To get the most from your online sales and find out how many people visit your website (and what they do while they’re there), you need to enter the world of web analytics.
Web analytics collect data from websites and produce reports so that you can understand traffic to your site and optimise its performance. eCommerce web analytics deal with measuring, sales and campaign conversions, sources and behaviours of visitors, and other site-wide performance metrics. Used effectively, analytics can be used for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website.
Knowing what the numbers mean and acting on them is vital when you sell online. Incremental improvements can add significantly to your bottom line. Here are some essential components of website analysis:
Most analytics packages allow you to install a piece of code to track conversions on all sales pages to record actual sales. Conversion tracking can also record sales values allowing you to deep dive and see how much revenue was attributable to marketing campaigns or other referrals. You can identify strong business metrics that will also assist you with marketing such as ‘average conversion value’ and average eCommerce per visit value’. If your website and shopping cart software are across different sites you will need to implement cross-domain tracking.
The number of times customers abandon their baskets and fail to complete the purchase is something that all online retailers need to address, recent research claims this figure could be above 70%. Customers abandoning their carts can signify many issues, eg hidden or excessive delivery charges, stores that require registration rather than ‘guest’ checkout, inflexible delivery options, poorly laid-out checkout processes, confidence and trust in the retailer, and many more.
Bounce rate measures the quality of traffic coming to your website. It is almost instantly accessible with most web analytics. In a nutshell, bounce rate measures the percentage of people who come to your website and leave ‘instantly’, nearly always defined as after viewing one page. A high bounce rate signifies the traffic you are receiving is not interested in your website. Useful as a site-wide measure, it becomes more interesting when you investigate the bounce rate of traffic from different sources.
Most eCommerce websites use a variety of online (and offline) marketing tactics to refer visitors to the site, eg search engine optimisation (SEO), pay per cick (PPC) advertising, social media (Facebook/Twitter), blog and review sites (eg YELP) and more. Investigation of your conversion source information may highlight a marketing channel that for whatever reason proves more successful in getting these visitors to add to basket and checkout.
Often you need to dig a little deeper than just sources as the answer may not be clear cut. Investigating ‘keywords’ (the common term for the search terms customers used to find your site in the first place) gives you a better view on the most valuable phrases for you. The results of this may help you refocus your PPC bids, on-page SEO and things like on-page content such as product descriptions.
Keep an eye on what category and product pages are the most popular. Are these pages stronger than others or is this a signal that you should expand your product range in this area or offer more variations? Your stats will also show how long visitors stayed on the site, on each web page and how many pages they visited during their visit. Low-performing pages may not interest your target market or may require further marketing effort.
A high percentage of purchasers from a geographic area provide a good indication of where your target market resides. You can then seek advertising partners that have a high exposure to this area and create banner or traffic campaigns to divert relevant traffic to your site.
‘Multivariate or ‘split’ testing are terms used to describe measuring two (or more) different versions of the same page allowing for further refinement of what page layout or even call-to-action format works best. Software such as this used to be extremely expensive but is now virtually or totally free depending on the package you use.
The above aspects of eCommerce web analysis should be considered by any online business that is looking to increase its bottom line.
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