If you have an ecommerce store you likely already have Google Analytics installed, but what about ecommerce tracking? Google Analytics gives you lots of useful data out of the gate, but when you enable ecommerce tracking it’s like adding a rocket booster to your bicycle.
In this post, I’ll be covering how to set up ecommerce tracking in your Google Analytics account as well as how to get started using it. But first, let’s talk about what it adds.
Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics enables store owners to track purchase related metrics in minute detail.
With it turned on, you’ll be getting deeper insight into things like:
- Product sale details
- Revenue by product list, product, or overall
- Conversion rates on specific products
- Number of unique purchases and unique shoppers
- Date based performance of products
- And more, so much more…
Basically, whereas vanilla GA gives you info on visits, pageviews, time on site, demographics and all that jazz; ecommerce layers in a detailed look at what shoppers are doing on your store, including what products they are buying, which ones they are putting in their cart, which they are browsing, etc.
We’re talking added value here. Ecommerce tracking doesn’t replace anything in GA. It enhances the data and layers in product specific details. You’ll be using the ecommerce data along with all of that other data to help improve your marketing and sell more products.
There are a few steps to setting up your tracking. You may need to involve a web developer to get the tracking set up properly. In fact, if you have a dev who installed Google Analytics for you, stop reading and just have them do this for you.
For the more DIY types out there, here’s how to enable ecommerce tracking in your Google Analytics account.
Click on the Admin Tab. Find the View column and look for Ecommerce Settings.
Toggle the Enable Ecommerce switch to On.
You will have a couple of other optional things to turn on. I suggest turning everything on, including the Enhanced Ecommerce Settings. You should definitely enable Enhanced, as it lets you see more data, like when someone adds or removes items from a cart or views a product. This may require some developer help.
After this, things get a little technical, so I’ll just refer you to the Google documentation on how to set up the code to get ecommerce tracking working.
The good news is, your ecommerce platform may make it super easy to get ecommerce tracking set up after you enable it. Check out the help docs for your chosen service before you decide to do it yourself.
Once you’ve set up ecommerce tracking, you’ll get access to new reports into Google Analytics. Let’s take a look at all of the new views.
The overview screen will show you lots of useful things at a glance. The main graph shows your Revenue and Conversion rate.
You’ll also be able to see some metrics at a glance, such as total revenue, total transactions, and the average value of your orders.
The marketing section will let you dig a bit deeper into the numbers for your marketing campaigns, promotions, coupons and affiliate marketing.
Finally, you’ll get to see what your top sellers are for the chosen time period, along with how much revenue each of them has brought in. With enhanced ecommerce turned on, you can also view your top product categories and your top brands.
This section lets you get the details on things like revenue, your sales funnel, how individual products, product lists and categories are doing, and more. Here are a few highlights.
The shopping behavior view gives you a beautiful sales funnel to look at. When you view this funnel, you’re getting a step-by-step tour of what shoppers are doing on your ecommerce store.
First, you’ll get to see your total sessions, and how many of them did not do any shopping.
In the next column, you get to see all the people who did indeed view products on your store (shopping), and how many of them did not add anything to their cart.
After that, you’ll see a column showing how many people did add something to their cart (yay!) and how many of them ended up abandoning their cart without completing the purchase (boo!).
Finally, in what will undoubtedly be the smallest bar on the chart, but also the most important, you’ll get to see just how many people made a purchase.
This visual view of the shopping process on your ecommerce store is gold. It can show you which steps in the sales funnel you need to work on improving next. It also helps you see the value in doing something like a cart abandonment auto-email. If you have lots of cart abandons, it’s worth spending the time to market to those folks, as well as make improvements on your store so that more people will buy right away.
The checkout behavior view lets you put your shopping cart under a microscope. Basically, it’s a sales funnel just for your cart, where you can see exactly where any drop-off is occurring. This will help you fix any issues with your checkout process that are preventing people from making a purchase.
