How to Track Conversions? Google Analytics Guide

How to Track Conversions? Google Analytics Guide

What is conversion? In a nutshell: it occurs when a user on your website performs a desired action. There are many examples of conversions: buying a product in an online store, filling in a registration form, or subscribing to a newsletter. How to measure the conversion rate? Read this Google Analytics guide and learn more!

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 What Is Conversion?

Conversion is achieving the desired goal. The goal here is to complete an action that is essential for you. What’s interesting, even though conversion is mostly related to sales, there are quite a lot of other types apart from the ones mentioned in the introduction.

One of the most interesting conversions is the one connected with blogs – how to know if a user has actually read your blog post? After all, not everyone comments or shares your content with others, a significant percentage of readers are those who simply visit a website, get the desired information, read some comments, and leave.

Conversion on blogs can be measured by, among other things, spending a certain amount of time on the site, e.g. 60 seconds. However, remember that this is not the only way to track blog conversions as there can be multiple goals to set up, such as clicking on a link that redirects to a particular product mentioned in the entry and buying it or encouraging customers to use a company’s services.

The same applies to news or entertainment portals which, by keeping users for longer, have the opportunity to display more ads and, consequently, generate higher revenue.

So it is worth keeping in mind that:

conversion =/= sale

conversion = achieving the desired goal

One of the ways of achieving a goal is sales.

Which Tools Help to Track Conversion?

In order to verify if your marketing campaigns and SEO activities are successful, you need to regularly monitor their effectiveness and then evaluate them. In a fast-changing world, following trends is – no matter how trivial it may sound – the key to your success, so you should be willing to keep learning and improving.

One of the best ways to check the effectiveness of your actions is to track conversion. In a useful and multifunctional tool, Google Analytics, you can regularly measure your goals and monitor individual campaigns. Sometimes the Google Ads tool is also valuable – I write more about it below. Now let’s focus on the initial steps you need to take to track conversion, i.e. to set up a goal.

How to Set Up a Goal in Google Analytics?

Creating an account in Google Analytics sometimes ends with adding the tracking code – yet if you don’t set goals, you won’t really be able to tell how your website functions. In fact, it would be a good idea if, when creating a new account, users were shown a tip saying that “Before you start tracking traffic on your website, set up goals”. Often users do not take it into account (which, with the immense variety of features offered by this tool, is completely normal!), that’s why for some time they don’t take full advantage of the possibilities offered by this tool.

Does it mean that the old data is lost and you can’t check the previous conversion? Fortunately, the tool gives you the possibility to configure retroactive goals, i.e. retrospective ones to analyze the past conversion.

Creating a New Goal in Google Analytics

Creating a new goal is not difficult – you just need to do three simple steps. If you have never set up goals yet, you will see such a window once you enter the Conversion > Goals section:

Creating Goals in Google Analytics

However, if you already have some goals set, you can create a new one – go to the Admin panel and manage your goals.

Creating goals in GA - guide

1.Choose a goal you want to track. You can use any of the templates available in Google Analytics or create your custom goal – it’s up to you.

2. If you decide on a custom goal, choose its type. It can be, for example, a “destination” – this goal allows you to check how many users visit a particular page.

A screenshot from Google Analytics - creation of new goals for conversion tracking

3. Show Google tools on how users achieve the desired goal. If, for example, you want to track the number of people who subscribe to the newsletter, enter a thank-you page in the appropriate URL field.

Conversion tracking in Google Analytics - Goal setup

The next step is to check if the goal is measured correctly. In the above-mentioned example, all you have to do is visit the page yourself, fill out the form, and check-in real-time in Google Analytics whether the goal has been registered.

As you can see, it’s really not that difficult: you set up a goal and provide information on how to measure it. Optionally, you can assign a monetary value to each goal, even if it is not strictly commercial.

goal value set up - google analytics guide

Tracking your goals can be more complicated when the conversion does not involve redirecting users to a new page. Then it is worth using the features offered by Google Tag Manager, i.e. to force the website to send a code that will allow Google Analytics to register the conversion.

How to Start Tracking Conversions in Google Analytics?

Once you set up your goal(s), you really have nothing to worry about – Google Analytics will start collecting data. Now all you have to do is wait. If for some reason you would like to stop tracking your goal – just change the Recording option to “off”.

How to start tracking your conversion in GA - explanation

In the Acquisition > Overview section, you can analyze which channels are the main traffic sources.

Main sources of traffic - Aquisition tab in Google Analytics screenshot

You will also check the number of sessions in a given period and the corresponding number of conversions – look at the graph on the right. And it is the conversions that interest us. Below, you will see such a table:

Screenshot showing how to check Main sources of traffic in a table view- Aquisition tab in Google Analytics

Here, you basically get to the point of measuring your conversions. You can check which channels bring the greatest number of valuable users, i.e. those who convert. If you have previously set the monetary value of your goals, you can see it here on the right. You can also narrow down the analyzed period to a specific time, e.g. month or year – depending on your needs.

What’s all this for? By analyzing this data, you can easily decide which channels you should focus on. Paid ads bring you high traffic but little conversion? Perhaps the goal has been incorrectly created – it is worth noticing these types of signals.

Remember that tracking conversions by tracking goals require the implementation of a separate goal for each marketing campaign. It is also important to distinguish between the URLs you measure – otherwise Google will not properly identify separate goals.

Conversions in Mobile Applications

If your activities don’t relate to a website, but to a mobile application, Google has a solution for that too. Measuring conversions for mobile apps is also very clear. You can use the Goals and eCommerce reports.

  • Goals reports will allow you to check if your application works as it should, i.e. if the individual goals are achieved. As with websites, you can set up various goals – minimum session time or completing a game level.
  • eCommerce reports, in turn, will enable you to track data related to sales.

