How to set up Goals in Analytics

Before we set up a goal in Google Analytics, let’s draw a distinction between two types of goals: business goals and Google Analytics Goals.

Business goals are actions you want your user to take on your website. Each time a user completes one of your business goals, we call this a “conversion.” This could be signing up for a newsletter or buying a product.

But in Google Analytics, you use a feature called “Goals” to track these conversions. Once you configure Goals, Analytics will create conversion-related metrics. like the total number of conversions, as well as the percentage of users that converted. We refer to this as the “conversion rate.”

When you set up a Goal in Google Analytics, you can also set up a “goal funnel.” This is a data visualization of the different steps needed to complete the goal. This visual helps you identify where users are dropping out of the conversion process. Ecommerce businesses could use goals and funnels to see whether users are able to complete a multi-step checkout process. Other businesses could track newsletter sign-ups, contact form completions, page navigations, number of pages viewed in a session, or time on site.

You must be an Administrator on the View in which you want to enable Goals in Analytics. Also note that you can only set up to 20 goals per view, so be thoughtful about which goals are most important to your business.

First, you’ll need to decide what you want to track based on your business goals. Since The Google Store is an ecommerce store, one goal they could track is successful checkouts. So, let’s set up a goal every time a user reaches the checkout confirmation page. We’ll also set up a funnel visualization, so we can see if users are dropping off on their way to the confirmation page. Note that this Goal won’t track actual revenue; it will simply track how far users get at each stage of the goal and where they might abandon the process. Creating a funnel visualization to track goal completions is completely optional, but it can add a lot of visibility into each step of the conversion flow.

Goal Setup

To get started, we’ll go into the Admin section. Then, under “Views,” we’ll click “Goals.” Then we’ll click “New Goal.” Note that your Goal set-up may look a little different than the one for The Google Store, depending on your business type. Analytics provides you with some pre-set business goal templates. Since we want to track whether users made it to the checkout page for The Google Store, we’ll choose “Buy merchandise” and click “Continue.”

Because we want to track checkout confirmations, we’ll name the goal: “Checkout Complete.” Each goal uses a particular “Goal Slot ID” that are numbered from one to twenty. The Goal Slot ID is a simple way to organize your goals. The default slot will always be the next slot available. If you’re creating your first goal, the Goal Slot ID will be “1,” but you can choose a different slot if you have certain goals that you wish to group together.

Next we’ll choose one of four Goal types. Each of these types is triggered by a particular user action.

  • “Destination” is when a user reaches a specific page on your site such as a thank-you page;
  • “Duration,” is based on the length of a user’s session;
  • “Pages or Screens” is based on how many pages a user views in a session;
  • “Events,” is for tracking specific actions on a site. We’ll cover events more broadly in an advanced course.

Note that if you want to create a Funnel Visualization, you can only use the “Destination”-type goal, so we’ll select “Destination” and click “Continue.”

Next, we’ll enter the destination URL of the “Order Complete” page in the “Destination” field. The destination URL is the URL of the page that is shown when the user converts or completes the conversion process. Rather than enter the entire URL, we want to look for something distinctive in that URL that will allow us to track our goal using only this page. Since none of the other web pages in the Google Store have “SubmitOrder” in the URL, we’ll use this to identify our “Order Complete” page.

You’ll notice that if we select “Equals to,” type “forward-slash SubmitOrder,” and click “Verify” at the bottom, we don’t see any conversion data for this goal. This is because the SubmitOrder page is part of a longer dynamic URL. In order to track this goal, we’ll actually need to use what’s called a “regular expression” and enter the value “forward slash SubmitOrder” to indicate that the URL preceding it can be variable. Now if we click “Re-verify,” we can see that the conversion rate is above 0, which means we’ll be able to track data. We’ll cover regular expressions more in an advanced Analytics course.

Goal Value

If you want to assign a monetary amount to the conversion goal, you can flip the “Value” toggle to “On” and type in the amount that each conversion is worth. You would only use this if each conversion was worth a consistent amount to your business. For example, if each newsletter sign-up was worth 1 dollar to your business, you could set a goal value equal to “1.” Since we’re tracking Google Store order completions and each order is a different amount, we’ll leave this Value set to “Off” for now. If we wanted to track actual revenue made from purchases, we would need to turn on ecommerce tracking, which we discuss in our Ecommerce Analytics course.

Goal Funnel

Once you’ve verified your settings, flip the Funnel switch to “On” to add the funnel steps. Each funnel step represents an action on your website that needs to be taken in order to accomplish the Goal. In this case, we’ll need to include a unique part of the URL for each page the user has to view in order to check out and make a purchase. We can name each step in our funnel and add the unique part of the URL. If a step is required to complete the goal, move the “Required” toggle to “Yes.” For example, if we only wanted users who entered the funnel on the first step to show up in our funnel visualization report, we could set the first step to required.

Note that the Goal completion numbers in the Conversions report will not be affected by the funnel you’ve set up, even if you’ve made some of the steps required, as these steps are only reported in the funnel visualization report.

Once you click Save, you’ll see the Goal appear in the Goals list.

To see your Goal metrics, navigate back into the Reporting view and under the “Conversions” reports, click “Goals” and then “Overview.” More importantly, you can now view goal data in almost all of your other Google Analytics reports like the Audience and Acquisition reports.

To see the related funnel visualization, under Conversions, click the Funnel Visualization report. Scrolling down, you can see user activity in each step of the funnel and how many users proceeded through each step. If you see users dropping off dramatically in a particular step, you may want to investigate further. There could be technical issues with this stage of the funnel, preventing users from proceeding.

In addition to creating your own custom goals, the Analytics Solutions Gallery offers many Goals built by other users that you can add to your Analytics account to use for your own business purposes.

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