Add a Google Analytics Goal to Track Conversions

If there's one thing that ecommerce managers love to measure, it's conversion rate — figuring out what percentage of site visitors left the site after buying something. However, there's another metric that is useful: abandonment rate; this is where a shopper has put items in their cart and then left the site before purchasing them.

A common tool for measuring these on ecommerce sites is Google Universal Analytics. After performing the initial setup, you will then need to take steps in the Google Analytics control panel.

This article will take you through the steps of setting up a goal, which we can use to track cart abandonment throughout the checkout process. By gathering statistics on what steps in your checkout process shoppers are most likely to drop out at, you'll be able to get an indication of possible areas of improvement (or even bugs).

Prerequisite: GA Setup

Before you can set up a goal, you will obviously need to have Google Universal Analytics set up on your site. This requires you to:

  1. Sign up for a Google Analytics account.
  2. Follow the setup instructions in our Google Universal Analytics documentation.

Once you've set your account and site up, you can move on to creating the goal.

Create a Checkout Goal

In GA parlance, a goal is a way to measure how successful your site is fulfilling a particular objective. As we run ecommerce sites, our goal is to get shoppers to place orders. Thus, in order to measure abandonment we need to measure non-abandonment; in other words, in order to measure failure, we must first measure success.

Start by logging into Google Analytics. Go to Admin in the header menu. If the correct site isn't already selected, select the correct options from the Account, Property and View dropdowns. Then, under the View heading, select Goals.

On the next page click to create a new goal. In the Goal set-up section, select the Place an order template. Then, for the Goal description, give it an appropriate name and select the Destination type. Under Goal details, things get a little more complicated.

For Destination, select "Equal to" and enter "/confirmation". Note that if your final checkout page is different to the standard, you'll need to enter your site-specific value here.

Next, you can leave Value off, but make sure you turn on Funnel. The table that appears is where you tell GA what the distinct steps of your checkout process are. This is vital to analysing your checkout flow as you'll get a breakdown of your abandonment rate at each step. Fill out the Named and Screen/Page fields as below if you're using standard checkout steps (make adjustments if your site has customized them). You don't have to set the first step as required as there may be other ways for users to enter your checkout flow without first using the Shopping Cart page.

  1. "Cart" — "/cart"
  2. "Login" — "/login-register"
  3. "Shipping Address" — "/shipping/address"
  4. "Shipping Method" — "/shipping/method"
  5. "Payment" — "/billing"
  6. "Review" — "/review"

Note that we don't have to put the destination page (/confirmation) as the final step. If you verify the goal before saving, GA will test the goal against your site's data and give you an indication of whether you've configured it correctly. As long as it's above 0, then you know that the goal has been set up correctly.

Save the goal.


Sadly, you'll have to delay testing your goal for 24-48 hours as that is how long it takes for GA to gather data for goal reports. However, after a couple of days you can go to Conversions > Goals and look at any of the subpages, to get an idea about how successful your goal (checkout process) is. One page in particular, Funnel Visualization, will give you a visual representation of how shoppers are flowing through your site's checkout.

One alternative, in the meantime, are the pages under Real Time, which will show you some data about the shoppers currently on your site. You'll get very basic data about your goal, for example, if you head over to Real Time > Conversions you'll see live data of people going through your goal (you'll get no data about each step, but it'll show it's working at least).


Google Analytics offers a plethora of data with tools for interpreting the data. As operators of ecommerce sites, we're interested in ways of improving the experience of shoppers and to figure out ways to increase the conversion rate. Using a goal like the one mentioned above is an important first step in achieving this, as it will check shoppers' progress through the checkout, helping us work out if we can improve, for example, our shopping cart page, address pages, or payment page.

Using the goals functionality, you can also set up other goals for your site to, for example, track newsletter signup.

Further Reading