When you decide to rely on your web property to do business, you are quickly confronted with the compelling need for reliable measurement tools that could help you make sense of what is going on at your website, take decisions regarding its future and bring in improvements. It is web analytics packages such as Piwik, Clicky or Google Analytics that come to the rescue then, providing solutions that secure an objective stream of fine-grained indicators, such as the number of visitors and their geographical origin, the number of page views, average time spent on site or the bounce rate. It is a lot of valuable information that can prove very useful in drawing actionable conclusions about what needs to be improved in your web property. A feature that stands out from this toolbox as especially practical is called goal tracking. It allows to create and track goals for your website, which gives you a much clearer view of the core of your enterprise.
Goals are typically sales or lead generation actions (often called conversions in the industry lingo) that directly generate revenue for your web property, but they can be defined as any other action within your domain that you deem desirable. After you define them, your web analytics tool will track and report back what is happening on your site in terms of achieving these stated goals.
For example, an e-commerce entrepreneur could define a goal as reaching a thank-you page after you place an order, so every time a visitor is converted into a customer, the web analytics package will register this action. It might register additional information too, such as which pages preceded the final step (the so-called funnel) and where exactly some visitors failed to continue towards full conversion. It is a good idea to pay attention to other key indicators and these other possible goals could be signing up for the newsletter, downloading a file or clicking an outbound link. This stream of data, which can be accessed in real time with most tools, like Piwik or Clicky, can help boost the performance of the site on the basis of objective measurements. They are very narrowly defined and this way your responses can be better-informed and practically immediate.
It is an advance feature, so it requires extra set-up, but it can be done quickly and without trouble by laymen in most web analytics packages. Goals are then represented visually in a way that helps you reach your business objectives, including the conversion counter, the graph that shows changes in time and other parameters. These reports are a data mine and can serve a variety of purposes, including the effectiveness of your SEO or pay-per-click campaigns. In fact, they are turning into such a sharp instrument of analysis and improvement that it is hard to imagine major players in any area of online business without goal tracking technology in place at the moment.