Google Analytics For Online Stores: Semalt Recommendations On How To Measure Online Sales



Google Analytics, apart from a wide range of data on website traffic, also offers a module for online stores. E-commerce reports are a dose of knowledge about sales effectiveness and user behavior. Which e-commerce reports in Google Analytics should you pay attention to and how to read the indicators? 

You will find the answer to these questions in the rest of this article. If you need help, our team of experts is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you reach your goals as quickly as possible.

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Implementation of e-commerce in Google Analytics

The e-commerce module is not available to everyone by default. It requires additional implementation, but it is not as simple as running Google Analytics for the website. Programming knowledge is necessary, because the implementation of e-commerce involves changes in the website code, and then when setting selected reports, product tagging, etc.

How to use conversion reports in Google Analytics?

Conversion reports can be applied to both online stores and any other website that pursues an online goal. In the case of offer pages, this may be, for example, collecting data for potential customers or analyzing the number of inquiries sent. In addition to sales goals, you can analyze small goals, which we call micro conversions. Micro conversions are activities that bring the user closer to the purchase and thus give us a picture of how close the users were, but they did not convert. For example, we can research the number of video plays, offer downloads, product card visits, etc. It all depends on our strategy and anticipated user behavior.

To use the conversion report, you need to define what we consider a conversion. Google Analytics gives us ready-made schemes of goals in the administration panel. We can create custom goals. There can be 20 such goals at a time. If necessary, we can turn the goals on and off, e.g. they test various settings.

User behavior in Google Analytics

In the conversion report, we can understand the behavior of our users concerning the purchase process or the conversion path. Two reports are useful for this: a Conversion Funnel Report and a Goal Flow Report. They are similar, and yet several aspects make them two separate reports. They are used to diagnose the stage in the conversion path where most users leave.

We generate the conversion paths report ourselves by designing such a path in the Google Analytics administration panel. We add the next steps of the funnel in the form of the target URL. The disadvantage of this solution is the fact that such a path is our vision of user behavior and not an actual reflection of behavior. The mechanism of collecting data on the path means that we will not know any deviations from the norm. The path adds skipped steps when the user enters the path at a later stage, and so the path is counted from the step closest to the start. The path also makes it impossible to analyze the unusual course of user traffic, e.g. going back to the previous step and then continuing the path.

The path does not have to concern the purchasing process, and may even cover the first interaction with the website. We decide what to present, so it can be used both in stores and on other websites. The condition is that they only show conversions in the form of landing pages. Paths are not suitable for event analysis.

The usefulness of the goal flow report

The goal flow report is designed to analyze unusual behavior. Thanks to this, we will easily learn about methods of converting the user that we did not anticipate. We can see stages in the conversion process where users go back, abandon a path, or choose a different "route" to convert. As a result, we do not only verify the effectiveness of our website in terms of obtaining conversions. We also verify our ideas about the optimal path of the client to the goal. We can convince ourselves of the mistakes and difficulties that make customers wander and look for other methods to reach their destination. Goal flow analysis can help improve user experience and increase sales.

In both reports, thanks to the funnel analysis:
  • We target the weakest elements of the path.
  • We diagnose the cause of the problem.
  • As far as we have the possibility - we do a / b tests.
  • With a small number of users - we implement changes to optimize the conversion rate.
The most important differences between reports based on GA Support:
Goal flow
  • It recognizes the traffic of users both ways along the path, giving an overview of user behavior. It also recognizes the sequence of steps.
  • Possibility of analyzing the behavior from source to destination, even in the case of an unusual course of the customer's journey.
  • Possibility of segmenting data based on any configured segments.
  • The goal conversion rate is the same as your website goal's conversion rate.
  • Data for 100,000 sessions max.
Path Visualization
  • Recognizes only the movement towards the target, returning to the previous step shows as a new session on the path. It does not show the actual order of steps, and the entry and exit steps are pretty stretched.
  • Possibility to analyze only based on the designed path, without information about skipping steps.
  • No segmentation.
  • Goal conversion rate calculated for funnel entrances only, not for all sessions.
  • Data for 50 thousand max sessions per day.

What do e-commerce reports contain?

Standard e-commerce reports allow you to analyze sales in Google Analytics. The first report we get is a summary of the revenue indicators, conversion rate and transactions:

Revenue and Conversion Rates
  • Revenue
  • E-Commerce Conversion Rate
Transactions
  •  transactions
  •  average order value.
The above indicators can be combined and compared, for example, on the timeline. At this stage, it's important to understand how the E-Commerce Conversion Rate is calculated. It can be confusing in some situations. Contrary to what our intuition may tell us, this is not the percentage of users who made a purchase. The conversion rate is the percentage of sessions that completed a purchase. This is important because one user can generate several sessions. The more such "empty" sessions we have, the lower the conversion rate will be. 