The product performance view gives you the full details on which products are performing best, how well they are doing, and how that compares to all the other products you sell.
This view is similar to your most popular pages view but is focused just on products. One nice thing is you can also look at groups of products by SKU, category or even brand.
In the sales performance view, you can dig into your revenue. By default, you’ll see your revenue graph for the time period selected, and a breakdown of each transaction. A transaction can include multiple products bought. It’s basically the total order per checkout.
You can also easily switch to view revenue by date, so you can get your daily revenue numbers broken out in the column view.
This section focuses on helping you track your various marketing channels for your ecommerce store. This includes stats on things like internal promotions, coupons, and affiliate codes.
While you are exploring these fancy ecommerce reports in Google Analytics, you may come across some terms that need definition. Thinking a term means one thing when it means something different can hurt your ability to understand and act upon these metrics. So, let’s look at a few key terms and what they mean in Google Analytics.
Transaction: A transaction is one checkout. It can include multiple items, including multiples of the same item. A transaction might be for one banana, several bunches of bananas, or a bunch of bananas and a quart of milk. Revenue per transaction shows the total cost of all items in that single transaction.
Ecommerce Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of sessions to your store which end up in a transaction.
Revenue: The total revenue includes the price paid for the products as well as the tax and shipping paid by your customer (depending on your configuration).
Average Value: This tracks the average value of transactions for the time period by dividing the total transactions from the total revenue.
Abandonments: The number of sessions that enter the checkout process but do not complete a checkout.
Unique Purchases: This shows how many times a specific product was part of a transaction. If 10 of a product was purchased over 10 transactions, this number would be 10. If 10 of a product was purchased in 1 transaction, this number would be 1.
Quantity: The actual number of products sold in total, across all transactions. From the example above, if 10 of a product was purchased in 1 transaction, this number would be 1o.
Average Quantity: This shows you how many of a product are purchased per average transaction.
Cart-to-Detail Rate: The average percentage of times a product is added to a cart versus how many times its product detail page is viewed.
Buy-to-Detail Rate: The average percentage of times a product is bought versus how many times its product detail page is viewed.
CTR: Click-through rate.
With Google Analytics, it’s not a problem of not getting enough information. In fact, there may be too much information for you to be able to digest it and act on it quickly.
What you need to be able to do is get at the key metrics you care about quickly, and leave all of the other metrics alone except for when you need to do some deep dive research.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to set up an ecommerce dashboard right inside Google Analytics.
Build an Ecommerce Dashboard in Google Analytics
Dashboards in Google Analytics are there to help you focus on the most important info to you. You can set up your own by clicking on Dashboard and then + New Dashboard.
Or, if you like shortcuts, here are a couple of pre-built dashboards that should work well as a starting point for your ecommerce metric needs.
Ecommerce Dashboard by Blast Analytics & Marketing. This dashboard pulls in important metrics like your ecommerce conversion rate, total revenue, transactions, top products and more.
E-Commerce SEO dashboard by Vagelis Varfis, Nudge Digital. This dashboard focuses on metrics for your organic (SEO) traffic and includes things like search terms related to revenue and transactions related to organic traffic.
All-in-one Ecommerce Dashboard by Paolo Margari. This dashboard incorporates more charts for quick visual cues into what’s happening with your ecommerce. These include charts for unique visitors compared to transactions, conversion rate by medium, and more.
Installing any of these dashboards is easy. Just click on the link for any that you like above and then click Import from the description page. If you have multiple views, you’ll need to choose which view to import it to in Google Analytics. From there, you can view your dashboards from the Dashboards tab. Note that these will import as Private, so if you want to share them with your team, click on Share from the dashboard and choose Share Object.
Set Up Automatic Alerts
Dashboards are great for reviewing your data on a regular basis, but what if you need to know about something right away? Enter automatic alerts. You can set up custom alerts for all kinds of things in Google Analytics. You’d usually use these to get a notice if a metric is spiking or dipping way outside the norm. For example, you might want to set up an alert for overall site traffic, which will send you an email or text if traffic is way down, meaning your store might be offline.
