Probably you are looking around for a way to know how your visitor behaves while he/she is on your e-commerce site, a mystery that has baffled not just the online store owners but webmaster in general. Thankfully user behavior is no longer an enigma thanks to the powerful metrics tracking features offered by Google Analytics!
The metrics analytics has grown way beyond just tracking the basic user behaviors on your site. Now you can pretty much analyze every aspect of your e-commerce site – starting from the rudimentary user actions to comprehensive performance details of your visitors on your online store.
Google Analytics’ Event-Tracking, for instance, enables you to track a plethora of events on your site allowing you to tweak even the discreet detail of your site facilitating improved performance and sales.
The ‘event tracking’ feature allows you to analyze your visitors’ behavior in an in-depth and insightful way!
But from an e-commerce store perspective, an online store owner must be able to effectively track those metrics that generate a sale and that prevents a sale. Apart from this vital information, there are other crucial metrics that every online store owner must track, such as,
- Which marketing campaigns were successful?
- What caused a visitor to abandon a sale?
- Which pages produced the highest and which produced the lowest number of conversions?
- Which referring sites are sending visitors that convert well? Etc.
With Google Analytics you can accomplish all of the above and much more! It is a platform that offers all-inclusive metrics tracking features for online store owners. But in order to harness the full power of Google Analytics, you need to configure it with accuracy and also know where to look for the tracking results for further analysis.
So without further ado let’s discuss some of the most vital e-commerce metrics that you need to know as an online store owner and how to track it using Google Analytics.
Integrating Google Analytics with your E-commerce Site
Before you can start tracking your metrics, your e-commerce site must be integrated properly with Google Analytics.
Here are the steps to accomplish that,
Step 1 – Create a Google Analytics account. If you don’t know how to create one, follow these simple steps.
- Go to com/analytics
- Click on SIGN IN option in the top-right corner and select “Analytics” from it
- Then you need to do either of these: Create an account by clicking on More Options -> Create Account OR Sign in to your account with your email address and password linked to your account.
- Then you need to create a property (that is your website), a reporting view, which is explained in detail here.
Step 2 – Once you have completed all the pre-requisite steps from Step 1, it’s time to incorporate the Google Analytics tracking code to all your web pages (into the head section between <head> and </head> tags) of your e-commerce site.
Step 3 – Now you can incorporate your e-commerce solution (Shopify, BigCommerce etc) with Google Analytics. Refer your e-commerce solution help documentation to learn how to do that accurately.
Step 4 – This step is critical. Here you must add the Google Analytics tracking code to the order confirmation page (the page that acknowledges the customer for his purchase) and also incorporate a server-side script (in ASP or PHP etc) that can transmit the tracking data from your e-commerce cart to the Google Analytics server. Seek the help of a developer if you are not confident enough to tweak the code.
Step 5 – Enable the e-commerce reporting view by going to Admin –> View –> E-commerce Setup under the Google Analytics (View section) and switch the ‘Enable E-commerce’ toggle button to ON.
Step 6 – Here you can create a shopping cart funnel for your online store in Google Analytics. But to set it up, you must finalize those web pages that comprise the funnel.
Step 7 – Testing time! Now you can carry out a test transaction to validate whether your Google Analytics setup is indeed producing the intended results.
Creating Custom Campaigns
In e-commerce metrics tracking and web analytics, apart from knowing what actions your visitors carried out on your site, it is also important to know where they came from and what their demographics was.
Google Analytics is designed to accurately parse the referring sites with the help of the HTTP headers. But the inbound traffic from other sources such as banner ads, Outlook email, pay-per-click and mobile link etc. are parsed by default in an unclear way such as “referral”, “organic” and “direct”. That’s when custom campaign URLs come into the picture. These custom URLs allow you to record these traffic sources in a meaningful way that facilitates better analysis of your inbound traffic.
How to setup custom campaigns?
You can create custom campaign URLs and append parameters and values to it manually or by using a URL-builder tool.
For your website and email ad campaigns, you can use the Campaign URL Builder provided by Google.
You can learn more about creating custom campaigns on this Google support page.
NOTE: For your Adwords ad campaign, it is highly advised to enable autotagging in Google Adwords instead of creating manual campaign URLs.
