60 demand generation pros share their best tips for setting up Google Analytics conversion tracking in order to measure all lead activity on your website.
Your website has pages and pages of content. Your email subscriber list is growing, and your lead forms are being filled out.
But without setting up the proper tracking, it is impossible to determine exactly where your conversions are coming from or how customers move down your funnels.
Data is the lifeblood of the modern digital marketer – long gone are the days of sending out campaigns we can’t measure and hoping for the best.
Instead, we can measure every touchpoint, every impression, every click, determine what worked (and what didn’t), and then test something new.
No software program in the marketer’s toolbox is more powerful for providing data than Google Analytics. But that power can only be unlocked when it is set up and used correctly, and then when you know how to take action on all the data at your disposal.
Google Analytics can reveal insights on seemingly countless actions on your website, and conversions are one of the most crucial for digital marketers.
How to Set Up Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics
If you already have Google Analytics running within your website (or your client’s), then getting basic conversion tracking set up is fairly straightforward:
- Use Google’s Campaign URL Builder to create custom URLs. This will allow you to pinpoint the source of a click within Google Analytics.
- Define your goal within Google Analytics. You can follow the steps below to set up basic goals.
These are truly just the first steps to tracking conversions in Google Analytics. The program can be difficult to set up effectively, even for the experienced user. And setting up a goal in Google Analytics is just the start – the ultimate mission is to increase conversions and grow your business.
To help you get beyond the basics and get the most out of your conversion data, we asked 53 digital marketing experts for their best tips on using Google Analytics to track conversions. The tips included work you should do before even setting up your Google Analytics dashboards, how you should configure Google Analytics itself, and what you should do to improve results once everything is up and running.
Steps to Take Before Setting Up Google Analytics Conversion Tracking
Our experts gave six tips on steps you can take on your own website or in your planning to best take advantage of Google Analytics for measuring conversions.
Create a Thank You Page
One way to confirm a conversion is to create a “Thank You” page appear after an action is taken. Many experts recommended using this trick to help save time and show accurate data.
- “When users submit a ‘lead,’ have them redirected to the ‘Thank You’ page in order to easily track the amount of leads by tracking the analytics on the Thank You page,” Dustin Moore of Ivio Agency says. “Be sure to not link the page anywhere else on your site so your metrics are accurate and clear. Following this, set up a “goal’ in the GA account in order to easily access the analytics.”
- “It’s a basic tip but with so many small businesses not measuring conversions and often lacking the technical know-how to add event tracking snippets, etc this can be an influential step,” says Quentin Aisbett of OnQ Marketing.
- “To track proper conversions, we should use thank you pages rather than thank you messages,” says Chiranjiv Joshi of Rank the Web. “For enterprise-level websites, it is good if we use individual category wise thank you pages to track the conversions in better ways. We should also track phone clicks using GTM.”
- “For typical B2B sites (non ecommerce), use GA Goals and page-level metrics to measure landing page activity and post-conversion ‘Thank You’ page hits,” says David Kamm of iBeam Marketing Consulting Services. “Enable event tracking as well to measure other important pre-conversion indicators, such as file downloads. All of this activity can then be tracked to specific acquisition channels and campaigns, geographies and sales territories, and even specific visiting companies in some cases.”
- “Create a conversion goal for views of the pages that a visitor sees after submitting a form,” recommends Theresa Keller of Delta Marketing Group. “An example is: /contact-us/thank-you is the page you want to trigger the conversion. Based on which form/thank you page they submit, you can also assign values. A generic contact us submission might have a lower value as a conversion than a form on the pricing page or a specific content offer/services page.”
Use UTM Codes and Properly Structure URLs
UTM tags are Google’s own solution for tracking traffic data and properly setting them up is key to measuring conversions.
- “Use UTM tags for paid non-Google campaigns plus import costs of Google campaigns in order to analyze campaign costs, ROI and payback,” recommends Viacheslav Ponomarev of 49.95 Agency.
- “Make sure you have a clear success URL to define goals in Google Analytics and that all pages are tagged,” says Julien Coquet of Julien Coquet Consulting. “That way you can collect extensive data on all pages and events contributing to conversion.”
Integrate Google Analytics with Your Other Software
You likely will use other tools that integrate into your Google Analytics or can be used in tandem with it. Software can be extremely powerful in automation and scaling your processes in every area of business, and conversion measurement is no exception.
- “The most important thing is to have all your Google activity connected,” says Andrés Ossa of Mudango. “This means connecting your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts so that you can measure your paid and organic traffic and conversions. Organic conversion rates tend to be lower, so it is important to measure both to understand the unit economics of each channel.”
Google Tag Manager
- “Use GA in tandem with Google Tag Manager,” recommends Fiona Kay of Nigel Wright Group. “Google Tag Manager gives marketers the ability to set up conversion tracking on their website which can then be reported on and tracked in Google Analytics.”
- “[One tip is] tracking landing page activity in GA and defining a lead-gen form submission as a destination goal in GA,” says Amir Tohid of Analytics Effect. “For other events such as pdf downloads, email submissions, we can track using Google Tag Manager.”
- “For lead generation, in particular, B2B, integrating call tracking with Google Analytics can provide a lot a valuable insight,” explains Lars Larsen of AdNudging.com. “In many branches, people prefer to call, and with call tracking you can link your online marketing with offline calls.”
- “Don’t forget about tracking offline conversions,” reminds Owen Ray of Invoca. “If you are spending your paid media budget sending customers to your sales call centers or to get them to make a purchase in a brick-and-mortar store, you’re probably not getting adequate attribution for the offline conversions your marketing is driving. For conversions that happen on the phone, you should be using a call tracking and conversation analytics platform that can push call conversion data directly to Google Analytics in real-time. This can give you precise campaign data down to the keyword that you can use for both attribution and campaign optimization.”
