For an e-commerce business, your website is your storefront. In order to get return customers, it is extremely important to make a great first impression.
So, you’ve invested in a great logo, and a fancy ecommerce site. You’ve ramped up your social media presence and you’re investing in Facebook ads as well as Google shopping ads. Maybe you’ve also invested in an inventory management tool, so you should know which items are your best sellers.
But, do you know which online channels (social, referral, organic, pay-per-click) convert the most? Or which landing pages on your site drive the most sales?
Tapping into your website analytics can provide extremely valuable data into where your customers are coming from, allowing you to better target the channels that drive more sales in order to drive even more.
Free Analytics Software
Google Analytics is a free cloud based platform that millions of website owners utilize. And don’t let zero dollar the price tag fool you, GA provides a very robust set of tools that are used by small and enterprise businesses alike.
If you aren’t already using Google Analytics, then get it now. If you are using it already, then you are halfway there! We’ve outlined a few tips here to help you better understand GA and get the most from it.
One of the most basic things you can know about your website users is which channel they came from and which pages they are entering your site on.
Channels can be broken down in a few different ways, but the default channels are:
- Direct – a user typed your site address directly into the browser
- Organic – a user found you on a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo
- Paid Search – a user reached your site through a pay-per-click (PPC) ad
- Display – a user reached your site through an image ad on another site
- Social – a user was linked to your site from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Referral – a user was linked to your site from another site
- Email – a user reached your site through a link in an email
In Google Analytics, channel attribution will record where your users are coming from and allow you to determine which channels are driving the most traffic and conversions.
This data will also help you answer questions like: do you get more traffic from Twitter or Facebook? Or, do searches on Google (Organic) drive the most traffic? Are you getting any web traffic from Bing?
Any small business owner knows that marketing dollars are limited, so knowing which channels are working will allow you to concentrate on the strong and weak points in order to expand what is working and improve what is not.
Perhaps more importantly, it can prevent wasting time, energy, and money on channels that do not drive revenue.
Landing Page Attribution
Once you understand which channels are driving traffic, you can drill down into which pages users are landing on. If a specific landing page converts well, you can adjust your paid ads or SEO strategy to send more traffic to that landing page.
You can also consider what it is about that page that is converting well. Is the call-to-action different? Is the content written in a unique way? If you can determine what it is about the page that improves conversions, you can aim to replicate that to other pages on your site.
Traffic Location Data
Knowing where your web visitors are geographically located can have a huge impact on business and marketing decisions. In Google Analytics you can drill down into the Region (country) and City data to determine the physical location of your website users.
If a specific geography converts well, you can allocate more ad targeting to that area, or even consider a pop-up-store in that city. Further, if you are getting a considerable amount of international traffic, you might consider if your international shipping is a barrier at all, or even if you should create a second language version of your site to cater to these potential customers.
Mobile vs Desktop Devices
Another helpful thing to look at is what type of device are visitors using to view your e-commerce site. The device category dimension will show you the volume and percentage of users that view your site from mobile, tablet, or desktop.
This is particularly helpful to know your customers’ behaviors and how to best cater to them. If a large percentage of visitors are viewing your site on a mobile device, you will want to make sure the mobile experience on your site is excellent, and it may mean designing your site from a mobile-first perspective.
Still have questions about mobile-commerce? We recommend this excellent guide from BigCommerce that answers quite a few common questions.
Understanding Source and Medium
In Google Analytics, high-level traffic attribution can be viewed as channel, source, and medium.
Channel and Medium are very similar, and both represent the method in which your users used to reach you (i.e. through a search engine, directly, through a paid ad, etc.).
Source, on the other hand, provides more granular data. For example, if the medium of a site visit is Organic, then the source metric will show whether the visit came from Google, Bing, or Yahoo. So, viewing both medium and source metrics together can provide more useful insight.
Using UTM Parameters
The Google Analytics platform will automatically include the Medium and Source level attribution, but you can also define these manually using UTM parameter tags. These are tags you can add to the end of any url (or linking url) that allow you to define the Medium and Source data to anything you want.
For example, if you are sending an email blast to your customers, and you want to know how many users are reaching your site through the links in that email, GA may not automatically categorize this traffic. Instead, it may be bucketed under the “(other)” Medium, which is not very helpful.
The solution is to add UTM parameters to each link from your email. Thankfully, Google has developed a helpful URL Builder to walk you through this. A tagged URL link for an email blast might look like this: www.yourdomain.com/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email
In this example, you are telling Google Analytics to attribute traffic that arrives to your site through this link as Medium: email, and Source: newsletter.
With a good ecommerce platform, you’ll have great data on website visitors that convert into customers, but imagine if you can better understand the ones that don’t convert.
Tapping into Google Analytics data on these potential customers can help you understand who they are and provide insight to help determine why they aren’t converting. If you can understand their needs and fix any issues that may be preventing the conversion, you can grow your sales. And that is the whole point isn’t it?
Jon Zimmerman is the Director of Marketing for WorkWise, the provider of OnContact CRM Software. Jon has over 20 years of experience with B2B and B2C sales, marketing, and customer relationship management.