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Define Your Goals

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe the different types of goals available in Google Analytics.
  • Explain best practices for setting goals.

Getting to Know Goals

Goals measure how well your site or app fulfills your target objectives. A goal represents a completed activity, called a conversion, that contributes to the success of your business. Examples of goals include making a purchase (for an ecommerce site), completing a game level (for a mobile gaming app), or submitting a contact information form (for a marketing or lead generation site).

Defining goals is a fundamental component of any digital analytics measurement plan. With properly configured goals, Google Analytics can provide you with critical information, such as the number of conversions and the conversion rate for your site or app. Without this information, it's almost impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of your online business and marketing campaigns.

This video gives an overview of Analytics goals.

How to Use Goals

You configure goals at the view level. You can apply them to specific pages or screens your users visit, how many pages or screens they view in a session, how long they stay on your site or app, and the events they trigger while they are there. Every goal can have a monetary value, so you can see how much that conversion is worth to your business. Using values for goals lets you focus on the highest-value conversions, such as transactions that exceed a price threshold.

Goal Types

When someone who visits your site or uses your app performs an action you’ve defined as a goal, Analytics records that as a conversion. Analytics makes this conversion data available in a number of special-purpose reports. This table describes the types of goals you can choose from.

Goal Type
A specific location loads
A “Thank you for registering!” web page or app screen
Sessions that last for a specific amount of time (or longer)
A user spends 10 minutes or longer on a support site
Pages or screens per session
A user views a specific number of pages or screens
5 pages or screens load in a given session
A user triggers an action defined as an event
A user makes a social recommendation, plays a video, or clicks an ad

Smart Goals

Google Analytics provides an alternative conversion tracking method called Smart Goals. Smart Goals are specifically designed to help AdWords advertisers who may not have enough conversions to use AdWords optimization tools such as automated bidding. When you enable Smart Goals, Analytics automatically evaluates your website or app visits and assigns each a score, translating the "best" visits into Smart Goals.

Funnels for Destination Goals

With a destination goal, you can specify the path you expect traffic to take. This path is called a funnel. When you specify steps in a funnel, Analytics can record where users enter and exit the path on their way toward your goal. This data appears in your Goal Flow and Funnel reports. For example, you may discover a page or screen in a funnel where a lot of users exit before completing the goal, indicating a problem with that step. You might also discover a lot of users are skipping steps, indicating the path to conversion is too long or contains unnecessary steps.

Goal Value

When you set up a goal, you have the option of assigning a monetary value to the conversion. Each time a user completes the goal, Analytics adds the monetary value of the goal to a running total. This total is displayed as the Goal Value metric in your reports.

Every action a user takes can be translated into a dollar amount. One way to help determine what a goal value should be is to evaluate how often the users who complete the goal become customers.

For example, say your sales team closes a deal with 10% of the people who sign up for your newsletter, and your average transaction is $500. You can assign $50 (10% of $500) to your newsletter signup goal—the goal that users complete when they reach the final newsletter signup page. If only 1% of signups result in a sale, you might assign only $5 to your newsletter sign-up goal.

You can change the currency unit for the goal value in your view settings.

Goal IDs and Goal Sets

Analytics assigns every goal you create a numeric ID from 1 to 20. It groups them into sets of up to 5 individual goals. With these goal sets, you can categorize the different types of goals you set for your site.

For example, you can track downloads, registrations, and receipt pages in separate goal sets. These sets appear as links beneath the Explorer tab in many reports.

Goal Reports

You can analyze the goal completion rates, or conversion rates, in the Conversion > Goals reports. Goal conversions also appear in other reports, including Conversions > Multi Channel Funnels, Conversions > Attribution, and Acquisition reports.

Goal Limits

  • Goals are limited to 20 per reporting view. To track more than 20 goals, create an additional view for that property or edit an existing goal you don't need anymore.
  • Goals apply to the data you collect after you created the goal. In other words, you must set up goals in your Analytics account before data appears in your goal reports and any other reports that provide data on goals and goal conversions.
  • You can’t delete goals, but you can stop recording data for a goal.

Best Practices for Setting Goals

Use intuitive names for your goals. That can help you and others understand the conversion reports more easily.

Although you don’t have to assign a goal value, we recommend you do it. It can help you evaluate the value of your conversions. Analytics also uses the goal value data to calculate other metrics, like return on ad spend. If using a dollar amount as a goal value doesn't seem applicable to your site or app, use a consistent numeric scale to weight and compare your conversions. For example, give low-value goals a 1 and high-value goals a 10.

If you change or repurpose an existing goal, be sure to keep track of when you made the change. Since Analytics does not apply goals to historical data, changing a goal changes your conversion data from the point of the change onward. This might lead to confusion in your reports— another reason to name your goals intuitively.


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