The goals and funnels functionality in Google analytics can help you determine which pages of your site are helping to convert leads and which pages are turning them away. With a series of well crafted WordPress pages, you can use WordPress to create a funnel that moves viewers through your site efficiently, and raises your sales conversion rate.
What Are Goals and Funnels?
Goals and funnels are two measurement tools offered by Google’s very powerful web application, Google Analytics.
A “goal” is the ultimate endgame for a particular portion of your website. For instance, the purpose of your site might be to sell 1,000 copies of your brand new book Birdwatching in the Pacific Northwest.
A “funnel” is the path that visitors take through your website to arrive at a specific goal. Continuing with the example above, your website might take viewers from the home page (at which they see a picture of your bird book in all it’s glory), then click on a link for more info which takes the viewer to a sales page for the book – at which time she makes a purchase – and then arrives at the final destination: a sales completion page where the viewer can download the e-book.
You’ll notice there were three steps in the process described above:
- Home Page
- Book Sales Page
- Purchase and Download
Each step represents a page on your website – the last page being the goal. A funnel tracks visitor flow through your site and shows you how many people continue along (or deviate from) the path which leads from the home page to the ultimate goal.
What Goals and Funnels Help You Do
Goals and funnels help you track and categorize traffic on your website through a very specific route predefined by you – the web admin. Ultimately, these two metrics are very helpful in measuring page conversions – which can be extremely useful for online stores, e-commerce sites, tracking popularity of file downloads, or just to track the number of viewers who navigate from one specific page to another.
Setting goals helps you track metrics related to your product sales and can help you determine profitability. Setting funnels will help you determine the effectiveness of your sales copy, how well your squeeze pages are working, and which of your products and services are most popular.
Setting Goals in Google Analytics
Setting goals in Google Analytics is not complicated, but it does take some forethought and planning before diving into the application settings. The more planning you do, with respect to the paths that flow through your website and in the metrics you plan to measure, the more effective your goals will be and the more information you will garner from them.
If you haven’t done that part yet, read Tim Gregg’s post: How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress in Three Simple Steps, or install an analytics plugin like Google Analyticator, or for Multisite try WordPress Multisite from WPMUDEV. If you are not comfortable copying or pasting code into your theme templates, a plugin might be the way to go.
From here on out we’ll be following an actual goal I created to track how many people downloaded a free Facebook timeline cover photo template package I created.
Once inside Google Analytics, you’ll proceed to the goals section and click on “overview.” You’ll be prompted to enable the functionality with a screen that looks something like this:
Simply setup goals and you’ll be taken to the new goal setup screen. To start, you’ll have 5 goal sets to choose from, click “+ Goal” under the first set.
There are three sections to complete:
- General Information – Name your goal. In the example below, I’ve chosen to name my goal “Facebook Timeline Templates.” This is an active goal that I’d like to currently track, so “active” radio button is selected. I’ve chosen to track my goal by using a “URL destination.” Essentially, that means if someone reaches a particular URL, I know they have reached my goal. In the example, I’ve created a page where people can read about my templates and see sample pictures. To download the templates they must sign up for my email list. Once they have signed up they are routed back to my website and arrive at a thank you page. I know if they hit that private thank you page, they have completed my sales process and accomplished my goal.
- Goal Details – The first input here is the goal URL – this is my thank you page described above, which tells me the process has been completed on my website. In this case, I input “/thanks-for-downloading-the-facebook-timeline-template-package/.” One thing to note here, you don’t actually put the entire url in the box – just the part that comes after the top-level domain name that Google is tracking. Here, Google is set up to track http://orgspring.com so I leave that out of the Goal URL. I select exact match but make sure case sensitivity is not checked. In the Goal Value area you can put a dollar value to use in your reports. It’s not important that you put this in on your first goal creation, but you may want to use this later. More on that in a moment.
- Goal Funnel – This is an optional setting and is not required for a fully functioning goal analysis, but in my opinion it renders very valuable information and is worth filling out. In this section you create steps in the sales process and enter site URLs that match those steps.
In my example, I want to measure how many people who read my blog find the Facebook template package and download it. So my funnel includes the following steps:
- Template Detail page
You don’t enter your main site top-level domain because Google is tracking that already, and you don’t enter the final step – the goal – because we’ve previously set that in second section – Goal URL. Basically, the funnel details the intermediary steps. Again, make sure to use the correct URLs, leaving out the top-level domain name.
