set up a goal every time a user reaches the “Thank You” page after submitting an Inquiry Form.
- In this example, we will set up a goal for every time a visitor submits an Inquiry and reaches the Thank You page, as well as a funnel visualization, so we can see if users are dropping off on their way to the Thank You page. Creating a funnel visualization to track goal conversions is completely optional, but it can add a lot of visibility into each step of the conversion flow.
Step-By-Step Guide to Setting Up Google Analytics Goals
Here is an easy, step-by-step, guide to setting up Google Analytics Goals for schools. Follow these simple steps to give you powerful insights that can skyrocket your marketing efforts for your school.
- To get started, go to the Admin section.
- Under Views, click Goals.
- Click “New Goal.”
- GA provides you with some preset business goal templates. Since we want to track whether users made it to the Thank You page after submitting an Inquiry Form, we’ll choose INQUIRY and then “Find a location” and then click “Continue.”
- Now, name the Goal. We will call this Goal “Inquiry Complete.”
- Each goal uses a particular “Goal Slot ID.” Goal Slot IDs are numbered from 1 to 20. The Goal Slot ID is an easy way to organize your goals. The default slot will always be the next slot available. If you’re creating your first Goal, the Goal Slot ID will be 1, but you can choose a different slot ID if you wish to group certain Goals together.
- Next, we’ll choose one of the four goal types GA offers. Each of these types is triggered by a particular user action.
- Destination. Destination is when a user reaches a specific page on your site, such as your Thank You page.
- Duration. Duration is based on the length of a user’s session.
- Pages or Screens. Pages or screens is based on how many pages a user views during a session on your site
- Events. An event is for tracking specific actions on a site, like viewing a video.
- Enter the Destination URL of the Inquiry Form Page in the Destination field. The Destination URL is the URL of the Thank You Page that the user lands on after they complete the Inquiry Form. Rather than use the entire URL, you need to look for something distinctive in the URL that will allow us to track our goal using only this page. In this example, we will use /inquiry-form-thank-you-page. Notice that if we select “Equals to,” and click “Verify” at the bottom, you won’t see any conversion data for this goal. This is because the inquiry-form-thank-you-page is part of a longer, dynamic URL. In order to track this goal, you will need to use “Regular Expression” instead, to indicate that the URL preceding it can be variable. Now if you click “Verify” you can see that the conversion rate is above 0, which means you’ll be able to track data.
- If you want to assign a monetary amount to the conversion goal, you can flip the “Value” toggle to “On” and type in the amount that each conversion is worth. You would only use this if each conversion is worth a consistent amount to your school. For example, if each Inquiry is worth $50 to your school, you could set a goal value equal to 50.
- Switch the “Funnel” switch to “On” to add the funnel steps. Each funnel step represents an action on your website that needs to be taken in order to accomplish the Goal. Include a unique part of the URL for each page the user has to view in order to get to the Inquiry Form page, fill it out and submit it. Name each step in the funnel and add the unique part of the URL.
- If a step is required to complete the goal, move the “Required” toggle to “Yes.” For example, if we only want users who entered the funnel on the first step to show up in our funnel visualization report, we could set the first step to “Required.” (Note that the Goal Completion Numbers in the Conversions Report will not be affected by the funnel you’ve set up, even if you’ve made some of the steps required, as these steps are only reported in the Funnel Visualization Report.)
- Once you click “Save,” you’ll see the Goal appear in the Goals List.
- To see your Goal metrics, navigate back to the Reporting view and under the Conversions Reports, click Goals and then Overview.
- You can now view goal data in almost all of your other Google Analytics reports, like Audience and Acquisition reports.
- To see the related Funnel Visualization Report, under Conversions, click the Funnel Visualization Report. Scrolling down, you can see user activity in each step of the funnel and how many users proceeded through each step. If you see users dropping off dramatically at a particular step, you may want to investigate further. There could be technical issues with the stage of the funnel, preventing users from proceeding.
In addition to creating your own custom goals, the Analytics Solutions Gallery offers many Goals built by other Google users that you can add to your Analytics account to use for your own purposes.
Having goals allows you to measure your marketing objectives and see how well your website/blog is performing, so take advantage of this important (and free) feature.
Now that you have your Goals set up, it’s time to consider a broader perspective. Why is this important? Your website and blog should be bringing you inquiries that lead to new enrollments. Therefore, it’s important to understand what traffic sources and types of users are bringing you the most traffic that converts at the highest level. Look at your Source/Medium Report to see where your conversions are coming from. This will help you determine if you’re putting your resources into the right marketing collateral, and whether your messaging and topics are working for your audience.
As you make adjustments to your website, either directly on the site or using an A/B testing tool like Google Optimize, consider Goal Conversion Rates before and after your changes, or for A and B groups, to see how your changes are influencing your conversions. Goals are your opportunity to send signals to Google about what is most important to you for your website and are an essential tool for measuring the success of your online marketing efforts.
Do you use Google Analytics Goals to measure the impact of your marketing efforts on your website? What is working – or not working – for you? Please comment below and share your experience with other school marketers. We’d love to hear from you!
Also published on Medium.