Stat Centric Blog


Stat Centric Introduces Custom Goal Tracking

May 23, 2014 - By Levi Page

The Old Conversion Tracking Method

When we started Stat Centric, we had a simple premise in mind: To make a tool that anyone could pick up and start using with little or no analytics experience. Part of this initiative was reflected in the design of our conversion tracking, which gave users pre-defined conversion types that are common to most sites:

  • Purchases 
  • Downloads 
  • Leads 
  • Sign Ups 
  • Ad Clicks 
  • Demo Views

The upside to this approach was that users didn’t need to define any conversion types to get started, although it required them to put a small snippet of JavaScript in each place they wanted to track a conversion. This scripting-based approach made it easier to track things like PDF downloads, which weren’t actual pages, and therefore did not contain a tracking script.

Note: Other tools require that you register content (such as PDFs) as a page view using a similar scripting method, but we knew this approach would artificially inflate page view counts and therefore would not be suitable.

The scripting approach also had the added advantage of allowing users to pass a description of the conversion, providing a sub-categorization of the given conversion type. More importantly, a custom value could be passed; in the case of lead tracking, this provided a lot of flexibility since well qualified (or potentially higher-yielding) leads could be marked with a greater value.

Lastly there didn’t need to be any distinction between eCommerce purchases and other conversion types. We'll talk more about this later.

Why We Are Making the Change

It became obvious over time that requiring scripting would not be suitable for less-technical site owners. We also saw a variety of conversion tracking needs that went outside the standard conversion types we provided (purchases, leads, etc.). While it was nice to get users up and running with pre-configured goals, we knew having the ability to create custom goals would be necessary to accommodate the unique needs of bloggers, advertisers, eCommerce stores, and numerous other industries.

The New Way of Tracking Conversions

Before we dive into "how" to track conversions under the new system, I recommend that you read my earlier post on the difference between goal conversions and transactions.

The Goal Setup Screen

Goals Setup List

Here you can see I've configured a few goals that might be useful for a typical blog site. If my blog has a membership (i.e.: a login with user name and password), then one my primary goals will likely be to get a user to create an account. Next we will see what my "Create Account" goal actually looks like.

The New Goal Screen

Create New Goal

The key difference vs. the old tracking method is that goals can be triggered without ever touching your site. In order for this method to be practical, you will need a confirmation page for your goal. As you can see above I am using '/create-account-completed.php' as my confirmation page. Once the tracking script sees that this URL has been hit, the count of "Create Account" goal conversions will be increased.

After creating my goals, I can see them updating in real time via Today's Activity:

Today's Activity Goals View

More importantly, I can now see how each search engine, campaign, user demographic, etc., performs for my configured goals. In other words, are these sources of traffic bringing me well qualified visitors? By knowing which traffic yields actual results for your company, you can determine where to better invest your time and money.

Search Engine Conversions

What about Purchases?

Purchases are still tracked using a JavaScript snippet (located at Settings > Tracking Scripts) as this is the only way to pass the necessary information regarding the items that were purchased, etc. You can also use goals to track purchases (instead of eCommerece tracking) if you are not interested in tracking multiple purchase items per transaction and don't mind setting a flat monetary value for each purchase (i.e.: each configured goal). This method works extremely well for those selling single items such as e-books. If you only sell a few different items, you could create a goal for each one and set the value for the goal to the price of the item and avoid setting up e-Commerce tracking.

Summary

So let's summarize the changes that have been made:

  • Conversion types (Downloads, Leads, etc.) are no longer pre-configured.
  • Conversions are now categorically split between Goals and eCommerce. Goal tracking should be used to track any custom conversion types that you define (sign ups, leads, etc.) and should be based on the business objectives of your company. eCommerece tracking is strictly for tracking itemized transactions (i.e.: a typical shopping cart scenario where one or more items are purchased). 
  • Goals are now triggered using a URL and can be custom-named according to your specific needs.
  • eCommerce transactions are still tracked using the previous JavaScript method, although a new API is now being used. You can obtain this code from the "Tracking Scripts" view located on the "Settings" tab.
  • Goal tracking can also be used to track purchases in cases where the need to track multiple purchase items is not needed and a flat monetary value can be assigned to the purchase.