You've undoubtedly spent hours perfecting your eCommerce website and even more time poring over your product inventory.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that your e-commerce business is on track to succeed.
The easiest way to check in with your e-commerce site, sales, and total revenue is to look carefully at your web traffic with the all-knowing analytics tool Google Analytics.
Google Analytics for eCommerce will help you not only track data such as traffic sources, bounce rate, and conversion rate, but it will also help you identify any barriers to purchase every step of the way.
And that is perhaps the most important reason of all to utilize and understand your analytics data.
Before we get into Google Analytics for eCommerce, it's important to understand your potential customers and their shopping behavior so that you know exactly where to look within your Analytics dashboard. From there, we will get into the nitty gritty of your analytics account as well as offer actionable insights for you to use on your own e-commerce site.
Let's dig in.
The Buyer's Journey
As you're looking into the analytics data, it's important to keep in mind at what stage of the buyer's journey your potential customer is at.
Because if there is something preventing them from making a purchase, then you need to find out what it is and how to remedy it.
Awareness - This is when the customer first realizes that there is a problem to be solved by potentially making a purchase.
Consideration - The customer begins to research solutions for the identified problem.
Decision - The customer finds a solution (potentially your product) and is now actively shopping for the best product to serve as a solution. This is often when the customer ends up on your e-commerce site.
No matter which tools you use, all of your marketing efforts should keep the buyer's journey in mind. By keeping your focus on the steps the customer needs to take in order to complete a transaction, you will be more capable of identifying and fixing any barriers to that transaction.
Google Analytics is just one analytics tool to help you do that.
The Analytics dashboard lets you see where the user drops off, whether it's at your landing page, your product page, or checkout.
You can easily find this by navigating to the Behavior Flow menu within your Analytics dashboard.
In this report, you can see where users navigate and where they drop off in their interactions.
Once you're able to identify where your customers are exiting the purchase process, you're better able to fix whatever the barriers are to completing the purchase.
How To Measure Conversions
Another super important metric for your e-commerce store is the conversion rate, which basically measures how many transactions occur per interaction.
Meaning, of all of the clicks and shopping around happening on your ecommerce website, how many of them actually result in a purchase?
This can easily be calculated with a simple formula:
Conversion rate = (purchases / total visitors) * 100
For comparison, the average ecommerce conversion rate for purchases made on a desktop computer is 3.83 percent and for those made on a mobile device, it is 2.03 percent.
To do that, you need to know exactly what it takes to get your customers to make a purchase. One way that you can do this is by looking at the Path Length within your Analytics dashboard.
This section will show you how many interactions are made before making a purchase, showing you where your marketing efforts are most effective.
So if, for example, your marketing campaigns are designed to sell your product upon entering your e-commerce store but the most conversions are happening after at least two interactions, then it would be worth adjusting your marketing campaigns to support what has proven to be most effective.
Meaning, it's a good idea to create content that matches the shopping behavior that your customers are already demonstrating.
If a user isn’t making a purchase until they’ve clicked through five pages, then, it wouldn’t make sense to push them to make a purchase right on your landing page. Instead, you might include a call-to-action that leads them through your website until they eventually land on a product page five clicks later, where they’re naturally more likely to make a purchase.
How to Measure On-site Engagement
Another super important set of data to pay attention to is on-site engagement. You need to know what users are doing when they get to your website and how long they are shopping around for.
A good place to peek into this information is through the Landing Pages report within the Analytics dashboard.
With this view, you can see how long users are spending on each page, what the bounce rate for each page is, and which pages aren't really providing value to your visitors.
This is important for two reasons. First, it shows you which pages your customers are engaging with the most, showing you where to ramp up you marketing efforts and where to cut back. Secondly, it shows you which pages (those with a high bounce rate or low traffic) are hurting your site on Google. Any page that has a high bounce rate will likely lead to a drop in rankings for the related search term used to get to that page.
