I’m not going to mess around with the intro: you’re a business person, you’re in a hurry, you don’t need the encyclopedia. Here’s five things you can do to make Google Analytics run better for an eCommerce site:
1. Enabling E-Commerce Functionality
The first thing you want to do is make sure your site is correctly configured as an E-Commerce store. Go to analytics.google.com, then click ‘admin’ in the lower left.
- Revenue tracking
- Conversion rates
- Detailed transaction data (number of transactions, average order value, average quantity of items per transaction)
- Impressions via internal sources, plus transaction numbers, revenue and average order value broken down by campaign, coupon, or affiliate source.
- Funnel visualisations and customer behaviour analysis
- Checkout behaviour
- Individual product performance
In the bad old days you needed to install ga.js to do a lot of this, but thankfully it’s now a lot more streamlined: you just push a few buttons, set up your funnels, and you’re ready to go.
Under the Conversions menu, you’ll find your goals.
Configuring them is pretty straightforward and is going to change a lot depending on what you’re trying to do—the changes in the last few years have significantly streamlined the process, including a robust template system with prebuilt goals to save you time and effort.
3. Link Google Ads
To have full access to customer data, you need ads and analytics to be linked up. You can do this from the admin console, though you’ll need to have a Google Ads account set up first, and you’ll admin access on the ads account. You can find the management panel in your analytics admin dashboard:
Once you’re in there, select +New link Group. For each view in the property where you want to receive Google ads data, click ON. Once that’s done, all you need to do is click Link Accounts and you’re sorted.
This should also activate auto-tagging, but if something goes wrong, see #4. You’ll be asked to choose your Google ads account, and you can choose multiple accounts if you’ve got multiple channels you want to combine.
Enabling auto-tagging allows you a much better understanding of user ad click behaviour. Whenever a user clicks a link to your site while you have auto-tagging enabled, it’ll add extra data onto the URL that it can then store on your site. For example, if your site is MyCoolSite.com and a user clicks on it from a particular ad campaign, auto-tagging will instead take them to MyCoolSite.com/?gclickid=mycoolcampaign123 and store that data for later use.
This is unfortunately off by default—linking is meant to turn it on, but I’ve known some sites to have issues. Thankfully, turning it on manually is simple:
- Go to ads.google.com
- In the lefthand menu, find Settings, then Account Settings
- Select Auto-tagging
- Check “Tag the URL that people click through from my ad.”
Save, and then you’re done.
As a caveat, this may cause issues if your site is set up not to allow arbitrary URL parameters, that is, your site has a strict set of correct links and anything that isn’t one of them (like a Google Click link) is prohibited. Not a lot of sites do this, but some webmasters implement it as a security measure. If you turn on auto-tagging and your site starts throwing up error messages, this is probably the culprit.
5. Add Site Search
Want analytics to tell you what users are searching on your site? This is a little tricky, and might be where you want to call in a professional web developer if you’re having issues. The easy part is as follows: Settings → Site Search Settings → Site Search Tracking: ON. Once you’ve got that done, you’re going to need to identify your search query parameters. The easiest way to do this is to just ask your webmaster, you’re going to want to search various things on your site’s frontend then check the URLs to see what’s getting added.
If we take our fake site and search “nice cats,”, the URL will change to something like MyCoolSite.com?hl=en&s=nicecats. We can work backwards from there and see the thing before our search terms is s—it means search=nicecats. So, our search query parameter is s. This will be different depending on our site, though s (for search) and q (for query) are common.
Once you’ve figured out all your site’s query parameters, you’re going to want to go back to your admin panel and insert them under the Query Parameter field. You can put up to 5 parameters in the box. Use commas to keep them separate.
If you’re using some sort of faceted navigation, turn Site Search Categories on so you can see how users are searching from particular facets. You’ll need to figure out the category query parameters, in the same way you puzzled out the general search parameters, then enter them under the Category Parameter field.
Again, don’t be afraid to phone a friend on this one. I tried to do it myself the first time and ended up nearly pulling my hair out. I went with CodeClouds in the end, though whoever works for you, works for you.