What Are Conversion Goals In Google Analytics?

Your website is one of the most significant assets you have since it works 24/7 to bring you sales. But you will get more value if you track and measure performance. One of the fundamental parts of digital measurement strategy is defining which actions on your website will support your goals. In this guide, we will delve into the different aspects of conversion goals in Google Analytics. Remember, there are also free open source tools like Matomo in the market that support similar feature.

But first, let’s understand what goals are in analytics.

Google defines goals as a set of completed online activities called conversions that contributes to the success of your business. You can only extract critical insights from Google Analytics when you have correctly configured goals. You can also use Google tag manager to help setup these goals.

Completing a game level in a mobile app, making a purchase, and filling contact form are all goals. In simpler terms, when your audience completes a specific action on the site, that constitutes a conversion.

These examples may help us understand goals. A weak goal may be having your audience visit at least a page on your site per session. While it may indicate a high level of user engagement, you may not get real value unless these visitors give you information. A better goal could be to have page visitors give your information in exchange for an ebook, newsletter, or a request for consultation. You can then nurture the user to become a revenue-generating customer.

What Actions are Considered Conversion Goals?

Revenue is one of the most critical metrics for many businesses, but it is not the only goal that you need to track. At a macro level, it is vital to understand the number of sales you get from your visitors, and that is why most businesses often associate conversion with revenue.

If you want to capture a full picture of how visitors interact with your site or app, you need to track other success indicators such as:

• Contact form completion
• Email list subscription
• Times spent on the site
• Track of visitors’ activities on the site such as watching a product video or download a product guide
• Clicks to social media pages
• Clicks to initiate live chats

Unfortunately, most businesses rarely give priority to the above micro goals. These goals contribute to sales conversion. Let’s face it. Email campaigns are some of the biggest drivers of revenue for most businesses. Moreover, not everyone who visits your site will immediately make a purchase. It is, therefore, crucial to set up both micro and macro goals to get a more holistic understanding of how visitors interact with your platform.

Additionally, defining both micro and macro goals allows you to gauge the effectiveness of each micro goal on the main conversion. If you noticed that several visitors watch a product video before making a purchase, then you know there is a connection between your macro and micro goals.

One question you need to answer when designing conversion goals is, “What is the main purpose of my website or app?” Do you use it to generate leads, sell a product, or to share useful content? In most cases, a website could serve both informational and commercial functions.

Conversion goals example

The Difference between Events and Goal Conversion

One of the major changes that came with version 5 of the Google Analytics was events, which give you more opportunities to collect more data about audience interaction with your site.

The main difference between events and goal conversions is that events do not require reaching a specific page, and they are usually tied to site elements. In other words, events tracking tells you about the behaviour and interactions on the site such as video play, link clicks, social media accounts clicks, downloads, or widget usage.

Typically, goal conversion is linked to the exchange of information that leads to a URL destination such as confirmation or ‘thank you’ pages. To get to these pages, a visitor will have to go through the different customer stages leading to conversion. Examples of goal conversion include the following:

  • Newsletter signup
  • Trial signups
  • White paper downloads
  • Ebook downloads
  • Purchases

To have a complete picture of the above, it is appropriate that we talk about funnel. A funnel is a process that visitors follow through before purchase and lets you track visitors throughout the conversion process. It allows you to identify where the visitors fall off in the process, and where they are converting. To set up a funnel that will help you optimise the customer journey, you must have the starting and the ending points as well as the pages that lead up to conversion.

Why Event Tracking is Important

Event tracking allows you to identify the specific actions visitors take on your website. You can track anywhere a visitor can move, click, or view your site. Through events tracking, you can easily measure both user interactions (product ratings, user comments, social interactions, video plays, etc.) and non-user interactions (JavaScript exceptions, video play durations, popup windows, etc.)

Event tracking offers a way of identifying meaningful actions visitors make on your website. It also gives you a clear understanding of how visitors performed those events. When you track this data, you will be able to enhance the effectiveness of your website, from the moment users visit your site, to the moment they complete an action. In simple terms, you will understand your target audience better.

The data can help you create events for various activities on your website and assign different values to user behaviour. You can also use the data to improve your sales and marketing processes, personalise campaigns and segment valuable clients.

But first, you must measure your website’s user interactions to achieve this. Also, you must determine what you want your site visitors to accomplish. After which, you will be in a position of implementing the right changes.

To make event tracking beneficial to your website, you need to count events as goals. By doing so, you will be able to track the best performing channels on your site and identify which ones are generating the most revenue. Analytics can help you measure individual and overall types of website interactions and understand how users engage with your website.

How to Create a New Goal

Now we are getting to the nitty-gritty. To set up conversion goals within your Analytics account, you need to click on the Admin tab on the upper-left corner. It will take you to the admin section where you can create a goal among other similar tasks.

Choose the goals option to be taken to the goals dashboard. You will see a button labelled “NEW GOAL” at the top of the page. If you cannot see the button, it may mean you don’t have enough permission to create a new goal. In that case, you may need to use Smart Goals (discussed in the next section).

