Using Web Analytics to Measure Digital Marketing Goals

Do analytics give you a headache? Don’t even know where to start, what goals to set or how to measure them? Have no fear; I’m putting this basic how-to post together for all you people out there who want a better basic-level understanding of why you should set goals and how to use web analytics to track them.

Goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): The Difference

“Goals (with a capital G) are a way to measure business objectives for your website in Google Analytics. Goals must correspond to a measurable action performed by your website’s visitors, for example, a visit to a ‘thank you’ page. This combination of a business objective and a measurable action make up a Goal.”

This definition of a goal is courtesy of Google. So then what’s a key performance indicator (KPI)? A KPI is something that’s used in web analytics that helps you track to progress of your goals.

Measuring time

So, let’s say one goal of your site is to have a person complete a four-step checkout process. Each time the person completes an action on one page and clicks to the next, for example, a goal is met.

So, if a person reached the third page in a four-page checkout process, then three goals have been met.

You can then use analytics to view key performance indicators like abandonment rate to see which page isn’t performing.

You should then look into ways you can improve the pages that aren’t performing to increase your conversion rate. This is called conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Why Use Web Analytics to Track Goals?

If you’re not using web analytics at all or maybe you’re just not using it to its fullest potential, you’re missing out on some great opportunities for more conversions and more money.

You want make sure your site is performing for both your business and your users. So you need to set goals based on what it is you want people to do once they come to your site.

Web analytics is kind of like a science. It takes research and experimentation to understand the relationship between cause and effect. It’s constantly asking the question, “If I do X, how will it affect Y?”

It can be a big job, so setting up goals will help make it more manageable and help you truly measure the success of your digital marketing campaigns.

On Target

The reason web analytics matters in your SEO campaign is because rankings can only tell you so much regarding the success of your efforts.

“Setting up an analytics account and not setting up or defining goals is probably the biggest mistake that I see,” says Bruce Clay, Inc.’s Sean James, a Google analytics-certified individual.

“The No. 1 most important information that you need to track is whether or not your visitors completed a desired call to action. If your site has one call to action that is ineffective, all the traffic in the world will not make a bit of a difference.”

Types of Goals Vary per Site

There’s not a standard set of goals for every site. But certain types of websites may want to aim for certain things.

For example, an e-commerce site’s goal is to have a user complete a transaction, and landing on a thank-you page, post-order, can indicate whether that goal has been met.

Lead-generation sites want to, well, generate more leads. So a goal for them is to have a user sign up for what it is the site is asking them to do.

A site focused on content might make a goal that says a user should sign up for the site’s RSS feed.

Bio Lab

Tracking the success of your SEO efforts can be also measured through web analytics.

You can find out your percentage of traffic from search, what search engines users are finding you from, conversions from search, etc.

You should always test your goals as well. In “Analytics 101: 6 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make,” Sean discusses why it’s vital not to assume your goals are set up correctly.

If you don’t have a web analytics service yet, I recommend Google Analytics. It’s a powerful tool that may be easier to navigate than some of the other services out there and is completely free to use.

Through web analytics research tools, you’ll be able to fine-tune your efforts and increase ROI for your site.

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (8)
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8 Replies to “Using Web Analytics to Measure Digital Marketing Goals”

I strongly agree with the statement, “The No. 1 most important information that you need to track is whether or not your visitors completed a desired call to action. If your site has one call to action that is ineffective, all the traffic in the world will not make a bit of a difference.” It is the most direct way to see if you are getting the ROI you seek from your website. Google Analytics is definitely great, especially because it’s free. But, it’s good to note that there are additional options that require paid subscription. However, they can be very valuable for measuring calls to action and integrating other INternet strategies to drive people to those calls to action. I won’t name any here because I don’t want to seem like an affiliate. But, I wanted to share that there are some out there and some are definitely worth the fee.


Hi Jessica,

Reading this post made me think of another excellent blog post by Avinash Kaushik. Here is the link:

I found this post to be most valuable – let me know what you think..

Hi, Karin! Great post by Avinash, thank you for sharing.

What he addresses is a real problem for so many — creating a data-driven organization.

It’s not surprising that setting goals is one of the primary steps. Isn’t that what every business initiative should start with?

Without goals, strategy and tactics, we can never truly measure success and track ROI.

Thanks for joining the discussion, Karin!

It is very true that web analytics really helps you in getting you know that where you should work with your internet marketing and which technique is giving you better results.

Good article,

love the depth off your discussion. Google analytics is the best but I have been using get clicky for last few months and it looks amazing too.

Hi! Thanks for the recommendation! I just took a look at Get Clicky — looks like it’s made to be simple for the user — very cool.

If you’re just setting up your website, or doing a site redesign, there are things you can do to make it easier to find data in GA. Robbin from LunaMetrics has a great post at explaining what to consider when setting up a site.

Thanks so much for sharing this with our readers, Keri. :)


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