Let's get down to the bottom line. All marketing traffic is not valuable until it translates to real conversions. Depending on your business, your top conversion falls under one of these two buckets: a sale or a lead. But you can track your conversions in several ways in Google Analytics. One of them being the Conversion Reports.
Here are quick descriptions for each report and we'll get down to the nitty-gritty afterwards:
- Goals: Quick summary of all your goals (or conversions) in one place from the number of completions to the conversion rate for each
- Ecommerce: Summary and deep-dive into your product inventory sales and checkout flow
- Multi-Channel Funnels: View conversions count based on different channel attribution models ie first touch, last touch, and other models
The Google Analytics Goals report is preset to summarize your conversion performance. I'd consider it as the out-of-the-box alternative to creating your own conversion segments. The difference is that the goals are permanently defined within the Google Analytics settings and will push permanent data to the Goals report. There's no fixing processed data once it rolls in. But a perk with tracking goals is that you can transfer them to other Google platforms to supplement those reports ie Google Ads.
So before you start using the reports, you'll need to do some homework.
How can I set up goals in Google Analytics?
- Go to your Admin settings.
- Navigate to Goals under the View section to the right. Make sure you're on the right View (especially if you have multiple Views under the same tracking ID).
- Select either a templated goal that Google Analytics provides or Custom. Custom allows more flexibility and control over settings. Another option shown is Smart Goals where conversions are automated based on trending user behavior Google Ads identifies.
4. Once you select your template, choose how you want to define the goal – what identifies the conversion.
- Destination (Pages)
- Duration (Time)
- Pages/Screens Per Session (Depth of Engagement - how many pages a user sees in a single visit)
- Event (Specified interaction or occurrence by Event parameters)
- Smart Goal (Google Ads automatically defines common behaviors on your site and sets them as goals)
Most-Used Goal Types
I really like the Destination option because it opens up another option to define an entire flow step-by-step. Or you can just select a single page as the conversion ie the thank you page after a purchase. If you do select the step-by-step goal creation, it's important to note that the last step is defined as the "Destination Page"on top. Do not enter it into the step-by-step section below.
Event goals are also great to define target actions taken by the user, rather than a single page view. You might even have a single page website, so the only indicator of engagement could just be button clicks. This is where event goals come in handy.
You do need to tag these events beforehand, so the data has to exist already in the Events report under Behavior.
Then, identify all 3 parameters (category, action, or label) or maybe even just one unique parameter to create the target goal.
Again, all these goals need to be set up beforehand, so you can have data permanently roll into the Goals report when users reach these conversions. Otherwise, you'll need to use the segment alternative to find the data elsewhere.
The Goals Overview report will show these metrics for you to track your conversions at a glance:
- Goal Completions: total number of conversions
- Goal Value: monetary value of conversions
- Goal Conversion Rate: the rate of total conversions out of total sessions
- Abandonment Rate: the people who failed to complete your step-by-step goal / # of people that started your goal
2. Goal URLs
Depending where your goals can be completed, the URL breakdown is helpful in showing you which pages are the most popular destinations. The URL structure needs to be unique for each destination, so maybe you can identify the most popular sellers. But if you have just the same confirmation page URL for every order, let's say, then this report isn't too valuable as is. Go ahead and add on a secondary dimension to make your analysis more fun!
3. Reverse Goal Path
Now we're going even more backwards in the goal process to see how users even landed on the Destination page. Without doing anything, the report looks back 3 pages from the last. The Reverse Goal Path is most helpful for discovering new paths you would have never identified yourself. For instance, a lead goal can happen on any page, but what other pages do users visit before finally sealing the deal? Take advantage of those supplemental pages and push new visitors for a higher chance for conversions.
If you really want to get fancy with it, filter a certain goal destination or a previous page to hone in on a specific path.
Because the base of this report is the Destination URL, keep in mind that these are only completed goals. You won't be able to see which paths were abandoned in this report.
4. Funnel Visualization
Funnel Visualization reports come into play when you push users through a specific flow on purpose ie the oh-so-popular checkout process. From here, you'll be able to see how many people have gone through each individual step, and how many abandoned. The only goals that will appear here is when you create a step-by-step Destination goal in the Admin Settings.
What do the Funnel Visualization reports show?
1. How many people reached each step in order
2. What were the pages that led to the first step
3. At what step and what page did users proceed to next, if not the defined subsequent step
The Funnel Visualization screenshot shows a purchase flow, but you can easily create one for an email submission or subscription flow, too.
