Over my past few articles I’ve gone over how to set up Google Analytics for your small business. As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool that anyone can sign up for and deploy on their website. So far I’ve covered how to set up UTM tracking tags to measure traffic as well as how to check your incoming referral traffic.

These two blog posts will show you how to organize your incoming referral traffic, but that only gets us so far. These metrics are useful on their own, but you have to set up goals and mesh all this data together to really unlock their true potential. Analytics makes this super easy and the results are easy to grasp and highly actionable.

First: Raise Your Goalposts

The best way to measure conversions is to have a “Thank You” webpage after the conversion process. If you’re selling something, you’ll want your “Thank You” page to appear after the sale has been completed, for instance. The point is that users can only arrive at this “Thank You” page by performing the conversion you want them to perform, so it is essentially the “finish line” for your conversions.

For our example, we’ll set up a goal to arrive at the “Thank You” page we’ve already built. In Analytics, click the Admin tab in the top right, then under Profiles tab, select Goals. Set the name, select “URL Destination,” and put the “Thank You” page URL for your Goal URL, following the specific instructions below that field. If your conversions carry a value with them (an average profit amount, for example) the value can be placed below.

To build your conversion funnel leading to your “Thank You” page, input the steps leading to the final Goal URL under Goal Funnel. I’ve explained before how valuable a conversion funnel can be, so even though this step is optional, it’s incredibly useful.

We Can Track Them. We Have The Technology.

After you’ve established your conversion goal, it’s time to see how your referrals are contributing to them. Meshing this data together requires a Custom Report, so you’ll select the Custom Report tab on the orange top bar. Click New Custom Report, then fill out the name at the top. Make sure Explorer is selected for Type, then click the blue dashed box. Type the first few letters of your goal’s name to single it out, then click it. Click the green Dimension Drilldowns box, and select Traffic Sources > Referral Path. That’s it.

In 24 hours, Analytics should start producing actionable data for your new Custom Report. When it does, you can measure overall performance of your conversion goals, and below your graph, you’ll see exactly where your referrals are coming from, and how much they’re contributing to your goals. If each conversion lands you an average sale amount, you can see in dollars and cents how much money you’re making from each referral source. If you’re just measuring newsletter subscriptions or other opt-ins, you can see which of your referrals are driving the most new leads to opt-in with you.

If you’ve taken the time to embed UTM tags in your campaigns and promotional efforts, you’ll see those results here too. For more in-depth results, you can set up Custom Reports using this same general guideline, but add filters for your UTM tags or referrer addresses, giving you instant access to your real-time conversions from social, PPC, online and offline ad campaigns, and so much more. Don’t waste time trying to divine your visitors’ behaviors from your general analytics data. Custom Reports makes it easier to define exactly what you want to know the first time, and delivers accurate, easily understood, actionable data every time.