What is the Goal Flow report in Google Analytics?

In Google Analytics, there’s a report called Goal Flow.

First of all, in order to use this report at all, you must have goals set up.

A goal is a certain action you want a website visitor to take on your website.

Watch this video by Google explaining in less than 3 minutes what a goal is:


What types of actions can be goals?

There’s a variety of actions a website visitor can complete that you could define as goals in Google Analytics. But the most common two kinds of actions you’ll want to track as goals in Google Analytics are:

  • sign-ups or form submissions
  • purchases.


Why set up goals?

Setting up goals makes it easy for you to keep an eye on the most important metrics of your online business.

Goals can provide you with answers to the following questions:

  • How many conversions took place within a given date range?
  • What was the conversion rate?
  • Which marketing campaigns are performing best?

2 types of goals: Macro & Micro

There are two kinds of goals you want to define.

Macro goals

What’s the most important action you want website visitors to take? If you’re selling something online, then the answer is: making a purchase.

So every time a website visitors buys something on your website, that’s a macro goal.

If the primary objective of your website is to collect leads for an expensive service, then a form submission is a macro goal for you.

Micro goals

What are steps people often take before completing a macro goal?

In the case of an online shop, an example of a micro goal could be:

  • adding an item to a shopping cart
  • adding an item to a wish list
  • signing up for a newsletter
  • etc

There are no universal rules as to what the right way to define a micro goal is vs a macro goal, it’s all about the context in which these goals are relevant to your business.

You can learn more about Goals in Google Analytics here.

Content marketing metrics: How Intercom measures content performance

If you’re serious about content marketing, you know that one of the most difficult things it to measure its effectiveness.

(Once you’ve got things up and running that is, and you’re getting enough attention from the right kind of audience).

Solving the content marketing attribution problem is a huge challenge. Hubspot, and many other marketing solutions are pretty much build around that problem.

So it’s always interesting to hear how companies currently winning in content are going about this.

Which is why I found this interview with Intercom’s Managing Editor, John Collins, super interesting. Around 30 minutes into the call, the talk about content marketing metrics:

At Intercom, they’ve got a really strong finance and analytics team, and there’s an analytics person who works on the marketing side, so they’ve got a lot of internal data.

One of they ways they measure content marketing ROI is by segmenting signups based on behavior.

Some of the segments they have:

  1. people who first came to the marketing site, and then to the blog and then signed up for the product.
  2. people who went to the marketing site and signed up for the product, without visiting the blog.
  3. people who come to the blog first, then go to the marketing site and sign up

They found that first segment has a higher average LTV than the second or third.

So this is how they analyze the ROI of their content on a really high level.

On a more micro-level, they don’t get too hung up on metrics.

They don’t attribute certain blog posts to signups. If a post gets a low number of pageviews, then that’s a good enough indicator that this kind of content isn’t probably the best thing to repeat.

Pageviews are really only important if you’re selling advertising. And none of us are.—John Collins

You can listen to the entire interview here:


What are some interesting ways you’ve seen companies measuring the effectiveness of their content marketing?

Why does Google Analytics show more clicks than visits for an AdWords campaign?

So you’ve been running an AdWords campaign and now look into Google Analytics to see how it performs.

Google Analytics has some great reporting features for AdWords, which shouldn’t surprise you. After all, it’s their main driver or revenue.

Some facts about Google’s revenue:

Google’s 2015 revenue: $75 billion

Breakdown of that revenue:
AdWords: $52 billion
AdSense: $15 billion
Various: $8 billion

What’s various? Things like the Play Store, Chromecast, Chromebooks, Android, Google Apps and the Google Cloud Platform. 

To your surprise, you see that for some reason Google Analytics tells you there are more clicks than visits.

Wait, whaaat?

Shouldn’t the number of clicks be the same as the number of visits?

After all, you’re paying for clicks! It’s pay-per-click advertising!

And what good is a click if it doesn’t result in a visit?

This is actually a quite common phenomenon.

The number of clicks and visits is almost never identical.

different visits vs click count in google analytics for adwords ad

As you can see in the screenshot above, there are more visits than clicks. As an advertiser paying for clicks, that seems like a good thing, right? You pay only for clicks, but you get more visits from that ad. The reason is most commonly that someone might have clicked on your ad, bookmarked your page and then returned at a later point. Google Analytics counted that second visit as another visit from the AdWords, but since that particular user only clicked on the ad once, it didn’t count the second visit as a click.

But what if it’s more clicks than visits?

Feels like you’re not getting your money’s worth.

