Let’s face it. Many web analytics metrics are truly overvalued. Time on site, bounce rate and even visits are nearly meaningless without context for how visitors behave and the actions they take. Conveying meaning, demonstrating purchase intent and proving success are skills that can separate a great analytics program from one that delivers minimal clarity.
One helpful tool that I often utilize is a metrics matrix. This oft-referenced utility lists every possible meaningful action a visitor can take on a website and shows exactly how to track that behavior with Google Analytics. Do we really need to gauge the success of every possible website activity No, but history tells us that it’s better to be borderline officious with a web metrics protocol than potentially ignorant when a client or marketing manager is in need of an important insight.
Here are a few steps to creating your own website analytics metrics matrix.
1. Know the difference between “Destinations” and “Events”
A traditional “goal” involves the completion of a task that ends with the visitor arriving at a confirmation or “thank you” page. If the resulting action from a meaningful website behavior is a confirmation page, you have a destination. If the “thank you” pages can be identified, we can configure destination goals within the Admin section of our Google Analytics profile (more on that later).
Example destination goals include product purchases, completed lead generation forms and even visits to other sales-oriented pages like “directions” pages for brick-and-mortar stores, or “pricing” pages for sites that sell products online.
An event involves a simple click. Often times, these basic behaviors are just as important as measuring traditional goals within analytics. Example events include PDF downloads, video plays or clicks off-site to a third-party site.
2. Document Potential Website Actions
This is the most time-consuming step in creating a metrics matrix. Review the site page-by-page to uncover plausible website activities that can be construed as meaningful. Here’s just a sample list:
- Email Subscription
- Contact Form Completions
- Clicks to Social Media Venues
- Download Product Spec Sheet
- Product Demo Video
- Event Registrations
3. Identify Each Action as a Destination or Event
Again, the distinction is that destinations have “thank you” pages, and events do not. Given our previous list, here’s how we would identify each action:
- Email Subscriptions (DESTINATION)
- Contact Form Completions (DESTINATION)
- Clicks to Social Media Venues (EVENT)
- Download Product Spec Sheet (EVENT)
- Product Demo Video (EVENT)
- Event Registrations (DESTINATION)
4A. Identify Confirmation Pages for Destinations
Here we will want to prepare a simple list that matches destination goals to corresponding “thank you” pages.
|Contact Form Completions||example.org/contact-thank-you|
4B. Prepare Code for Events
As we will need to track individual clicks for each event, every link will need to include some script to trigger the activity with Google Analytics. Google actually provides a helpful online guide to setting up this event script. The following is a sample:
<a href=”#” onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Sales’, ‘Click’, ‘Product Spec Sheet’]);”>Download</a>
The tracking script includes three primary components:
- Category (Sales)
- Action (Click)
- Label (Product Spec Sheet)
For our previously defined events, our script will look like the following:
|Clicks to Social Media Venues||onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Social’, ‘Click’, ‘Pinterest’]);”|
|Download Product Spec Sheet||onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Sales’, ‘Click’, ‘Product Spec Sheet’]);”|
|Product Demo Video||onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Video’, ‘Play’, ‘Product Domo’]);”|
5. Implement Code and Update Analytics
As a final step, ensure that all of the actions identified as events in Step 3 above include the necessary script within the page code. Either implement this yourself or work with a professional developer.
To setup your conversion tracking within Google Analytics, navigate to the “Admin” area located in the top left of the Google Analytics dashboard. Select the profile you wish to update and navigate to the Goals tab. After clicking “Create A Goal”, you will see the following page. Name your Goal and select the appropriate type (Destination, Duration, Pages per Visit, Event).
For Destination goals, you will need to enter the corresponding “thank you” page.
Event goals require us to provide the Category, Action and/or Label.
Hopefully, you’ll find that creating a metrics matrix for your website or app will save from added time and frustration throughout the life of your analytics program.