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August 11 2011

Creating a Destination URL Goal; Goal Funnel for Google Analytics

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We’ve been on a strong educational kick lately, publishing in-depth blog articles on creating, configuring, and having a better understanding of things in Google Analytics. For example, our last two blog posts covered:

We’ve received some good, positive feedback about our blogs as of late, so we’re going to continue to move in that direction today and provide you a walk-through of configuring a destination URL goal (with a goal funnel) in your Google Analytics account.

Step 1: Procuring Administrative Access to your Google Analytics account.

If you have Administrative Access to your Google Analytics account, go immediately to Step 2.

If you don’t have Administrative Access, you will need to get a hold of someone who is an administrator, and ask them for Administrative Access. They may give you the evil eye, but explain to them that you want to configure a goal with a goal funnel (and that you read it on the Analytics & Site Intelligence blog at MoreVisibility, of course).

Step 2: Choosing the correct account / web property / profile

Not everyone falls into this category, but some of you have Administrative Access to more than one account, web property, and profile. Be sure that you are in the right place before you do anything.

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Step 3: Choosing a Goal Slot and creating your destination URL goal

If you’re following along with your own Google Analytics account, you’ll want to get yourself to a point where you’re at a screen that looks like the above screen-shot.

From this point, click on the Goals tab to bring up a listing of goals that currently are configured in your profile. Click on an available goal slot to start creating your new goal (You’ll see a link for + Goal to start this process).

In the below screen-shot, you’ll see that you will need to work your way down from the top to create your goal:

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To summarize the steps shown above:

  1. Enter in a Name for your Goal (something short and sweet that will appear in your reports).
  2. Ensure that the goal is set to Active (or, it will not work).
  3. Choose the URL Destination Goal Type.
  4. Type in the Goal URL that you wish to use for this goal. As you start typing in the Goal URL field, matches will be shown that you can select from (you will not see pages that have not registered any page views, so brand new pages may not appear). In this field, don’t use http://www.yourwebsite.com – just use the path part of the URL (like in the example).
  5. Choose your match type: Head Match, Exact Match, or Regular Expression Match. In most situations, Exact Match is what you want. However, if you’re interested in what Head Match or Regular Expression match can do for you, check out my blog from earlier this year on goal match types.
  6. Check whether or not this goal is case-sensitive (99.9999% of the time, it’s not, so leave it unchecked).
  7. Enter in a Goal Value. Notice that I didn’t say “you can enter in a goal value”, and that I basically told you to do so. Goal values can very nicely augment your goal data in your analytics reports. It’s also one of the very first blog posts I wrote over three and a half years ago – we are all strong advocates of using goal values here at MoreVisibility.

Step 4: Creating a Goal Funnel

Although not required, and although not every destination URL goal will have an associated goal funnel to go along with it, you can create one very easily. Below the Goal Value field, click on the Use Funnel check box to enter in your goal’s first funnel step. Enter in the URL of that first step in the form field on the left-hand side, and then give your step a name in the field on the right-hand side.

You can add up to 20 total goal funnels steps by clicking on the link reading + Goal Funnel Step. You do not have to re-enter your destination URL from above as one of the funnel steps. You can also delete any step by clicking on the appropriate Delete link on the right of the second form field in each row.

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Step 5: Hit Save!

Trust us – this action is missed more times that you could imagine. Please, don’t forget to save your work!

Step 6: The fruits of your labor

You’ll be able to access goal-oriented information in a number of different ways in Google Analytics. You can view goals:

  • In the Conversions >> Goals section of the left-hand navigation menu, where you’ll find an Overview, Goal URLs, Reverse Goal Path, and Funnel Visualization reports.
  • In the My Conversions >> Goals tab on the top navigation menu (same reports as found from the left-hand navigation menu, just a different place to access them from).
  • By applying the Visits with Conversions advanced segment
  • By creating a custom advanced segment
  • By clicking on any goal metric group (several reports)
  • Via a custom report that you create with goal metrics
  • Through a new Dashboard with goal-focused panels
  • On the My Site >> Intelligence section, viewing which goals are showing significant changes in trending

Final Step: A few notes regarding goal funnels

  1. Some of you are probably wondering why we conveniently skipped out on talking about Required Step. To the right of the first goal step, there is a check box by this name. Checking this box means that visitors must follow your goal funnel precisely as you outline it in order to be counted as (read this next part extremely carefully) a conversion in the funnel visualization report. Which, leads to the second note.
  2. All data that you will see in the funnel visualization report is confined to that report. Goals are still counted throughout Google Analytics if a visitor does not follow your funnel path precisely and still converts (even if you have the aforementioned Required Step check box on).

Please let us know if you found this tutorial educational and helpful!

August 5 2011

Hidden Google Analytics Gems: Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths

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Today, we’d like to highlight two reports within the Google Analytics platform that are not often used, yet can be highly beneficial for understanding even more about how your visitors consume, digest, and engage with your website.

These two reports are called Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths.

Navigation Summary

Navigation Summary in Google Analytics is a clean way to view, for any individual page, which pages visitors came from and which pages visitors went to next. It’s a three-page path analysis: the previous page, the selected page, and the next page.

In the new Google Analytics platform, Navigation Summary is bolted on to the Site Content >> Pages report as a tab (This report is found within the Content section of the left-hand navigation menu).

Here’s how this report works. When you click on the Navigation Summary tab within the Site Content >> Pages report, you’ll see two distinct tables below the trending graph. This screen-shot is the left-hand side of that report:

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The Current Selection is by default your website’s homepage, but you can change the current selection by clicking on it and choosing any page that you want to use Navigation Summary for. For any selected page, you get to see the percentage of direct entrances to the page, and the percentage of previous pages (for your home page, don’t be surprised if you see direct entrances at 75% or more).