For example, if in a given period of time, the store was visited by two people and a total of 3 sessions and one purchase were generated, we will get a 30% conversion rate. However, if the store was visited by two people who generated a total of 10 sessions and made two purchases - the conversion rate will be 20%. Even though the number of transactions increased overall, the conversion rate has decreased. 

Considering stores where users need multiple sessions to generate conversions (they take a long time to decide), the e-commerce conversion rate may not meet our expectations when analyzing sales. It all depends on the goal of the analyst in the online store. If we want to research how many purchases we have per 100 sessions, this is a great indicator. If we check what percentage of customers converts - we have to apply other analytical methods.

E-commerce performance reports

Standard e-commerce reports allow you to analyze sales in Google Analytics. The first report we get is a summary of the revenue indicators, conversion rate, and transactions:
Revenue and Conversion Rates
  • Revenue
  • E-commerce Conversion Rate
Transactions
  •  transactions
  •  average order value.
The above indicators can be combined and compared, for example, on the timeline. At this stage, it's important to understand how the E-Commerce Conversion Rate is calculated. It can be confusing in some situations. Contrary to what our intuition may tell us, this is not the percentage of users who made a purchase. The conversion rate is the percentage of sessions that completed a purchase. This is important because one user can generate several sessions. The more such "empty" sessions we have, the lower the conversion rate will be. 

For example, if in a given time, the store was visited by two people and a total of 3 sessions and one purchase were generated, we will get a 30% conversion rate. However, if the store was visited by two people who generated a total of 10 sessions and made two purchases - the conversion rate will be 20%. Even though the number of transactions increased overall, the conversion rate has decreased. 

Considering stores where users need multiple sessions to generate conversions (they take a long time to decide), the e-commerce conversion rate may not meet our expectations when analyzing sales. It all depends on the goal of the analyst in the online store. If we want to research how many purchases we have per 100 sessions, this is a great indicator. If we check what percentage of customers converts - we have to apply other analytical methods.

E-commerce performance reports

In the field of e-commerce analytics, we can analyze the effectiveness of sales, product, and product groups.

The sales performance report shows the revenues and costs for a given transaction. You can analyze changes in sales on a timeline, compare them with any period. For many stores, this is not an exceptionally attractive report, because the same data can be obtained from your CRM. However, data on sales effectiveness thanks to the use of segments provide insight into the relationship between revenues and traffic from specific sources, devices, etc.

Product performance allows you to analyze effectiveness in the context of selling a given product. The report uses the term "Unique Purchases". Unique purchases are the number of purchases in which the product appeared. However, the indicator ignores the number of a given product per transaction. If you want to know the number of items purchased in one transaction, use the "Quantity" column. In this report, we can also switch the view to product categories.

We also have two indicators in the report that show effectiveness:
  • Cart to details ratio - the number of products added to the cart/number of product details views.
  • Buy-to-detail ratio - number of unique purchases/number of product details views.
E.g. our product was displayed 100 times but only bought 1 = 1%

In the product list performance report, we can analyze selected product groups. These can be product categories, product search results, products displayed as recommended products, etc. The report is to determine whether displaying a product in a given list generates sales.

How to analyze conversion paths in Google Analytics?

In addition to your goals in your overall conversion report, it's worth digging deeper. The conversion sources in the Overview Goals report only give us information about the last source before conversion. Meanwhile, we need time and at least a few visits to make a purchase. Exactly, but how many?

Google Analytics can measure the behavior of a single user over a maximum period of 90 days. The lapse of time and number of interactions can be calculated taking into account all or selected variables: impressions, clicks, direct, multimedia.

The most important conversion paths and assisted conversions are reports that help you understand the performance of each traffic source.  Not only do they take into account the last source before converting, but they allow you to know the source of the first, second, and each subsequent interaction with the page until the conversion is complete. On the other hand, assisted conversions tell us which acquisition channel has the greatest share in all conversion paths.

Summary

Google Analytics can be simple and complicated, depending on how much we want to delve into reports and custom features. The reports described above are only a fraction of what can be done. However, many stores do not even reach these reports, limiting themselves to analyzing the number of users, sessions and bounce rate. It is worth using conversion and e-commerce reports, because they are a valuable source of knowledge about user behavior and allow you to correct shortcomings in the online store. As a result, they are a source of knowledge for optimizing your conversion rate.

From all the above in this article, it is obvious that mastering and accurately analyzing Google Analytics results is reserved for professionals.

If you want to succeed with such analyses by interpreting them properly, we invite you to make use of professional services such as Semalt.

There are also many other very useful and much more efficient tools that we invite you to discover today.

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