An Introduction to Analytics for eCommerce Websites

The online marketing space is in a constant shift as new technologies, services, and marketing tactics gain popularity and become the new standard. Online store owners are one of the many different segments affected by these constant evolutions. In order for these business owners to survive and thrive, they need to be able to make better decisions faster. This is where eCommerce analytics comes into play.

In this article, I will cover the major aspects of web analytics as they apply to the eCommerce space, and I’ll also provide a number of tips and important takeaways for online store owners of every shape and size.

Why Should You Bother with Analytics?

Before I dive into setting up the necessary eCommerce analytics tool. I think it’s important to take a moment and mention why I believe it is critical that all serious online store owners master the basics analytics for eCommerce.

Understand Activity in Terms of Funnels

One of the basic concepts of web analytics is funnels. All marketing activities can and should be seen in terms of funnels. The idea of funnel analytics is that your target audience will go through a step-by-step flow or funnel until they make a purchase on your site. A typical marketing funnel may look like this:

  1. A fan on your business’s Facebook page sees one of your posts.
  2. The fan clicks on the post.
  3. The fan arrives on a landing page advertising a specific product and clicks on “add to cart.”
  4. The fan clicks on checkout.
  5. The fan enters their personal information and finalizes the purchase.

At each step of the process, a certain percentage of people will drop out of the funnel. Knowing these percentages will help you determine the barriers and psychology behind your customers.

Track Everything Possible

In the world of web analytics, all traffic can be divided into 4 categories. These are search, referral, campaign, and direct. Search traffic is traffic that comes directly from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Referral traffic is traffic that comes directly from a link on a different website. Campaign traffic is traffic that has been tagged by the marketer. Direct traffic is traffic that doesn’t have a known source. As you work with Google Analytics, these 4 categories will become more familiar.

A good practice is to manually tag your marketing campaigns so they are better segmented within Google Analytics.

Set Up Your Funnel Analytics

When it comes to funnel analytics for eCommerce sites, I recommend Google Analytics. The reason I like these GA is that Google provides great support for eCommerce analytics natively within Google Analytics.

Get Started with Google Analytics’s eCommerce Integration

Google Analytics has become a standard tool when it comes to web analytics because of its ease of use, informative reports, and the fact that it’s free. Google Analytics is a very powerful tool for eCommerce sites because Google allows you to send all your sales data to your Google Analytics account. Once this integration is set up, all your sales will be tied to actual sessions, allowing you to connect sales to specific marketing channels.

Setting up eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics is a multi-step process that requires that you first enable eCommerce tracking in your Google Analytics admin and then make some changes to your code. This last part can be tricky, and I recommend that you get a programmer friend or your web designer to help you out with this step.

Other Important Web Analytic Metrics and Where to Find Them

Now that we have covered some of the basics of eCommerce analytics and how to set up Google Analytics, I want to cover some other aspects of web analytics.

Email Marketing Funnels

Email marketing is far from dead and should be a major component of your online marketing activities. What makes email marketing unique in regard to web analytics is that all email marketing campaigns have the same basic funnel.

Social Media Analytics

Social media has become a popular marketing channel for online store owners over the last few years. As with email marketing, it is possible to map out entire funnels for your social media marketing activities.

Pay-Per-Click and Other Paid Marketing Activities

PPC can be a very profitable channel for certain eCommerce sites, and I highly recommend that you experiment with the channel. The main issue with PPC is it is important that you aren’t “spraying and praying” and that you actually have a strong grasp on the performance of your campaigns. PPC is tough for most and can be very time consuming, so another option is to outsource it. Even if you do decide to outsource it, it is important that you understand the basic terminology so you can understand the reports the outside company will provide you.

A/B Testing and Other Optimization Tips

Setting up Google Analytics, and understanding the core analytics within Facebook’s Page Insights, is only the beginning. The real magic happens once you have enough data and you understand what is working and what is not. Then, it’s on to optimization of your funnels and shifting your marketing dollars.


Having a strong data collection setup and access to detailed reports in services like Google Analytics, Facebook, and others will provide you with the information you need to make tough, but critical business decisions. I hope this post has emphasized the importance of web analytics for online store owners and why I believe it is an area that, if mastered, will provide major competitive advantages to store owners.

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