Web Development Tools
“Don’t let the choice of web development technology determine how many steps you want to track in the conversions that are important to your business,” advises Vernon Riley of Smart Marketing Reports. “The business can choose – and the technology can be coerced to feed the data you want to Google Analytics.”
Define the Stages of Your Funnel
A major aspect of measuring conversions is knowing the funnel you’ve created and understanding how your prospects move down it. Knowing all your funnel stages will help you set up proper goals and events in Google Analytics (as we’ll get into later).
- “Pay attention to your funnel and define the path the visitors need to take to convert,” says Edin Sabanovic of Objeqt. “By accurately tracking each touchpoint in the funnel, you can optimize the conversions at the point where it matters the most.”
- “Make sure when measuring conversions you understand the best goal paths on sites and channels with the best conversion rates,” recommends Matt Sellars of Converted. “This will help to understand the best channels to push resource through and what pages of your website you should take a user through for the best experience.”
- “Before diving into Google Analytics, take time to categorize website activity into upper-funnel engagement versus lower-funnel engagement,” advises Jackie Jeffers of Portent. “Upper-funnel engagement is usually interaction with content that’s ungated and easily accessible, such as a blog. Lower-funnel engagement comes from users who are further along in their research process and are more willing to exchange personal info, like an email address, for gated content.
“Categorizing web activity gives you a roadmap for a user journey,” Jeffers continues. “By doing that pre-work before going into GA, you’ll have a better idea of which metrics to focus on for conversions at different phases of the conversion funnel.”
- “Don’t just measure bottom-of-the-funnel activity,” warns Thomas Bosilevac of MashMetrics. “What percentage of users come to your site and purchase on their first session? Likely less than 5% if you are an ecommerce site. By tracking conversion queues such as watching a video, scrolling through 75% of blog content, clicking on partner content you can start to understand what leads to conversion…the other 95%. Furthermore, these queues can also be used to remarket your audience at different levels with unique messages.”
Properly Define Success
Before setting up goals in Google Analytics, it’s important to know what a conversion actually is for your site or page. If you’re measuring the wrong thing, you ultimately will be testing and iterating on something that doesn’t actually prove that you are converting visitors.
- “Make sure you have your goals configured correctly and you’re measuring the right things,” says Donna Duncan of B-SeenOnTop. “I can’t tell you how many Analytics campaigns I visit that are tracking contact form visits (versus submissions) and failing to track cell phone calls initiated from a site link.”
- “Set clear goals and create metrics to measure each one,” recommends Sanem Ahearn of Colorescience. “Knowing what metrics you’re measuring will help you determine whether or not your efforts are successful. If you find that you’re not seeing an increase in metrics and conversions, adjust your strategy and repeat the process.”
- “Remember GA is just a tool, it doesn’t define your business or how you should run it, and not even how you should measure it,” says digital thought leader Stéphane Hamel. “So start by defining what is a successful conversion: is it an ecommerce conversion? A qualified lead? What qualifies a good lead? Maybe even something else.”
Measure Blog or Content Conversions
Your blog may be used to build top-of-funnel traffic, but it can also actually convert visitors – it doesn’t just need to happen at the landing page level.
- “My best tip for measuring conversions and lead generation using Google Analytics is not to ignore the impact that your content marketing can have,” says Nathan Chandler of Zippy Shell Louisiana. “Many people are not properly tracking leads from blog posts and other parts of their website. It’s easy to set up a page where you can use Google Analytics to measure which pages are generating the most leads from content.”
Tips for Setting Up Google Analytics
Setting up Google Analytics to do exactly what you need can be difficult and take lots of technical skills. Fortunately, our experts dove into the nitty-gritty of the software tool.
In a survey, conversion rate was the metric most often tracked by our experts. Leads generated and lead source followed closely behind.
Ensure Data Quality
- “Make sure to filter your company IP addresses within Google Analytics,” says Daniel Cooper of Lolly. “As you develop your site and work on things you don’t want your own visits to your website counting as pageviews as this can potentially skew not only data like bounce rate and dwell time but also your website’s conversion rates.”
- “Conversion tracking in Analytics is not retrospective,” reminds David Miles of the PPC Machine. “So make sure you install Analytics and set up all your required goals and events as soon as your website is launched.”
- “One of the biggest challenges for measuring conversions in Google Analytics is that goal tracking can easily break (whether it’s double-counting, updates to the site, or forgetting to add a new conversion flow),” says Ryo Chiba of Topic. “Our best tip to overcome this is to bake Google Analytics goals into regular, highly visible reports that are sent to senior management. This forces us to regularly audit the accuracy of the goals and increases trust in the numbers.”
- “Never view data with your blinders on!” cautions Sarah Donawerth of Carro. “By that, I mean that data should be taken in context. Even if sales are down for the day, what does the weekly view tell us? Monthly view? The bigger insights are not in the smallest of changes, but in the overall trends of your data.”
Simplify Your Data and Dashboards
And even when your data is good, looking at too much at once can add unnecessary clutter and noise.
- “Set up a clear overview of the metrics and charts that focus just on your lead generation goals,” says Lennart Meijer of TheOtherStraw. “It is easy to get distracted by all the data in Google Analytics. However, if you have clear lead generation goals for certain pages, setting up simple dashboards that just track what you need is key to using this data to optimize your lead generation strategies.”
- “Have a separate landing page for each goal conversion,” advises Luke Wester of Miva, Inc. “This way, you can track individual conversions easier. It will also help you decide which campaigns or pages generate the best leads for your business.”
Editor’s Note: E-commerce sites can see monthly revenue, transactions, recurring customer value, and more with Databox’s free Google Analytics E-Commerce Overview dashboard.