There are no previous pages on your site for any visitor who landed on your current selected page (because, it’s the first page of their visit to your website), but for all other visits, you see a list of the top ten previous pages where visitors were immediately, before your current selected page. This list in under the heading of Previous Page Path in the above screen-shot. You will see (entrances) in parenthesis, and then any previous page with the percentage of page views off of each previous page.

Clicking on any previous page will make that page the currently selected one (for fast analysis), and you can search for previously viewed pages beyond the top ten with a convenient search box as shown at the bottom of the above screen-shot.

On the right-hand side of the report, you see the percentage of exits from your selected page, and a listing of the top ten next pages that visitors went to directly after viewing your currently selected page. You’ll see a listing of next pages and the percentage of page views to each next page:

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The data that Navigation Summary uses is based on your date-range, which you can change as you can for any report. You can also apply Advanced Segments to view this data for certain subsets of traffic (for example, all organic traffic from Google, or all traffic from your Email marketing newsletter).

Entrance Paths

Entrance Paths is somewhat similar to Navigation Summary, but it works differently and shows different data.

Entrance Paths is a tab found within the Site Content >> Landing Pages report in the same Content section off the left-hand navigation menu. Entrance Paths shows any Landing Page (entry point into your website), the next page that someone viewed (like Navigation Summary), and the page that visitors exited the site from (the last page in visitor’s sessions).

Here is the left-hand side of the Entrance Paths report:

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On the Entrance Paths report, when you click on any Next Page (under the column of Second Page in the table shown in the above screen-shot), you will see the Exit Page (the last page) that visitors viewed for the selected second page, as shown in the below screen-shot:

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Date-range modifications, Advanced Segments, and in-report searches are also available with Entrance Paths.

Why are these two reports “Hidden Gems”?

We are calling Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths “Hidden Gems” because they are seldom used reports. They’re also not available off of the left-hand navigation menu directly, which somewhat hides them from view.

These reports can be excellent in giving you insight into how visitors are using your website pages. Navigation Summary can show you if your website’s visitors are following the paths that you’re looking for them to take to ultimately complete a desired action. Entrance Paths can give you insight into how your marketing landing pages are performing, and the effectiveness of how each entry point into your website is behaving as a conduit for where you’d like your visitors to ultimately wind up.

And remember, each report can be segmented and modified by a date-range, so you can zero-in on any traffic segment for deep visitor analysis.

Start using Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths in Google Analytics to enhance your website visitor knowledge!

July 27 2011

How to Create a Custom Report in Google Analytics

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Earlier this year, we wrote about how to measure visitors using Custom Reporting. The post was published exactly seven months ago today, but as you may be aware, a lot has happened since then!

Today’s blog post is all about creating a Custom Report within the new Google Analytics platform. Keep in mind that the new Google Analytics platform is still in Beta mode, which means that slight changes and modifications may be implemented before the Beta label is taken off.

To get started, log-in to your Google Analytics account and find the Custom Reports tab on the top of the screen. Click on it, and then click on + New Custom Report to get started (see figure below):

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On the next screen with a heading of Create Custom Report, you should see four distinct sections, from top to bottom:

1. General Information

All that you need to do here is give your Custom Report a name, as I’ve done in this screen-shot:

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You may want to come up with some type of naming convention if you’re planning on creating more than one Custom Report (Something like “Joe’s Reports – Goals and Ecommerce“).

2. Report Content

The way that Google Analytics Custom Reports work is by organizing your desired data within tabs. Each Custom Report can have up to five tabs, but you must have at least one tab. Within each tab, you can have one or more metric groups (more on metric groups in just a little bit).

You can give each tab a name and add a report tab here:

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Notice in the above screen-shot that you can select a Type. Custom Reports with Google Analytics have two types: Explorer and Flat Table.

An Explorer Custom Report will structure your report to look like one of the standard Google Analytics reports, where you see metric groups (statistics) and a trending graph across the top of the report, and a table with dimensions and metrics below it. With the Explorer report type, you can create multiple metric groups and up to five dimensions:

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A Flat Table Custom Report will structure your report to look like a spreadsheet. There are no metric groups with Flat Table reports, but you can choose up twenty-five individual metrics and up to two dimensions, which makes it perfect for exporting and integrating with a CRM system or an in-house database:

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3. Filters

With Custom Reports in Google Analytics, you have the option to filter your reports data to exclude or only include certain criteria. This is the equivalent of applying an Advanced Segment within your Custom Report automatically. For example, if you wanted your Custom Report to only show you traffic from visitors who originated from the United States, you would apply a filter that looks like this:

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4. Profiles

At the bottom of the Custom Report creation screen, you’re provided the option to apply your Custom Report to other profiles that you have access to. Click on the drop-down menu labeled None to view the profiles to which you have access to apply your Custom Report:

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Don’t forget to hit Save to create your Custom Report!

Editing, Sharing and Deleting your Custom Report

When you hit Save, you will be taken to the report that you created. On the left navigation menu, you can click on the Overview report to view a listing of all saved Custom Reports, with options to edit (go back to the Custom Report Creation screen), share (copying an encoded URL that you can email or instant-message to someone) or delete (wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch).

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Migrating Custom Reports from the old Google Analytics to the new Google Analytics

Finally, you can import Custom Reports that you’ve created in the old Google Analytics platform. There is a Migrate button directly underneath the listing of your saved Custom Reports:

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Walking through the Custom Report creation steps is only the first phase of this effort. What are you going to do with your Custom Report? What insights, analysis, and decisions will you make from the Custom Report that you’ve created? How will use this Custom Report’s data to improve your website and your marketing campaigns? These are the questions that you should ask yourself to truly take advantage of this robust feature of Google Analytics.

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