Photo courtesy of cozymax on Flickr

Last time around, we looked at getting started with Google Analytics.

This time, we’re going to get a bit more specific and look at two things that you should start using immediately if you aren’t already. Those are Goals and Custom Campaigns.

Goals

To get to Goals, click on Admin at the top. Goals will be under the View header on the right hand side.

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Goals help track the data related to a user completing a specific action on your website. These actions can include getting people to click on something or fill out a form or even something as simple as getting people to visit a specified page on your site.

Destination Goals are the easiest ones to set up and they’re highly useful. When a person reaches a specific page on your site, that goal has been completed one time.

Probably the best type of page to use as a Destination Goal is a Thank You Page that a visitor will see after they’ve completed some kind of action like subscribing to a mailing list, submitting their contact information or making an order. Thank You Pages are great to set as goals because if a person has reached one of these pages, it means they have taken some kind of action.

To get even more detailed, if there are a series of pages that a person has to go through in order to get to your Thank You Page (like during the checkout process, for example), you can set up all of these pages in the Funnel option, which allows you to track which pages in this funnel have the most abandons associated with them. This will allow you to optimize your checkout process and help you increase sales.

To set up a Destination Goal, click on Goals from the Admin panel under the View heading, then click on the +New Goal button.

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You can either choose to use a template for your goal or make it a completely customized goal.

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Click on Next Step and you will see the Goal Description and Goal Type categories. This is where you can name your goal and choose which type of goal you want.

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When you’re done that, hit Next Step again and you’ll get the Goal Details options.

If your thank-you page is always http://domain.com/thank-you/, enter /thank-you/ as the web page URL and leave the drop-down set to Equals To.

If your thank-you page URL has appended tracking information added to it, then change the drop-down to Begins With and enter /thank-you/ as the web page URL.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 11.32.57 AMYou’ll see two optional items while setting up your goal: Value and Funnel. If there is a specific value for the goal (like some kind of minimum purchase amount) you can set that as the value. If there is no value associated with the goal, leave it blank.

And, as previously mentioned, if there are a series of pages that a person has to visit in order to reach the specified goal, you can include those in the Funnel feature and view your sales funnel(s) in the standard Funnel Visualization report.

When you’re finished filling out the goal creation form, click the Verify this Goal link at the bottom of the form and then save it. If any users have completed the goal within the last seven days, you should get confirmation that your goal is set up correctly.

Test to make sure your goal is working properly by completing the action necessary to be counted as a goal and making sure it shows up in the analytics reports.

By setting up a Destination Goal, you’ll be able to see useful information like which traffic sources and social networks send the most goal-completing users to your website and which countries your goal-completing users live in and much more.

Aside from Destination goals, there are three other types of goals you can set up:

  • Duration – Sessions that last a specific amount of time or longer
  • Pages/Screens per session – A user views a specific number of pages or screens
  • Event – An action defined as an Event (social recommendation, video play, ad click, etc) is triggered

You can read more in-depth about setting up goals in the Google Analytics Help Center.

Custom Campaigns

Custom campaigns track visitors from specific traffic sources using UTM parameters appended to the end of a URL.

Google Analytics requires three parameters to track campaigns:

  • the campaign medium (utm_medium),
  • the campaign/traffic source (utm_source) and
  • campaign name (utm_campaign).

In order to build a Custom Campaign, you’ll need to use the campaigns URL Builder tool. Here, you can enter the aforementioned parameters to create a campaign. Plus, you can also add Campaign Term to identify paid keywords and Campaign Content to differentiate between campaigns (these last two are not mandatory).

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Let’s say you use HootSuite to schedule links to be sent out via Twitter and you want to track the success of one of these links. You would fill in Twitter.com in the Campaign Source box; social media in the Campaign Medium box and whatever you choose to name the campaign in the Campaign Name box (we’ll go with HootSuiteLink for this example). That takes care of the three mandatory boxes. you can add additional information into the other two boxes to help identify this campaign if you wish.

When someone clicks on a link that you’ve scheduled with HootSuite, they’ll see the usual URL followed by:

utm_medium=social_media&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=hootsuitelink

If you used the Campaign Term and Campaign Content boxes, those terms would also appear in the link, which tells Google Analytics that someone completed the action that you’ve set your campaign parameters to watch for. To view your campaign reports, click on Reporting at the top, Acquisitions and then Campaigns down the left hand side.

You can use these custom campaigns to track where people come from, including emails, CPC, banners, etc. Just remember to always keep your parameters consistent, which means using the exact same capitalization, spelling and spacing to be counted as part of the same campaign in Google Analytics.

Using Twitter.com as a Campaign Source is different than using twitter.com etc. Any differentiation will cause Google Analytics to treat it as a new campaign source.

These are two tools in Google Analytics that are simple to set up and that can help you immensely in finding out where your traffic is coming from and if your call to action items are working. If you haven’t already, stop reading about them and start using them.

 

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About Rob Swystun

A former journalist, Rob has been writing professionally since 2006 and now focuses on copy writing, website content, articles, blogging, ghost writing, editing, proofreading and public relations. Currently an Athabasca University student studying for a BA in Communications, Rob holds a Journalism Diploma from Langara College in Vancouver.

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