Google Analytics specializes in ecommerce analytics, offering specific reports to revenue and orders out-of-the-box. The basic Ecommerce plugin tracks only transaction and item data. For smaller ecommerce websites with only a few online products, it is just enough to get actionable insights. However, Google Analytics can be further “enhanced” with “Enhanced Ecommerce.”
What does the Enhanced Ecommerce plugin do?
Enhanced Ecommerce is a plugin that tracks the entire customer journey from impressions, clicks, all the way to the order confirmation page. With a more complex site and inventory list, you will know how to personalize the user experience for different target audiences.
- Tracks which ecommerce products are seen and clicked
- Aggregated user metrics through the conversion funnel all the way to order confirmation
- Records how and when users initiate checkout or abandon cart
- Coupon usage for any promotion influence on orders
- Which products are added to cart, removed, or completed with an order
- Measures the influence of internal campaigns (ie internal banner ads and interstitials)
Note: Enhanced Ecommerce is a separate plugin, so be sure not to overlap it with the original Ecommerce plugin in the code. Pick one only. But some 3rd-party ecommerce services have it all integrated (ie Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, EasyCart) where you’ll only need to make sure you activate Enhanced Ecommerce under your admin View settings labeled “Ecommerce Settings.”
Out-of-the-Box Ecommerce Reports
Ecommerce's Overview report summarizes all the key ecommerce metrics in one view. But it's great to have these dimensions available in Google Analytics to create custom segments that relate to website behavior. The opportunities are endless here!
- Ecommerce Conversion Rate: Orders / Total Sessions
- Transactions: Total orders
- Revenue: Monetary value of orders (numbers may not align with your ecommerce provider due to undercounting errors and internal returns not tracked with website behavior)
- Average Order Value: total revenue divided by the total orders
- Unique Purchases: purchases by unique visitors
- Quantity: item count
More Valuable Ecommerce Metrics to Create
- Promotion Impressions Per Order: Total Promotion Impressions / Total Orders
- Revenue per Campaign: Total Revenue / Total Campaigns
2. Product Performance
Google Analytics gives you multiple options to manipulate the data around specific products. Aside from the conversion funnel steps, you can drill down into items users ordered by product name, SKU, transaction (Sales Performance), and Product List.
The Products report demonstrates which products are bringing in the most activity and revenue (if connected to ecommerce service). Get deeper with exact transaction IDs in the Sales Performance report that match your internal database. This allows you to understand more specific user behavior with a group of IDs you’d like to focus on. Otherwise, Sales Performance provides dimensions to group orders and see what other products were included. Great insight to fuel product recommendation algorithms!
3. Sales Performance
Here, the revenue numbers are shown by date or transaction. Get the overall view of how you're doing in total sales, revenue, tax, and more. The details of the money breakdown can be found here. Again, this may not be perfect as refunds or offline behavior is not linked to this data. But you can use these dimensions to relate to web behavior and optimize the marketing experience for all customers on high sale days - without having to bug your finance team.
Just like the Sales Performance, this is just defaulted to the transactions view. You can see just about the same metrics as you can in Sales Performance, but just kicked down to be more granular.
5. Time to Purchase
I like to glance at this report from time to time if the Time to Purchase typically changes from first visit. Usually, it doesn't, but it's a good way to check the pulse every so often. High traffic seasons are a great time to check this report.
Enhanced Ecommerce Reports
1. Shopping Behavior Analysis
Enhanced Ecommerce integrates automatically with ecommerce providers to automatically track all shopping-related pages into an organized conversion funnel. Some ecommerce services are:
- EasyCart (WordPress)
These fundamental ecommerce actions usually stay the same for all websites, but can be modified in the Admin settings to fit your needs.
The Shopping Behavior shows the upper-funnel of users browsing your online store, while the Checkout Behavior with the lower-funnel through to the confirmation page.
The Shopping Behavior report includes:
- All Sessions
- Sessions with Product Views (visited a product page)
- Sessions with Add to Cart
- Sessions with Transactions
Google Analytics offers multiple ways to view paths and funnels, so choose what’s best for you!
2. Product List Performance
Product List Performance ranks products by position and list placement for product gallery pages. Product visibility can influence an order if users are generally browsing.
Some questions Product List data can answer…
- Do the top row positions increase product take rate? Are certain products ordered more due to its position?
- Are categories useful towards a user’s shopping experience?
