Knowing your site’s stats is critical in decision making to guide your site to success. Google Analytics is a web analytics service designed for this particular job. If you have a WooCommerce store, you probably have it set up to gather traffic data. In this article, we will teach you how to use Google Analytics to track website goals. Get more value from Google Analytics by tracking the completion of your site goals.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free web service from Google that tracks and reports website traffic data. It was launched in 2005 and is available to all users, whether they use Google for advertising or not. It is tightly integrated with Google Adwords, the company’s main advertising service, as it helps users keep track of their online web marketing campaigns. But using Adwords is not a necessity in order to get the most out of the Analytics.
Why Should You Use Google Analytics?
Google Analytics yields valuable information to help you make smarter marketing decisions, generate more leads and improve user experience. Traffic data can help you identify which of your blog posts provides the most user engagement and which one results in a conversion whether it’s a sale or an email sign-up. You can pinpoint the best time to post a new article. You can see the number of visitors who exit your site and from what page they exit. With that information on hand, you can look for ways to improve that specific page to reduce exit or what is known as bounce rate. In a nutshell, this treasure trove of data will be invaluable in your decision making for optimizing your website.
How to Track Completion of Goals in Google Analytics?
In Google Analytics, tracking page views and visitors is just the tip of the iceberg. Finding out if your website is actually accomplishing the goals you’ve set for your e-commerce site is more important. In fact, even if your traffic is ranging in the millions but you are not getting your intended conversions, that traffic is mostly worthless. This is where setting goals in Analytics come in. A ‘goal’ is a completed activity in your website that is tracked in Google Analytics. Defining your goals will depend on what kind of website you have. For an e-commerce site, goals can be a newsletter sign up, a purchase, downloading a trial software or e-book, or adding a product to a wish list.
Tracking your goals in Google Analytics will yield crucial data. If you see that many of your visitors add your products to the cart but exit when they reach checkout, there must be something in your checkout process that is preventing your visitors from completing purchases. You can then proceed to analyze and identify what factors you need to try and solve the problem After applying fixes, data from Analytics will help you identify if your tweaks have helped your conversion rates or not.
There are 4 ways to track goal completion: Destination, Duration, Pages per session, and Event.
Your website is basically a network of pages represented by an identifier address or URL. Google Analytics provides an easy way to track specific URLs through destination goals. Each time someone navigates to a specific destination URL, it will trigger the goal as completed. This is the easiest and most common way to track goals because it is straightforward and easy to set up. This is ideal for tracking thank you pages every time someone subscribes, makes a purchase, or sends a contact email using the contact form, etc. which registers as a completed goal in analytics.
To setup a URL tracking goal, navigate to the Goals section in Analytics first. Go to Admin and click Goals.
In Goal Setup, we set our goal name as “Place an order” and this goal will track how many visitors placed their orders/completed the checkout. Since checkout is normally closed with a thank you page, we can track how many times the thank you page is visited to track the number of purchases. Google Analytics also allows users to view other important statistics such as time on site and the referring URL which led to the sale.
In Goal Description, set the goal type as Destination and enter the URL of your thank you page. You don’t have to enter the full URL, just the slug after the domain name will do. So, instead of www.example.com/thankyou.php, just enter /thankyou.php.
In Goal Details, select which of the below corresponds to your desired action.
- Equals to – Requires the exact same string to trigger a goal. Good for tracking single pages.
- Begins with – Only requires that string begins with the inputted URL. So if you put “/products” it will track any URL that starts with “/products”. This includes “/products/bags”, “/products/shirts”, etc. This is ideal for tracking a group of related pages under the same category.
- Regular Expression – This is meant for advanced users. You can write wildcard terms to select a variety of URLs. You can read more about regular expressions in this guide.
The basic concept of funnels for destination goals is to track a series of pages. These pages form the path you expect traffic to take. For example, you might want to get your visitors to watch a video of the product demo, proceed to add the product to cart, checkout and finally the thank you page.
Funnels are optional and not all e-commerce sites have a defined sales funnel. Still this should not be neglected. Tracking your funnel provides insights on how effective your website setup is in achieving your goal. When your visitor exits at the end of your funnel, the goal is triggered.
Setting up a funnel is very handy because you’ll also know how many visitors proceeded to each step. You’ll know at which step most of your visitors abandoned the process so you can make the necessary adjustments.
Here is a sample data from a funnel. Notice that you can easily view how many proceeded to the checkout from the carts page.
This tracks how much time the user spends on your site. To set this up, you just need to set a minimum amount of time in “Goal details” and if the user spends more than that, the goal will trigger. This tracking is useful for tracking goal pages with important content such as infographics, your portfolio or any other content that you want your visitors to view.
Pages/Screens per Session
If your visitors reach a specific number of pages before exiting, it will trigger this goal type. This is useful when you have a lot of content that you want your visitors to view. This goal is used mostly by news and other media sites that earn advertising income.
To set this up, set Pages/Screens per session in “Goal details” and then choose a number that you want to target for your goal.
This goal is meant for advanced users. You need to know some script coding to trigger the event. And it can be as specific as you want it to be. Using scripts on your site, you can track a click of the button, scroll on a page, and more specific actions that are happening during the visit.
Mostly, an event goal is used on button clicks. While you can use URL tracking to track button click, it becomes a problem when you have multiple buttons on different pages that point to the same URL. You won’t know which button was clicked. With event tracking you can keep track of each button individually. This is very useful in identifying which particular button or button design is more effective in completing your goals. To know more about setting up event tracking, you can visit Google’s guide for event tracking.
Remember that Google doesn’t retroactively track your goals. So it is important that you set up your goals as soon as you have your site running so that you can effectively start collecting data right away. Use the data you gather to improve your conversion rates. Google has provided you the resources to improve your site and increase your income. Now it’s up to you how you will use that data to your benefit.
Was this post helpful? Do you have any tips you’d like to share about Google Analytics conversion tracking? Let us know in the comments.
Steve Adams says
There’s nothing in the article about using an ecommerce plugin, like woocommerce-google-analytics-integration/ or MonsterInsights.
Nick J says
Hi Steve, the article is about tracking e-commerce goals assuming you have already integrated Google Analytics with WooCommerce. The integration process is a topic we can consider for future articles. Thank you for the feedback!
Karen Kohn says
I’m trying to set-up sales tracking with my email service provider, Aweber. Their directions say, ‘The first field here is “Goal Web Page URL.” Enter the URL where someone is sent to after they place an order.’
Once I have my goals set-up in Google Analytics, where do I find the goal web page url?
This would usually be the thank you page. You can do a test purchase to determine the URL of your thank you page.