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May 30, 2008 in Happy Links

Lessons from the fall Ex-CEOs from JetBlue, Starbucks, and Motorola discuss what they learned when they lost their jobs.

I said, "Mom, how are you?" And she goes, "Great. Why are you calling me at ten in the morning?" I just said, "Hey, I just want to tell you, I'm not with Starbucks anymore, but everything is fine."


Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part Three)

May 29, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

In part one of this series I covered the basics of setting up goals in GA (Google Analytics).
In part two I covered setting up funnels.

These are both straightforward techniques that everyone should be using because you can do them without ever touching your website (assuming you have the GA code installed on your site, of course).

Today, I'm going to cover a more technically advanced topic. Namely, tracking things that don't have a distinct page view associated with them. This one will require some web page editing know-how, and a little bit of programming savvy, but not a ton if you carefully follow along.

Tracking goals with no distinct associated pageview

Remember that goals are really just a pageview that you've specified as being a goal inside GA. To track a goal without a distinct pageview associated, we're going to simulate a pageview using simple javascript.

First, let's define what we mean.

Here are a couple examples:

Let's say you've got a software download you offer, but visitors just click a download link to get the software. There is no specific pageview, just a link someone clicks to download a file.

Or, you have a registration form that when filled out - doesn't go to a specific unique page you can enter into GA. Maybe it goes to their new profile page, but that's not a page that only constitutes the completion of a goal because this same user (and others) will return to that same page many times in the future.

Here's how we handle that:

It's simple and brilliant really, you just use a snippet of javascript code (provided by Google) which simulates a pageview.

When the action you desire has taken place (say, they clicked the download software link, or they filled out the form), you use the little javascript call to simulate a pageview.

Let's walk through an example:

First, set up your goal as before. This time pick Exact Match, and for your Goal URL, you can make it anything you'd like. Start with the slash, (/) and then use a fairly descriptive name, no spaces. It can be anything you want. This is the pageview we'll be simulating in a moment. For the Goal name, this is how it'll appear in the report, so put something meaningful. (Only you will see it.)


Define a funnel if you wish, these would be the pages leading up to the goal. Perhaps you have a product screenshot tour, followed by the download link. Put the steps to the tour in the funnel.

Now comes the technical part.

Move the original GA code to the top of the page

First - On the page where the goal happens (from our example above, the page where the software download link is) you're going to need to move the original GA code to the top of the page instead of the bottom (which is where they initially tell you to put it). The safest place to put it is right after the first <body> tag. It must appear before the new snippet we'll be using below to simulate the pageview. If needed, you can do this for every page, not just the ones where the goal happens.


Make the pageview simulation javascript call

Don't get freaked out! This sounds complicated, but it's simple. All you need to do is have the following javascript where your desired action takes place.


So, for our example above, on the software download link, I'd do the following:

<a href="MySoftware.zip" onclick="pageTracker._trackPageview('/DownloadSoftware')"> Download Software!</a>

The part in red, is the part I added. the "onclick=..." mumbo jumbo says, when someone clicks this link, make this javascript call which simulates a pageview. Note the value I have in the parenthesis and single quotes matches the value I put as the Goal URL above. These values must match.

Ok let's do another one with our second example, someone is filling out a signup form.

Here's how we'd define our goal inside GA.


You have two options with simulating the pageview. You can either trigger it when the form is submitted this way:

Option 1:

Put the part in red in the form tag on your signup form.

<form action="..." method="..." onsubmit="pageTracker._trackPageview('/NewSignUp)">

Option 2:

Or, you can use your backend code to show the following on the profile page, only after a signup happens. I'd put this at the bottom of the page just before the </body> tag:

<script type="text/javascript">

And that's it!

This tip requires a bit more technical savvy, but if you have a scenario where you need to track a goal without a distinct pageview associated, it's the best way.

Hope this helps.

In our next, and final installment, we'll discuss how to track track the income from certain goals (goal value tracking).

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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part Two)

May 23, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

Last time we discussed the basics of setting up goals in Google Analytics. Something so easy and valuable, everyone should be doing it.

