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Google Analytics uses the Goal Value of each Conversion Goal to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) metric, as well as other currency-oriented figures that you see almost every day. Often, the Goal Value – which is optional – is left blank, leaving over 40 different reports in GA without this very important piece of the puzzle.
The most common reason I hear regarding why this is done is “…because I am not an Ecommerce website, so my Goals don’t have a monetary value…”. In my opinion, this is exactly when you need to insert a Goal Value, so that you can attach some kind of Dollar, Euro, or other currency to the actions that you want your website’s visitors to take. For profiles in Google Analytics that have Ecommerce enabled, the Goal Value is automatically populated into the reports (if that Goal is where the Ecommerce code happens to be processed). For any non-Ecommerce goals, you’re going to have to enter the value in yourself.
“…but how do I know what my Goals are worth? How do I calculate my Goal Value?”
There are a few different ways that you can determine your Goal Value. First, there’s the common approach taken by most people with non-Ecommerce goals. For example, let’s say that you have an inquiry form on your website, and the “Thank You” page of that inquiry form is a non-Ecommerce goal. These leads get sent to your sales team, and your sales team can close 10% of those leads. Let’s also say that the average sale amount for each closed lead is $2,000. You can take $200 (10% of $2,000), and use that as your Goal Value (don’t worry, Google Analytics will do all of the math for you in its reports).
Another way that I’ve seen Goal Value being used is by taking the amount given to a customer on a coupon or promotion code. If you have a “Print this $50 off Coupon” page as Goal, you can use $50 as your Goal Value. You would just need to constantly remind yourself of how you came about using $50 as your Goal Value when looking at reports, so that ROI and Margin figures don’t appear to be ridiculously low (or high) for you.
Finally, you can even make up a number! Does $25 sound good to you? How about $82.15? Perhaps $150,000 works for you? If your website or your online business structure / purpose doesn’t allow the flexibility of calculating a monetary value for a Conversion Goal, then you can just make up your own, so that you can get the most comprehensive set of data to look at and analyze.
Knowing how valuable your Goals are can let you know where you stand, and whether or not they are performing well or worth your efforts. Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether your Goal Value was invented out of thin air, or if it was precisely calculated – as long as you have a number in there, you can begin to evaluate your Goals with a greater level of intelligence than you could before.
Okay, I knew I couldn’t go three posts without talking about Google Analytics in some way, shape, or form. So, I’m not going to fight it – let’s talk about the four main “views” available in regular reports in Google Analytics. The names of the views aren’t official, but they’re what I like to call them.
Toward the right-hand side of most every report in Google Analytics, you’ll see the Views toggle menu – you can click on any one of the four icons to instantly change the view:
View #1: The Table View
The Table View is the default view for most reports in Google Analytics – so, if you’ve been in GA at all, you should be very familiar with this view. Within all of the reports, Google Analytics emphasizes the importance of displaying several metrics together, so that you aren’t making any snap decisions or quick judgments based upon one individual metric. And, of course, each view comes equipped with Site Usage, Goal Conversion, and when applicable, Ecommerce tabs for your analysis pleasure. In the Table View, you can click on any one of the column headings to sort the table to your liking.
View #2: The Pie Chart View
The Pie Chart is a standard in any business report, and provides a pretty viewing alternative to any data that you need to present. With the Pie Chart view, you can now change the metric that you’re viewing with the drop down on the left-hand side of the report, and change the metric’s contribution to total metric with the drop-down menu on the right-hand side. Play with this for a bit the next time you’re in Google Analytics.
View #3: The Bar Graph View
I love Bar Graphs. Specifically, I love vertical Bar Graphs. This report view gives me all I need in that department. It’s an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand view, with the ability to change the individual performance metric on the right-hand side. Anyone in the world can understand that the bigger the bar, the more / higher / worse the line item is.
View #4: The Comparison to Site Average View
Finally, the most interesting report view in Google Analytics. This shows how each individual line item is performing in comparison to the average of everything on your website combined. This report is great for easily picking out the winners (and the losers) in the group. You will be able to tell which items are bringing your site averages down, and which ones are your rock stars. (Red = Bad, Green = Good…pretty simple I would say). Again, change the metric that you’re using as the comparison with the drop-down menu on the right.
It’s very important that you become comfortable at looking at similar data differently. This will enhance your analysis skills greatly over time, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how different views can show you different things – from a similar set of data.
One of the things that I always find that people have difficulties with when starting off on their Web Analytics journey is when they discover what’s known as “The Hotel Problem”. Wikipedia’s has a good explanation about it, and also notes its origins.
Unique Visitors for each day in a period of time DO NOT add up to the same total as Unique Visitors for that entire period of time.
Let’s say you kept a daily track of all of the Unique Visitors to your website for every day of this week. Here’s what that would look like:
Sunday: 5 Unique Visitors
Monday: 10 Unique Visitors
Tuesday: 5 Unique Visitors
Wednesday: 10 Unique Visitors
Thursday: 5 Unique Visitors
Friday: 10 Unique Visitors
Saturday: 15 Unique Visitors
So, that’s 5+10+5+10+5+10+15 = 60 Unique Visitors (Don’t be afraid to double-check that math, lol :))
But then let’s say that you go back in your Web Analytics program and look at the Unique Visitors for that same week that you kept track of (So, instead of looking at Unique Visitors only by that single day, you’re now looking at Unique Visitors by that whole entire week). Chances are extremely high that you will see something like this:
Unique Visitors: 37
– “Which number is correct?”
– “My Web Analytics system must be broken…”
Most every Web Analytics program tabulates statistics based upon your date-range. Even though you added up 60 Unique Visitors to your website manually, your Web Analytics system won’t, when showing you the Unique Visitors for that entire week combined. The reason? Because during that week, you probably received repeat unique visitors to your website on separate days, and your Web Analytics program won’t show you those “repeat unique visitors” when looking at that week combined.
The best possible explanation available is thinking about it as a Hotel, hence the term “The Hotel Problem”. Let’s say that I’m a guest at your Hotel. I stay on Monday (1 Unique Visitor on Monday), I stay on Wednesday (1 Unique Visitor on Wednesday), and I also stay on Friday (1 Unique Visitor on Friday). If you add them up manually, that’s 3 Unique Visitors total…but there can only be one of me, so looking at that week as a whole, you’d only see 1 Unique Visitor total.
So, which one is “right”? They both are. But you’ll need to know why you’re looking at your Unique Visitors in the first place, and then go from there.
Again, I recommend checking out the Wikipedia Article on it, as it has a nice table that visually explains it the best.