Using Google Analytics for ecommerce lets you harness the power of big data to drive your profits. Google's powerful business analytics platform provides invaluable intelligence to understand your customers, track your marketing performance, and increase your sales. Learning how to leverage Google Analytics can boost your online store's revenue.
In this article, we'll share eight top ways you can use Google Analytics to improve the performance of your ecommerce store. We'll include ways you can apply GA to improve your advertising effectiveness, understand shopper behavior, make your website more mobile-friendly, optimize your sales, and reduce shopping cart abandonment. We'll also answer frequently asked questions about how to use Google Analytics ecommerce tracking and how GA relates to Shopify analytics tools.
Note that in 2023, Google Analytics is in the process of transitioning from its previous Universal Analytics (UA) incarnation to its GA4 update. GA4 shifts the focus of GA from website hits to the cross-platform website and app events through all stages of the customer lifecycle. It simultaneously makes greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and secure data gathered from customer interactions. Despite these changes, everything in this article applies equally to UA and GA4. GA4 can do everything UA does and more, but it uses a different dashboard and includes additional features. When applying the tips offered here, use the dashboard menus applicable to the version of GA you have installed. See Google updates for more information about transitioning from UA to GA4.
Google Analytics provides business intelligence on how your marketing campaigns perform, how customers interact with your website and apps, how your online store delivers user experience on different devices, and what shoppers browse and buy.
Use GA to see what's bringing visitors to your ecommerce store, what they do when they arrive, and what they're purchasing and leaving in their carts.
Apply GA data to improve your online store's marketing performance, user experience, and sales results.
You can use GA with other analytics tools, such as those provided by Shopify and Gelato.
Google Analytics can be applied in a multitude of ways to deliver enhanced ecommerce results. Here we'll look at ways you can use GA to analyze what's bringing visitors to your ecommerce site, what they're doing when they arrive on your site, what type of user experience they're enjoying, and what they're buying. We'll cover how to use your Google Analytics account to:
Set business, marketing, and sales goals
View traffic sources for your online store
See what searches lead to your ads
Measure ad campaign success
Understand customer behavior and engagement
Optimize your ecommerce store mobile experience
Monitor sales data
Track cart abandonment
By collecting and analyzing this data, you can gain insight into how to adjust and improve the performance of your online store. GA displays data in Google Analytics reports for convenient summarization and viewing. You can customize how reports get displayed.
Google Analytics helps you guide your online store performance by allowing you to set goals and track your results. In GA, a goal is an activity known as a conversion. You can set four goals for four types of conversions in Google Analytics:
Events: Goals defined by customers taking specific actions, such as clicking on an ad link, visiting a page, scrolling through a screen, signing up for a mailing list, or making a purchase.
Destinations: Goals defined by specific pages or screens loading, such as loading a product page or app screen. Destination goals can be organized into funnels defining a path of destinations you want customers to take. You can then track where customers enter and leave the funnel, letting you know whether a landing page is generating conversions, for example.
Durations: Goals defined by sessions that last a specific amount of time, such as time spent on a sales page.
Pages/screens per session: Goals defined by customers viewing a certain number of pages or screens throughout a visit, such as viewing at least two pages on an ecommerce store.
Google Analytics also offers a Smart Goals feature that uses artificial intelligence to analyze your site's traffic and automatically identify sessions most relevant to your goals.
You can assign monetary values to goals to prioritize goals that impact your revenue more.
Tracking goals lets you set specific objectives relevant to your business, marketing, and sales strategies. You can then use your ecommerce conversion rate to measure how successfully your current tactics achieve your goals. This enables you to test new tactics, make adjustments and improvements, and optimize your activity to better align with your goals.
Google Analytics lets you track how traffic is coming to your online store. This gives you insight into which marketing methods drive traffic to your ecommerce website and where you should invest your marketing dollar. Traffic sources you can track include:
Direct traffic coming from customers typing in your URL
Organic search-engine referrals
Paid search-engine referrals from sources such as Google Ads and Google Marketing Platform
Social network referrals from social media sources such as Facebook and Instagram
Email marketing campaigns
Other traffic from unspecified sources not falling into the above categories
Tracking your traffic sources tells you where your traffic is coming from and which channels generate the most traffic. This helps you decide where to allocate your marketing efforts and budget. It also lets you know where to adjust your activity to shore up underperforming campaigns.
Google Analytics provides search terms report and search terms insights features that tell you what search terms led customers to your Google Ads. This helps you know what keywords customers are searching for so you can develop content and ads aligned with those terms.
The search terms report feature lists terms that resulted in your ads being displayed and clicked on. Search terms insights reviews where your ads have appeared in the last 56 days and group them into themes and subthemes.
