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Coding Series: Part 3 – Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking

Conversion tracking is important, but if you are selling multiple products at multiple price points to customers who are purchasing multiple units, it is much more tangible to track actual revenue generated from these purchases in order to determine return on advertising spend (ROAS). Ecommerce data is tracked through Google Analytics. The reporting functionality allowed with Ecommerce Tracking provides critical information into the behavior of your website visitors and is the only way to measure the sales cycle, including how many visits or days it takes for a purchase to take place.

Benefits: Ecommerce Tracking

Ecommerce reporting in Google Analytics will provide insight into which traffic sources are resulting in purchases, such as paid search or organic traffic, as well as the average value of a purchase, ecommerce conversion rate, purchases by day, revenue by geographic region, and the value of each website visit. This data can help you determine what marketing efforts are resulting in the most revenue for your business, which keywords convert best and are most cost effective, and who your target customer really is.

How It Works: Ecommerce Tracking

Ecommerce tracking works similarly to page view tracking in that data is sent to a Google Analytics server via a JavaScript Code. When a visitor submits a transaction to your server, the data is then processed. Once the transaction is processed, your server prepares a receipt to send back to the visitor. With the code correctly installed, the server will receive and process the transaction data. As the receipt is being prepared, some of the transaction data is extracted from the server and submitted to Google Analytics by way of the Google Analytics JavaScript. Simultaneously, a receipt is sent to the visitor’s browser while the ecommerce data is sent to Google Analytics. Google Analytics tracks both transaction data (transaction ID, purchase total, tax, shipping, etc.) and item data (SKU, product name, unit price, quantity).

Code Implementation: Ecommerce Tracking

There are two necessary steps in order to start tracking ecommerce transactions.

  1. Enable ecommerce reporting for your website's profile in your reports.
  1. Configure your shopping cart's receipt page to send ecommerce data to Google Analytics.

The first step is to simply enable the ecommerce reports within Google Analytics. In the profile settings of Google Analytics, you can edit the website information to specify that you have an ecommerce site, which activates the reports. There are other settings to consider if you have an international ecommerce site.

Double check that the Google Analytics code is correctly installed on your receipt page. Without this, you will not be able to track transactions because the ecommerce code is placed right within the Google Analytics JavaScript code. The JavaScript can be installed anywhere on the receipt page as long as it’s placed after the main Google Analytics page tag.

  • Sample Ecommerce Tracking Code

<script type="text/javascript">
pageTracker._addTrans(
      "order-id", // required
      "affiliate or store name",
      "total",
      "tax",
      "shipping",
      "city",
      "state",
      "country"
);

pageTracker._addItem(
      "order-id", // required
      "SKU",
      "product name",
      "product category",
      "unit price",  // required
      "quantity"  //required
);

pageTracker._trackTrans();
</script>

Technical Details: Ecommerce Tracking

If you take a close look at this code, you will see that there are three parts to the JavaScript. There are three distinct methods or actions for each section.

  • _addTrans() creates and stores all of the information about the transaction.
  • The _addItem() method adds an item to the transaction. You will need an _addItem() section for each product or SKU in the transaction. The order ID must match the same order ID in the -addTrans() method; otherwise, Google Analytics can’t tie the item to a transaction.
  • _trackTrans() method sends the data to Google Analytics by requesting the _utm.gif file once for the transaction and another time for each item in the transaction.

Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking provides reports on total revenue, conversion rate, average order value, product overview, product SKUs, categories, transactions, visits to purchase, and time to purchase. One of the main benefits to online marketing is being able to track all of your results, and with Ecommerce Tracking, you can tie sales revenue to performance and determine the return on investment for your marketing efforts. To find out more visit: http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/gaTrackingEcommerce.html. If you have any other questions about Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking or how to install the code, please feel free to follow up with your Leverage Marketing account manager.

Coding Series: Part I – How To Install Google Analytics

This is the first post in what will likely be a five-part instructional series on valuable codes that can easily be installed, and if done so correctly, Google Analytics will provide substantial insight into your website traffic and your return on advertising dollars.

Google Analytics is one of Google’s free tools that allows advertisers to customize over 80 reports to track all activity on their website. Advertisers can gain key insights into what visitors do and how those actions contribute to the success of their business through these customizable reports focused on visitors, traffic sources, content, goals, and ecommerce.

Code Implementation: Google Analytics

Signing up for Google Analytics is simple and free, with four easy steps to complete before accessing a world of analytics. Go to https://www.google.com/analytics/provision/signup to get started. Once the account is set up, you can find your personal code snippet within the Profile Settings of your Google Analytics account.

