Performance Tracking with Google Analytics

I taught my first Google Analytics course last week. There, I had great discussions with people from various industries as well as different needs and requirements – it really is quite remarkable how much you learn while you teach. One question that came up is one that pops up quite regularly, and it sounds like this: “I have all this data but what do I do with it? How do I know if what I’m looking at is good or not?” – a very fair question.
tracking-with-google-analytics
The simple answer to this is: Performance analysis is hard if you haven‘t defined your goals and/or business objectives. It sounds obvious, and we usually have the same goal: “make more money with less money”, but how are we going to reach that goal? Well, that’s a different post all by itself, but what I’d like to talk about in this one are the different ways to help you decide whether you’re hitting your goals or not, e.g. with your marketing campaigns.

 

Setting up goals

With Goals, you can track various actions taken by users – sign ups, shares, purchases, video plays, and more. Some of these don’t require additional coding; however, tracking Events like social shares and video plays do. Before we dive a bit into the different goal selections available, log into your Google Analytics account, click on Admin in the top right corner, find Goals under the View section on the right-hand side, and click the Create a Goal button.

setting-up-goals-in-google-analytics

Essentially, there are four goal types to choose from: destinations, durations, pages/screens per visit, and Events. However, when you create new goals Google is pretty good at helping you decide which type is suitable for your needs by offering the list you see in the screenshot on the right.

The Three Steps
Creating a goal is in many cases a simple three-step process. You start in the Template section where you get to choose between four categories: revenue, acquisition, inquiry, and engagement. Choose the goal suitable for your needs and click on next steps.

google-analytics-goal-setup-step-one

Step 2
Notice that Google, as per your selection, has chosen a suitable type for your goal. In my case it’s the Destination type that makes sense, since I want to track all users who land on my ‘thank you page’ after having booked a tour.Once you’ve found a suitable name for your goal, click on Next step.

google-analytics-goal-setup-step-two

Step 3
The last step is perhaps the most important one. Here you insert the landing page that you want to track, in my case a ‘thank you page’. In the Destination section you need to set a correct match type for your destination page in order for your goal to track properly. If you’re not sure which match type is suitable for you I recommend that you read this article on the Analytics help page.

google-analytics-goal-setup-step-three-destinations

The other steps are optional but worth looking into. You can assign a monetary value to your goals, which is great if your order value doesn’t vary. In my case I’d want to use Google’s ecommerce section to get a more accurate picture of the revenue coming through the website.

google-analytics-goal-setup-step-three-value

You can insert a/the funnel users go through when buying your service/product – you’ll need to know the URLs of every step before they convert. I’ve inserted three-steps and checked required because I want to specifically monitor conversions coming from my product page, as opposed to the home page.

google-analytics-goal-setup-step-three-funnel

Lastly, you can verify your goal by clicking on the Verify link. Google shows you whether your goal would have produced any conversions using data from the past 7 days. If you see 0% you should take another look at your settings. If you’re satisfied with what you see, click on Create Goal and you’re done.

google-analytics-goal-setup-step-three-verify

Tracking Events and revenue

In order to track actions like video plays, PDF downloads and/or revenue, you’ll need to do some additional coding, but don’t let that scare you away. You can find detailed instructions as to what, where, and how to implement the new additions – I recommend that you check out Google’s Anatomy of Event tracking as well as the page about Ecommerce tracking.

Both pages include examples and great walkthroughs, but before you change or implement anything, I recommend that you talk to your developer or at least consult with one. After the codes have been implemented (correctly) you’ll start seeing data under the Behaviour category and/or Conversions category.

google-analytics-ecommerce-code

Event tracking

“Although Event tracking requires a little extra work to set up, we strongly recommend you use it. Events are a flexible way to collect data about interactions specific to your site or app that might not otherwise be tracked,” Google; an overview about Event tracking and Event reports.

Event tracking helps you to better understand and get a clearer picture of how users interact with your website, and therefore whether a) you’re reaching your goals or b) you need to optimize your webpage and/or marketing campaigns.

event-tracking-in-google-analytics

Revenue tracking

If you’re doing ecommerce, then using Google’s revenue report is a no brainer. As a PPC Account Manager, it is paramount that I understand how my campaigns are performing from a revenue standpoint. That in return helps me realize problems and/or ways to maximize the revenue coming from my online campaigns. In essence, it helps answer the question of questions: are my campaigns profitable?

You can slice ‘n dice this data as you want and view product performance, revenue by source, as well as dive into AdWords campaigns where you can view statistics on the campaign all the way to the keyword level. Sounds great right? (I think so) but before you can start seeing all the juicy data, you again need to do some additional coding, as well as enable ecommerce tracking via the Admin section (Admin > View Settings, enable Ecommerce tracking). Here is a complete example of the Ecommerce code.

Conclusion

While using these features doesn’t define your goals for you, they assist you in realizing whether or not you’re reaching them, as well as great insights as to which marketing channel is working best for you. With this data you should at least be a step closer in answering the question: “How do I know if what I’m looking at is good or not?”

Finally, like always, we’d love to hear your opinions on goal setting.

About Haukur Jarl

Haukur Jarl Kristjánsson, a.k.a “the Hawk” (@haukurjarl), is a well-rounded PPC strategist, SEM consultant and trainer based in Reykjavik, Iceland.