Google Analytics Audit – Conversions, Goals & Ecommerce

This is part 2 of my Google Analytics Audit. The first part focused on the code and settings in Analytics. I thought the topic area of conversions and conversion metrics should have it’s own in-depth review so I got in touch with a couple of experts to help give us some helpful perspectives on the topic. So let’s get started!

Events: Things Worthy Of Awareness

Nuclear bomb being dropped? Important event.
Yea. That was important.

Don’t overuse events – they have limits and also can wrongly be used to track  things which are already tracked in Analytics. However, Events should be used to track specific actions that are part of campaigns or can otherwise help identify valuable conversions.

Leveraging Ecommerce Data

Mike Arnesen of Swellpath has some great insights on how to leverage this data that’s sometimes left “on the table.”:

In auditing your analytics, it’s important to look beyond the basics. Ensuring correct implementation of the core analytics tracking code, turning on demographics data, and setting up event tagging/firing are all great essentials, but what other opportunities are there for your site? If you haven’t taken a good deep look into Google’s Enhanced Ecommerce features, you’re really missing out. The name is a bit of a misnomer, because this incredible feature set isn’t exclusively for Ecommerce sites; it can be applied to virtually any type of business (but that’s a whole post unto itself).

What Enhanced Ecom gives you is better insight into the customer journey towards that ultimate conversion event, the purchase. You can even identify specific segments of customers based off of where they dropped out of the funnel. Similar to paid campaigns, you can also track product impressions on category pages and tout/carousel/CTA impressions on your homepage and see CTR inside of GA for your own site. That data can then allow you to optimize your virtual merchandising!

Other great features of Enhanced Ecommerce include being able to track affiliate codes more effectively, see your own coupon code data in your GA reports (see how coupon codes influence revenue generation), and drill down into product attribution.You can even track how many times specific products were added to or removed from you Cart.

Overall, Enhanced Ecommerce is a huge opportunity to level up your analytics and get some serious insights about your customers and their journey.

Having A Goal In Mind

Vintage Mugshot
I had a goal of using this vintage mugshot in my next blog post, success!

It’s surprising just how often I have opened up analytics on a clients site and found no goals. The ultimate sin. If you’re investing any time and effort into building a digital presense, then you should definite have your fingers on the pulse of your website.

  • Take a soul searching afternoon or hold a meeting to determine what conversions look like for your business and then match that to the data you can get from your website. Most often conversions are actual sales or leads that turn into sales. If you’re driving PPC traffic to something, then you definitely should have a goal configured.
  • Beware of forms that don’t send users to the next page, you will have to configure an event for the form submission and set that as a goal vs. the usual process of making a destination URL the linchpin of the goal. The other option would be to change that form type and have it send that traffic to a trackable destination page!
  • If at all possible, add in a goal value so you can use the “Page value” metric.

Connecting Goals To Conversions

Michael Mcdougald the internet Marketing Director of  Commercial Door & Frame Distributors has a lot of imput on not just looking at goals but thinking strategically about Conversions:

With each conversion, it’s important to know where it came from, what they did within the process and what the value of that conversion is to your organization. Then this information should guide strategic changes to increase the conversion rate. Here are two key areas to improve your analytics.

Funnel Tracking
Many conversions don’t happen immediately, but instead require multiple steps, leaving room for a user to start, but not finish a conversion path. By tracking each step as a sequence, a webmaster can gain insight as to where a user stops engaging the website, and try experimenting fix this.

For example, a purchase may happen over several pages from cart, to shipping, to the credit card page. A survey will have a page for each question. Each of these steps is a potential fall off point for a user to leave before finishing. What if you knew that 50% of users left the survey after being asked their household income? Maybe you could then reword the question or add an option to leave it blank.

Conversion Value & Lifetime Value

One of the mistakes most marketers make when comparing their conversion rate to their PPC or marketing costs is simply looking at their “cost per lead.”  While it’s helpful to know this metric, it can sometimes lead to making bad business decisions if you first don’t understand what a customer is worth to your organization. While in some instances a customer may only buy once, many companies will often gain repeat business from the same customer. If at all possible, it is best to compare your cost/conversion against the lifetime value of a customer. By assuming a conversion is a one time event, you might find yourself missing opportunities to gain more loyal higher value customers. Especially when a customer “lifetime” can be anywhere from several months, to as long as 30yrs.

Let’s compare two scenarios:

1. Single Lead Customer View

Assuming one in four leads yields a single customer making one $100 purchase yielding a $40 profit, but costs $15 for each lead, one might assume a loss of $20 per sale.

2. Lifetime Value Customer View

Assuming again that one in four leads yields a single customer making an initial $100 purchase yielding a $40 profit, but costs $15 for per lead, the cost for the initial customer was $60. But in this case the customer repeated that purchase each month for a year. That customer then brought a $420 profit.

By considering the lifetime value of a customer, marketers can then work to create new long term customers and not simply drive one time sales. Happy repeat customers are not only more likely to make larger and more frequent purchases, they are also good for the business reputation often leading to valuable referrals.

Since calculating the lifetime value can be tricky, here’s a great link from KissMetrics explaining how to do it using starbucks as a case study:

Here’s how to set up both a funnel and assign a conversion value. Under the admin panel, go to the “goals” section. There you’ll find the ability to turn on goal “value” and also turn on “funnels.”
This value should be carful considered based on the conversion type. In our example the potential value of each lead would be 1/4 the lifetime value, or $105. Next set up the funnel by clearly naming each step for reference later and add the url for each step in the process. Use names like “Credit Card Page” or “Household Income” rather than “Step 2” or other potentially confusing labels.

After the conversions have been tracked over a few days, take a look at “funnels” in the conversions tab and you will be able to see step by step where customers are falling off.

Hopefully this second piece of the audit will help you get the most out of Google Analytics. What other areas of analytics do you struggle with managing? Let me know in the comments!

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