It is worth keeping in mind that both Goals and eCommerce reports require additional configuration in Google Analytics. What’s more, the eCommerce report requires minor changes in the application source code.

Would you like to find out how to do it correctly? Check the guide from Google – it will certainly make things clear for you.

Differences in Tracking Conversions – Google Analytics and Google Ads

If you use both Google tools, you are probably wondering which one is best for measuring conversions.

Remember: Google Analytics and Google Ads calculate the data you provide them in a different way. So if they provide slightly different information, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you made a mistake somewhere when setting up the tracking codes – they use different methods and that may be the reason for these discrepancies. What differences are we talking about?

  • The share of conversion credit may be different. Let’s imagine a situation in which a user visits a website for the first time actually through a displayed paid ad, but only the next day – after searching for a page in Google or entering the URL directly – makes a purchase or enters the target page. Google Ads will always assign such conversion to the last click on the paid ad by default, while Google Analytics will assign such conversion to organic search results or the direct channel.
  • Different transaction dates. Google Ads defines conversions according to the date and time corresponding to clicking on the advertisement, which ultimately led to completing the goal, not the action itself. If a user clicked on the advertisement on August 19, 2019, but bought the product on August 22, then Google Ads will register the date August 19, while Google Analytics – August 22.
  • A number of conversions. It is worth noting that in Google Ads there is no such thing as “session”, which is crucial for Analytics – in Ads, 1 session = 1 goal. Google Ads doesn’t have that distinction (unless you set up your custom preferences), so the final number of conversions may be different for both tools.

Take a look at the table below to see the differences and similarities:

Characteristics of Goals in google analytics - Conversion Tracking guide
source: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2679221?hl=en

Conversion Path Analysis

What reports should be used when analyzing conversion paths? There will be three basic segments: Top Conversion Paths, Time Lag, and Path Length.

With them, you will find out what interactions take place between different channels on the conversion paths and check how much time it takes for users to finally complete the conversion.

Top Conversion Paths – indicate unique paths that lead to completing conversion as well as the number of conversions for every path. What’s important, this report doesn’t show the whole traffic, but only that traffic which led to achieving the desired goal. It shows the most common paths to conversion, thanks to which you can check which path is the most effective and has the greatest potential to boost conversion rates.

It is worth keeping in mind that this report records the entire path, from the beginning, i.e. the first visit to the page, to the end, i.e. completing the goal. Let’s imagine a situation in which the user path looks like this:

Channel A -> B -> C [Conversion 1] -> D -> E [Conversion2].

The report will show you two separate paths:

ABC (Conversion 1),

ABCDE (Conversion 2).

The time lag report shows the amount of time between the first interaction with your site and the final conversion. It helps to identify how long is the entire cycle of online sales (or other activities). The Path Length report, in turn, will tell you how many times a user interacted with your website before he/she completed the final conversion.

Attribution Models

What is an attribution model in Google Analytics? This is a rule (or set of rules) that identifies how the tool assigns a sale or other types of conversions to touchpoints in conversion paths. Don’t you know what the above-mentioned touchpoints are? These are just clicks. With this tool, you will compare the impact of different attribution models on the effectiveness of different marketing channels. You can choose the attribution models by yourself – that’s why now I will briefly explain how to do it.

Default Attribution Models

Last Interaction

This model assigns the entire share of the conversion to the last channel with which users interacted before the desired goal was achieved. For example: if a customer found out about your website via Facebook, but signed up for your newsletter only after a paid advertisement was displayed, then the last interaction model attributes 100% of the conversion to paid traffic.

When is it worth using this model? When you want to attract users and expect them to react immediately. If your goals don’t include the reflection phase – the last interaction model will be a perfect choice.

Last Non-Direct Click

In this model, direct visits are not taken into account. 100% of the conversion value gets the last channel before converting.

When is it worth using this model? Practically always. It is used by default in reports (except multi-channel funnels). It helps to collect useful data that can be compared with other models.

Last Google Ads Click

This uncomplicated model is similar to the conversion measurement in Google Ads. In this model, the last click on a given paid ad receives the whole credit for the sale.

When is it worth using this model? When you want to check which paid ads to generate the highest conversion rate.

First Interaction

In this model, 100% of the conversion value received the first channel through which users visited a given page.

When is it worth using this model? If you want to build brand awareness among customers and you are at the stage of taking your first steps as a brand. Then this model values channels reach the largest audience and have the greatest potential to increase web traffic.

Linear

This model doesn’t distinguish any channel (Paid Search, Social Network, Email, and Direct) on the way to achieving the goal.

When is it worth using this model? If you want to remain in regular contact with users, you should keep a constant brand awareness in the sales cycle.

Time Decay

This model grades the importance of individual channels. The closer to the conversion, the more important the particular touchpoints are.

When is it worth using this model? When your campaign is relatively short (1-2 days) and you need high traffic at that time. Then the traffic from last week is much less important than the most recent one – during the campaign.

That’s all you need to know when starting to track conversion. You can set up goals, analyze their effectiveness, know the difference between measuring campaigns in Google Analytics and Google Ads, and how to do it in mobile applications. What’s more, conversion paths and attribution models are no longer a mystery to you – and that’s a really big success. And if you have any questions related to this article – don’t hesitate to leave your comments, we will be happy to dispel any doubts you may have!

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Author
Copywriter - Aleksandra

Copywriter

She's studying editorial. She happens to be in places and likes to do things. She enjoys graphic design, writes a lot, plays the ukulelele and tries to master the secrets of yoga, but is often disturbed by her Netflix and good TV shows. She loves musicals and alpacas and dreams of a cat she can call Gombrowicz. She has thirty-eight potted plants. She doesn't know how to make decisions, but she thinks the one about following the SEO path was a successful one.
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