Analytics & Data

Google Analytics: Defining Macro and Micro Goals

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.

It’s fairly simple to come up with a list of “goals” that describe a website’s success. These typically include lead generation, downloads (i.e., coupons, menus, or whitepapers), and ecommerce transactions. Noted web analytics writer and practitioner Avinash Kaushik describes these as “macro goals” that are clear and easy to define.

But these end points aren’t the only actions a user can take on your website that have value. Enter the concept of a “micro goal.”

A micro goal may well be a step in the conversion funnel, such as adding a product to a shopping cart, or viewing a registration page. It might be something less noticeable, however — such as simply learning about your company — that starts a relationship that could end with a purchase.

In this article, I’ll address how different businesses may structure a macro and micro goal. For help on setting up goals in Google Analytics, read “How to Set Up Basic Goals,” from Practical Ecommerce.


A restaurant needs an order to make money. We can therefore say that placing an online reservation or completing a transaction for takeout is a macro goal for that industry.

Micro goals, on the other hand, might have more to do with the education of that potential customer. They could include such things as:

  • Viewing an online menu;
  • Reviewing the entertainment schedule at the bar;
  • Checking for hours of operation or an address;
  • Sharing the menu on Facebook or Twitter.

These are all indicators of a budding relationship that could lead to that visitor actually going to the restaurant at a later date.

Law Firms

Law firm websites typically exist to create leads. The macro goals here are inquiries, via a web form or phone. A micro goal, however, might be complex for a law firm. It’s possible a firm may be trying to grow a certain area of practice, so setting up micro goals around page views in that portion of the website may make sense.

Perhaps a micro goal surrounding visitors reading about a new partner or other attorney would make sense, especially if it were a high-profile hire.

Sometimes even simple page views of a firm’s community involvement or pro bono work should be considered micro goals.

Ecommerce Websites

Google Analytics was built for ecommerce, as it can connect a marketing effort to a sale. A customer completing an ecommerce transaction is the ultimate macro goal. Along the way though, many things have to go right for that transaction to take place.

Ecommerce isn’t simply the practice of loading products onto a website and selling them. There are hours of tweaking and promotion that goes into it.

Take, for example, the addition of a new product. A micro goal strategy might well be built around any of these.

  • Addition of that product to a shopping cart.
  • Category page views for that product set.
  • Watching a demonstration video of the product’s key benefits.
  • Sharing that product through social media.

Even something as simple as using the search box on the website might be considered a micro goal. In most cases, the use of site search is good, since the shopper is presumably eager to learn more.

The ‘Micro’ Philosophy

Setting up a micro goal strategy isn’t about thinking small. To the contrary, it’s more about thinking big. If we consider that even the biggest mountain is built from the tiniest of subatomic particles, we can start to work our way towards using micro goals to paint the big picture.

To get started, think about your own web browsing experience. What things did you do on, say, the last insurance website that you requested a quote from? Were there certain pages about that company you felt compelled to view before asking for the quote?

Many of us behave the same way. So it’s likely that others will desire a very similar experience. If you find that your macro conversions aren’t where you want them to be, it could well be that the micro conversions aren’t either. You’ll then start to understand the small steps you can take to make your website experience better.

Kevin Webster
Kevin Webster
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