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7.3 Setting KPIs

How to set KPI targets and sharing metrics

As we’ve noted, there are so many things you could track in Google Analytics, you need to focus on what’s important, if only to keep things manageable. You might still wish to track a range of metrics for the broad picture, but marketing experts advise concentrating on a handful of the most business-critical measures – that’s what the term “Key Performance Indicator” means. This doesn’t mean other metrics won’t remain relevant and give you valuable insights, but you need to keep your eye on what’s really important to the success of your business.

It’s true, however, that what is “key” may well evolve over time as your business grows and its goals change – and even as the technologies it uses develop. Whether your business has to adapt to seasonal trends or you’re trying to keep up with changes in search engine algorithms, adaption is necessary regardless of what size your company is. It’s also true that there are usually multiple indicators for many goals, particularly if you factor in “micro conversions” or steps along the path to an end goal or “macro conversion”. So, for example, if your business goal is online sales, all the following could be significant KPIs:

  • Transactions (completed)
  • Average Order Value
  • New (or Unique) Visitors to Checkout Page
  • Return Visitors to Checkout Page
  • Incomplete Transactions/Abandoned Carts
  • Bounce Rate for Shopping Cart Page
  • Average Pages Per Visit (that lead to transactions)
  • Return on Investment (per traffic source)
  • Customer Lifetime Value

Crucially, if you’re looking for data on which to base marketing strategy, site development and other business decisions, micro conversions could be more significant indicators than the bottom line – after all, you need to know what you need to improve (such as rate of shopping cart abandonment), not just what is working fine right now.

As we’ve suggested, you’ll often need to consider several metrics in conjunction with each other; otherwise you’ll be risking making business decisions based on only a partial picture. One of the most effective ways to view a whole set of reports at a time is to create a custom Dashboard to give you a high-level overview of KPIs of your choosing. To do this: go to the Reporting tab in your Analytics account, select Dashboards in the sidebar, and click “+ New Dashboard”. You can then select a “Starter Dashboard” prepopulated with some standard widgets to use as a starting point, or “Blank Canvas” to start from scratch.

Finally, when you want to keep others in your business informed and aligned with the same goals and strategies, remember that you can share custom Dashboards and reports in a variety of ways. Dashboards you create are private to you until you share them, but this is easy to do. To share a Dashboard with all users of the current View, assuming you have Edit permission, simply open the Dashboard in question, click Share and select Share Object. You can share the Dashboard configuration (without your data) with other Views and accounts, export the Dashboard with its data as a PDF, send it to others in emails, and share in other ways. The same principles apply to sharing reports and other assets.

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