Here are a few ideas for ecommerce alerts that you could set up:
Alert for when unique purchases spike or dip. Set up an alert like this to monitor any big variations in your unique purchases. Try to get a sense of how much they vary currently, and use a big % to get only alerts for drastic changes that need immediate attention.
Alert for when revenue spikes or dips. Keep an eye on your overall revenue by setting up alerts for large spikes or dips.
Alert for when transactions are below or above a specific number. You can also set up alerts based on static numbers. This is good for monitoring things like a base number of transactions per day. Or you could monitor when a large number of transactions are occurring so you can make sure you are staffed up to fulfill all the orders.
Alerts for specific items. Another helpful alert might help you track a specific item. This is perfect if you need to keep your eye on the performance of a new item, or maybe your perennial best seller.
There are all kinds of options when it comes to setting up alerts. Try not to go overboard. Remember, you can always view your dashboard for non-emergency or not time-sensitive data. But setting up a few alerts for some things that you need to keep a constant eye on is just smart business.
To set up your own alert, click on the Intelligence Events tab and then find Custom Alerts. Click Manage custom alerts to add your own.
The ecommerce specific metrics and reports make it worth your time to learn how to use Google Analytics.
Once you’re more comfortable viewing your data, you can begin to dig a little deeper into the insights that Google Analytics can provide. For your ecommerce, one of the best things you can do is use GA to help you better understand your customers.
Rick Eliason makes this point in his article on setting up Google Analytics:
Analytics affords webmasters a way of better understanding their audience’s actions – but many don’t realise how much information they can understand about their audience’s attributes; things like how old they are, what the split between male and female is, what they typically use the internet for etc.
Information on the demographics of your customers can be immensely helpful when building your brand and marketing your store. For example, if you use Google Analytics to find out that the majority of people who buy a certain product are females shopping from their mobile devices, you might want to develop a mobile ad campaign just for them. With tools like Facebook, you can limit who sees your ads by demographics and you can also choose which platforms the ads should be viewed on.
Beyond demographics, you can get insights into the shopping habits of your customers. Hook up your store’s search tool to Google Analytics to get detailed information on what search terms are most popular. You can use this data to improve the structure of your site or to decide which products to highlight on your main landing pages or in your email.
Use Google Analytics to monitor your product performance. You can find the Product Performance report under Conversions > Ecommerce in the sidebar.
By paying attention to this, you can figure out which products resonate with your audience and put more of your attention (and paid ad dollars) behind those products.
Optimize Smart points out some common issues you’re likely to run into when using Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics in their comprehensive guide, E-Commerce Tracking in Google Analytics. A few to really watch out for include:
- Discrepancies between your ecommerce software and Google Analytics. Your ecommerce software is better suited to handle things like canceled orders, promos and the like, so your numbers may not always be an exact match.
- Duplicate transactions, which occur if a tracking code is triggered more than once while a customer is placing just one order.
- Data sampling issues can occur if you get a lot of sessions per month (over 250k) and are still using the free version of Google Analytics.
Shane Barker points out a couple more things to watch out for in an article on SEMrush, How to Implement E-Commerce Tracking in Google Analytics.
First, having a strong inventory system in place for all of your products is important. Missing or duplicate SKU numbers can wreak havoc on both your inventory and your tracking. This can lead to some transactions being completely untracked in Google Analytics.
Second, if you are dealing with multiple currencies it’s best to make the conversion to a single currency before sending your data to Google Analytics. This is because Google’s revenue numbers don’t take currency into account. This could skew your ecommerce totals dramatically.
Overall, these are just things to be aware of. The benefits of setting up ecommerce tracking properly in Google Analytics are huge. Keep learning about how best to implement it and how to interpret all of the reports. Before long, you’ll be a whiz at understanding your ecommerce metrics, which will help you make better marketing and product decisions.