Many site owners spend a lot of time creating content that is supposed to drive conversions. But what’s the best way to measure the performance of this content with Google Analytics? How can we measure a specific piece of content, be it a page or a piece of creative, and it effect on conversions?
Google Analytics has a metric called $Index to help measure the “value” of site pages. But the problem with $Index is that it is an average, and averages can be skewed very easily. $Index is about the performance of a page, not the content on a page. Also, many people want to know how many times a piece of content directly led to a conversion. We just can’t get that with $Index.
We could view this type of analysis as a navigation analysis. Google Analytics has the All Navigation report and the Initial Navigation report, but these reports track things that happen in under 3 clicks and not everyone converts in 3 clicks.
Rather than tackle this problem using navigational analysis, let’s consider it a content challenge. What we want to do is see if a specific piece of content ultimately lead to conversion.
Given this approach we could use the Site Overlay report, which is supposed to show the performance of each link on a page. But, in my experience, the Site Overlay report is buggy at best (and I’m being nice).
We need is a way to link a piece of content, i.e. a pageview, to a conversion. There’s a very simple way to do this using the Funnel Visualization report.
Each funnel has a ‘required step’ setting. When enabled, this setting requires that the visitor views the first step in the funnel prior to conversion. If the visitor does not see the first step then the Funnel Visualization report will not count a conversion. The conversion will still be recorded in all other reports, but not the Funnel Visualization report.
What few people know is that it does not matter when the ‘required step’ is viewed, as long as it is viewed prior to the conversion.
We’re going to use this setting to associate a conversion with the content we want to evaluate.
Let’s say I want to track how many people view the About Me page on this blog before subscribing to my RSS feed. I can create a goal and funnel that links the About Me pageview to the RSS subscription goal.
Step 1: Set up the goal
The first step is to create the goal. Just set up the goal like any other normal goal. Identify the goal URL, give the goal a name and a value (if you so desire).
Step 2: Identify the “required step”
Now let’s turn to the funnel. Remember, step 1 in the funnel, the ‘required step’, is really the piece of content (i.e. the pageview) we want to evaluate in terms of conversions. Simply add the page URL to the Step 1 URL field, give the step a name, and check the “required step” checkbox.
That’s it! There’s nothing else to do. The funnel visualization report, for this specific funnel, will only show a conversion if the visitor views the About Me page at some point prior to conversion. GA doesn’t care when the visitor sees the page, as long as they see the page prior to conversion.
Here’s a sample Funnel report. We can see that 4 conversions occurred after viewing the about me page. Remember, it does not matter when the About Me page was viewed, as long as it was viewed prior to conversion.
Now, if we compare the number of conversions in the Funnel Visualization report, to the overall number of conversions for this goal, we notice there is a difference.
The difference is the number of visits that did not include the About Me page prior to subscribing to the RSS feed. There were 8 total RSS Subscription conversions, but only 4 of those conversions viewed the About Me page prior to converting. Now we know how effective the About Me page was at driving RSS subscriptions.
Taking it Further
What about associating a set of pages with a conversion activity? No problem, just use a regular expression to define your required step. Here’s the same example, but I’ve tweaked to to track visits that include the About Me page or the All Posts page.
And remember, the pageview you specify for your required step does not need to be a real “pageview.” It can be a virtual pageview, generated with the
pageTracker._trackPageview() method. In fact, that’s what I’m doing on the blog. I generate a virtual pageview every time someone clicks on the RSS icon.
This technique is very useful if you want to measure how well a specific piece of content on a page is performing. Generate a pageview when a visitor clicks on the content and use it as step 1 in the funnel.
Think this is a good idea? Got one that’s better? Leave a comment!