Today we're going to cover funnels.


Funnels are optional when setting up goals, but again, it's very valuable information and it's not hard to set up, so why not do it?

A funnel is the series of pages that a visitor passes through to accomplish a goal.

An example: Let's say your goal is for someone to create an account. You might have a promo page, then a two-page signup process, with your goal page being the final "You're now a member!" confirmation page.

Enter the page URLs (without domain) and give each one a name (this name will only appear in your reports). Put the first step at the top.

Like this:


Another common example would be to track an e-commerce conversion. i.e. adding to cart, checkout - shipping, checkout - billing, review order, receipt page (as goal).

Note, the "Required Step" checkbox to the right of Step 1 only impacts the funnel visualization report. If you check that box, then you'll only get a funnel visualization report on conversions that touch that page prior to converting. That said, the conversion will be tracked whether you check it or not. (Useful, for example, if you only wanted to visualize funnels for conversions that came from a certain landing page.)

Why is this valuable?
The key value of tracking funnels is to know how many people start the conversion process, but don't ultimately convert. This can be extremely useful information. With this data, you can examine your pre-conversion process and determine if it's hurting or helping you, and test optimizations to increase your conversion rate. (And the funnel visualization report tells you the abandonment rate for each step of the funnel.)

Once you have your funnels defined, inside your Google Analytics reports, you'll now have two new reports.

1) Abandoned Funnels. Here you'll find your funnel abandonment rate, broken down by month, week, day or even hour.


2) Funnel Visualization. This helps you visualize each step of the funnel process, and what percent of visitors progress from step to step, all the way to your final conversion rate.


Again, I hope this helps motivate you to take better advantage of this wonderful free resource for improving the way you do business on the web.

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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part One)

May 20, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

So you've signup up for Google Analytics. You've grabbed the code, you've pasted it on every page. You're done, right?

Wrong. You've only tapped a portion of the Google Analytics Goodness. Setting up goals in Google Analytics is very easy, and very powerful. You only need to invest a few minutes to avail yourself of this very valuable additional data.

First, let's define goals:

Goals are desired visitor actions on your website.

For example, here are mine from a current venture:

  • Created a profile
  • Joined the email list
  • Made a purchase

Yours might be things like, submitted a sales inquiry, viewed a key page, started or downloaded a free trial, upgraded their account, referred a friend.

Currently, Google Analytics only allows you to select up to four goals so choose wisely.

How goals work:

Goals are actually just a page view. Really, that's it. When you define a goal in GA, you tell it what page view constitutes the completion of a goal, and GA tracks it as a goal.

For example: let's say you want to track purchases.
You just tell GA to track your Receipt.html/ThankYou.html-type-page  and define that goal as "Made a purchase" and as long as you have the GA tracking code snippet on that page, you're done defining that goal.

Let's walk through it:

Step One: Click the "Edit" link on the Google Analytics Website Profiles page.


Step Two: Click the "Edit" link in the "Settings" column for the first goal (i.e. G1).


Step Three: Here's where you want to enter the page, that when viewed, constitutes the completion of a goal. (This part is only a tiny bit tricky, so don't freak out.)


Active Goal: leave it marked "On" or it won't track.

Match Type: This is the tricky part, you or your programmer can read the excellent help to find the appropriate one for how your pages work, but if you're not sure, try Head Match. This allows your URL to have additional values after the page file name (e.g. Receipt.aspx?orderid=123), or not, and still be tracked.

Goal Name: You can put whatever you want here, but put something clear and meaningful so you'll know what you're looking at when you view it in your Google Analytics Goals Dashboard.

Scroll to the bottom of this page, click Save Changes and you're done!

Let a little time pass, then head to the GA dashboard and click the Goals nav item to see how things are going.


Told you it wasn't hard.

Hope that helps motivate you to look closer at goal tracking with GA. It's valuable business intel you'd be crazy not to track.

In future posts we'll cover goal value tracking (track the income from certain goals) as well as funnels, and tracking things that don't have a distinct page view associated with them.

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