To access your tracking code from Google Analytics:

  1. Log in at http://www.google.com/analytics.
  2. Select the profile from the accounts Overview page.
  3. From that profile’s Actions column, click ‘Edit.’
  4. At the top right of the ‘Main Website Profile Information’ box, click ‘Check Status.’
  5. The tracking code can be copied and pasted from the text box in the Instructions for Adding Tracking section.

Code snippet sample:

<script>
var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl/.” : “http://www.”);
document.write(unescape(“”));
</script>
<script>
try{
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);
pageTracker._trackPageview();
} catch(err) {}
</script>

For basic installation, copy and paste the code segment into the bottom of your content, immediately before the </body> tag of each page you are planning to track. You will need to update the “xxxx-x” in the sample above with your own Google Analytics account number.

Gauging Performance: Google AdWords with Google Analytics

In Adwords, a user’s action is labeled a “conversion,” whereas the same activity in Analytics is listed as a “goal.” In order for Google Analytics to calculate goal conversion metrics, you must create one or more goals.

Before setting up a goal, make sure you have the following requirements.

  • Name the goal: Specify a name that you will recognize when viewing the goals within your reports. Examples of names you might use include ’email sign-up’ or ‘article ABC download.’
  • Define the funnel: While funnels are optional, defining one can help you map where visitors drop off during the path to completing a goal.
  • The value of the goal: Google Analytics uses an assigned goal value to calculate ROI, Average Score, and other metrics.

Setting up goals:

  1. Select the account that you’ll be creating goals for from the Overview page of Google Analytics.
  2. Find the profile for which you will be creating goals, and click ‘Edit’ under the ‘Actions’ column.
  3. Under the ‘Goals’ section, select one of the four sets to create the goal (each set contains up to five goals) and click ‘Add goal.’
  4. Enter the goal’s name so that you can quickly recognize it when viewing reports.
  5. Turn the goal ‘On’ or ‘Off.’
  6. Select the goal’s position. The pull-down menu allows you to select a goal’s position in a set so that you can control the order in which it appears from the ‘Goals’ tab in your reports.
  7. Decide which one of the three types of goals you want. This can be URL Destination, Time on Site, or Pages/Visit.
  8. Once you select the radio button for the goal type, a field for ‘Goal Details’ should appear.

Here’s a great example from Google on how to set the value of a goal:

“The value of the goal: Google Analytics uses an assigned goal value to calculate ROI, Average Score, and other metrics. A good way to value a goal is to evaluate how often the visitors who reach the goal become customers. If, for example, your sales team can close 10% of people who request to be contacted, and your average transaction is $500, you might assign $50 (i.e. 10% of $500) to your “Contact Me” goal. In contrast, if only 1% of mailing list signups result in a sale, you might only assign $5 to your “email sign-up” goal.”

Defining funnels:

After entering goal information, define a funnel if you’ve selected a ‘URL Destination’ goal type:

  1. Click ‘Yes, create a funnel for this goal.’
  2. Enter the ‘URL’ of the first page of your conversion funnel. This page should be one that is common to all users working their way towards your goal.
  3. Enter a ‘Name’ for this step.
  4. If this step is a ‘Required step’ in the conversion process, select the checkbox to the right of the step. If this checkbox is selected, users reaching your goal page without traveling through this funnel page will not be counted as conversions.
  5. Continue entering goal steps until your funnel has been completely defined. You may enter up to 10 funnel steps or as few as a single step.
  6. Click ‘Save Changes’ to create this goal and funnel.

Linking your AdWords account to Google Analytics will allow you to take advantage of extensive reporting options. It will also enable you to spot further ad opportunities by viewing AdWords conversions alongside Analytics goal/transactions. You can obtain detailed tracking information by creating customized statistics that will allow you to calculate return on investment.

To link:

  1. Add your AdWords username to your Analytics account as an Account Admin.
  2. In AdWords, select Reporting tab and choose ‘Google Analytics.’
  3. Select ‘I already have a Google Analytics account.’
  4. From the Existing Google Analytics Account drop-down menu, select the name of the Analytics account.
  5. Then, select ‘Link Accounts.’

Google Analytics is a smart web analytics solution that enables you to analyze website performance, gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaign, and create better-performing advertisements. To find out more visit: http://www.google.com/analytics/. If you have any other questions about the functionality of Google Analytics or how to install the code, please feel free to contact us or follow up with your Leverage Marketing account manager.

Improve Your Site’s Checkout Process

It can be an expensive and time consuming process to lead prospective customers to your website, so I am in agreement with Google that making your website work well should be one of your main objectives to help people buy your products.

