Get Ready for Holiday Ecommerce with Google Analytics

With the holidays almost upon us, merchants everywhere are getting excited about prospects for another prosperous season. Ecommerce sales are predicted to reach record highs this holiday season, with digital sales set to surpass 10% of total retail for the first time.

A recent survey by Deloitte shows half of Americans are planning to shop for holiday gifts online and will spend almost 47% of their budgets online. And although many shoppers are looking at items in stores and buying online, others are doing the opposite – looking online and buying in a brick-and-mortar store. More customers are shopping via mobile, and the holiday shopping season ­and the search for great deals starts earlier each year.

Of course this makes perfect sense from the customer’s perspective. We’ve all integrated online and offline shopping to find the best selection, quality and prices, and we’re just as likely to shop online as in store on Black Friday and right through the holidays.

For companies that sell through multiple channels, data is crucial for planning and executing marketing campaigns. Understanding the capabilities of Google Analytics will help you get the most out of your data, during and after the holidays and year-round.

To do this, multichannel merchants, like all retailers, need to focus on two areas: ensuring digital marketing campaigns are properly tagged, and fully leveraging the suite of enhanced ecommerce reports in Google Analytics. Here are some keys to help you with both:

Custom Campaign Tracking

Tagging your links allows you to calculate the effectiveness of your campaigns and identify the best ways to drive more visitors to your site. Google Analytics automatically assigns a source and medium to all your site traffic but with custom campaign tracking, you can override these values or collect additional information about the content that brought users to your site. This tracking uses source and medium plus three additional parameters.

a. Campaign: The associated marketing campaign (required)

b. Keyword (aka Term): The paid search keyword (optional)

c. Content: An indicator of the version, audience, or featured content (optional)

With some traffic, such as AdWords paid search, the campaign and keyword will be tracked automatically. For other traffic sources, such as email and social, you’ll need to set up custom campaign tracking. Tagging tools such as On-the-fly tagging Google Chrome Extension and Google’s URL Builder make it easy to tag URLs for campaign tracking.

Acquisition Reports

These reports help marketers understand users’ acquisition-behavior-conversion (ABC) cycle. They allow you to analyze where traffic originates by marketing channel, traffic source and medium, and campaign. The “source” dimension in Google Analytics indicates where the traffic originated. Most traffic sources can be categorized into four groups:

  • Direct: Typed URL in browser or arrived via bookmark
  • Referral: Link from another website
  • Search: Organic search engine or paid search ad
  • Campaign: Campaign URLs (such as email links)

Each ‘source’ is accompanied by a ‘medium,’ which indicates how the traffic arrived. Source and medium can be viewed separately or combined in the ‘source / medium’ dimension.

Conversion Reports

Conversions Reports allow you to understand how often users complete behaviors that are important to your business. They are divided into four sections: goals, ecommerce, multichannel funnels, and Attribution. In the ecommerce reports, you’ll find order-level and session-level key performance indicators (KPIs), including transactions, revenue, average order value (AOV), and ecommerce conversion rate.

Google Analytics’ enhanced ecommerce reports collect a wide variety of data that can help you discover insights about products, promotions, shopping behavior, economic performance, and the merchandising success of your website. The ecommerce overview and sales performance reports display order-level data, while the checkout behavior and shopping behavior funnel reports uncover user behavior patterns that preceded purchases, including how many sessions completed checkout and where users abandoned their carts. The product performance report allows you to determine the revenue attributed to individual products, product categories or product lists; you can also find metrics detailing the entire product-level purchase path.

Enhanced ecommerce reports also help you understand the impact of your marketing content and promotions. You can use the internal promotion report to see how internal promotions, such as banners and hero images, performed in terms of clicks and revenue. The order coupon report lets you see the order-level coupons that were applied to purchases and the associated revenue and AOV. And the product coupon report allows you to collect product-level coupon data.

These are a few of the tools available through Google Analytics that can help you better understand today’s rapidly changing shopping trends and adjust your marketing strategies with agility. By learning to leverage real-time, actionable analytics, you will be more responsive to your customers’ desires, cut down on problems that cause them to abandon purchases, and increase conversion rates.

Pam Castricone is a Web Analyst with InfoTrust