Ensuring Effective Website Conversion Tracking

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” It’s the idea that poor quality input will always produce poor quality output. In the digital marketing world, data informs every decision you make, so if you have garbage data… you’ll likely end up with garbage decisions. 

One of the most important data metrics is conversion rate. Conversion rate is the percentage of visits to your site that result in an action – AKA how efficient your site is at converting a visitor. It’s used to determine the success of a website as well as inform business and marketing decisions.

How do you define success for your website? What is the end result you want your users to have?

Too often when I audit a Google Analytics account, there are conversion goals in place that skew reporting to look like a website is converting at a higher rate than it actually is. If you’re not tracking the right goals, your conversion rate is misleading. 

Many people fall into the trap of setting up goals based on the way people interact with the site such as time on page and page visits rather than true KPIs for your business such as a form submission or purchase. So let me outline what we should consider a conversion goal vs. a behavior goal. 

Conversion Goals:

  1. Demo requests
  2. Contact form submissions
  3. White paper downloads
  4. Phone calls
  5. Purchases

Behavior Goals:

  1. Session duration > x seconds
  2. Visits to a general page
  3. Pages per session > x pages

I want to clarify something here – I’m not saying that behavior goals are useless metrics that should be ignored. I’m saying that these are misleading to track as conversion goals

How long a person stays on the site or visits a specific high-value page is absolutely important for monitoring site performance, but there are better ways to find that information (using segments) and they’re just not conversions. They’re not purchasing customers or tangible leads you can follow up with. The conversion goals you set up should be true website conversions, not website behavior. 

Here’s why: your reports are going to tell you that your website has a 40% conversion rate, rather than the reality that your website actually has a 0.4% conversion rate for driving actionable leads/customers. Kraig’s already warned us the impact a 1-degree mistake can make, so make sure you’re tracking your key objectives from the start, giving you clean data and a clear picture of your website’s performance. When you track what drives true value for your company, you can optimize for what truly works.

Mary McPartlan