In broad terms, Google Analytics allows you to see where your visitors come from and if they buy something from your site or leave immediately.
The people who buy from you are important since they are the ones driving revenue for you. But you cannot choose to ignore the ones who dropped off from your site by assuming they weren’t interested. Maybe something was broken, the site navigation wasn’t easy, the reasons are endless. And although you wouldn’t know the actual reason on why they dropped off (unless you’re a psychic), you can analyze data in your analytics account, know where they are dropping off and fix it.
With Google Analytics, you can get valuable insights about your visitors - where they came from, their behaviour - what they did on your website, and their conversion path - whether they meet your business goals.
Implementing E-commerce Tracking in Google Analytics:
The above step suffices if you have a blog or a site other than E-commerce. For E-commerce website, there’s an extra step to be followed to pass transaction and revenue data from your site to your analytics account -
- Settings → Ecommerce Settings → Enable Ecommerce
Furthermore, if you want additional information about visitor behavior, shopping activity on your website and product performance, you will need to enable Enhanced Ecommerce tracking.
- Settings → Ecommerce Settings → Enhanced Ecommerce Settings
Once done, add the tracking code just before the closing </head> tag on every page.
*If you use Google Tag Manager, read this guide on how to setup Ecommerce Tracking using GTM.
For further reference:
- Google Ecommerce Tracking – Complete Guide - https://www.optimizesmart.com/e-commerce-tracking-works-google-analytics-ultimate-guide/
You might also want to check out these E-commerce platforms for ready available Google Analytics plug and play solutions:
- Installing Google Analytics on Shopify
- Google Analytics plugin for WordPress (WooCommerce)
- Installing Google Analytics on Magento
Getting Started. Wait, but which metrics are we tracking?
“People ask me this seemingly simple question all the time: What Key Performance Indicators should we use for our business? I usually ask in return: What are you trying to get done with your digital strategies?“ - Avinash Kaushik, Occam's Razor
One of the biggest challenge that digital marketers often face with Google Analytics is that they don’t know where to begin with. While it may not be directly clear, the actual way to start is - by not starting with data.
You need to Start with Questions (which is what we will be doing in the next section)!
But before that you also need to know Google Analytics inside and out - the interface and navigation to find out where the required data is, what all data is collected on it’s own, sorting and filtering to see what’s important - in order to make a data-backed decision.
Stages of an E-commerce business
There are 4 stages that every E-commerce business goes through to reach the Final Steady State:
Traction → Growth → Transition → Scale
During each individual stage, the metrics to be tracked and the conversion goals differ. As an E-commerce marketer, you need to find the differences between each stage, track the right metrics and accordingly plan your next actions towards achieving the Steady State.
“If you only have 1 sale happening per month, there is no point in trying to figure out the entire lifetime of a customer.“
Stage - Traction:
At this stage, you just need to get your foot in the door. You want to find those 2-3 channels to help you with a steady inflow of traffic. Your focus should be on making the big changes - such as changing your target customers, as opposed to making trivial changes on the website - such as changing the color of the Add to Cart button.
- How many users did I get on my site?
Your Top of the funnel - the very first metric you need to track!For sales to happen, your E-commerce website needs traffic. For traffic, you need to find places where your potential buyers hang out and lead them to your website. Once you find those traffic sources, you can then track how many of them visited your site, where they came from, if they purchased your products or dropped off from the add-to-cart page.
Audience > Overview
- Who are these visitors?
No matter what industry you’re in, understanding your audience is a crucial part of your marketing efforts. Once you know your audience through Google Analytics, you can then anticipate what your audience wants, make changes in your marketing approach and strategies.
The Audience Reporting section of Google Analytics can be used to identify the types of visitors coming to a website and break them further down visitors by demographics, geographical location, device type, browser, operating system, and so on.
Audience → Demographics → Overview
Audience → Geo → Location
- Where is my traffic coming from?