But the most common explanations here are:

  • Incorrect Google Analytics code implementation
  • Visitors clicked away from your website before Google Analytics code loaded
  • Visitors stopped loading your page before Google Analytics code loaded
  • Visitors have Javascript, images or cookies disabled, so the visits don’t get tracked

There are other explanations, and ways to fix this, and a couple of Google searches will quickly lead you to the right answers.

How to identify geographic regions that could be a source of great customers for your website

Whether you have an ecommerce business, a SaaS product or are selling services, you’ll see that there are some geographic regions which are of more value to you.

Not all traffic is created equal

One thing that I’ve seen quite commonly is that traffic from the US tends to be more valuable than traffic from India. (Even though there’s a lot of traffic coming from India, many times it doesn’t convert as well to paying customers.) No surprise here, it makes sense, and obviously there are many exceptions, I’m just picking India as one example.

Hypothetical case study: SaaS product

Let’s say you’re running a SaaS app, an invoicing app for freelancers, and you want to look at cities in the US, and you find that you get a lot of traffic from Los Angeles and New York, and very little from Saint Louis.

Now so far that’s all good and not surprising. Both LA & NY have much bigger populations than Saint Louis.

But looking at the Audience Report in Google Analytics, you might find that visitors from Saint Louis are much more engaged with your website.

They spend more time on your site, view more pages, and most importantly: become sign up for your invoicing app more often (you can see this in the audience report when you set up goals).

So what the data now tells you is:

You get a lot of traffic form LA & NY, but the goal completion rate is pretty average.

You get very little traffic from Saint Louis, but the goal completion rate is exceptionally high.

Out of 100 visitors from LA, 2 sign up for your app.

Out of 100 visitors from NY, 3 sign up for your app.

Out of 100 visitors from Saint Louis, 7 sign up.

Now let’s say a signup is worth $100 to your business.

That would mean:

  • 100 visitors from LA = $200
  • 100 visitors from NY = $300
  • 100 visitors from Saint Louis = $700

Let’s say you have a $3000 advertising budget.

And let’s say you’re bidding on the keyword “simple online invoicing app”.

Based on this data, would you just run the ad for all of the US?

“Duh, of course not, Marketing Baby…” you say.

“I’d focus on the geographic regions from where traffic is worth the most.”

And I’d tell you: “Exactly! Use AdWords’ geotargeting features to spend more of your budget on Saint Louis, and less on LA & NY.”

And if you plan to launch an offline campaign, it could be well worth starting in Saint Louis as well, since here too your ROI would most likely be higher than for LA & NY.

How to find this data in Google Analytics

Now, if you want to see which visitors convert to paying customers or sign up for your trial, you need to set up Goals in Google Analytics first.

But let’s keep that for later, and for now simply focus on a simple metric that’s indicative of the value of traffic, and that’s easily available in Google Analytics no matter how you’ve set it up: average time on site.

  1. Log in to Google Analytics and view the appropriate property
  2. Click on Audience
  3. Click on Geo
  4. Click on Location
  5. Change the Primary Dimension to City
  6. Sort the table by “Avg. Sessio Duration”
  7. Create an advanced filter by selection “Sessions” and then “Greater than:” and choose a number that’s meaningful in the context of your business. E.g. greater than 400 (If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with a long list of cities that might have sent you 3 visitors, but one of these visitors stayed on your site for 2 hours… which isn’t exactly statistically significant).
  8. Click “Apply”
  9. Go through the list and note which cities are particularly engaged.

You could even use an advanced filter to look for better data by also filtering out all cities where the Pages / Session ratio is below 3 (or whatever number is relevant for your business), or add a number of additional criteria to find the right insights faster.

How to spot mature vs emerging markets using the “Audience” report in Google Analytics

Want to see in which geographic regions you’ve got a more established presence, and in which regions there’s still a lot of potential for growth?

The Audience report in Google Analytics makes this really easy.

You can find it by clicking in the menu bar on the left on: Audience > Geo > Location


It’ll give you a map view for your audience, by default it will show you the number of sessions per region.

But a lot more interesting for our particular purpose is to look at the percentage of new sessions per geographic region.

You can view this by clicking on the dropdown button in the upper left corner, clicking “Site Usage” and then “% New Sessions”.


When you see a geographic breakdown of the percentage of new sessions, you’ll be able to see things like:

A high percentage of visitors from New York have previously visited our site already (the % New Sessions count is low).

A much lower percentage of visitors from California have previously visited our site (the % New Sessions count is high).

How could this information help you make better marketing decisions?

Well, based on this data, you might conclude that for New York, you should focus your marketing efforts on increasing customer loyalty, whereas for California, you should focus your marketing efforts on increasing awareness.