Understanding Landing Pages Metrics
As they say “First impression is the best impression”. This is especially true with your e-commerce site. The first page that your visitors land on is known as the landing page. If you are able to make the best first impression with your landing page, half the battle is won, which means conversions (converting your visitor into a customer) can become a lot easier.
Thankfully, Google Analytics allows intuitive ways to keep track of every bit of vital data about your landing pages provided your online store is configured properly with Google Analytics.
To check how well your landing pages are performing, go to Behavior –> Landing Pages in Google Analytics.
This will take you to the following page,
(For an e-commerce site owner the most vital metrics that matter are Transactions, Revenue, and E-commerce Conversion Rate (marked in RED). These columns are self-explanatory.)
The Transactions column gives you the number of transactions on each landing page. The Revenue column tells you the revenue made from those transactions and E-commerce Conversion Rate tells you the percentage of visitors converted into customers.
Page Views, Unique Page Views, and Page Value metrics
A solid understanding of these page metrics will help tweak and fine-tune your marketing campaigns and focus more energy and time on those pages that are popular among your visitors.
To view these page metrics, you must first navigate to Behavior –> All Pages in Google Analytics. This will present you with some vital metrics pertaining to your web pages.
Pageviews – This metric indicates how many times a particular page was viewed in a given time frame (you can set that on the top-right corner of the page). If a page is reloaded by the user in the same session, it is recorded as an additional Pageview.
Unique Pageviews – If a page is viewed one or more times in multiple sessions, then that’s counted as Unique Pageviews.
Page Value – All the page metrics leads to this one vital metric – Page Value, which tells you how instrumental a page has been in bringing about a successful transaction for your e-store. The page value is displayed in US dollars. Page Value is calculated by adding E-commerce Profit with Goal Value Produced after the Page Was Viewed and dividing the sum by Unique Page Views . If certain pages are raking in higher page value, analyze the reasons for it and try to replicate the same strategy on pages with lower page values.
Understanding the metric ‘Per Visit Value’ of Channels
This metric reveals the value of each visit on a particular channel. A channel can be (the traffic coming to your site from) organic searches, direct sources, paid search, social media, email marketing campaigns, pay-per-click ads and so on.
You can check the Per Visit Value by navigating to Acquisitions –> Channels –> E-commerce in Google Analytics dashboard.
A little insight about Assisted Conversions metrics (Case Study)
These metrics uncover how each channel played their role in the conversion process.
But before we discuss each metric under Assisted Conversions, let me give you an overview of what Assisted Conversions really is via a simple hypothetical case study.
Let’s imagine that a user first lands on your online store through a pay-per-click ad, gathered the info that he was looking for and exits. The second time he lands on your site through Google search and leaves the site for further comparative research on similar products. The third time he enters your website directly by typing in your site URL and buys the intended item.
So essentially, the user entered your site thrice through three different channels – PPC ad, organic search, and then direct entry.
But it was the third channel (direct entry) that resulted in the conversion. The first two only assisted making the sale happen. However, the first two channels are equally important without which the purchase most probably wouldn’t have happened.
So coming back to Google Analytics reporting, the first two channels – PPC Ad and Organic Search will be listed under Assisted Conversions column as they contributed significantly to the normal conversion process.
To view these metrics you must navigate to Conversions –> Multi-Channel Funnels –> Assisted Conversions (A funnel is nothing but the conversion path)
- Assisted Conversions – This metric indicates the number of conversions assisted by a channel.
- Assisted Conversions Value – The monetary value associated with each assisted conversion.
- Last Click or Direct Conversion – The number of conversions on which this channel was the last interaction or the number of sales closed by this channel.
- Last Click or Direct Conversion Value – The monetary value generated by the last click or direct conversions.
What are Segments and its benefits?
Segments help you categorize your analytics data in Google Analytics.
For instance, you can create a segment for those users from a particular country, create another segment for users purchasing a specific type of product and add a different segment for new visitors.
Segments enable you to segregate a subset of analytics data of your online store, analyze it and take necessary actions to the changing trends in your business.
How to create a segment?
