What are Conversions in Google Analytics

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Conversions in Google Analytics

Definition, Types, Uses and Why you need to work with them.

Updated: May 2020 | Level: Introductory | Category: Definitions

What is a Conversion?

A 'Conversion' in Google Analytics (and web analytics in general) is when a website visitor or mobile app user performs performs an action or exhibits a behaviour that the meets or contributes to an objective defined as valuable by the website or mobile app owner.

i.e. they do something you care about!

Tip: Conversions are also know as 'Goals' in Google Analytics. The terms are interchangeable

Conversions are typically defined by a Digital Marketing team but are typically business outcome objectives and need to be configured in the Google Analytics administration console. The tracking of goals is not retrospective in Google Analytics i.e. you can view goal metrics for a period before you defined them so the quicker you define your goals the quicker you can start leveraging conversion or goal data.

what are conversions in google analytics

Conversions or 'Goals' in Google Analytics

Macro vs. Micro Conversions

Conversions come in many shapes, often depending on the objective of the website or app. A community bulletin board for instance has a very different objective to an eCommerce site. Conversions are are sometimes classified into two categories; macro conversions and micro conversions.
Macro Conversions are ones that are the represent the primary objective of a visitor interaction. Think succesful checkout on a shopping site of filling in a contact form on a lead generation site. Macro conversions are often the end-point of visit and usually result in triggering of customer onboarding journey.

Micro Conversions are conversions that represent just one step in the path to a macro conversion. i.e. a new visitor watching a brand explainer video through to the end or navigating through 2 or 3 linked content pages. Micro conversions are often defined and grouped together to describe the intended visitor journey across a website or mobile app.

Tip: Google Analytics allows you to configure a monetary value for each goal. It's good practice to define a relative value for your micro-conversions for use in Google Analytics reports. more


A far from exhaustivive list but the below is a selection of the more common conversions we use in our own and client sites and you should consider.

Macro Conversions:

  1. Sale/New order - Hardy needs any explanation but the primary objective on Shopping sites
  2. Successful form completion - Capturing new contact details of a prospect.  Common on lead generating sites

Micro Conversions:

  1. 2/3/n pages in a session - typically a top to mid-funnel conversion representing prospect engagement
  2. Page Scroll Depth - typically used on content pages to measure a visitors engagement
  3. Added to Basket - a must shopping and retail sites to track potential sales and monitor cart abandonement
  4. Video watched - a common goal set on explainer videos to track brand awarenes uplift
  5. Key page view - often on product or service page to track the preceeding lead-in page was effective
  6. Download - ebook file or other lead magnets being downloaded

Conversion Count, Conversion Rate and Conversion Value

There are 3 key ways of monitoring conversions, with increasing levels of complexity.

Conversion count is simply the total sum of all conversions (within the segment and date range filters you select)

Conversion rate is the sum of conversions divided by the number of sessions. This gives you a percentage who are the convertors

Conversion value is a sum of the conversion values you defined as part of the (typically micro-conversion) value allocation you performed

Google Analytics conversion count, rate and value for the New Users segment

Tracking overall conversion count, rate and value for the New Users segment

Each of these has it's in use across the various analysis and reporting outputs such as dashboards but if you want to keep it simple reviewing the conversion rate within a visitor traffic segment is a good starting point.

Final thoughts...

As already mentioned Google Analytics conversion reporting is not retrospective so if you don't have conversions defined you won't be able to report against them at a basic level such a counts or a more importantly at a conversion rate level e.g. what proportion of visitors divided by number performing conversion - expressed as a percentage.

Therefore it's important to get these defined and configured into your Google Analytics setup as quickly as possible, ideally as part of your web analytics measurement framework. More on that in the next post.

Need help? Contact one of our Google Analytics Consultants

What Next:

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Introductory | [ARTICLE]

Our Top 5 Benefits of running web analytics on your website including key metrics and tips. Learn about key traffic metrics, visitor behaviour, conversions etc. [more...]

In this Guide:

Our Beginners Guide to Google Analytics Conversions

  1. What are Google Analytics Conversions?
  2. Macro vs. Micro Converions
  3. Examples
  4. Common Uses
  5. Conversion Count, Rate & Value
  6. Final Thoughts


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