Google Analytics can give you a great help in understanding how your blog is performing and how to improve it. In this article I’ll show you how to set up a feed subscription goal in google analytics, this will help you to

  • track your new feed subscription
  • understand which of your feed subscription channel converts best
  • understand what content make visitors subscribe to your feed
  • understand how to use google analytics goals

1. Setting Up The Goal

The goal will be triggered when a user clicks on one of the buttons to subscribe to our rss feed. Note that this does not mean that the user will subscribe to the feed, but we cant’go any further since the subscription is handled by an external program or site (e.g. the feed reader) .
At www.mapelli.info I have mainly three type of subsciption sources:

  • a big rss button in the sidebar
  • a email subscription form in the sidebar
  • a small rss button at the bottom of each post

I need to track how each of this subscription channel perform, but they still are different path to the same goal… so I can add a single feed subsctiption goal in google analytics.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. From the Analytics Setting Pages (the first page after the login) click “Edit” for the site you want to add the goal to

    edit highligthed

  2. From the Conversion Goals and Funnel table, click “Edit” next to one of the not configured Goals
  3. We need to set the url of the goal to a non existent page:… something like http://www.mapelli.info/goal/feed.
    The goal name will be something like “feed subscription“, and we need to have head match as the selected match type (it’s at the bottom of the page).

Google Analtics Head Match

2. Tracking the subscriptions

Now the goal is ready, but we need to trigger it each time a user clicks on one of the feed button, so we are going to change our template and add a bit of javascript to the onclick event of the links pointing to our feed.

To track the clicks we need analytics to register a visit to a fake page with the url starting with http://www.mapelli.info/goal/feed … but since we want to track the performances for each button, we need a few different urls.
I used:

  • /goal/feed/bigbutton
  • /goal/feed/smallbutton
  • /goal/feed/email

We need to add 'javascript:urchinTracker("here/goes/the/url")' to the onClick event of each button.

Here’s the code I used for the big button:
<a onClick='javascript:urchinTracker("/goal/feed/bigbutton")' href="<?php bloginfo_rss('rss2_url'); ?>" title="Feed for posts">

From this moment, each click on one of the feed buttons will be tracked by google analytics and registered as a feed subscription goal conversion.

3. Viewing Reports

After some days, you’ll be able to see how your feed buttons are performing, and how many goals (i.e. subscriptions) you’ve received.

The Goal menu will show you an overview of the goals performances, the conversion rate and a nice graph.

If you click on Goal Verification you can see what buttons convert best, so you can focus on improveing the conversion rate of the weak ones, or remove them

Goal Verification

Under Reverse Goal Path you can see the pages the visitors subscribed from, so you’ll be able to understand what content make visitors subscribe to your feed

Reverse Goal Path

Goal Possibilities

After this, you can add as many goals as you want, and track exactly how your visitors interact with your site… some of the first possibilities (apart from the obvious “he bought my stuff” goal) that come to my minds are:

  • Social submission goal
    to track which content is submitted to which social network using the social icons
  • Download goal
    to track download trends
  • Affiliate link goal
    to track which affiliate link position converts best

Other possibilities?

What are you going to track?

What goals are important to your site?

Update: Mark has reported some strange delays in the goal report, so if your goals are not displayed correctly try to be patient and wait a couple of days :)

francesco mapelli