Understanding Google Analytics Goal Templates

When you create a new goal in GA, you are asked to select the template you want to use for creating your goal:

Google Analytics provide three types of goal templates:

  1. Predefined templates (Template).
  2. Custom template (Custom)
  3. Smart Goal template (smart goal)

Predefined goal templates

Predefined goal templates comes with pre-filled configuration.

So when you use one of the pre-defined goal templates, Google Analytics automatically assign a name to your goal and select the goal type.

The predefined templates are available under following goal categories:

  • Revenue
  • Acquisition
  • Inquiry
  • Engagement

Google recommends that you create at least one goal under each goal category.

Google Analytics display the predefined templates that are relevant to your industry category.

So GA could display different set of predefined templates for different industry category.

This is the same industry category which you selected under ‘Property Settings’:

If you have not selected the industry category that is relevant to your business then select it now.

Because goal templates are disabled, if you haven’t selected an industry category within your GA account.

Custom goal template

Custom  goal template do not come with pre-filled configuration.

So when you use custom goal template, Google Analytics does not automatically give a name to your goal and select the goal type. This is something you need to it yourself.

Most of the time, I use the custom goal template for creating goals.

Smart goal template (or smart goal)

Smart goals are the most engaged Google Analytics sessions (the sessions which are most likely to result in conversions) on your website.

Google uses machine learning to determine smart goals.

Smart Goals are specifically designed for those Google Ads advertisers who do not have the time, expertise and/or resources to set up Google Ads conversion tracking or import analytics ecommerce transactions into Google Ads but who still want to benefit from Google Ads optimization tools, such as automated bidding.

Smart Goals are also helpful for those Google Ads advertisers who may not have enough conversion data to use Google Ads optimization tools.

If your reporting view is eligible for ‘smart goals’, you can use the ‘smart goal’ template.

Once you select the ‘smart goal’ template then no additional configuration or customization is required.

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Do you know the difference between Web Analytics and Google Analytics?

99.99% of course creators themselves don’t know the difference between Web analytics, Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM).

So they are teaching GA and GTM in the name of teaching Web analytics.

They just copy each other. Monkey see, monkey do.

But Web analytics is not about GA, GTM.

It is about analyzing and interpreting data, setting up goals, strategies and KPIs.

It’s about creating strategic roadmap for your business.

Web Analytics is the core skill. Google Analytics is just a tool used to implement ‘Web Analytics’.

You can also implement ‘Web analytics’ via other tools like ‘adobe analytics’, ‘kissmetrics’ etc.

Using Google Analytics without the good understanding of ‘Web analytics’ is like driving around in a car, in a big city without understanding the traffic rules and road signs.

You are either likely to end up somewhere other than your destination or you get involved in an accident.

You learn data analysis and interpretation from Web analytics and not from Google Analytics.

The direction in which your analysis will move, will determine the direction in which your marketing campaigns and eventually your company will move to get the highest possible return on investment.

You get that direction from ‘Web analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.

You learn to set up KPIs, strategies and measurement framework for your business from ‘Web analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.

So if you are taking a course only on 'Google Analytics’, you are learning to use one of the tools of ‘Web analytics’. You are not learning the ‘Web analytics’ itself.

Since any person can learn to use Google Analytics in couple of weeks, you do no get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing GA.

You need to know lot more than GA in order to work in Web analytics and marketing field.

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Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

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.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence. The Digital Analytics Association is a world-renowned not-for-profit association that helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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