Welcome to the big leagues! The Analytics hot shots! If you are interested in this article it means you are asking yourself some fairly advanced web analytics questions and you should reward yourself with a pat on the back just for reading these lines. What is the difference between using Google Analytics Goals to measure a conversion versus using, let’s say, a Google AdWords Conversion Pixel? Asking this question suggests you are well on the way to becoming an analytics samurai!
Since childhood we have been told to “Think Big”, “Dream Big” and that “Bigger is Better.” But are these adages true for companies trying to define their Google Analytics goals? As marketers, we are trained to identify macro goals first. These are the goals that are most closely tied to ROI. They are our conversions and the money makers. However, the pressure to “Go big or go home” often leads us astray; defining success by strictly a number of conversions.
In the ever growing online industry, one size truly does not fit all. If we continue to look to macro goals as the only success metric, we end up manipulating data and ignoring the obvious misfit. In many cases, and as any jewelry adoring woman will tell you, good things in life can come in small packages.
When defining Google Analytics goals for your website, try to look at the big picture. If you are gauging success solely on conversions, you may be missing out on an opportunity to capture meaningful data on a smaller scale. Micro goals, or micro conversions, are a way to strategically track visitor engagement across your site. Though we would like to believe visitors come to our site strictly to convert; that is simply not accurate. Visitors browse, check out blogs, download PDFs and generally learn more about your company before they determine if they will officially engage. By tracking these behaviors, online marketers can begin to draw conclusions about events that eventually lead to conversions. Common micro goals include:
You might discover a visitor who downloads your white paper is 5 times more likely to submit a contact form and ultimately convert. The trick is to determine which of these activities are meaningful to your business and emphasize them in your future marketing plans. While micro goals will never replace the traditional conversions goals, they should be considered as part of the overall picture of customer site behavior and the sales funnel.
In pay-per-click advertising, keywords are what an advertiser bids on to have their ads shown in front of relevant web surfers. Advertisers have many different settings at their disposal to leverage keywords to maximize their marketing efforts. One of those settings is called the match type, and it’s used to control the relevancy, quality, and to some extent the volume of impressions and clicks that your ads will be eligible to receive.
For example, let’s say you’re bidding on the keyword “Miami Dolphins”, and you’re advertising with Google AdWords. Your match type will determine the quality and volume of traffic you receive:
– If you’re using Broad Match, your ad will appear anytime someone uses “Miami”, “Dolphins”, or any combination of those two words with any other words. So, searches like “Miami Heat”, “Miami Vice”, “Dolphins in the ocean”, and “restaurants in Miami” would all make your ads eligible when your keyword match type is set to Broad Match.
– If you’re using Phrase Match, your ad will only appear when the search term “Miami Dolphins” (in that order) appear before, after, or in between other words. Searches like “Miami Dolphins website”, “tickets to the Miami Dolphins”, or “directions to Miami Dolphins stadium” will all make your ads eligible to appear using Phrase Match.
– If you’re using Exact Match, your ad will only appear when a searcher types in “Miami Dolphins” (in that order), and with no other words before after, or in between “Miami Dolphins”. No exceptions.
(Google also has a new “Modified Broad Match” option. There’s a good article to read from the Google AdWords blog if you’re interested to learn more about it).
You must be wondering why the heck am I spending time writing about pay-per-click keyword match type options. Well, most everyone at MoreVisibility is well versed in pay-per-click, and anyone who works with Web Analytics knows at least a little bit about how pay-per-click works (and, if you didn’t know about keyword match types…now, you do!). If you’re creating and editing goals in Google Analytics, you’re going to need to be well versed in goal match types. Otherwise, what appears as a goal may not be what you wanted or expected.
In Google Analytics, there are three goal match types (for URL destination goals): Head Match, Exact Match, and Regular Expression Match.
1. Head Match.
Head Match for Google Analytics URL destination goals works somewhat like Phrase Match works in the pay-per-click advertising world.
Let’s say that I am using /thankyou as my goal URL. Using Head Match, Google Analytics will record a goal whenever any of the following pages are viewed:
Essentially, with Head Match, any time /thankyou appears in a URL (or, as we like to call it, a Request URI), and a unique page view is recorded for that URL, Google Analytics will record a goal. Notice that there are some possibilities above that you may not have considered that will count as goals using Head Match.
2. Exact Match.
This goal match type is exactly what it sounds like. It will match your goal URL exactly, without exception. This match type in Google Analytics is just like Exact Match in the pay-per-click world.
Using /thankyou as your goal URL and using Exact Match, Google Analytics will only record a goal when a unique page view occurs on:
Google Analytics WILL NOT record a goal when you’re using Exact Match for unique page views on pages like:
Notice how, using Exact Match, Google Analytics will not even count “/thankyou.html” as a goal. Exact Match is a very strict goal match type, but it may be exactly what you’re looking for, especially if you want to avoid the type of scenarios on bullet point 1 above.
3. Regular Expression Match.
The last goal match type is Regular Expression Match. Basically, this match type allows you to do all sorts of things with your goal URLs, using the power of Regular Expressions.
(Don’t know anything about Regular Expressions, or need a tune up? Don’t worry – I wrote an entire article about Regular Expressions a while back).
Regular Expression Match is great for lots of things, including combining multiple URLs into the same goal slot, or, forcing Google Analytics to match your goal URL depending on what it either starts with or ends with.
Example: you want Google Analytics to count a goal for any page that starts with /thankyou. Using the Regular Expression Match type, enter in:
^/thankyou (<– Yes, that’s the ^ symbol above your “6” key)
Using ^/thankyou will tell Google Analytics to match anything that starts with /thankyou, like:
However, it will not match anything like:
(You can use the dollar sign symbol, $, to match a URL by what the URL ends with…do read my post on Regular Expressions to know what I’m talking about).
Is your head spinning yet? Not to worry – comment below with your questions and I’ll try to answer them for you.