Google Analytics lets you track the performance of advertisements on Google Ads and other advertising networks. You can track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as:
Impressions: how many times your ad is displayed
Clicks: how many clicks your ad generates
Click-through rate (CTR): ratio of clicks to impressions
Cost: measured in terms of metrics such as cost per click (CPC) or cost per action (CPA)
Conversions: customized metrics defined by goals you specify
Tracking these ecommerce metrics is vitally important for effective online advertising. By tracking ad campaign performance, you know which ads are working and which aren't. You can waste money on underperforming campaigns if you don't know this. This information helps you avoid wasting your budget and scale up effective campaigns. You can combine ad campaign tracking with split testing (A/B testing) to compare the results of different versions of your campaigns and optimize your advertising.
Google Analytics lets you track actions that reflect customer engagement and actions that indicate a lack of engagement. These types of customer behavior are measured by engagement and bounce rates. Bounce rate sessions are defined as sessions that did not result in engaged behavior.
Examples of engaged session activities include:
Landing on your home page
Scrolling to the bottom of a page
Navigating to another page
Landing on another page
Sessions end when visitors move an app to the background, click on a different site, or close a tab. A crashed site or app also ends a session.
User engagement metrics tell you what customers are doing in your store and where they're doing it. For example, you can see if a certain page has many visitors who leave your site after clicking on it. This type of information can tell you where to drive traffic to increase engagement and which pages need improvement.
The Universal Analytics version of GA includes Site Speed reports that tell you how fast your site loads on mobile devices and what's slowing it down. Knowing this can help you load your site faster to deliver a better user experience.
Currently, GA4 does not include Site Speed data in its tracking or ecommerce reports. It is unknown if Google will add this feature to GA4. To analyze your site's mobile performance, you can use other apps, such as Google's PageSpeed Insights (PSI).
Google Analytics provides a Performance report tool you can use to see key sales transaction data. This data can help you see which marketing efforts are generating your revenue so you know where to allocate your budget, where to scale up, and where to make changes.
The Performance report tool lets you see metrics such as:
Conversions: how many times have customers engaged in conversion events
Ad cost: what you paid for your ads
Cost per conversion (CPC): the ratio of your ad expenditures to your conversions
Total revenue: all revenue generated from purchases, subscriptions, and ads
Return on ad spend: the ratio of the revenue from your conversions to the cost of your ads
This information lets you see where your spending generates a return on investment (ROI). Knowing this tells you where to focus your spending and what to cut spending on.
Google Analytics lets you track how many customers added items to their cart without buying them. Knowing this can alert you to potential problems with your shopping cart experience so you can correct them. For example, customers may abandon carts because of shipping costs, reluctance to create an account, or concerns over slow delivery speed.
In GA4, you can track cart abandonment by creating a cart abandoners audience (also known as a basket abandoners audience), defined by users who added items to shopping carts without purchasing them. You then would define the completion of your checkout process as a destination within a goal funnel and track how many customers exit the funnel just before reaching this point.
Google Analytics provides business intelligence insights you can use to understand your marketing performance, shopper behavior, online store experience, and sales results. Applying this information can drive more traffic to your store, deliver a more engaging customer experience, and generate more sales revenue.
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You can use Google Analytics to analyze and apply ecommerce data that impacts your marketing and sales performance. You can analyze data about your marketing campaigns, advertising effectiveness, customer behavior, website user experience, and sales results. You then can apply this data to predict, adjust, test, and manage your performance based on data-driven decisions.
Google Analytics is far more accurate than guesswork, but it is not always 100% accurate. Discrepancies can result from improperly embedding your Google Analytics tracking code, cookie consent refusal, spam and bot traffic, internal traffic, session timeouts, lack of historical data, statistical undersampling, and statistical oversampling. To deal with data deficiencies, Google Analytics may make analyses and predictions based on samples, models, and extrapolations rather than actual or complete data. As a result, you may find differences between your actual performance and GA analysis. Your web admin, developer, or data analyst can use tools such as Google Analytics Debugger and Screaming Frog to troubleshoot your GA installation.
Yes, you should enable ecommerce tracking with Google Analytics even if you use Shopify analytics tools. Shopify's analytics tools provide valuable but limited insights compared to Google Analytics. The Shopify ecommerce platform provides analytics and reports tools that track sales, visitor return rates, conversion rates, average order value, repeat business, and other data. While useful, this information is limited to what customers do on your Shopify site, whereas Google Analytics provides cross-platform insights. Google Analytics also tracks many more metrics than Shopify and uses more powerful AI tools to analyze data and make predictions.
Google Analytics is important for ecommerce because it empowers you to make data-driven decisions about your marketing, website design, and sales strategies. Without GA or a similar analytics tool, you can make business decisions based on intuition and guesswork rather than objective information. You may luck out this way, but chances are you'll make mistakes you could have avoided using Google Analytics, resulting in poorer marketing performance, lower sales results, and wasted advertising dollars. To maximize your performance and profits, you should use Google Analytics.