One of the greatest things about operating online is the trail of data customers leave behind. Unlike the store environment, where it’s relatively difficult to track shopper activity and see how it impacts sales figures, online analysis tools make assessing – and improving – the digital journey a straightforward process.
Google Analytics is one of the best free tools available to ecommerce retailers, yet it’s amazing how many companies feel uncomfortable extracting information from it. There are enormous levels of detail that online retailers can delve into, to build up a comprehensive picture of customer activity. However, there are also some simple metrics that growing businesses can analyse to make immediate business changes. For example:
Top landing pages
Gone are the days where all traffic is driven through the homepage; increasingly, consumers are searching for specific items and landing on your website through the page most relevant to that search.
Breaking down which pages attract the most entry traffic will help you to separate underperforming from overperforming areas. You can compare the pages in each result group to see what differs between the two categories – style, presentation and links can all play a major part.
Consumers will arrive at your site from a variety of channels. The acquisition function breaks down their route to entry – including search engines, direct traffic, and referrals such as social media, forums etc. – to see where traffic is coming from.
It can be a very useful measurement when looking at the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, to see which activities are driving people to your website. You can also explore search engine results to see which are the most common keywords being searched by customers. Your aim should be to appear on the first page of Google for the most popular search terms.
This figure details how many people visit your site and then leave again without visiting another page. The lower your bounce rate, the more effective your website, as it means customers are continuing their journey – hopefully to purchase.
Look at which pages are generating the highest bounce rates and assess what could be putting people off. No hyperlinks, poor quality images or complicated copy are just some of the common causes, all of which can be easily fixed.
This isn’t a real-time figure, but rather an average length of time that a shopper spend on your site, based on the time they clicked on the first page and exited the last page. The longer this session time, the better your website is performing.
If session times are shorter than expected, analyse the most common exit pages. If one page is proving to be the main problem, making changes to the layout or content could lengthen online customer journeys.
Google Analytics include a ‘tagging a link’ option, which enables you to create bespoke links to your site through which to monitor marketing activity. For example, if you’re sending out a newsletter or running a digital advert, this makes it possible to see which channels are driving traffic, and tweak your spending to improve return on investment.