Google Analytics Conversion Tracking – Complete Guide

A conversion is as a goal/objective for setting up a website or mobile app.

A conversion is what you are trying to achieve through your website/app.

There can be one or many purposes for which you have set up your website or app.

These purposes can be something like:

  • Selling products
  • Generating leads
  • Branding
  • Selling advertising
  • Collecting donations
  • Fighting for a cause etc.

If one of your website goals is to generate orders on your website, then ‘number of ecommerce transactions’ could be defined as a conversion.

Similarly, if one of your website goals is to get sign-ups for your newsletter, then ‘number of newsletter signups’ could be defined as a conversion.

Related Article: How to use Web Analytics 2.0 to improve your conversions

Transactional and Non-Transactional Conversions

When a conversion is directly tied to a transaction it is called a transactional conversion.

Google Analytics report transactional conversion as ‘Revenue’:

When a conversion is not directly tied to a transaction it is called a non-transactional conversion.

For example ‘newsletter sign ups’ is a non-transactional conversion.

Google Analytics report non-transactional conversions as ‘Goal Completions’:

Note: If you have set up sales funnel in your GA view then number of orders placed on your website can also be reported as ‘Goal Completions’.

Macro and Micro Conversions

Both transactional and non-transactional conversions can be further classified into macro conversions and micro conversions:

The major purpose of setting up a website is known as a macro conversion and other minor purposes are known as micro conversions.

For example, if your main purpose of setting up a website is to generate sales then the ‘number of ecommerce transactions’ can be your macro conversion.

The other minor purposes like ‘newsletters signup’, ‘building user engagement’, ‘providing customer support’ etc. can be your micro conversions.

What is conversion tracking and why it is important?

You can, and you should, track website/mobile app conversions via a web analytics tools like Google Analytics.

The process of recording conversions via a web analytics tool is called conversion tracking.

The advantage of conversion tracking is that, once you have got conversion data in your web analytics tool, you can correlate the conversion data with your website usage data (like sessions, traffic source, pageviews etc.) and measure the performance of various marketing channels in terms of generating sales and leads.

Without conversion tracking set up, you may never know which marketing channel is generating conversions and which is not generating conversions, or which marketing campaign is worth further investment.

Without conversion tracking set up, there is no point in carrying out web analytics because you may never know whether or not your measurement and optimization efforts are impacting the business bottomline.

Related Article: Difference between Google Ads and Google Analytics Conversion Tracking

Types of Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics

The process of recording transactional conversions via Google Analytics is called ‘ecommerce tracking’.

In order to set up ecommerce tracking in GA, you would need to add ecommerce tracking code /data layers on your website/mobile app.

The process of recording non-transactional conversions via Google Analytics is called ‘goal tracking’ (also known as ‘Goal Conversion Tracking’).

You can set up goal tracking in GA by tracking:

  1. pageview or screenview as a goal (destination goal)
  2. minimum session duration as a goal (duration goal)
  3. user interactions with your site or app as a goal (event goal)
  4. number of pages / screens per session as a goal (Pages/Screens per session goal)

Thus there can be two types of conversion tracking in Google Analytics:

#1 Ecommerce Tracking

#2 Goal Tracking

When to set up Ecommerce Tracking?

If you are managing an ecommerce website then you have to set up ecommerce tracking in order to get ecommerce data (revenue, average order value, transactions, ecommerce conversion rate etc.) into your Google analytics reports.

Without ecommerce tracking setup, you will never get a complete picture of the performance of your ecommerce website.

You will never be able to correlate ecommerce data with website usage data (sessions, bounce rate, pageviews etc.).

If you are managing an non-ecommerce website then you don’t need ecommerce tracking set up.

Related Articles:

When to set up Goal Tracking?

Goal conversion tracking is useful for both ecommerce and non-ecommerce websites.

However, if you are managing a non-ecommerce website then you absolutely need goal conversion tracking set up.

For ecommerce website, setting up goal tracking is optional (but recommended).

Without Goal tracking set up,  you will never get a complete picture of the performance of your non-ecommerce website.

You will never be able to correlate goal data (goal completions, goal conversion rate, goal flow etc) with website usage data (sessions, bounce rate, pageviews etc.).

You will not be able to measure the performance of your website, mobile app and/or marketing campaigns in completing non-transactional goals on your website.

Related Articles:

What is Conversion Volume?

Conversion volume is a number metric which can include any transactional and/or non-transactional conversions.

Following are examples of conversion volume in Google Analytics:

  • Number of orders placed on the website.
  • Number of newsletter signups
  • Revenue
  • Unique purchases
  • Quantity
  • Leads

What is Conversion Rate?

Conversion rate is the percentage of Google Analytics sessions which resulted in goal completions or ecommerce transactions in a given time period.

The percentage of Google Analytics sessions which resulted in goal completions is called the ‘Goal Conversion Rate‘.