The lower your ranking on Google, the less traffic and fewer conversions that you get to your e-commerce business gets. And that's a very bad thing.
If a landing page has a high bounce rate, then that means that it is not providing a solution to those who are clicking out of it once they arrive.
Don’t worry, this happens.
All you need to do is figure out exactly how to provide the best solution to your customers so that they stay on your page longer.
This can often be accomplished by directly answering the search query that leads them to your page. If users are looking for information when they arrive to the page, then provide them with information. If they are looking for a product, then provide them with a product and a killer product description.
Whatever it is that they’re looking for, give it to them and you will see a drop in the bounce rate for that page.
Ecommerce Web Traffic Sources
Knowing where your traffic is coming from will provide tremendous insight into how to organize your marketing campaigns.
It will allow you to dedicate your time and resources to an effective channel and improve those that perhaps aren't bringing in quite as much traffic as you'd like.
And this is super important to understand because the more traffic coming to your site, the more ecommerce sales are being made.
There are many different ways to boost traffic to your site, so take the time to understand each channel and how to improve them.
Your organic traffic is coming from search engines, where your potential customers are searching for the best product to fit their needs. The easiest and most effective way to boost organic traffic is through basic search engine optimization (SEO). With thorough keyword research, you will be able to position yourself (and your site) in a way that makes you more discoverable to your target audience.
Google Analytics isn't very good at providing much data on keywords that bring in the most traffic, thanks to the SSL encryption. Basically, Google hides keyword data for any users who are logged into the Google accounts while conducting a search on their search engine.
Not to worry, though. The Google Search Console provides all of the keyword and traffic data that you need in order to know which keywords are attracting the most visitors as well as leading to the most e-commerce transactions.
There are a number of ways referrals can be measured, whether it's through inbound links or through a referral program. You will be able to see all of this data within your Acquisition Report under 'All Traffic'.
With a referral program like ReferralCandy, the data will automatically populate in your Analytics account, giving you a real-time report on how much traffic is coming in through your referral program.
This will allow you to see which rewards programs are most effective at bringing in traffic and which are least effective.
When a visitor arrives to your ecommerce website through a social site, you will see it listed under social media as a traffic source. While you can't necessarily predict how others will be sharing your site with their audiences, you can certainly use an ecommerce tracking code for all social media marketing campaigns you run to monitor which campaigns are most effective.
As for the rest?
Try A/B testing the copy, images, and audiences that you're posting to.
Just like you will want to use a tracking code on your social media posts to see how users arrive to your online store, you will want to do the same with your email marketing campaigns. You can see within your analytics reports which email marketing campaigns are bringing in the most visitors and result in the highest ecommerce conversion.
Of all marketing channels, the paid search is perhaps the most important to monitor in your analytics reports. It will be costly to run PPC campaigns and so you want to be absolutely sure that you're running the most efficient campaigns possible.
Analyzing your e-commerce data is essential to growing your business. It will guide your digital marketing efforts, improve your product list, and increase your total revenue. Knowing which metrics to pay attention to is certainly important, but understanding how to read the analytics reports within your dashboard is crucial if you ever want to make sense of the data.
Because these reports will show you exactly which visitors are converting well, where they come from, and how you can better target them. It will help you move them along the purchase funnel, leading to higher conversions and, perhaps more importantly, higher revenue.
There are countless reports that you can sift through, each giving you insights into your target audience and buying customers. While each can provide value to your e-commerce website, I’ve shown you those that will have the greatest impact on your marketing campaigns.
Take a look at your Google Analytics dashboard and see if you can start to make sense of some of the data. Then, begin testing new marketing campaigns to bring in fresh traffic and increase your e-commerce conversion rate. Good luck!
Marquis Matson is an SEO analyst, content marketer, and writer. She specializes in search engine optimization for ecommerce sites in the yoga and wellness niche. She lives as a digital nomad, spending time in Ecuador, California, Thailand, India, Australia, and more. You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at marquismatson.com.