Ads that customers click on should have products or features displayed clearly on the landing page.  It should not take the customer 3 clicks to figure out that indeed you are offering free shipping for the next 24 hours for all online orders.

  • Link ads to the right page,
  • Mirror your ad title, and
  • Ensure selling points are visible.

Make sure that if a customer clicks into your website that they can clearly navigate through your site.  Make it easy for your customer to find what they are looking for and also to go back should they have the need.

  • Make product/service categories visible,
  • Use easy-to-understand terms, and
  • Highlight where to go next.

This is a good use of Google Analytics, to ensure that you can see where customers are falling off of the buying process.

A customer should only have to go to their wallet to get their credit card number to make a purchase on your website.  If your site requires a user enter a password or other information that may not be readily available – you may lose the opportunity to make the sell.

  • Don’t ask for unnecessary details,
  • Show a status bar throughout the check out process.
  • Expedite the process, and
  • Avoid distractions such as in shopping cart advertising.

Google also lists some common questions that customers want answered before they place an order on your site.  Make sure you have answered them.

  1. Can I return this item within x amount of days?
  2. Can I review my order before I confirm the purchase?
  3. Can I easily contact support or customer service if something goes wrong?
  4. If I hit the next button, will I be billed?
  5. If I hit the next button, will I be able to make a revision still?
  6. What is the total price with shipping to my address?
  7. How many days before I get my item delivered?
  8. Is this site secure, can I trust you with my credit card details?
  9. What payment types other than credit card do you accept?
  10. VERY important for travel/hotel sites – If I’m only making a booking, how much is due now and how much is due later?

Google should definitely be applauded for making the great data available above for all to view, but just like with any new venture it is still a good idea to have marketing guru’s on your side to ensure that the tips and tactics Google shares above and at make your website work – are applicable to your businesses unique situation.

How to Track 2nd and 3rd Tier Engines in Google Analytics

One of the biggest hesitations that any advertiser has about joining 2nd and 3rd tier engines is tracking quality of traffic.  This is a valid concern as any smart advertiser will focus on traffic quality and not quantity.  While implementing the search engine’s conversion tracking is best practice, it can be very frustrating and time consuming.   This is mainly due to having multiple interfaces tracking data, no insights on engagement metrics and the fact that too much conversion tracking on a page can weigh it down.  So what is the best and quickest way for you to track 2nd and 3rd tier engines and get all the data you need to make educated decisions? Google Analytics Tracking….

Google Analytics has made huge strides in becoming the best FREE platform for tracking all your on-site analytics.  If you have GA implemented on your site, you can use URL parameters to segment the data from each engine, referral and email marketing effort that you are currently using.  What is great about GA is that, once parameters are in place, you are able to track all conversion numbers in one place, get engagement / e-commerce statistics from ALL online efforts and not worry about having ten different conversion tags on your thank you page.  So how do you create the URL parameters needed for tracking all these efforts? The Google URL Builder tool:

https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

By entering in the information that is requested on Google’s URL builder, then taking the tracking parameter it generates, you can start tracking new efforts immediately.  This will save you and your web developer tons of stress and implementation time.  The main lesson is that don’t let conversion tracking prevent you from testing new engines, if you have Google Analytics in place you can get all the relevant data you need to see if new efforts are paying off…

Google stops Print Ads product, traditional media cries a single tear

Google recently announced that in February they will be cutting corners and chopping off their Google Print Ads product. While this may not affect some advertisers and companies, it shines light on the fact that traditional advertisement may be heading to an early, although perhaps foreseen demise.

The search engine king better known as Google gives us an ominous sign that traditional print ads aren’t as effective as other new forms of advertising by shutting down their ambitious print product.

The idea of their product was to create better “calls to action” on newspaper ads by making customer response tags that point to various mediums of communication such as their website, a text messaging system or a toll-free number. These communication mediums were wired with Google Analytics in order to better track the effectiveness of these ads.

After a little over a year in business and a sluggish economy began to muzzle its way in, they decided to take the reins off of print ads because of the lack of impact it has created (Read more here). Google’s attempt at trying to apply what works for online search advertising to traditional, decades old advertising was a valiant attempt, but it shows a glimpse of what the ever-changing advertising landscape will look like.

