Why Google Analytics reports a lower conversion rate and how to fix it

Google Analytics by default calculates a goal’s session conversion rate but usually we are looking for user conversion rate. Here’s how to configure it in GA.


How does GA calculate a goal’s conversion rate?

By default GA calculates a goal’s conversion rate by dividing goal completions for a view by the total sessions for the view.

Goal 1 CVR — 771 completions / 81,583 sessions = 0.95%

Lightbulb? Considering that the average user makes multiple visits before completing a goal you might be more interested in the conversion rate for users rather than sessions.

For instance Archie might visit your car parts site multiple times over the course of a week before deciding to buy new seat covers. Your entire marketing engine is focused on generating new traffic, bringing back traffic and finally pushing for conversion.

If you had just one user, Archie, who visited your site 4 times before buying, your site’s goal conversion rate, according to standard GA metrics, will be 25%.

In fact your user conversion rate is actually 100%!

Which CVR calculation is more relevant?

Depends on which metric is important to you and your reports. Many of us now use custom reports to report on ‘users’ for various dimensions. This really helps in analysing marketing performance since you are now looking at users coming to your site and visiting pages rather the sessions or unique pageviews they generate.

But if you add the goal CVR as a metric assuming that this calculation is [goal completions] divided by [users] then you are in trouble, my analytical friend.

Goal 1 CVR of 0.95% isn’t 771 completions / 54,298 users!

The good news is that your user conversion rate is much better. In the above example it’s 1.4%! Since users generate more sessions the goal conversion rate reported by GA is much lower than the user conversion rate for the goal.

Using Google Analytic’s Calculated Metrics to calculate a user conversion rate

Head on over to the Admin section of Google Analytics and scroll down to Calculated Metrics.

Select ‘Percent’ as Formatting Type.

Start typing the name of the goal in the Formula field and it should appear in a dropdown. Select it. Space. ‘/’. Start typing users and select it as well.

Name your metric — ‘goal name’ by users CVR and hit Create.

Bask in the accuracy of the glorious user conversion rate!

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