Let’s assume you can access the “NEW GOAL” button. When you click on it, Analytics will ask you if you want to use a custom or template goal. Select the appropriate option and click continue. Most likely, you will want to use a custom goal as it offers more flexibility. From here, you need to give your goal a name then select the conversion goal type. We will discuss more on goal types in the subsequent section.

Finally, when you have filled everything, you need to click on the button labelled “Verify this Goal” to get an overview of how the goal would have converted in the last one week.

Types of Conversion Goals

There are four main goal conversion types, which we will discuss in detail below. You need to select the type that suits the needs of your unique business model. For instance, an e-commerce site might be more interested in tracking the end goal than the average time spent on pages per session. For a blogger, time spent on the site is important.

Before we discuss the main conversion goals types, we have to explain Smart Goals. If you are using Google Ads but you don’t have enough conversions that will enable you to use the ADs optimization tools, you can enable Smart Goals option. Through Smart Goals, Analytics will analyse your web visitors and assign each a trackable score. The four-conversion goals types are:

  • Duration
  • Destination
  • Pages per session
  • Event

Destination Goals

Destination goals are the simplest to track and are also the most common. When a visitor visits a specific page once on the site, the conversion goal is completed. If the same visitor visits the page for more than once in a single session it will trigger the goal each time. For this reason, it would be ineffective to set home-page as destination page unless necessary; otherwise, your conversation reports will be filled with information with little value.

Destination goals are ideal for measuring the number of downloads, newsletter sign up, purchases, and contact form submissions. Most sites like sending visitors to ‘thank you’ pages after completing these actions.

The destination goal option has three fields to be filled: destination, funnels, and value. The destination is where you set the URL of the page to track. The value field is where you specify the dollar value of the conversion goal. The funnel field is optional, but it is helpful if you want to send visitors through different stages to complete a conversion.

Duration Goals

Duration goals are achieved when a session lasts for a specified time. While this goal may not be straightforward as destination goal, it is a useful indicator of average time that visitors spend on the site. If visitors are spending a long time on your site, it is a good indication of engaged users. On the flip side, it can also indicate how difficult it is for visitors to find what they need on your site. It is important to understand why you are using this goal.

After selecting the goal, you will be prompted to fill two fields: duration and value. As the name may suggest, the duration field is where you will set the time that visitor should stay on your site to be counted as complete. You will specify the duration in hours, minutes and seconds. The value field is where you assign a monetary value to the goal.

Page Per Session Goals

The goal is completed when a user visits a specified number of pages (or screens for mobile apps) in a single session. Page Per Session is ideal for publishers who are interested in knowing if visitors are reading multiple publications.

When you select per page option, you are provided with two slots to fill: page per session (where you will set the minimum number) and value. Like in all other goals, the value is the dollar amount associated with the goal.

Events Goals

As discussed earlier events tracking capture visitors’ behaviour while interacting with your site. It is, therefore, possible to track nearly anything that happens on the website. For instance, you can track clicks on specific buttons, forms that don’t send visitors to destination pages, views of a video among other visitor interactions. Due to the versatile nature of Google Analytics events, it can be tricky to manage.

To set up the conditions that will trigger the goal, you have to adjust the main configuration parameters: action, category, label, and value. For the goal to be achieved, all the set conditions must be met. Note that you can fill only one of the four to activate the goal.

How Conversion can Improve Analysis

Following the configuration of goals, you are now prepared to analyse your conversion. There is an unlimited number of ways you can interpret information, but the preferable one is studying the behaviour of customers at various segments to understand where most conversions happen.

For instance, you may create an advanced segment on Google Analytics that captures visitors who have interacted with social signals and another segment for those who interacted with specific social media channel to have a comparative view of the performance of various channels. You can even dive farther to get a clear picture of where most of these conversions are happening, and the campaigns or sources that drive the conversions.

You can see simplified conversion analysis by clicking the Goal Set Tabs. Any of the tabs will give you a top-level view of traffic details for each conversion goal. You can then drill further to get more granular details.

For instance, the Organic Search reports will give you analysis of the traffic by search engine, by landing page, by keyword among others. If you drill farther into referring sites report, you will get full SEO analysis by referring URL.

Once you initiate the conversion goals, you have multiple ways to analyse the data. Besides traffic reports, there are several useful conversion reports, which include the following.

• Language
• Location
• Browser and OS
• New vs. Returning Visitor
• Landing Pages
• Mobile Devices
• Site Search Usage


Having consistent traffic is good, but measuring goals conversion is even better. Any complete marketing or SEO strategy should have conversions goals. Take time to set up strong goals, use a good checklist and take advantage of some powerful yet underutilized features offered by Analytics.

When setting up conversion goals in Google Analytics, the minor details make a huge difference in the usefulness and accuracy of data being collected. Refer to the above points when creating goals. You will be happy with the level of insights you will pull from Google Analytics.