This report can help marketers understand which channel is performing better than the others. With this information, marketers can decide where they need to invest next - advertising, referrals, email marketing, etc.
Here are some broad categories in the Source/Medium report:
- google / organic: These are visitors who land on your site after searching on Google
- somewebsite.com / referral: Visitors who clicked on your site’s link on some other website. This also shows from where they landed on your website.
- twitter / social: These visitors come directly via social media. Although in some cases, some of the traffic might show under referrals or direct.
- (direct) / (none): These are instances where Google Analytics can’t figure out where the visitor came from. They might have come typed your site’s link directly in the web browser and landed on your site.
Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
- How much does social media contribute to my overall traffic?
This report shows top social sites who send traffic along your way. You can also use it to compare traffic and conversions attributed to social media.
Acquisition → Social → Overview
Note: The data shows blank if you don’t have at least one active goal.
You can also use social interaction analytics to see the number of times a user clicked on embedded social buttons such as Facebook ‘Like’ or Twitter ‘Tweet’.
By default, Google Analytics provides integrated reporting for its +1 button. To measure social interactions for other social networks, follow this guide.
- Where are visitors leaving my website?
You worked hard into getting traffic onto your E-commerce website but they are somehow leaving your website before even reaching the checkout page.
There could be a number of reasons why your potential shoppers dropped off. Maybe they were just window shopping or the prices were too high, they were comparing products across different sites or they didn’t like the product, maybe they couldn’t find what they were looking for, the reasons are endless. To top it off, you will never why it happened.
However, with Google Analytics, you can know where on your site it’s happening and then accordingly make changes to lessen your drop-offs. The change might be as trivial as changing an on-page element like the placement of Buy Now button.
Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages
- How to set up Conversion Funnels and Goals?In Google Analytics, a goal is simply an action completed on your website by a visitor that contributes to the success of your business. For an E-commerce website, an example of a Goal could be - completed a purchase. All users who complete this goal will be logged in your Google Analytics account.Admin → Goals → New GoalHere’s a step by step guide on how you can set up goals in your Google Analytics account.Conversion Funnels are the steps taken (URLs visited) in order to complete a particular goal. For instance, a conversion funnel will show where all the users entered the path or dropped off while completing goal ‘completed a purchase’.
Conversion → Goals → Funnel VisualizationGoal examples and use cases - https://support.google.com/analytics/topic/6150929
Stage - Growth:
At this stage, the hard part is over. You are doing well and there’s a steady amount of traffic flowing in. You are also well aware of the fact that you do not just want to focus on the traffic but on converting the visitors into buyers as well. To grow further now, you now need to optimize and that’s where Google Analytics steps in again.
Along with looking at the same metrics as above, these are new ones that you should keep a track of as well.
- How much revenue am I generating?
Every E-commerce platform provider has its own reporting available to review recent activities and also analyze your store’s transactions. Google Analytics Conversion gives you the same metrics - Transactions, Revenue, Average Order Value, Unique purchases, Quantity (Best Selling Products).
You can analyze data for the past week or the past month and then take decisions in the direction that get your transactions and revenue further up.
Conversions → Ecommerce → Overview
- How are my marketing channels performing?
Chances are that you’re running multiple campaigns across channels to bring in traffic that eventually convert into successful sales.
In your Google Analytics account, you can see from where all you’re getting traffic from and the ROI of every channel. This data can fairly give you a sense of what’s working for you and where you need to increase efforts. Based on the data, you could increase your focus on those channels that -
- have the highest conversion rate
- get you high number of sales
- have high order values
Although taking out costs for every channel will require additional efforts outside the scope of Google Analytics. But once you get the numbers, it will be worth the effort.
Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
- Device-wise conversion
Smartphone usage has drastically gone up in the last few years. More and more people are preferring mobile phones over desktop/laptop to go forth with their online purchases.
According to comScore report, “Mobile now represents 65 percent of digital media time, while the desktop is becoming a "secondary touch point" for an increasing number of digital users.”
