Funnels, Conversion, and Google Analytics Goals

A well-designed website encourages visitors to take action: to make purchases, to sign up for a newsletter, to subscribe to a blog. Your site should funnel visitors smoothly toward completion of these actions, without frustrations or distractions.

Is your website doing its job? The first step in building a better funnel is to find out what your visitors are doing now. The Google Analytics “goals” function makes this easy.

At your Analytics account page, you can click “edit” to set up goals for your web site.Google Analytics measures the success of goals by tracking when readers visit a particular page: the “thank you” page after they place an order or leave contact information, for example.

It is essential that there be a page that shows that your visitor completed a goal. It may be one of your goals that visitors call you or come to your place of business after visiting your site. That is not the kind of goal Google Analytics can track. Analytics can tell you when visitors go to your contact information page or look at your map, though, so that may be a way to approximate that goal. If there is no page associated with your goal, you will need to design a page that will allow you to measure it. Sharp Hue can assist you with this.

You can set up as many as four goals for one Google Analytics website profile, and each goal can have up to ten steps. So a goal for leaving contact information might just show that the visitor reached the “thank you” page. This would count as a conversion.

A goal for shopping might show these steps along the way:

  • Visit the catalog.
  • Go to the shopping cart.
  • Provide billing information.
  • Provide shipping information.
  • Check out.
  • Reach the “thank you” page.

These steps are called a “funnel” because they act like a funnel, narrowing visitors from those who are just browsing to those who are interested in your products or services, to those who are actually ready to make a purchase.

When you add these steps to your Analytics goal, you can see when potential shoppers leave, and you can adjust your web site accordingly. For example, if your shoppers visit the catalog, put items in their cart, and enter their credit card information, but leave at the shipping screen, then there must be something about the experience at that screen that is losing you customers. If plenty of visitors make it to your product information, but few go on to the sign up page, then the product information page may need changes.

It was exactly this type of information that led to the development of Sharp Hue’s Visual Cart e-commerce system. By analyzing the experiences clients had with their e-commerce solutions, we were able to design a very smooth experience that is adaptable to many different business goals. You can use the same kind of data to fine-tune the parts of your visitors’ experiences that are specific to your web site.

While each website profile can have four goals, you have the option of setting up a second profile for a website so that you can add more goals.

The goals function at Google Analytics also allows you to discover which pages of your web site inspire visitors to take action. Once you have your goals set up, you can look to see where visitors were before they reached the page you’ve specified as demonstrating conversion. You can tell which of your pages helped your visitors make up their minds to request more information. You can see which keywords led just to browsing and which led to conversion.

You can even set up your goals using dollar amounts. For e-commerce sites, or sites with paid subscription, you will have solid figures to work with. If you are measuring the dollar value of a visitor’s decision to leave contact information, you may need to do some calculation. For example, if you know that one percent of those who subscribe to a free newsletter will hire your firm, with an average commitment of $1500, then each subscriber can be assigned a dollar value of $15.

Assigning dollar goals allows you to keep track of the return on your investment. You can compare the value of your newsletter to that of your blog, or of visitors who reach your web site in different ways. Knowing whether your pay-per-click visitors bring in enough value to justify a PPC campaign compared with an e-mail campaign, for example, allows you to allocate your marketing dollars to best advantage. If a redesign of your web site or a change in your newsletter would increase the rate at which your subscribers converted to customers, it would be worth the investment. Seeing your goals in dollar amounts can help with these decisions.

As always, Sharp Hue can help you with understanding the powerful information Google Analytics provides, and designing your web site to make best use of that information.

While each website profile can have four goals, you have the option of setting up a second profile for a website so that you can add more goals.