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Top 50 eCommerce Tips - Part Two, Data Analysis

As you would expect from a data analysis entry, this article will include some linear step by step instructions. It will also include the relevance of studying different aspects of website data and how each can be used to optimise your website performance. So pop the kettle on, sit back and settle into this one as you’re in for an exhilarating ride – you never thought you’d hear that phrase partnered with ‘data analysis’ now did you?

What you’ll learn in this article:

First things first, why is studying your website data SO important?

Analysing your website data is one of the most pivotal things you can do as an eCommerce business owner. Not only does it allow you to optimise your site based on how users interact with it, but it also opens up a whole cascade of information about your audience, page performance, customer journeys, product and sales performance, and traffic acquisition channels. You can then use this information to continually optimise your website and reduce wastage in order to maximise sales as the ultimate goal.

For example, if you know how your paid search campaigns perform in terms of driving engaged users and sales against other acquisition channels, you can identify whether this channel is worthwhile or better yet, profitable for your business. If yes, then it is likely you’ll want to increase your efforts and budget here and perhaps reduce elsewhere.

Additionally, user experience (UX) has become an increasingly hot topic in the world of eCommerce in recent years. Website users now arrive at a site expecting a frictionless flow and seamless care throughout the entirety of their online experience, making the attention to how users shop on your site more important than ever. Understanding the user journey, in particular, which pages your users tend to exit and bounce highly on, will allow you to optimise your site based on cold, hard, objective facts – offering you a much likelier chance of performance growth.

Understanding the user journey, in particular, which pages your users tend to exit and bounce highly on, will allow you to optimise your site based on cold, hard, objective facts – offering you a much likelier chance of performance growth.

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It’s examples like these that prove data analysis is a missed trick for many! To ensure you don’t fall into the category of ‘many’ and to help you to get the most from your website data, we’ve compiled our top tips for setting up your data collection, analysis and monitoring processes. All tips have been written with a first time eCommerce owner with minimal or very basic knowledge of data analysis in mind.

So to kick things off, let’s start with the setup of your all-important Google Analytics account…

1. Set Up A Google Analytics Account

To help business owners like you, Google has cleverly compiled all your website data into one easy-to-use online tool known as Google Analytics. Google Analytics works by collecting data each time an event is fired on a site, such as when a user visits a page or when a product is added to the basket. It knows this has taken place because a piece of code, added to the backend of the site, is alerted. This information is then displayed legibly in your Google Analytics account, ready to be analysed. To get your hands on this valuable data, it is essential you have a Google Analytics account set up. If you currently don’t, you can set one up easily here.

Once you have successfully set up an account, a tracking ID and JavaScript tracking code will be generated. It is this ID or tracking code that you will need to link your account to your website. The next step is to do so is to complete one of the following:

  • Add the entire JavaScript tracking code snippet to each web page you want to track. The snippet should be added just before the closing tag on each page.


  • Enter the tracking ID into a field that asks for the Google Analytics tracking ID. (For some web-hosting services, you don’t need to add the entire tracking code snippet to each web page on your site. Instead, you’ll simply need to enter the tracking ID into a field. If this field exists, you can usually find it in the “Admin” or “Analytics” section of your web hosting).

How to find your tracking ID and tracking code snippet:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Click Admin.
  3. Select an account from the menu in the ACCOUNT column.
  4. Select a property from the menu in the PROPERTY column.
  5. Under PROPERTY, click Tracking Info > Tracking Code.

Key point: once you have successfully installed the Analytics tracking code, it can take up to 24 hours for data to appear in your reports so don’t panic if data does not appear instantly!

2. Set Up eCommerce Tracking

Now your account is set up and tracking data, you will notice no transaction or revenue data is shown. This is because eCommerce tracking has not been set up on the account yet.

eCommerce tracking is arguably the most important function to have set up on your account as this allows you to add a monetary value to users behaviour, offering significant insights into your website performance. Without it, your perception of website performance is limited to strictly user engagement figures on the site which are far less valuable. For example, users might spend a long time browsing a particular page on your site but not one user goes on to buy the product. Without eCommerce tracking, the high engagement rates on the page suggest the page is one of the top performing pages on the site when in reality it converts at the lowest rate. To set up eCommerce tracking on your site, there are two key steps.

Step one, you need to enable eCommerce tracking in the admin area of your account via the instructions below:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics
  2. Click Admin
  3. Navigate to View
  4. Click on eCommerce Settings
  5. Set Enable eCommerce to ON
  6. Optional: Set Enable Related Products to ON
  7. Click Next step
  8. Click Submit

Step two, the eCommerce tracking code needs to be added to the backend of the site:

eCommerce tracking is typically implemented once the user has completed the checkout process which usually occurs on the ‘Thank You’ or ‘Success’ page. This will involve delves into the hard code of the site. So unless you are code savvy, we recommend this is passed over to a developer to take care of.

Enhanced eCommerce tracking:

Enhanced eCommerce tracking is a plug-in for Google Analytics which enables the measurement of user interactions with products across the user’s shopping experience as well as a thorough look into basket and checkout abandonment rates. However, if your site implements a OneStepCheckout (a Media Lounge standard) then enhanced eCommerce tracking may not be essential since basket and checkout abandonment rates cannot be reported.

For more advice on whether enhanced eCommerce tracking is something, you should be doing, feel free to contact a member of our marketing team.

eCommerce tracking is arguably the most important function to have set up on your account as this allows you to add a monetary value to users behaviour, offering significant insights into your website performance.

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3. Set Up On-Site Search Tracking

A piece of data we see commonly not setup and taken advantage of is on-site search data.

Firstly, an on-site search is by no means a last resort to a failed structure but rather quick, powerful tool customers can use to find exactly what they’re looking for on your site. By knowing what your customers are searching for on your site, you can help to:

  • Identify missing or obscure content on the site
  • Optimise navigation and site layout, working to improve the user experience
  • Improve search results
  • Generate new keywords or marketing campaigns

Visits with an on-site search are also often far more engaged and likely to convert than those who don’t, so it’s important you set up and study this data to know if the search is a worthwhile function on your site.

To set up the on-site search there are again a number of simple steps you need to take in the admin area of your account. These are as follows:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics
  2. Click Admin
  3. Navigate to View
  4. Click into View Settings
  5. Scroll down and under Site Search Settings, set Site Search Tracking to ON
  6. In the Query Parameter field, enter the query parameter that your website uses in the URL when users search on your site. This is usually separated by a question mark (?) and an equals sign (=) For example, the query parameter for the URL below would be the letter ‘q’. It is important you do not enter any additional characters in this field such as ‘=q’ (Optional) If you have search categories on your site, you can turn on the option to track the category along with the search term.
  7. If you leave categories OFF, click Save and you have finished your on-site search setup.
  8. If you turn categories ON:
  9. In the Category Parameter field, enter the letters that designate an internal search category such as ‘cat,sc’. As you did with the Query Parameter field, enter only the characters for the parameter, e.g. ‘cat’ and not ‘cat=’
  10. Click Save.

As per any new setup in your account, it can take up to 24 hours for Google to start reporting data so we recommend you revisit the information the next day to check tracking is working correctly. You will find on-site search data reported in the below area:

Behaviour > Site Search

Within this area, you will see four subcategories: Overview, Usage, Search Terms and Search Pages. Each subcategory is fairly self-explanatory, but here’s a brief outline of what you can expect to see reported in each and what this can be used for.

Overview: As you can guess, the overview area gives you the headlines of all visits with a site search within the time frame you’ve selected. This view is fairly topline and includes figures such as the number of sessions with a site search, the total number of unique searches, search exit % and the average time spent browsing the site after a site search has taken place.

Usage: The usage area offers a clear comparison between visits with a site search and visits without. We suggest you check this area regularly to identify the popularity of the site search in relation to the total site traffic. If visitors are using the site search regularly, or those searching are well engaged on the site and more likely to convert, you might want to think about making the site search function more prominent on your site to encourage usage.

Search Terms: Search term reports do exactly what they say on the tin – report all exact search times entered into the search bar. It’s this search data that will allow you to optimise your site in the four ways we stated earlier:

  • Identify missing or obscure content on the site
  • Optimise navigation and site layout, working to improve the user experience
  • Improve search results
  • Generate new keywords or marketing campaigns

Search Pages: Finally, search page reports document the pages on which the initial search was made. This can help to identify if a certain page is unclear or showing the wrong products and therefore prompts users to use the site search.