You can create a segment for various analytics data under Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior sections in Google Analytics.
As an example, let us create a ‘Bounced Sessions’ segment under Active Users.
Step 1 – Navigate to Audience –> Active Users and Click on the +Add segment section (highlighted in Red)
This will bring up the list of segments.
Step 2 – Click on the ‘Bounced Sessions’ to select it and click on the ‘Apply’ button under the Segment list.
Now you can see that Google Analytics has created an additional subset of data for Bounced Sessions users.
Creating and Configuring Custom Alerts
You can create and configure custom alerts on a wide range of metric parameters and events on Google Analytics.
As an example, I’m creating an alert for ‘Page views greater than 1000’.
Step 1 – To create a customer alert, first you must navigate to Customization –> Custom Alerts, which opens the following screen.
Step 2 – Now click on ‘Manage customized alerts’ button (highlighted in Red). This opens the alert creation screen as seen below.
Step 3 – Click on the red colored ‘New Alert’ button to configure and save a new alert.
Steps to configure a new custom alert
- First, you must enter a meaningful name for the new alert. In this case, I will enter ‘Pageviews Greater Than 1000’.
- Select the period from the drop-down, whether you are tracking this event for a day or week or a month.
- Tick the checkbox to send an email when the event triggers.
- In the ‘Alert Conditions’ section, I have left the ‘This applies to’ the default parameter, i.e. ‘All Traffic’ if you want you can be more specific by selecting some other option.
- From the ‘Alert me when’ drop-down menu, I have selected the ‘Page Views’ option as I’m creating an alert for page views greater than a certain value.
- From the ‘Condition’ menu, I have selected ‘Is greater than’ and keyed in the value ‘1000’ in the Value field as I want an alert to be sent to my email when the page views cross 1000.
- Once you have verified that all the entries are correct, you can click on the blue ‘Save Alert’ button below the screen.
- In the following screen, you can view the new alert that you have just created (similar to the one seen in the screenshot below).
Record the sequence of events with Annotations
You can make use of Google Analytics’ Annotations feature to keep track of various events (in a chronological order) that influenced the number of visitors and their behavior on your site.
For instance, let’s assume that you have introduced a new user-interface to the checkout process on your online store on a particular date. Then you can create an annotation for that date mentioning what changes you have incorporated into your site. It could be also a variety of other factors like server downtime, a new marketing campaign or a new ad that you started running in newspapers and TV channels etc that you can add as an annotation.
Creating and Configuring an Annotation
You can create annotations for various metrics. Here I’m creating an annotation for the ‘Channels’ metric.
Step 1 – Navigate to Acquisition –> Channels and click on the drop-down arrow below the graph to open the ‘Annotation’ creation section.
Step 2 – Click on the +Create an annotation towards the right end.
Step 3 – Select a date on which you want to create an annotation for, enter the change happened on that day and click ‘Save’ and the new annotation is created. You can make changes to the annotation or delete it by clicking on the ‘Edit’ button.
Track your e-commerce metrics while on the move
With mobile devices as potent and easy-to-use as desktop computers, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t track your e-commerce metrics on your smartphone or tablet.
If you are an Apple user you can make use of the iOS SDK offered by Google Analytics to track the sales generated by your online store on your iPhone or iPad. But if you are a devoted Android user you can use Google Analytics Android SDK to keep track of your e-commerce transactions on your Android device.
The importance of e-commerce metric analytics cannot be emphasized enough. It provides you with insightful and actionable analytics data that you can use to tweak your campaigns, make corrective steps to your site and bring about a big difference in your bottom line. With Google Analytics, you can track almost every e-commerce metric with ease and efficiency. This is a tool that has evolved over a long period of time and is ever-improving thanks to the smart folks at Google.
But to leverage this intuitive tool, you must learn how to create and configure each metric correctly, that’s where this post comes into the picture. Although this post doesn’t cover all the e-commerce metrics, it discusses some of the most vital ones you need to get started. To make the most of the tool, I would highly recommend exploring the tool and learning new things whenever you can.
If you are already using Google Analytics to track your e-commerce metrics, we are eager to know your experience using it. Has it really helped in improving your revenue? Please drop us a comment.