So you may already imagine what a goal is, but if you’re still wondering how exactly does goal setting in web analytics help your business, you’re in for a treat – this post will show some basics and answer that question to make your site a working asset for your business.
How web analytics goals help my business
First of all, a goal is a web analytics setting that counts each completion of a specific visitor task on your website. Goals become helpful to your business by selecting tasks that link your site purpose relative to your business. So each task counted can indicate how well your website is contributing to your business. This is not a light consideration — according to Experian in its 2011 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend report most customer research a business online before arriving to the store. Moreover the number of customers who are using mobile devices to discover businesses are increasing, so it is essential to understand the impression your site has on visitors when they arrive.
There are typically a few goal settings in an analytics solution. Google Analytics, for example, contains the following settings:
- Average Time On Site (ATOS)
- Event goals (This is a new feature introduced in Google Analytics version 5, as well as having been a feature in Piwik, another free web analytics solution)
You can set the value of a goal accordingly by time (Time On Site), by viewing a certain page, by pages viewed in a visit, by an action (event) such as a page download or video played.
For the Pages goal setting, the goal is typically defined by a dollar amount to show that the page has value to the business or organization. For example if a visitor reaches the contact page and fills it out, then that contact page has a value. But the value of a goal is not a sale. Instead the value is based on the number of times needs to get that sale. So if it takes 3 visits before a customer becomes a sale, the goal vale is 1/3 (1 out of 3 ) times $100 or $33.
This value sounds a bit academic, but just remember that the value is the effort to gain the sale. This type of value helps to compare which pages on a site are contributing to a conversion.
Learn how your visitors navigate
Goals also lets you identify the website navigation you expect from visitors. To do so, you set a home page as the first page of a funnel, a services page as a second and so forth, and then set the goal as the last action. Your selection is included in a funnel, another report that visually shows which pages receives visitors, and which one loses visitors prior to reaching the goal page. The funnel lets you focus on the pages that are losing visitor interest prior to your goal page. You can decide if content changes are needed, or to insert a questionnaire that ask why the visitor wants to leave your site.
Keep in mind, some other settings in your analytics solution must be in place. Filter out traffic from other employees or marketing team with the IP filter is essential for data integrity. Also, evaluate your site structure and make sure pages are named, not just with miscellaneous characters — otherwise the page names will be unrecognizable in a goals report, and you will have poor data for understanding your traffic properly.
Goals can strengthen your business by revealing where to focus on your website – be it adjusting the marketing or even adjust the code itself. Web analytic goals will effectively organize your business and help let you make the most of your online measurement to the benefit of your customers.
Pierre Debois is the founder of Zimana (www.zimana.com), a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and midsize businesses that rely on Web analytics data. He diagnoses website and provides social media analytics data, web development and search engine optimization services.