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Friday, Mar. 11, 2011 at 8:42 am

How To Set Up Goals & Funnels – Part 2

By Natalie Hart
March 11th, 2011

In my previous post, I explained how to set up Goals and why setting up Goal Funnels can be both frustrating and rewarding. With Goal Funnels, you can gain great insight into where your site is losing persuasive momentum, but if you set up your funnel incorrectly, it might be months before you realize that you’ve been tracking the wrong (or otherwise useless) information. Yes, I am saying this from experience. So, to save you all from needless frustration, my fellow analysts and I have created this step-by-step guide to help you set up goal funnels, and to make you aware of when obstacles are likely to occur.

Top 3 Times You’re Most Likely to Mess Up Your Goal Funnel

1 – When creating funnels that involve your Homepage

If the goal for which you are creating this funnel did not reference the domain name, you’ll need to pay close attention to the way your home page is referenced in your analytics so you maintain consistent naming patterns when naming the step of the funnel for the homepage.

2 – When deciding if a page should be a required step

Making a page a required step in your funnel can seriously lower the number of visitors included in the funnel tracking, so think twice about why you want to include this page as part of the funnel (is the visit to this page a requirement based on what you’re trying to find out?), before you check this box.

3 – When using the Regular Expression Match Type

As explained in Part 1 of this series, each of the 3 goal types has specific requirements about the way the URL is matched, and naming in your funnel must be consistent with the URL naming in the type of goal you selected.  With Regular Expression Match Type, both the head and tail of your URL can be variable, so it’s really important to triple check the URLs you have input for each step of your funnel to make sure they match the associated goal’s URL structure.

Setting Up a Goal Funnel

Let’s run through an example I pulled from the work we do with our OnTarget subscriptions. Pretend you want to track visitors who enter your homepage, go onto your sale page and then eventually checkout AND you have selected Regular Expression Match for your Goal Details Match Type. Why is this important? Because your Match Type is consistent throughout the goal and goal funnel setup. Unsure of your match type? Refer back to how you set up your goal in the Goal Details section.

By now, you already know why you created a goal and what business value that goal represents. Don’t create useless goals. Goal Funnels give you the opportunity to control which visitors, based upon their actions, you want to be “counted” for your goal. Just like goals, unless they have a purpose, they can be a fantastic waste, so before you try this at home invest some thought in what your trying to learn by setting up a particular funnel, and the significance of each step along the way.

Step 1. Once you’ve completed your Goal Details, select “+Yes, create a funnel for this goal.” Now the fun begins. Once you’ve clicked, your screen should look like the image to the right [click to enlarge].

In “Step 1″ on this page, enter your homepage URL. One of the top mistakes you can make is when entering the URL for a homepage, especially when using Regular Expressions. How your Regular Expression is constructed for a homepage match will vary from site to site, but if your homepage shows up in your Top Content report as just a slash (/), then you’d enter the Regular Expression “^/$” for your first step. (Remember: the “^” and the “$” are specific characters assigned by Regular Expression Matching to represent variable components of the match. If you’ve done some work with regular expressions before, you probably already knew that.  If you haven’t, reference the GA help area for more info. If you still aren’t sure what these characters are or why they are there after reading about goal types in GA help, it may be time to call in an expert.)

Step 2. When entering the first page of a funnel, you have the opportunity to designate the page as required by checking the box behind the URL and name. This gives you some flexibility in how you want your Goal Funnel to be designed. If you choose to leave this box open, a visitor could enter the funnel at any step, and reach the goal page without having visited the first step and be counted in the goal. If you do select this box, ONLY visitors who begin at the first step will be counted in this goal. The more steps you have in your funnel, the greater the opportunity that a visitor did not go to the first step and were counted in the goal, so if you want visitors to count only if they enter through a specific landing page, make sure to check the “required step” box.

Step 3. To enter more than one step in your goal funnel, select the “+Add Goal Funnel Step” and enter in the URL depending on your Match Type. For our example of Regular Expression Match, this might look something like: “/clearance/$”. Remember to exclude the domain of the URL as Google instructs.

Step 4. Finally, after you’ve entered all your steps, check to make sure they correspond with your your Match Type, click “Save Goal.”

Setting up goals, especially when using Regular Expressions, can be complicated, and if you don’t set up your Goal Funnel very carefully, you can mess up very easily. Remember that Google has great help files. Once you have the data tracking properly, you can see how visitors are behaving in your funnels, and find out where the challenges and opportunities exist.  Find out how we can help you extract the most from your data, find the challenges you may be missing and then help you create the solutions to increase sales and/or leads. Good Luck!

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Comments (4)

  1. I like the idea of goal funnels. I’ve been trying to find the best way to deal with goals, I was in the Army and we used the CARVER systems, but I’m always looking for ways to change it up or make improvements.

  2. This is exactly what happened to me. I have spent about two months (57 days to be precise) before I found out that I have the wrong information. Great article. Thanks.

  3. Got it! Thanks for the guidance, after a few goes I’ve set up a goal funnel for my checkout. Initially I used ‘Exact Match’ but it wasn’t working in my Magento checkout, but I realised the URL was changing in some steps and then used the ‘Head Match’. This has been working well, and now I’m starting to get some results.

    So far I’m already concerned that from the start of the checkout to the end only 50% of sales are completed. 2/3rds of my departures seem to be from the start at the sign in page, so my thoughts are some shoppers may not like ‘Creating an Account’ and I may need to look at re-instating a ‘Guest Checkout’ Option. The other alternative is shoppers look at all the steps involved and get put off, maybe a one-page checkout would help with this.

    I’ve only been running this goal funnel for a week, so I’ll run it for a few more weeks and see if the trend improves since my site was only recently moved to Magento.

    Any thoughts on a one-page checkout (all info required on one sheet) versus the standard Magento one page, but ‘multi-step’ checkout?

  4. Great article. Thank you very much. I have been looking for this kind of information a long time, and now that i got some real and usefull information about CONSISTENT naming, i can begin to actually use the data collected

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Natalie is a Persuasion Analyst with FutureNow.

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