Goals represent actions, also known as conversions, that you want your visitors to take on your website. A few simple examples of common goals are sales, email signups, and downloads.

Defining goals allow much more in-depth analysis of the behavior of website visitors. Proper setup of goals inside your analytics program will allow you to properly measure a whole host of important metrics including conversion rates and ROI.

Overview

Simple goals like sales and lead signups are straightforward. These are the metrics a website may use to measure performance and success. But goals don’t need to be limited to those types of events. Tracking things like time on page, clicks, downloads, video plays, or other interactions can also provide great insight into the behavior of your website’s visitors.

More in-depth

Time Based Events
Time on Page/Site

Time on page, or time on site, can be a useful gauge of how engaged with your site visitors are. This metric is particularly useful for software websites, social networks, forums, article/resource sites, and any other type of site where the goal is to get users to stay on the site for extended periods of time.

Be careful of falling into the trap of trying to increase time on site or thinking that an increase in time on site is always a good thing. An increase of time on site may indicate an increase in confusion for users.

Unfortunately, the time on page is not exactly what it seems to be because most analytics platforms don’t actually track how long a visitor stays on a particular page. Instead, they calculate the difference in time between successive pageviews and call that “time on page.”

Video Play Times

Some video hosting platforms provide in-depth metrics on the habits of viewers. A very basic way of measuring engagement is the average length of time each user watches. It’s important to note that the context of the video, where it is being watched, and on what kind of device are very important factors. It is usually useful to compare metrics across those different categories. Two other metrics which can be useful for understanding user behavior and engagement are completion percentage and common dropoff times.

Time Spent Filling out a Form

This metric isn’t a standard one available through most analytics programs, but it can be extremely useful for websites with long and complicated forms. Understanding how long a visitor spends on each step of a form or even a specific question can provide tremendous insight into the areas where users are confused and/or frustrated.

Action-Based Events
Clicks

The second most basic of all metrics, the first being pageviews, clicks are an easy metric to use for engagement on things like dropdown navigations, modal windows, form fields, buttons, videos, banners, or anything else you may want to track clicks on.

Hovers

Hovers are a more advanced metric that aren’t tracked by default by most analytics platforms. Hovers are good for measuring engagement on things like product images, dropdown navigations, and form elements.

Conversion-Based Events
Sales

Tracking completed sales allows you to tie marketing campaigns directly to dollar values. Additionally, it can be valuable to track individual item sales, shipping rates, transaction numbers, item numbers, and item categories.

Signups

If people can sign up on your site, you should be tracking it. Account creations, information requests, and free trials should all be tracked.

Downloads

Actual downloads is a metric often overlooked and not tracked. Requests for a download don’t mean that the download was completed or even started. Tracking actual downloads will provide insight into users who have actually completed downloading your items.

What’s Next

Setting up proper goal tracking is the first step of a successful marketing program. The next step is to create testing plans to increase the percentage of users completing the goals and to optimize current marketing programs based on goal completion.