Practical Ecommerce

Google Analytics: Configuring 10 Key Ecommerce Metrics

Meaningful analytics for ecommerce sites are different from, say, news sites. Ecommerce sites should track metrics that produce or prevent actual sales, after all. Which campaign generated sales? When did visitors abandon purchases? Which sites referred customers? Which product pages convert highly, and which do not?

Google Analytics provides extensive metrics for ecommerce sites. But it requires configuring Google Analytics properly and then knowing where to monitor in Google Analytics afterwards.

In this article, I’ll list 10 key techniques and metrics for ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics.

1. Include Ecommerce Tracking Code on your Website

Unlike the standard Google Analytics tracking code — which Google Analytics provides directly and which you can drop into every page of your website with minimal configuration — Google Analytics ecommerce tracking requires some server-side coding.

If you’re not in a position to implement actual ecommerce tracking immediately, you can in the interim set up Google Analytics goals with an estimated value. Goals are configured from within the Google Analytics interface and do not require special coding.

2. Include Campaign Tags Where Necessary on Inbound Links

For ecommerce tracking and all aspects of web analytics, measure the who and the where as much as the what. (Where did your visitors originate, and what did they do on your site?) While you don’t need to configure inbound links from other websites (since Google Analytics can correctly parse the referring website from the HTTP headers), links from a variety of other sources — such as a click-through from an email in Outlook — are recorded ambiguously in Google Analytics by default. In the following scenarios, you can use campaign tags to more correctly attribute traffic source.

Click-through Type Default Medium Better Campaign Medium
email (opened in an email client such as Outlook) direct email
banner ad referral banner
retargeting banner referral retargeting
pay-per-click organic cpc*
affiliate referral affiliate
link in document (such as PDF) direct document
link in mobile app direct app

*For inbound links from AdWords, avoid manual campaign tagging and instead enable autotagging.

To configure your inbound links with campaign parameters, use a URL builder, such as this one from Google.

3. Compare Ecommerce Metrics by Landing Page

The first page that a visitor accesses on your site can play a critical role in driving an ecommerce transaction. Google Analytics presents ecommerce metrics for each of your landing pages.

Landing Pages

Google Analytics landing page metrics.

4. Understand and Monitor the Page Value Metric for Non-transactional Pages

For the given time period, the page value metric is calculated as:

(Ecommerce Revenue + Goal Value Generated after the Page Was Viewed) / Unique Page Views

The unique page views metric represents the number of visits during which the page was viewed at least once. Page value allows you to compare how effective your pages are in contributing to ecommerce transactions. Does one page have a particularly high page value? Design your navigation to drive more traffic to that page or try to replicate elements of that page on the pages that have lower page values.

Page Value

Google Analytics page value metrics.

5. Check Per Visit Value for Each Traffic Channel

How much revenue is each of your traffic channels generating per visit? Display the Ecommerce metric set in your Channels report to view Per Visit Value for each traffic channel.

Per Visit Value

Google Analytics per-visit value.

6. View Multichannel Funnel Reports for Assisted Conversions

To view the complete attribution chain that led to the ecommerce transactions on your site, view the Assisted Conversions and other Multi-Channel Funnel reports.

Assisted Conversions

Multichannel funnel reports for assisted conversions.

7. Apply the Built-in Visits with Transactions Advanced Segment

Apply the Visits with Transactions advanced segment to your Audience, Acquisition, and Site Content reports to see which types of visitors are transacting and to possibly correlate other visitor activities — such as page views and events — with the ecommerce completions.

Visits with transactions

Visits with transactions advanced segment.

8. Send Custom Intelligence Alerts by Text or Email

You can configure Custom Intelligence Alerts for changes in site metrics, such as a 10 percent increase or decrease in weekly ecommerce transactions.

Custom Intelligence Alerts

Custom intelligence alerts.

9. Maintain a Timeline with Annotations

Keep a chronology of all known time-based factors that could affect visitor volume and behavior on your site, including:

  • Design changes;
  • Outages;
  • Marketing campaigns;
  • Industry and general news.
Timeline with annotations

Timeline with annotations.

10. Track Ecommerce in your Mobile Apps

Use the Google Analytics iOS SDK or the Google Analytics Android SDK to track ecommerce transactions in your mobile apps.  For mobile web pages, you do not need to use the SDKs; the same Google Analytics tracking code executes in smartphone and desktop browsers.

Feras Alhlou
Feras Alhlou
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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Patrick Speijers | ROBINHQ.COM January 30, 2014 Reply

    Nice article Feras. I understand conversion is key. What I wonder is why retention metrics, like number of returning visitors and number of returning customers, conversion on returning customers versus new customers, order value from new versus returning customers never show up, while research shows that conversion and order value is higher on returning customers. How do you think about that?

    • Feras Alhlou January 30, 2014 Reply

      Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for the comment. Retention, cohort, loyalty, etc. type metrics and analysis are very important, I will make those a topic for future posts :).

      There is a little bit more planning and implementation work required to have visibility into these metrics. For your reference, we’ve published some material on the topic including this article on “User-Centric Analytics” http://online-behavior.com/analytics/universal, as well as the eCommerce eBook (from Carting to Purchasing) that we recently published: http://www.e-nor.com/blog/ebooks/15-secrets-to-perfecting-your-online-store

      Let me know if you have any other questions or comments.

      Thanks!

  2. Alex Carvalho February 4, 2014 Reply

    Hi Feras, another winning article. We are using GA for year and its getting confusing (with the addition of new features) every year, but you quickly gave to the world a nice understanding about it. Big help! Thanks again.

    • Feras February 4, 2014 Reply

      Hi Alex,

      I hear you :), GA is evolving at a very fast pace and it could be a bit of a challenge to keep up with it. Thank you for the note and I’m glad you found the article helpful and expect more to come!

      Thanks,
      Feras

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