Search engine marketing has the ability to be reviewed, scaled and modified in order to create the highest return on investment by using tools such as Google Analytics. Periodically your search engine marketing specialist can go into this tool and eliminate the poorly-performing ads and test new ones, thus maximizing ad revenue. With traditional newspaper ads, tracking ad dollars is nearly impossible. Ever ask anyone if they’ve used Google search? We’ll bet our left shoe they’ll say yes. Ever ask anyone if they open up a newspaper to only look at advertisements? We won’t bet our shoes on this one, but chances are more people have used Google. The point is not that we need new shoes, but rather a Google ad can far outreach a newspaper ad in terms of impressions on qualified traffic. And this rings true for all of the other search engines as well.

Because of said advantages of search engine marketing and our choking economy, there is currently a gradual shift into more trackable ad spending. The age of the one-stop-print advertisements is sadly dwindling away into the past, and we must embrace what’s new and working. Calling to mind that our economy is currently turning blue in the face, companies are trying to streamline their operations to get the most out of their money, which is exactly what Google did. We wish traditional advertisements good luck, and make way. – AL

The Importance of Fully Integrated Analytics and Google Conversion Code

 

The longer I manage PPC accounts the more I fully realize the importance of Google Analytics. It is of the utmost importance in truly finding the ROI and ROAS that one is looking. This is true regardless if the site is E-Commerce or Lead-Gen. Many of my clients have the base Google Analytics Code installed for the site. While this is helpful in viewing traffic patterns and entry/exit points, having the Analytics fully integrated allows us to ACTUALLY find real ROAS for each of our clients. Let me use the following example to explain what I mean.

Client X came aboard as an e-commerce site selling Vet Supplies all over the world.  They had no Conversion Code, no Analytics, and no other real way to track conversions. When they came on we convinced our client to install Google Conversion Code, as they were not tracking individual conversion types thru the Adwords Account, simply sales overall. This is a but much more common fallacy than many people realize. Once the conversion code was place it became clear that the client was spending a quite a bit of money without seeing the result that he was looking for. In fact his ROAS was definitely in the negative.

Correct use of conversion code not only counted total conversions, but also separated conversion types and recorded transaction numbers. The “Transaction Count” in Google Analytics actually is a measure of how many specific conversion types occur over a month. The nice thing about “Transaction Count” versus “Conversion Count” is TC will actually measure multiple conversions for a single user. Case in point, Client X had a “E-commerce” variable as well as an “Email Sign Up.” The “Transaction Count” will consider each of these values separately, if both are applied. Google would normally only measure these 2 actions as 1 conversion. In fully integrating the Google Conversion Code to it’s highest potential we can also give each “Conversion Type” a numerical dollar value, which we did in this scenario. For our client we knew that every 15 “Email Conversions” tended to equal 1 sale. Thus we assigned a dollar amount value to each conversion. We also assigned a dollar amount value to a normal sale.

Google Adwords will also now allow you to assign several different conversion variables as well as several conversion variable dollar amounts. This is all essential information in determining the return on your ad dollar. That being said, Google Analytics lets us to go a step further. Getting the Analytics Code fully implemented will allow us to put a numerical dollar value for each sale online. In essence, if we are selling dental products we will know how much revenue we make if we sell a Mechanical Tooth Brush as well as a Tooth Pick. For Client X this information was of utmost importance, since he was selling items that ranged from $1.25 to well over $800.00.

Getting Google Analytics Integrated fully will also allow us to see information about bounce rates, not only of your regular pages but also on the Cart. We are able see how many people do not want to pay for the “Shipping Fee” as well as how many people are not able to pay with specific payment types. For Client X we were able to see that his “shipping fee” page was the cause of88% of his exits from his cart. Once we found this out we actually lowered the shipping cost and found an almost immediate up-swing in conversions.

There really are many other reasons to implement Google Adwords Conversion Code as well as the Analytics Code fully on your website if you are using PPC. Many of these will be highlighted in the future via very specific blogs concerning each issue in depth. That being said, the predominant reason to implement both is because it is the best way available to really track and increase the return on your investment without using 3rd party subscription-based platforms or tools. Analytics paired with Adwords Conversion Code are more robust together than a lot of software out there. The difference is that it is free! It is not possible to figure the exact increase in return that Client X found by getting all of the code in place, simply because they were not tracking sales effectively before the code was implemented. A rather conservative estimate was that he increased overall ROAS by 60%! Knowing this, do you think that you can afford not to get the code in place? We would venture to say no.

Below are some helpful links for people to teach them how to get the code in place, as well as how to define e-commerce variables. Many people think it’s a lot more complicated than it really is.

https://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55528&hl=en_US
This link will help you learn how to implement code to track e-commerce transactions.

https://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532
While this link will teach you how to install code on your cart so you can see traffic patterns