What is 'Required Step' for Google Analytics Goals?

Have you ever wondered what 'Required Step' means when you are setting up a goal in Google Analytics? Personally, I think it is the most confusing configuration option within Google Analytics, so now I am going to attempt a simple explanation.

Turning on 'Required Step' means that in order for a conversion to be reported a visitor MUST view that page (or step) before they view the conversion page.

Looking at a simple example...

Let's say you have a website where one objective is to get visitors to signup for an email newsletter. You have a dedicated page with the email newsletter signup form that you link to from other pages on your site. Plus you also have a news page that has the signup form on the right.

Both forms (on the dedicated signup page and the news page) go to the same conversion page after a visitor has signed up to receive your email newsletter.

You have setup a goal within Google Analytics to report and measure conversions (people signing up for your newsletter). This reports on conversions no matter how someone signs up (including the dedicated form page and the news section).

You then decide that you want to focus on driving people through to the dedicated signup page, so if you create a new goal where you enter the URL of the dedicated signup page and click 'Required Step'.

You will then be able to look at the funnel report to see the funnel ONLY for visitors who convert after viewing the dedicated signup page.

Setting 'Required Step' ONLY Affects Funnel Visualization Report

Firstly, selecting 'Required Step' on the goal settings page only modifies what you see in the funnel visualization report.

So if you were to create the goal in the above scenario and selected 'Required Step' you would still see a total number of conversions for visitors. This would include those who did and didn't convert through the dedicated signup page. If you just want to see those who did view the dedicated signup page you would need to view the funnel visualization report.

Example funnel report (with 1st step required):

Then for the same goal you will still see total conversions:

Getting Technical...

If you are still with me – great work! Now for some technical things about 'Required Step' and goals, so if you are not technical don't worry if it doesn't make sense straight away.

If you have multiple steps on the goal settings page and you have selected 'Required Step' it simply means that a visitor must view that page at some point before viewing the conversion page. (Just like all goals the order of the steps is not critical to how Google Analytics reports.)

Also, like all other goals a visitor can only convert once within a single visit (or session) to your website. So if they view the 'Required Step' page, come back to you site in a week and view the 2nd step and the conversion page they will have converted, but not be displayed in the funnel visualization report (due to the required step and the fact they did not view the required step page within that visit to your site).

Done!

Fingers crossed, I just explained what I consider to be the most confusing setting option within Google Analytics.