How to Use Google Analytics for eCommerce

How to use Google Analytics for Ecommerce

In any business, reliable data and analytics are gold dust when you are looking to track and assess performance.

And eCommerce businesses are no exception.

So, having an analytics solution in place is one of the key building blocks in your eCommerce marketing stack.

Google Analytics is the giant of the analytics industry – and the tool which most eCommerce businesses rely on to effectively track marketing’s impact on sales.

So, in this blog, we’ll share:

Why effective analytics matter in eCommerce

Why are good analytics so pivotal for eCommerce companies?

We think there are a number of key reasons, as follows:

Enable data driven decision-making

This one if fairly obvious, but it is worth pointing out up front as it filters through all of the benefits below.

Rock solid analytics take the guesswork and gut feel out of assessing what is really happening on your eCommerce store.

From assessing customer behaviour, to identifying changes in preferences and uncovering trends in purchasing habits.

All of this creates better-informed decision-making which is a key driver of growth.

Optimise acquisition effectiveness

Driving the right kind of traffic to your website is the lifeblood of your eCommerce business.

And there are a plethora of customer acquisition channels, both free and paid, available to your eCommerce business, including:

  • qrganic search
  • social media marketing
  • paid search
  • referral marketing

However, whilst many of these channels can be effective in terms of driving traffic to your site, not all of them are guaranteed to contribute in terms of revenue generation and ROI.

A good eCommerce analytics platform is key to analysing what is and isn’t working in your customer acquisition mix – particularly at a time when CPAs are trending upwards.

Drive up conversion

Getting traffic to your eCommerce website is one thing.

But ensuring that visitors follow through to purchase – and repeat purchase – is equally important.

Detailed analytics can help you to drive up conversion rates on your eCommerce site by pulling together data that enables you to create a funnel-based view of the entire customer conversion journey.

Including where potential buyers are dropping out of the flow – so that you can adjust everything from product descriptions to checkout processes to bring them back in and drive up overall conversion rates.

Better understand customers and personalise their experience

Powerful analytics are going to give you a granular and valuable understanding of your buying audience too.

By collecting:

  • data on their user profile
  • the types of products they are interested in
  • the kinds of things that influence their buying decisions

You are going to be able to segment your audience.

And, also, build a picture up of your prospects that helps you to personalise their experience. Including delivering more targeted and relevant offers that make sense for them – and makes them more likely to engage and convert.

Improve your ROI

All of the above come together to contribute to boosting your overall ROI.

By feeding detailed, real-time analytics into your forecasting and planning processes to help drive growth and sustained performance.

How to use Google Analytics for eCommerce tracking

Google Analytics is an analytics tool that enables you to track and analyse user activity on your website and app properties.

Here are just some of the ways that you can perform eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics.

Leverage the dedicated eCommerce tracking capability in GA

At the most fundamental level, Google Analytics (and GA4 in this instance) already has eCommerce tracking capability built into the reporting interface. Although you will need to enable this in your specific instance of GA4.

Google Analytics 4 interface

You can see what is available out of the box in GA by navigating to the Monetisation overview section that exists in the Lifecycle area.

This is going to allow you to report on your eCommerce sales on your website – and ‘in-app’ – with more detailed profiling of user journeys, acquisition effectiveness and the impact of promotions and retention activities. All across identifiable audiences and cohorts that you can establish to suit your needs.

Dig into the extensive reporting capability in GA

One of the key things about GA, and GA4 in particular, is the depth of the reporting that is available.

Here are just some of the Google Analytics eCommerce reports that are worth a look:

Traffic acquisition report

As we pointed out above, driving traffic to your website can be a costly business and this report enables you to dig into how users are arriving at your website from sources, including:

  • organic search
  • paid media
  • affiliate activity
  • social media activity

Allowing you to assess the effectiveness of that activity.

Google Analytics for Ecommerce - traffic acquisition report

Purchase journey report

This report is really useful in terms of mapping out the buyer journey and building a funnel-type view that is specific to your own needs.

Google Analytics for Ecommerce - purchase journey report

Despite the fact that buyers move through the purchase process at differing speeds, they follow the same type of path.

And this report lets you map that out, assess where the pinch points are – where people fall out of the process, for example – and take action to bring them back in.

Whether that be by improving landing pages, site journeys or using promotions to smooth their journey.

Conversion paths report

This report enables you to better understand the conversion journey of a prospect – and show you which channels and campaigns are driving the most conversions.

