Goals are the fundamental concept of any analytics package and without goals you have nothing more than a fancy hit counter. Goals will allow us to validate quality traffic from poor performing traffic in other words in order for us to say that that site A is sending you much more available traffic then site B, we need some criteria that we can base that on, and that’s where our goals come in. This all will become clear once we examined the anatomy of the website visit and their role that analytics can play in that avaluation.

The first step is to attract traffic this is really obvious and it worth fast majority of online marketing is devoted. There is many options to get visitors to your website, some paid like Adwords, Microsoft Adcenter, Ask.com, Facebook Ads even below cost or three options like organic search engine traffic or e-mail targeting cost the time, efforts and resources which are often more precious than money.

We also have to consider all of the off-line marketing where to publish our website address and hope that the customer will pull up our website 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 off our focus has been. We mistakenly believe that if we get enough visitors to our website some how that going to be good enough. But that just dropping them off on the front page of our website and hoping is not enough. We need them to actually take that next step, whether that’s put something in their shopping cart, download coupons, find our phone number so they can pick up the phone and give us a call and not all the visitors behaved the same, you need the stretch of the imagination. There is high performing traffic and low performing traffic and everything in between. In order to analyze which sources in terms of traffic is available we need to track what those visitors doing when they are on the site. What content works, how are they using the site that ultimately figure out how to segment and understand why they doing what they doing.

Finally we are going to measure how many folks and to 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 form, forget to tell our analytics exactly what our successful visitors by setting goals and calculating our conversion rate on our goals. One very important point about goals is not to overlook intermediate course, we are often so focused on that last step, either it’s shopping cart checkout or other last step that we forget about  all the factors in between that contribute to the sale to take that next step.

Think about the actual grocery cart, but once you’ve filled it up and got in checkout line the chances that you take that next step and pay for all those boots because you take all the previous steps that lead up to that point. We have equivalent online and so when we’re doing our Web analytics analysis tracking these intermediate steps and funnels are very valuable.

Determining our primary and secondary goals are important but not difficult,  we simply ask ourselves why do you have a website? What is the purpose of your site? What do you want them to do what they visit? If you have an e-commerce site that your primary goal is simple because you want people to check out the full shopping cart and put money in your pocket. Simple enough but don’t forget about 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 websites are designed to generate business leads. If you have a contact form on your site that is the perfect goal and a fantastic way to determine from that. Mailing lists are another great example where we can easily put in value on each goal conversion. For example if you know that you have $500 in sales for every 1000 people on your weekly newsletter, you can easily calculate how much each additional sign-up is worth. E-mail marketing list itself is a very good to track via analytics, getting people to sign up for your list and tracking the success of the visit generating when sending out those mails.

Now perhaps your goals is to get the phones to ring, there are many ways to track both the visits that reached that contact page but also placed to integrate the tracking of the ringing your actual phone system. For perhaps you know the results of a industry study, in the hands of a prospective clients most likely to influence them. Well then tracking the downloads of that study plus the white papers intermediate or soft goal.

Maybe you’re a publisher and your goals for folks to click on your ads or affiliate links, can do that too. This one is interesting because it’s often the opposite of the previous goal. If you just launch support knowledge base is very likely you trying to shift calls away from your expensive call center towards your online knowledge base. So you certainly want to manage that goal and perhaps even measure contact requests as negative goal.

Don’t forget about the other areas of your business and the website. For example many of us have a career section of our site and to go hiring can be costly and big process so many times and even associate value with a resume submission. If we know that generally it takes X amount of resumes, then we can put  value on each resume submission. That way we can validate which jobs or sites sending us quality traffic by tracking and measuring the application process on our site. You can see that there is no shortage of goals that we could track on our site. These goals are fundamental to our ability to gain insights and perform analysis.

Later blog post that I’m going to write will be how to implement goals, for now we want to be thinking in our mind.

Why do you have a site?

And what goals you going to track?

It’s been quite a big post I hope you like it. Hope it’s been useful to you and please comment your feedback on this! We would love to hear what you think about this topic :)


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