May 23, 2014 - By Levi Page
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
So let's summarize the changes that have been made: