Unless you are paranoid of google, you probably use google for it’s analytics. And if you are using analytics, you probably are only skirting the numbers and most likely, using vanity metrics as a way to quantify your website’s performance (broad metrics like Time on Site, unique visitors, bounce rate). These types of metrics are not only bad for business, unless you are selling advertising, they won’t tell you the real story behind the health of your website.
You have to dig deeper. You have to know why you have a website and what you are hoping the visitor to do when they land on it. And then you need to have those metrics available so you can see what you can better or if you should be doing it at all.
In some cases, it isn’t about conversions either. In some cases, it is simply a case of trying to figure out what moves your visitors the most so you can provide the information to move them more.
Or simply (as Matt Bailey, author of Internet marketing in an hour a day, says), there are 3 things that should be tracked-
- What makes you money?
- What leads to you making money?
- What things may not make you money immediately, but lead to an action that leads to money?
In this article, I am going to go over how to use goals and events in google analytics to track what the most important elements are on your pages.
Before I get into this, I understand that you can get these same results using other metrics directly from a source like an email campaign or wordpress widget. But tell me honestly….wouldn’t it be more cost effective from a time perspective to have ALL the results in one easy to read graph so you can view quickly?
Minimize it y’all. One place to find all the metrics that you need in a way where it takes less time to view it so you can do things that matter to you.
Goals and Events. What’s the difference?
A goal is something that affects the bottom line of your business. For instance, you may have a goal of getting people to download your report. You can track that. Or you may want to see how many people complete an order. If you are offering a service and they buy your service by contacting you, you can track that as well.
An event is something smaller. It allows you to see what parts of your website are working best and what parts could use some work (or be completely omitted). An event can help you determine what affiliate products work best with your market or what pages are the most important.
Events go into goals. Think of them like subsets. So, one of your goals may be to see which social media button is getting the most views (or which ones are getting the least). You can set up a goal with the name social-media and then create events that cover all the different buttons.
One more thing. In google analytics you are limited in the amount of goals your website can have. Personally, this is a good thing. Most of the time, when you break it all down, businesses have very few “big” ones. And those are the ones you should track.
How to set it up.
Go into your google analytics account and hit the admin button. From there, you will see a list of things that you can do. Click on Goals.
So, let’s say that you have a newsletter and you want to track the number of sign-ups (for the record, I understand that you can do this in your autoresponder client as well…but wouldn’t it be nice to have ALL the information in an easy to get format?)
In this case, the first step is to create a thank you page. If this was a resources page that you already had set up, then you could forgo this step (or if you already have a thank you page, then you can skip it as well. This will be the “goal” destination page. Once you have the page up, you will want to go to your autoresponder client and change the landing page to reflect the URL of your new thank you page.
Once you have the page set up and the autoresponder sending visitors to the thank you page, it is all a matter of setting it up in analytics.
Step Two- Set up the Goal.
Head into your google analytics account, click on the admin button. Click on the goals radio button and you should see a list of 5 goals (probably with nothing on them unless you have messed with this in the past).
Click Add Goal and you should see something like the image to the right.
Name your goal. I named it something incredibly creative like “newsletter” (only you are going to see it). The goal type for this is URL Destination. This will be the url of your newly created thank you page.
The match type will be exact (we may talk about match type another day). And then you done.
Goal Value- I circled goal value in the image below because it is important but only after you figure out what each subscriber is worth (Lifetime Customer Value- LCV). If you know it, place it in there as the analytics will give you a broader look into the financial prospecting part of the equation.
For now, we are going to keep it simple and use exact match in the match type. However, you can get very creative with this if you want. For instance, you can use regular expressions in the match type to learn more about site interactions.
Also, I left out “funnels” partly because of time constraints but they are also useful once you can learn the basics of web analytics.
How to Track Events
So, let’s say that you have a home page, with three link portals that take the visitor to 3 different areas of your website. And you want to see which portal is the most visited so you can get a better idea of what your visitors want. You can track it.
Or if you have 3 affiliate products that you are promoting and want to accurately check to see how well they are converting.
You can track this as well.
In both of these cases, you are going to want to go through the same steps to add a goal. When you get to Goal type, rather than clicking on the URL destination, you will click event.
This time, you will see several options ; Category, Action, Label, and Value.
- The category is the name of the grouping of events.
- The action describes the type of event that is happening. If you are an affiliate testing click through’s, it could be the name of the affiliate product.
- The Label is totally optional and will help you determine where the click through is happening. For instance, if the link is in the side bar, you could label it side-bar.
- The Value is optional as well and is good for assigning a dollar amount to the click. For instance, if you are getting a 1% conversion rate on a product that is worth $100 to you, you could assign each click through $1.
After you have it all set up and saved, you will need to add a tracking code to your affiliate products. This tracking code will help you to monitor out-going links and place them as metrics in your GA account.
Here’s what it would look like:
<a href=”http://www.your-link.com/” target=”_blank” onClick=”_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'name-of-category', 'name-of-action', 'name-of-label']);”>
Add this to your link and you are good to go.
Note: Once you set up a category, you can use track more than one outbound link. For instance, you can set up a social goal, and then populate the outgoing links with the tracking code using the same category setting and differentiating the action variable with the name of the link.
Setting Up the Dashboard
Now, you have your goals set. The next step is to set up you dashboard so that these juicy metrics can be viewed in an instant. You have 2 options. What I recommend to clients is to build a completely new dashboard so that useless metrics don’t cloud your judgement and the dashboard serves only the goals of the website.
Sometimes they bite but most often they can’t seem to get away from the visitor volume. In this case, you simply add to your existing home dashboard.
The dashboard is comprised of “widgets” and adding them is as simple as clicking the add widgets tab, choosing the metric you want to track, and giving it a name.
And that is pretty much it. The benefits of doing this are numerous, not only from a gotta-track-it mentality but from a goal oriented perspective.
- You get to actively decide what is most important to your website and, as a result gain a motivated approach to tracking those stats.
- You have all the most important goals tracked and visually in front of you so you can look at how you are doing at a glance rather than have to constantly go back and forth between several platforms.
- You essentially eradicate all the vanity metrics that don’t mean anything.
Are you tracking your results? And if so, do you use google analytics or some other goal oriented software?