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In Google Analytics Essential Training, Corey Koberg shows how to use the Google web analytics platform to generate and evaluate information about the visitors to a web site, including data on site traffic, user behavior, and marketing effectiveness. This course covers the out-of-the-box functionality, from account creation to reporting fundamentals, and explains how to glean insights from the vast array of data available.
Goals are a fundamental concept of any analytics package, and without goals, you have nothing more than a fancy hit counter. Goals are what will allow us to evaluate quality traffic from poor performing traffic. In other words, in order for us to say that site A is sending you much more valuable traffic than site B, we need some criteria to base that on, and that's where goals come in. This will all become clear as we examine the anatomy of a Web site visit, and the role that analytics can play in that evaluation. The first step is to attract traffic. This is fairly obvious, and it's where the vast majority of online marketing is devoted.
There are many options to getting visitors to your site, some paid, like AdWords, Microsoft AdCenter, Ask.com, Facebook ads. Even low cost or free options, though, like organic search engine traffic or e-mail marketing, cost you time, effort, and resources, which are often more precious than money. We also have to consider all of the offline marketing, where we publish our Web site address in hopes that customers will pull up our site the next time they hop on the Web. There is no doubt that a lot of effort goes into getting visitors to our site, and traditionally, this is where almost all of our focus has been.
We mistakenly believe that if we get enough visitors to our site, somehow that will be good enough, but just dropping them off on the front door of our site and hoping for the best isn't good enough. We need them to actually take that next step, whether it's to put something in their shopping cart, fill out a lead gen form, download coupons, or even just find our phone number so they can pick up the phone and give us a call. And not all visits behave the same, by any stretch of imagination. There is high performing traffic, and low performing traffic, and everything in between. In order to analyze which sources and types of traffic are valuable, we need to track what those visitors are doing when they're on the site; what content works, how are they using the site, and ultimately figure out how to segment them to understand why they're doing what they're doing.
Finally, we're going to measure how many folks, and which segments of those people, reach that final step, and convert. Whether it's putting money in your bank account, or filling out that lead gen form, we get to tell our analytics package exactly what we consider a successful visit by setting goals, and calculating our conversion rate based on our goals. One very important point about goals is not to overlook intermediate goals. We're often so focused on that last step, such as a shopping cart checkout, that we forget about all the factors in between that contribute to the sale, and get them to take that next step.
Think about an actual grocery cart. Once you've filled it up, and gotten in the checkout line, the chances that you take that next step and pay are very good, because you've taken all the previous steps that lead up to that point. We have equivalents online, and so when we're doing our Web analytics analysis, tracking these intermediate steps and funnels is very valuable. Determining our primary and secondary goals is critically important, but not difficult. We simply ask ourselves, why do you have a Web site? What is the purpose of your site, and what do you want them to do when they visit? If you have an e-commerce site, then your primary goal is simple: you want people to check out with your shopping cart, and put money in your pocket. Simple enough, but don't forget about intermediate or secondary goals as well.
But the reality is, most businesses are not e-commerce companies, where they accept credit cards over the Web. This doesn't mean you don't have goals. Many Web sites are designed to generate business leads. If you have a contact or lead gen form on your site, that is a perfect goal, and a fantastic way to determine good traffic from bad. Mailing lists are another great example; one where we can easily put a value on each goal conversion. For example, if you know that you average $500 in sales for every 1000 people on your weekly e-mail newsletter, you can easily calculate how much each additional signup is worth.
E-mail marketing lends itself very well to tracking via analytics, in both getting people to sign up for your list, as well as tracking the success of the visits generated from sending out those mails. Now, perhaps your goals to get the phone to ring. There are many ways to track both the number of visits that reach that Contact Us info page, but also ways to integrate your analytics with tracking the ringing of your actual phone system. Or perhaps you know that getting the results of an industry study in the hands of prospective clients is likely to influence them.
Well then tracking the downloads of that study or white paper is a great intermediate or soft goal. Maybe you're a publisher, and your goal is to get folks to click on ads or affiliate links; we can do that too. Now, this one is interesting, because it's often the opposite of the previous goal. If you just launched a new tech support knowledgebase, it's very likely you're trying to shift calls away from your expensive call center, towards the online knowledgebase. So you certainly want to measure that goal, and perhaps even measure contact requests as a negative goal. Don't forget about other areas of your business and Web site.
For example, many of us have a career section on our site. We know hiring can be a costly and arduous process, so many times we can even associate a value with resume submission. If we know that it generally takes X amount of resumes to find the right candidate, then we can put a value on each resume submission or job application that we receive through the site, and we can evaluate which job board sites are sending us quality traffic by tracking and measuring the application process on our site. So as you can see, there's no shortage of goals that we can track on our site.
These goals are fundamental to our ability to gain insights and perform analysis. Later chapters, we'll discuss how to implement goals. For now, we want to be thinking in the back of your mind why you have a site, and what goals you're going to track.
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