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6.3 Goals for CRO

How to set goals for CRO via Analytics

We’ve mentioned that website and conversion rate optimization involves ensuring that the objectives for which users are visiting the site align with your business objectives for the site. We’ve noted, however, that there may be different types of objectives, and “conversions” are not necessarily purchases. So, let’s briefly recap the types of Goals that you can define and track in Google Analytics. As we saw when we looked at the Conversions reports, these are additional to purchases, which you track by enabling Ecommerce reporting and adding the required code to your site or Google Tag Manager.



What goals can be set to measure CRO?

In Google Analytics, you can define four types of Goals for a site.

  1. Duration: a session lasts a specified time or longer.
  2. Pages/Screens per session: a user views a specified number of pages or screens.
  3. Destination: a user arrives at a specified location in the site – that is, a specified page or screen loads, such as a sign-up thank-you page.
  4. Event: a specific action occurs, such as a button click or the play of a video.

To set up a Goal, click Admin, then select a specific Account if you have more than one. From here choose the Property and select a View. Now click Goals, then “Create a Goal”. Simply follow the steps before clicking “Save Goal” to finish.

You can use any of the common use case templates as a starting point or create a custom definition. Note, though, that the templates are industry-specific and you won’t see any if you haven’t specified an Industry Category for the Property. Alternatively, instead of clicking “Create a Goal”, you can import Goals from the Google Solutions Gallery and use them as-is or (more likely) customize them to suit your specific requirements.

Before clicking “Save Goal”, you might wish to click Verify to test your Goal setup. All this does, however, is test whether there’s data available in that View that matches the criteria you’ve defined for the Goal. It does not confirm that the Goal setup will perform in the way you expect or deliver the data you want.

Goal data starts being collected as soon as you save a Goal, and you can test things yourself by visiting your site and performing the actions defined in the Goal. Then, in Analytics, navigate to the Conversions reports under Real Time to see whether your “conversion” has been recorded.

There are a few things to note about Goals that you don’t need to go on a fancy seminar to understand. The most important consideration is those Goal conversions are counted only once per session. This is logical enough in the case of Duration or Destination Goals, but bear in mind that it applies equally to Event Goals, so that for example if a visitor plays the same video five times in the same session this is still counted as just one conversion for the video play Event Goal. The same visitor can, however, complete more than one Goal within a session: for example, if Goal #1 is “watch a video” and Goal #2 is “complete the sign-up form” and the visitor does both within the same session, then this will count as a conversion for both Goal #1 and Goal #2.

It’s not possible to mix different types of criteria within one Goal – a Destination Goal, for example, concerns only the destination and not how long the user took to get there, so the Goal can’t measure whether the destination was reached within a given time or number of steps. You can, however, use dimensions such as Time on Site and Page Views as secondary metrics in various reports, and use the Goal Flow report to analyses the exact path that your visitors travelled through on their way towards a Goal conversion. Once you’ve set up Goals, the number of conversions coupled with conversion rate (plus Goal values, if you’ve assigned any) will appear in the Conversions reports, and Goals also appear as a sub-tab in all the Analytics reports that will allow you to focus in on your Goal data.

Finally, note that it’s possible to switch Goal Reporting off for the entire View, in which case Goal related data is not collected and Goals are hidden in all the reports in that View. Goals can also be switched off individually, in which case no data will be recorded for that Goal. You can’t delete Goals once they’ve been created, but you can redefine them by changing their criteria, in which case the relevant data will be collected from that point onwards; any historical data collected under the Goal’s previous definition remains unchanged. In all these cases, beware of glitches or gaps in your data!


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