Following is the formula to calculate ‘Goal Conversion Rate’:

Goal Conversion Rate = Total Goal Completions (in a given time period) / Total Google Analytics Sessions (in the same time period) * 100

The percentage of Google Analytics sessions which resulted in ecommerce transactions is called the ‘Ecommerce Conversion Rate‘.

Following is the formula to calculate ‘Ecommerce Conversion Rate’:

Ecommerce Conversion Rate = Total Ecommerce Transactions (in a given time period) / Total Google Analytics Sessions (in the same time period) * 100

Related Articles:

Relationship between Conversion Volume and Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate = Conversion Volume (in a given time period) / total website traffic (in the same time period)

Related Articles:

What is Conversion Probability?

In the context of Google Analytics, ‘conversion probability’ can either refer to the ‘conversion probability report’ or ‘% conversion probability’ dimension.

By default the conversion probability data is available in the conversion probability report:

‘% Conversion Probability’ is a Google Analytics dimension which is an estimate of, how likely, a user will make a purchase on your website in the next 30 days:

It is calculated for each user. Its value can range from 1 to 100.

Higher the ‘conversion probability’ score for an individual user, higher is the probability, the user will make a purchase on your website in the next 30 days.

Conversely, lower the ‘conversion probability’ score for an individual user, lower is the probability, the user will make a purchase on your website in the next 30 days.

Related Article: Understanding Conversion Probability data and report in Google Analytics

What is Conversion Path?

A Conversion Path is the sequence of interactions (clicks, visits, impressions) with digital marketing channels during the 1 to 90 days period that lead to conversions.

The period of 1 to 90 days prior to conversions is known as the ‘Lookback Window‘:

look back window

Consider the following hypothetical conversion path of a user:

conversion-path

Fig.1

Here a visitor is exposed to 6 marketing channels before he made a purchase. Google Analytics will show this conversion path in the ‘Top conversion path report’ as:

Fig.2

Note(1): The conversion path is created for each conversion recorded by Google Analytics.

Note(2): The conversion paths are recorded via _ga cookie.

To know more about Google Analytics cookies, check out the article:  How Google Analytics uses cookies

Note(3): There is no limit to the number of conversion paths, Google Analytics can record.

What is Conversion Segment?

Conversion Segment is that GA segment which allows you to isolate and analyze specific sets of conversion paths in your Multi-Channel Funnels reports. It is used to segment conversion path data.

For example, you can create a Conversion Segment that only includes conversion paths in which any interaction was paid search but the last interaction was organic search:

You can then browse your Multi-Channel Funnels reports, viewing data only for this Conversion Segment. Or you can compare this conversion segment side by side with data from other conversion segments.

There are two types of conversion segments available in Google Analytics:

#1 Default Conversion Segments

#2 User Defined Conversion Segments

You can create a conversion segment by following the steps below:

Step-1: Navigate to ‘Top Conversions Path’ Report (under Conversions > ‘Multi Channel Funnel’ Report) in Google Analytics.

Step-2: Click on ‘Conversion Segments’ button:

 

Step-3: Click on the link ‘Create New Conversion Segment‘ as shown below:

For example, you can create a Conversion Segment that only includes conversion paths in which the first interaction was paid search and last interaction was organic search.

You can then browse your Multi-Channel Funnels reports, viewing data only for this Conversion Segment. Or you can compare this conversion segment side by side with data from other conversion segments.

Related Article: 8 Google Analytics Conversions Segments You Must Use

What is a View Through Conversion?

Not all people click on display ads after viewing them.

But this does not mean that they are not impacted by such ads at all, that display advertising play no role in influencing the buying behavior of your customers.

However, when it comes to measuring the impact of display advertising in driving conversions, we just can’t rely on faith or ‘correlation is causation’ theory. We need data.

Traditional tracking solutions (including standard Google Analytics) can measure and report ad impressions but they are not very good in tying these impressions to conversions.

If we could know, how ad impressions are driving conversions, what role do they play in a conversion path, we would be in a better position to understand the performance of display advertising esp. in the event where there is little to no ad clicks data available.

The ad impression which result in a conversion is called impression conversion or view-through conversion.

Google records and report view through conversions only for Google Display Network (GDN) ads and YouTube video ads. It does not record and report view through conversions for search network ads.

When a user view GDN ad or YouTube video ad but does not click it and then later visit your website to complete a conversion, then such type of conversion can be reported as ‘view-through’ conversion.

You can see view-through conversions data in your Google Analytics multi-channel funnel reports via GDN impression reporting feature.

view through conversions

Through GDN impression reporting, advertisers can measure the impact of unclicked but viewed GDN ads (display ad impressions) in driving conversions.

Related Article: View-Through Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics

Other Articles you will find useful

 

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Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

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The Digital Analytics Association is a world renowned not-for-profit association which helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

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