Tracking Online Form Submissions with Google Analytics

Last week’s post concentrated on how we measure the success of our online course catalog. As I’ve stated previously, we do this with Omniture, but it can also be done using Google Analytics. This post is a practical guide to set up Google Anlaytics goals and funnels to track online form submissions.

You may have many forms on your website (request information, application, class registration, online course catalog search form, etc.). Google Analytics conversion goals let’s you track every step of these online forms so you can:

  • track form submission rate easily
  • see where users are “dropping off” so you can re-visit that step to research possible reasons

Let’s say the conversion goal is a simple lead generation form. You have a “request information” form on your site that users can fill out to get updates (new degree launches, new courses added to the catalog, etc.). Here are the steps to form completion:

If you were to track this form using conversion goals in Google Analytics, here is how you might set it up:

First, define the goal:

Active Goal: Obviously you want to turn this on to start tracking the goal.

Match Type: There are 3 match types, “exact match,” “head match,” and “regular expression match.” The Google Analytics help site has a good definition of each match type. In this quick example, we’re using the exact match which means just that, the match must be exact. Note that this includes trailing spaces.

For many online forms, the URL includes session identifiers. If this is the case, use the “head match” type.

Goal URL: This is the page where the goal is completed. Most forms have a confirmation page, sometimes called the “thank you” page.

Goal Name: This is the name you give the goal. Name it logically.

Case Sensitive: Are your URLs case sensitive? If so, check this box.

Goal Value: Do you know how much your request information form is worth? If you can monetize the value of someone filling out the request information form, do it. This information speaks volumes to leadership, especially when it comes to improving the process.

Second, we define the funnel (if there is one):

Step 1. For this simple form, there is only 1 step before form completion. Here we define the URL of the first step.

Required Step. This is very important. So your completion rate isn’t inflated, if the *only* way to get to that “thank you” page is through the “form” page, check “required” step. If this is checked, the only time this goal is triggered is if the user goes through the first step.

What if my form steps use the same URL? For forms that use the same URL for every step, you can track form completion rate using “virtual pageviews.” Let’s say these are the steps of your form completion:

To use “virtual pageviews,” call the _trackPageview() function within each step in your code. This will probably be done within an onload event. So, you define the steps like this:

pageTracker._trackPageview(“/request-funnel/request-form.html”)
pageTracker._trackPageview(“/request-funnel/thank-you.html”)

Once these are used within the request-form.php page, you can then set up the steps of your conversion goal like this:

Step 1: http://www.youruniversity.edu/request-funnel/request-form.html
Goal Completion Step: http://www.youruniversity.edu/request-funnel/thank-you.html

Personally, I have not used the virtual pageviews option as I haven’t tracked a website using Google Analytics where I needed to, but, using this technique, it is possible.

By tracking your form completions, you can get a better idea how users are using your forms. As an example from my last post, we found that there was a low conversion rate from the first step of our course catalog (the search page) to the second step (the list page). This finding sparked more research into the reason for the low conversion rate including user testing and an eventual redesign. The redesign was successful in increasing the conversion rate.

One Response to “Tracking Online Form Submissions with Google Analytics”

  1. David says:

    I dont know why this is one of the simplest items to setup but if you havent done it a while you always have to go back to basics and find an old website you have setup virtual pageviews on or that text file somewhere on your Pc…

    It does work well when you have a difficult or complex cms that you just dont have the time or access to change forms, add thank you pages etc…

    Still wished this process was easier, thank you.