Goal Tracking using URL Parameters & Free Tools

What is the ultimate behavior of visitors to your web site? Do you want them to call? To fill out a request form? Do you want them to click a particular link? Or, do you want them to purchase a product or a service on your site?

“I want visitors on my site to ____________________________.”

Answer the above question and you have established a “goal” for your site.

The next step in web site goal and conversion tracking is to tell your web analytics tool which events on your web site represent a goal (or conversion). The most common way to do this is to indicate a “goal page” as the indicator of a conversion.

Adding a Goal Page in Google is Easy. However, it can’t go back in time to show past conversions.

However, as many smart bloggers have announced, the advent of a “Page” is fading in the Web 2.0 model. So there are several ways to indicate a conversion to your web analytics tool that include cookies, revenue tracking, custom JavaScript calls to predetermined variables and more. While valuable, those are beyond the scope of this post. I’d rather tell you about a very simple method, and one of the methods I used on Market Motive: The URL parameter.

Interested in Web Analytics training click here.

About CID

I chose to create and use the URL parameter “cid” on Market Motive to indicate a conversion event. The name of your parameter doesn’t really matter much. Make it long enough to be unique from other parameters. When you fill out a request form on the site, the resulting page has a ?cid=goal_type on the url. This is exposed to the web analytics tool, and can be tagged as a conversion indicator.

To add the parameter, I edited the form page on the web site and changed the “form request” URL to include the new parameter.

For example:


<form name="audit_box" id="audit_box" action=" goal_page.html”_method="post">

<form name="audit_box" id="audit_box" action=" goal_page.html?cid=audit”_method="post">

(or the actual PHP on the Market Motive site)

<form name="audit_box" id="audit_box" action="<?=$self?>?cid=<?=$goal_lc?>" method="post">

Once the parameter was live, I indicated it as a conversion event to both Google Analytics and ClickTracks.

ClickTracks Tools (including the free Appetizer tool) make it very easy to pick from a list of detected pages and/or parameters.

When indicating a parameter as a goal in Google Analytics you must use “Regular Expression Match”. This can get complicated if you have meta characters (like a period) in the parameter name or value.

Once you have your goal (or conversion) event set up in your web analytics tool, you have a broad range of useful answers waiting inside your web analytics tool. In my case, my first question was: “Which blogs are sending high conversion traffic?” Some example answers are below:

Conversion numbers for each referring site can be compared to the site average

Using the Data Dissection view (In ClickTracks Pro, but Appetizer can get you close to this) I can see which blogs have sent converting visitors.

Engagement (page views or time on site) and revenue tracking are also valuable close cousins of conversion and can indicate the value of traffic sources and elements of your own web site. As the page view fades from our realm of traditional web site behavior, we’ll make more use of JavaScript calls to pseudo pages and setting of custom variables that are monitored by the web analytics tools. But that’s for another post.

Check out Market Motive’s Web Analytics Certification Training here.


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