Data is all around us.
It can be called omnipresent, and omniscient to a certain extent. Any device which can be connected to the internet generates data; and turning this into something meaningful is what separates successful online stores from the ones that fade away.
The proliferation of connected devices—smartphones, tablets, smart watches—presents a treasure trove of data—not only for enterprises, but also for small and medium businesses—waiting to be harnessed. And digital analytics is the key through which ecommerce players can harness meaningful data and make better decisions faster.
This article aims to explain the what, why, and how of digital analytics for ecommerce websites.
Digital Analytics—The What
Your website generates a lot of data—both, qualitative and quantitative—which, if examined and analyzed, can help you uncover some surprising insights. Digital analytics is the analysis of this data and the data from your competition, which can then be used to improve the user experience to ultimately help you attain your goals.
When it comes to digital analytics, ecommerce behemoth Amazon has mastered the art. From search relevancy to recommendations, and their ‘frequently bought together’ section—are all optimized after thorough analysis to display relevant products and increase the chance of a sale. This is what digital analytics is all about.
Why Digital Analytics
Before we get started with the how of digital analytics, let’s take a look at why digital analytics plays an important role:
With digital analytics, store owners can generate statistical information about all their online marketing and sales activities. Having information about which channels need to be scaled up and which need to be closed can prove invaluable and give you an edge over competitors. Along with this, statistical information uncovered can give you an insight into understanding trends and markets.
The statistical information gained through digital analytics can help businesses experiment and improve conversions. By knowing what is working and what isn’t, you can improve the overall experience and service of your ecommerce website.
With digital analytics, businesses can get to know which marketing channels provide the most value. This information is vital especially for small and medium businesses who can’t afford to waste time and money. Along with this, you can allocate spend across profitable channels as per their ROI.
Getting Started with Digital Analytics
The first and the most important step in your digital analytics project should be to identify your business requirements.
What do you want to achieve?
And how do you want to measure it?
For ecommerce websites, business objectives usually center around product/service sales and brand penetration/loyalty.
Having well-defined business requirements can be equated with a lighthouse guiding your digital analytics strategy to shore.
To get started with web analytics, Google Analytics is one tool that you can’t afford to ignore. The popularity of the tool is not only because it’s free, but also because of its ease of use and informative reports. Along with this, you can also integrate your sales data with your Google Analytics account. With this integration, you will be able to tie down your sales effort with different marketing channels. With Google Analytics, you will be able to:
Measure: Collect all qualitative and quantitative data about your business
Analyze: Extract information and analyze it, with respect to the competition
Report: Make actionable and informative reports for making better business decisions
Test: Remove personal bias/opinions from decisions by finding the best solutions
Here is Google’s ecommerce tracking guide and their free digital analytics course so that you can get started.
Tag and Track
As an ecommerce business owner, your aim should be to track everything possible. Google Analytics allows you to track traffic from all sources—search, referral, campaign, and direct.
Search traffic comes directly from search engines like Google, Bing etc. Referral traffic comes from hyperlinks posted on different websites. Campaign traffic comes from your marketing efforts, and direct traffic comes from unknown sources or sources which can’t be pinned down.
To start tracking traffic, the best practice is to manually tag your marketing campaigns so that you can ascertain which marketing channel performs better. Let’s say you want to promote your store on Twitter and post two tweets—a general tweet about your products and another tweet with a promotional offer. So how can you track how much traffic came from the general tweet and how much from the promotional offer tweet? This is where tagging comes in.
By manually tagging your links with UTMs—which are snippets of text in the URL and contain details about the source, medium, and campaign—you can ascertain how much traffic came from which link. Here’s an example of a UTM link
If you don’t tag your links, then Google Analytics will classify traffic from both the tweets as referral traffic. As an online store owner, you will need to tag every link that might drive traffic to your website. You can use Google’s URL Builder to tag your links with UTMs.
For small and medium ecommerce businesses, getting started with digital analytics can be a bit challenging. Having a strong reliance on data can help your business uncover deeper insights and stay ahead of the competition. Digital analytics, if mastered, can help your online business thrive by making smarter data-driven decisions and enable you to track traffic and allocate spend across different marketing channels.
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