When those three sections are complete, click Save. Congratulations, you’ve just completed your first goal and funnel.
Now, leave the admin section and return to GA’s standard reporting view. Navigate back to the Conversions / Goals area and click on Overview to see your measurements.
Tracking Data from Goals and Funnels
If you’ve just recently setup your site, there might not be much to look at unless your site is very heavily trafficked. It may take a few days to get real data. The funnel view, however, will backfill any existing data from analytics and show you some results.
Measuring your Goals
Google tracks the following metrics for you:
- Goal Completions – this is the total number of time the goal has been reached. In our example, it represents the number of people who downloaded the template pack and reached the thank you url.
- Goal Value – This is the value of the goal conversions and is determined by multiplying the number of goal completions by the goal value set in the second section of the goal settings. If you had 20 completions and assigned a value of $5 per completion, your goal value would be $100. That means this particular goal has been worth $100 to you.
- Goal Conversion Rate – This is percentage of visits on your site which resulted in a conversion of at least one of your setup goals. If 1,000 people visit your site and 20 reach your goal url, your goal conversion rate is 2%.
- Total Abandonment Rate – This tells you the rate at which people are abandoning your sales process. It is determined by dividing the number of people who leave the process before goal completion by the number of people who started in that funnel to begin with.
Down Through the Funnel
To view the sales funnel, click on “Funnel Visualization” in the analytics sidebar. This is a graphical representation of people entering the funnel and working their way to your goal or existing off your site. You can also click on “Goal Flow” which shows a horizontal funnel of your site, and how viewers flow through it.
The goal flow works with hard numbers, not percentages, and just tracks the number of visitors who viewed certain pages of your site. Here, you can select the level of detail you’d like to pursue. In the picture below, you’ll see I’ve chose to select “source” which tells me where people came from when visiting my site.
For the particular time period I’m analyzing, there were a total of 115 visits, of which 21 (18%) hit my first goal – the blog page. Of the 115 visits, 86% (96 visitors) clicked through to my second goal – the Facebook Template Detail page. Finally, of the 115 visits total, only 8 (6% of all visitors) made it to the ultimate goal – the thank you for downloading page.
Using Data from Funnels to Improve Sales Copy
Armed with your goal and funnel data you can begin to analyze how effective your site is at converting visitors. In my example, 6% of all visitors are downloading my Facebook Template pack. At first glance, that might seem like a good number; after all direct mail has a response rate of less than 1%. But when compared to the number of people who visit the template detail sales page (86% of all visitors) I’m losing a large percentage of those viewers.
This tells me the initial teaser on my home page is clearly working – because I’m getting 86% of all traffic to my site to arrive at the template page. It also tells me that my sales copy on the detail page stinks, because only 6% of visitors continue on through to the download page. I’m losing 80% of visitors on that page. Something is driving them away – it could be the fact that I ask for an email address, it could be they don’t like the copy, the colors of the page, etc. Either way, it tells me I need to work on the sales page to increase conversion rates.
Setting Multiple Goals and Funnels
You don’t have to stop at just one goal. You can set them up for nearly any destination or process on your website. Your goal overview page in Google Analytics will show you how all the goals across your site are performing. You can also plot goal conversions against each other to see which areas of your site are converting the most viewers, or are the most profitable to you from a dollar value standpoint.
Once you have a few months worth of data, you can go back and hone your goal settings. For example, your goal might have been to get 100 downloads at $10 per book for a total of $1,000 in sales. But, after a few months you start to add up the cost of shipping, and time spent editing the site, and determine the cost of each e-book is probably $7 per book. That means the real value to you is only $3 per book. You could adjust your goal to reflect that value and have a more accurate reading.
You can take the analytics a step further by offering goal data to potential sponsors or advertisers. Goal completions and funnel flow are much more granular sets of data than simple metrics like the number of visitors to your site, or the total number of page views.
For example, you can offer an advertiser a paid post by which you promote a product in exchange for a fee. You would be writing a post which reviews the product, shows some pictures, maybe a video clip of you using the product, and then passes the viewer onto a purchase page or through an affiliate link which can be tracked too. You can justify the fee you ask for that post by showing the advertiser how your previous goals were completed, and by displaying the actual flow of traffic through your website.
Goal and funnel data can be used in a number of ways to gain a better understanding of traffic through your website and its overall profitability. With a few simple steps, you can enable goal tracking through Google Analytics and be on your way to data bliss.