Google Analytics 101: Goals and Funnels

Google Analytics 101: Goals and Funnels

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Before you go any further with your business - do you have your exact goals in mind? Yes, of course you want to “increase sales”. But having specific, measurable, achievable goals and landmarks for your company can make a big difference in staying organised and viable.

This post goes over using Google Analytics to start measuring your goals, through two features: Goals and Funnels.

What are goals and funnels?

Google Analytics Goals are specific, measurable items that tell you what is happening on your e-commerce site. There are four basic categories that Google uses: Revenue (how much you’re making), Acquisition (new leads), Inquiry (how you’re doing on searches) and Engagement (how people are interacting with your site).

Google Analytics Funnels are pathways that people can take to get to your goals. When you design your website, you want users to experience it in a certain order. You also want to know what journeys users are taking that lead to the best conversions, so you can build off of that journey and improve other parts of your site.

How do the two work together?

Using Google Analytics, you can set up these two tools to see what people are doing on your site and how they’re getting there. This is important because if you want to make smart, nitty-gritty decisions about how to optimise your website, you need to know where you are and where to move forward.

This is one of the basic ways of thinking when it comes to website analytics. Understanding what your users are experiencing, and making tiny tweaks to shape that experience, is what website optimisation is all about. You can use funnels and goals together to answer questions like, “How useful is my FAQ page in giving customers assurance that leads to them actually making a purchase?” or “How often to users who saw the About Us page register for our loyalty program?” or “Do people who sign up for our newsletter spend more or less time browsing our site?” or “How successful was our Christmas bundle package this year?”.

Make it Happen: Set up Goals and Funnels with Shopify

Before you start:

  1. If you don't have one already, then register for a Google account.
  2. Using your Google account, register for Google Analytics.
  3. Add your Shopify site to your Google Analytics account.
  4. Set up Google Analytics to work with your Shopify site

Setting up a new goal

To start a new goal, follow these steps

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics. Click Admin, and navigate to the desired view.
  2. In the VIEW column, click Goals.
  3. Click + NEW GOAL or Import from Gallery to create a new goal, or click an existing goal to edit its configuration.

There are three ways to create a new goal with Google Analytics.

1. Goal templates

The easiest way to get started with Google Analytics Goals is to use their pre-made templates. These are set up into four categories: Revenue, Acquisition, Inquiry, and Engagement.

Google will let you choose templates based on your industry. If you don’t see any templates, you haven’t set your industry yet. Learn how to here.

2. Custom goals

There are four types of Google Analytics Goals you can customise:

1. URL destination goals

These goals are met when a certain number of users visit specific URLs, such as a thank you page, confirmation page, or checkout page. You can use this goal to track what percent of website visitors are actually making it all the way through to an order confirmation, and what percent drop off on a certain page.

[P.S. Learn more about dealing with abandoned carts here]

2. Duration

You can use this goal to track how long people are staying on your site. This can be useful to see things like how long it takes users to get the information they’re looking for, or how long a typical purchase takes. Set a threshold of a time that not everyone gets to, but some people do, and see what percent of your viewers are spending more or less time than you expect it to be.

3. Pages per visits

Similar to duration goals, pages per visits shows you a bit about how your customers are using your site. It tracks the number of pages typically visited in a session, so you can see how engaged your customers are or if they’re finding what they’re looking for right away. For example, a site focused on customer support would want users to click on fewer pages; showing that they’re finding what they need right away (pick “less than x pages” as your condition). A site that is looking for extensive customer engagement would instead want their users to click on lots of different pages, so would set “greater than x pages” to find how active their users are.

4. Events

Events are specific interactions that you can measure, and can be anything from videos played to newsletter signups to purchases made to reviews generated. Some events can be more easily tracked by using a URL destination goal (like using a Thank You page to see how many people are buying) but some aren’t as straightforward.

When you set up an Event tracker, you need to assign it a category and an action. For example, if I want to track how many people see my promotional video which they’d have to scroll down to view, I would open a new event, and set Category >> Video and Action >> Play.

You can help yourself organise your events by adding labels and values. Labels are categorisation tools, so you can see exactly which video or product people are engaging with. Values are numerical, and are helpful when you’re measuring something like time or money.

When you link your Google Analytics to your Shopify account, your Shopify Reports will do a much better job of telling you how much money you made from any one event than your Google Analytics report will.

3. Smart Goals

A Smart Goal is when Google Analytics uses Google Adwords to figure out for you what your ideal website visit should look like. If you’re using Google Adwords for remarketing campaigns, you can set up a Smart Goal to learn more about what’s working and what isn’t. You just need to meet the prerequisites and turn the goal on. 

Next: Add a funnel

Sometimes you don’t need a funnel to get an answer. If you want to answer a basic question like “how many people are buying from x collection” you can set up a straighforward URL Destination goal, with the condition set as a particular collection.

But to get at more interesting questions, like some of the ones listed in the opening section, you can set up a funnel alongside your goal.

Start in the Goal Details section, and toggle Funneling On. Then, enter the path you’re interested in viewing.

Say, for example, that you want to see how one of your specific products is doing at converting browsers into customers. You could set up a flow like this:


Hit Yes on “Required” for every page that has to be seen for this conversion. For example, payment info. You can leave it at “no” if there are a few ways your customer could get from one page to another. When you set up a funnel, you’re measuring the exact flow - so you might have to set up several funnels for the same product if you want to see how they compare to one another.

Another example of a funnel you might want to understand is how effective is my user-generated content at making sales. You can set up a URL Destination goal to be your “thank you for your purchase” page, and set up a funnel to track Testimonials page >> Checkout page >> Thank you page.

What’s next?

There is a ton you can play around with to stay ahead of the curve. Try setting up your first goal and funnel using Google Analytics, and see how it goes! Having trouble? Check out Google’s documentation about Goals here.

Elkfox can help you get ahold of your most useful analytics, whether it’s with Google Analytics, Shopify Reports, HotJar, or anything else. Learn how we can help.

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