Google Analytics for Ecommerce - conversion paths report

Lifetime value report

Point-in-time analysis of the impact of your eCommerce marketing efforts and the impact on revenue is really useful.

Google Analytics for Ecommerce - Lifetime value report

But this adds a new level of depth to your armoury by enabling you to identify the value of each customer right across the journey with your brand.

Leverage ‘off the shelf’ integrations

You can also make more of your instance of GA by leveraging some of the existing integrations that are available for it.

Close to home, GA is easily integrated with other offerings in the Google ecosystem, including:

  • Google Ads (for paid media)
  • Google Search Console (for search engine optimisation)

And there are also a wide variety of integrations available for GA with other products that you might already be using in your eCommerce stack, such as:

The pros and cons of eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics

So, that is a quick overview of what GA might be used for in your eCommerce business.

But here is also a quick summary of the pros and cons of the platform:

Pros of Google Analytics

  • GA has a built-in eCommerce tracking module that can be enabled in the interface
  • It has detailed reporting capabilities with everything from sales order tracking information to acquisition and engagement reporting and journey path analysis
  • GA has a number of largely ‘out of the box’ integrations available. Both with applications inside the Google portfolio and also with a wide range of industry standard products being used in the eCommerce sphere

Cons of Google Analytics

  • One of the big hurdles to get over with GA is the complexity and depth of the product. A situation that has been exacerbated by the forced move to GA4 this year which has led many users struggling to get to grips with an entirely new interface (and a lack of data portability between the legacy GA products and GA4)
  • Concerns recently around the illegality of GA in the EU with a number of countries across Europe declaring GA to be illegal due to concerns around lack of GDPR compliance
  • There is also evidence or poor data quality from GA with our own work with clients uncovering the fact that 80% of data is incorrectly attributed by GA due to failings in the cookie plus pixel method of tracking it uses

8 alternatives to Google Analytics for your eCommerce businesses

The reality is that Google Analytics is not your only option when it comes to eCommerce analytics.

Here are just 8 alternatives that are worth considering:

  • Corvidae – a cookieless attribution and analytics platform that enables eCommerce marketers to analyse the bread of their acquisition activity – across channels like display, Paid Social and Paid Search. And to work out what is and isn’t working in their campaign and media mix.

    It is an AI-driven attribution solution that leverages AI and Machine Learning to effectively rebuild your broken marketing data and remove the bias associated with AdTech reporting. To give you one, single view of what is driving conversion and ROI right across your acquisition media mix.
  • Plausible – is an intuitive, lighter weight and open-source web analytics tool which is cookie free and provides out of the box integration with commonly used tools like Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, Ghost and WordPress.
  • Adobe Analytics – a cloud based and enterprise level analytics tool which can be bought as part of the Adobe Experience Cloud solution. It enables you to track and analyse data from right across the customer journey. Provides heavyweight analytics capabilities and is likely to appeal to user of other Adobe Cloud products.
  • Woopra – customer journey analytics software that is designed to enable you to map out journeys on your eCommerce website. It is designed with product, sales, marketing and support teams in mind and enables the creation of complete customer profiles.
  • Fathom – is a privacy focused analytics tool that is designed to let you understand where your eCommerce site traffic is coming from, what sections of your site are popular, which campaigns are doing well and what products in your portfolio are selling best.
  • Piwik PRO – a web analytics suite that scales from a free version to enterprise level and which enables you to analyse customer journeys across your website and apps. Importantly it avoids some of the data sampling issues that are inherent in GA and only provides data sets that are 100% accurate
  • Clicky – a privacy friendly web analytics tool that deliver heatmap tracking capabilities and real-time traffic analytics that enable you to visualise the user journey on your website.
  • Matomo – open source web analytics which includes relatively rich functionality that enables you to understand individual visitor behaviours, optimise user experience and discover exactly what your customers are searching for.

Reviewing your analytics options – introducing Corvidae

Corvidae report

If you are reviewing the analytics options for your eCommerce business then you may want to take a look at our Corvidae’s eCommerce attribution.

Unlike Google Analytics, and many other analytics platforms, it is 100% cookieless and is able to boost the accuracy of your eCommerce analytics from 20% to +95% as well as:

  • Allows you to understand the true performance of your acquisition activity right across the customer journey
  • Rebuilds and stitches together data from across a range of data silos and touchpoints
  • Delivers highly effective attribution that enables you to make informed decisions on where to place your eCommerce marketing spend

To find out more about Corvidae, download our Getting Started with Corvidae guide below. Or, get in touch with our team here.

Getting Started With Corvidae