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Part of the 101 series, an introduction to various topics for enrollment marketers.
What are Goals & Conversions?
Google Analytics goals and conversions are two sides to the same coin, helping advertisers gauge the effectiveness of their digital advertising. If properly set up, goals and conversions can measure how often users take specific actions on a website. Goals represent the desired actions advertisers would like users to take on their site, while a conversion is counted when a user actually “converts,” or completes, one of those actions. Goals in Analytics can be broad, based on session duration and pages per session, or more specific like visits to a specific page, or viewing pages in a particular order. We will explore the various options available later in this article, as well as take an even deeper look at actually setting these up in a future blog post.
Why Marketers Should Care
Goals and conversions can provide critical information regarding the performance of traffic driven by digital campaigns. This is extremely important, as this insight can guide marketers in the right direction. Taking the time to thoughtfully determine meaningful goals and correctly set them up prior to running digital ads will always pay off. We recommend setting goals in Google Analytics and then linking that account with your Google Ads account, meaning more data can flow through to the analytics platform and ads within Google Ads can be optimized based on those goals. Without goals, you may be left to wait for your campaign to end to determine, or in some cases guess, if it was successful. Instead, you can use goals and conversions to see if what you intended users to do on-site is actually happening. Using goals to manage performance on a campaign while it is actively running means adjustments can be made before it’s too late. Another benefit worth noting is that goals can help level the playing field and ensure that ad performance can be compared head-to-head. Meaning, if your marketing team is made up of multiple people, each can remain on the same page when discussing digital advertising results.
Where to Start
It is important to first determine which on-site actions are the most valuable. In an ideal world, what actions should users take on your site after landing from an ad? Maybe you want to focus on completed admissions applications and registrations for visits, or focus on “request for information” form fills.
After deciding what is most important, now you must decide the best way to transform that desired action into a trackable goal in Google Analytics. There are a few different types of goals to choose from in order to accomplish what is intended. Google analytics currently offers four types of goals: URL Destination, Visit Duration, Page/Visit, and Events. The setup of the first three are straightforward, while setting up events can tend to be more complex and may not be the best place to start.
Types of Goals:
URL Destination Goals allow advertisers to track a conversion every time a user lands on a specific page on their website, ie. users who reach an application page or even the thank you page after submission.
Visit Duration Goals are made to track the number of people who remain on-site for a certain period of time, ie. people who have stayed on-site for two or more minutes.
Page/Visit Goals fire a conversion when a user views a specific number of pages or screens, while navigating the advertisers website, ie. users who viewed more than one page during their visit.
Events enable advertisers to track when users take a defined action, ie. playing a video or clicking a hyperlink.
How Niche Helps Institutions
First, let’s go over a common industry example that we navigate daily. A school’s travel season is approaching (whatever that may look like this year) and they would like to run a digital campaign to help ensure high attendance this year. Goals and conversions can be used to help that school stay on track with their digital efforts. In this case, the school’s goal is to drive applications, so they should set up Google Analytics goals that mirror that same objective. They may consider setting up a destination goal to track how often a user lands on their admissions webpage. Or they may decide to take it one step further and set up an event goal to track when users press submit on their online application. If this school starts their campaign and realizes that users are not taking the action(s) they had hoped, they now know adjustments to their ads, landing page, or targeting may be needed.
We understand that not all schools have the expertise or bandwidth to handle the above situation, so Niche is here to help. Even if you are taking these steps on your own, we can help streamline the process. Niche’s Digital Marketing team is filled with specialists ready to share their insight. Niche’s team members are experts in their respective fields and strive to provide high quality digital advertising products to our partners. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post which will take a deeper, step-by-step look into how to get Google Analytics goals up and running!