In this particular scenario, over 75% website visitors are from mobile. Hence tracking mobile users is critical for this particular E-commerce website as mobile contributes to more than 75% of the total revenue.
On a site with low conversion rate on Mobile, the possible next steps could be finding out bounce rates by device type for top performing product pages and fixing possible issues like high page load time or layout problem.
Audience → Mobile → Overview
- How can I segment my users?
Segments in Google Analytics allows you go a level deeper and get valuable insights from the data collected. For instance, you might want to compare the segments - ‘People who made a purchase’ vs ‘People who did not purchase’. You could then analyze what the purchasers did that the non-purchasers did not and optimize on that part to eventually close more sales.
Audience → Overview → + Add segment
Here are 5 Google Analytics Segments for some inspiration.
By default, there are 21 pre-built segments that are ready to use. You can also define your own custom segments with ‘Custom’ category. Follow this guide to create one.
- Am I even getting the right visitors to my site?
Is it your traffic or your products? It’s hard to find out. But what you can definitely find is the quality of your traffic. You can look at their -
- Page Session: How many pages does your potential customer go on during a particular session?
- Average Session Duration: What’s the time duration of every session on the site?
- Bounce Rate: Is your traffic simply coming on the site and simply bouncing off?
After seeing this data, compare these metrics with respect to other channels and you will know where it’s going wrong.
“ According to industry standards, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent. 41 to 55 percent is roughly average. 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website. “
Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
- Are visitors looking at my product pages?
What good are website visitors to you if they don’t even reach your product page?
Your website layout should be easy to navigate and easy to understand. People should easily come on the product page and then move to checkout easily.
You could also compare top-performing products to the ones that are not performing. Maybe there are some on-page elements that could be improved upon or a promotion to give them the initial boost.
Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages
- Which are my most profitable products?
Knowing about your best-selling products is great! Since you already know which of your products get sold the most, you can promote them to get them in front of a larger audience.
This report will show you all your products listed with quantity sold. You can then choose to sort by filters such as ‘product revenue’ or ‘unique purchases’. Arranging them by ‘product revenue’ (default view) may show you where you are making most of your money, following which you might want to shift your attention on making the most out of these products.
Conversions > Ecommerce > Product Performance
- Where can I track shopping cart abandonment rate?
Shopping cart abandonment has been a long invisible battle between E-commerce marketers and online shoppers, with the scale always generously tipping towards the shoppers side.
“ According to 37 different studies containing statistics research, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate for E-commerce websites is 69.23%, which means that shoppers didn’t complete the checkout process 69 times out of 100. “
Earlier tracking shopping cart abandonment rate on Google Analytics required lots of manual efforts, but now Google Analytics automatically does that for you. It basically tracks shopping behaviour at every stage of the conversion funnel - before, during and after a shopper makes a purchase.
Conversion → Ecommerce → Shopping Behaviour
Note: If you don’t have Enhanced Ecommerce Setting enabled, follow this guide to setup ‘checkout complete’ as a goal in your Google Analytics account and then track the shopping cart abandonment in the conversion funnel.
- What is Session Quality?
Session quality estimates a user’s proximity to turn into a potential customer. Here Google Analytics uses machine learning to supposedly predict low, medium or high-quality session. The sessions are expressed as a score between 1-100 for each session, with 1 being the farthest from and 100 being the closest to a transaction.
Audience → Behavior → Session Quality
Check out the prerequisites for session quality report to be visible in your Google Analytics account.
“From experience, I know that there is no one golden metric for everyone. We are all unique snowflakes! :)” - Avinash Kaushik, Occam’s Razor
It’s solely up to you to define which metrics you want to track in your Google Analytics or some other analytics account. You might want to pick them from above list or define new ones. But without these in place, taking any business decision will be as good as shooting in the dark.
Is that any other E-commerce metric you are tracking that we might have missed above? Send your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get them added above with due credits. :)
We will cover metrics tracked in Transition & Scale stages in the next part.
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