- How many users buy a product listed on the 2nd page?
You can evaluate a product’s position by gathering clickthrough rates (CTR) as a success metric. Were more people clicking on the product in a certain position than the other? Then, the next success metric to consider is the conversion rate – how inclined are users to complete the order after viewing it in one position.
Enhanced Ecommerce offers additional tracking within Google Analytics, related to internal promotions your business runs. Internal ads from banners to interstitials and coupon codes are just some example campaigns. Internal campaigns direct users to targeted products and deals, which push customers further down the funnel.
So what Google Analytics can do is capture campaign impressions (how many times the ad was seen) and coupon codes, all the way to the order confirmation page.
Coupon codes can also be distributed externally, outside your platform. As long as you’re capturing all coupon codes, you can understand which coupons are the most popular.
Take it a step further and create a segment filtering the coupon. Apply it to the Channels report and see which websites bring in the most traffic for that coupon.
Let's be real. Users don't normally convert their first visit.
They'll come back a second or third time after doing their research to complete an order.
This is where Multi-Channel reports come in handy! You can view which channels assisted in conversions by contributing at least once during a user’s path. Normally, Google Analytics attributes success to the Last Touch Channel in the default Channels report, but this usually prevents teams to understand the entire user journey. Do other touchpoints influence a conversion at all?
Here's where Multi-Channel Funnels come in.
Multichannel metrics explained
- Assisted Conversion Value: The revenue is calculated by associating the order to the same user that came from multiple channels.
- Direct / Last Touch Conversion Value: The revenue is calculated by associating the order to the last channel before the conversion.
- Channel Influence: The total channel-referred conversions by the total orders.
Warning! Revenue is not going to match up with your accounting books unless it is properly aligned with your ecommerce service. Why? Everything in Google Analytics is based on user behavior – whether a user reached the order confirmation page or any other online action. All other activity after the online order is unknown since refunds and order issues are handled offline with your business.
What is Assisted or Last Click/Direct conversion?
Assisted/Last Click Conversion metric is Google's way of helping you evaluate the channel contribution more easily. Is the channel more of an assistant or the leader? If the rate is towards 1, it is equal between the two. The closer to 0, the channel is the leader, which is the driving force that converted a user. Whereas a rate above 1 indicates that the referring channel was more of an assistant in the path where it only influenced the order.
Attribution Model Comparison Tool
Google Analytics defaults with Last Touch Interaction, meaning the last channel that pushed users towards a conversion. This is the default for the original Acquisition reports. However, you can compare different models to see which role channels played within the Attribution Model Comparison Tool.
The most common comparison is First Interaction where these channels were the first in directing your new user to the site.
Take a look at Direct in the example to the left. You'll notice it has more conversions at 2.4K for Last Interaction vs 1.7K First Interaction. How do we interpret this?
In this case, Direct was more successful in making conversions right away as Last Touch. People who enter directly by a URL weren't ready to make a purchase. However, it makes more sense for them to come back directly when they are ready.
The trend is the opposite for other channels. They have higher conversion totals for First Interaction. Why? Well, usually these are people who aren't aware of your website and come from seeing an ad or a mention on another site. Though, they don't necessarily convert from the first channel.
Again, it usually takes at least 2 visits to convert a user, so these results look normal.
Here's a brief description for all other models provided for this example.
A user finds your site by seeing and clicking through your promoted Facebook post. She browses the site, but leaves. She's still interested in the promotion and wants to find similar through Google Search. Nothing was good enough, so she sees and clicks on your AdWords campaign. Still not ready to make an order. Maybe she doesn't have the money yet. When she gets her next paycheck, she comes again directly by typing in your URL. She finally makes an order.
- Last Interaction: 100% to Direct (Typed in the URL + Ordered in same session)
- Last Non-Direct Click: 100% to the channel before Direct (Paid Search)
- Last AdWords Click: 100% to Paid Search (only one campaign click)
- First Interaction: 100% to Social (promoted Facebook post)
- Linear: Equal credit to each channel (Social, AdWords, Direct = 33%)
- Time Decay: More credit distributed to the most recent channels (Direct - most credit due to the paycheck time frame / Social - least)
Google Analytics’ Conversion reports provides metrics to evaluate your online business value, whether it is revenue or other valuable events ie signups, leads, subscribers. You can drill down through the conversion funnel with the preset tracking options or customize your own. Conversion reports can give you user insight as to how to attract your audiences to reach the bottom line: sales and revenue.