Adam King

eCommerce Solutions Architect

Media Lounge

The first step to making any improvement to your eCommerce store should be understanding your current data. Whether you have 100 or 100,000 visitors per day, your data can tell you a huge amount about your visitors’ experience and how to make improvements to your process. Correctly installing the right tracking software from the outset provides the most accurate data to analyse and make decisions based upon. Making decisions without this knowledge is like driving a car blindfolded.

4. Next Up… Account Linking!

To get the most from your account and allow for it to collect and report the maximum amount of customer data, all your different Google accounts need to be linked to each other. This allows you to analyse data from different channels in one place as opposed to looking at a number of accounts simultaneously.

Linking Google Ads:

Linking your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account means you can have a more comprehensive understanding of how your marketing efforts drive users to your site and how these users perform against your other acquisition channels. However, to link the two successfully you must be an administrator on both accounts. To sign up for a Google Ads account, click here.

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics using the same email as your Google Ads account.
  2. Click through to Admin.
  3. Make sure you’ve selected the account and property that you wish to link to your Ads account in the drop-down menus.
  4. In the PROPERTY column, click Ads Linking.
  5. Any Ads accounts you have linked to your Google account will automatically appear.
  6. Check which account you wish to link and click Continue.
  7. Type in a Link group title – this could be your Ads ID.
  8. Now select the view in which you want the Ads account data to appear e.g. ‘Master View’ and select Link accounts.
  9. The linked account will now show in your link group lists with the title you entered.

Linking Google Merchant Centre (previously Google Webmaster Tools):

Merchant Center is a tool that helps you upload your store and product data and make it available to Google Shopping and other Google services. To advertise your products on Google, you’ll need a Merchant Center account. To sign up for a Google Merchant Center account, click here.

There are two stages to linking your Google Merchant Centre account and like Google Ads, only the Merchant Center account owner can request to link the accounts.

Step 1: Request to link Merchant Center to Google Ads:

You’ll need to initiate the link from Merchant Center. You can link multiple Ads accounts to a single Merchant Center account, and a single Ads account can be linked to multiple Merchant Center accounts.

  1. In your Merchant Center account, go to the 3-dot icon dropdown and then click Account linking.
  2. Select Ads.
  3. Enter the Ads customer ID of the account that you want to link. You can find the customer ID at the top of any Ads page when you’re signed in, near your email address.
  4. Click Add.

Step 2: Approve link requests from Merchant Center in Ads:

When a Merchant Center account sends you a request to link, these invitations will appear in the table on your “Linked accounts” page in Ads.

  1. Click the gear icon, then select Linked accounts from Account settings and open the Google Merchant Center section.
  2. Click the View request button.
  3. Review the request details. Linking the accounts doesn’t grant administrative access to either account holder, and either you or the Merchant Center account holder can unlink the accounts at any time.
  4. To approve the link, click Approve.
  5. To reject the link, click Reject and confirm that you want to reject it. If you want to link these accounts later, you’ll need to send a new link request from Merchant Center.

So long as your Google Ads is linked to your Google Analytics account, Google Merchant Center data will show up in Google Analytics.

5. Annotate, Annotate, Annotate!

Annotations offer a simple way to track any changes or alterations made to the account or site by date. By marking important events that may have impacted your data, you can avoid potential explanations to internal team members who log into the account as well as use them as a reminder to yourself for future reference. This is also useful should you want someone to cast their eyes on the account at a later date for other reasons such as marketing advice. I suppose you could think of them as online post-it notes!

To create an annotation in your account, head to any report with a graph in your account and click on the downwards arrow on the tab at the bottom (shown in the below screenshot).

Once clicked, a drop-down menu will appear displaying any annotations currently marked within the given time period in chronological order. Click ‘Create New Annotation’ In the top right-hand corner of the drop-down menu, highlighted in the below screenshot.

Enter the date of the event and a short note about what happened. It will also ask you to choose whether you want the annotation to be shared or private – this refers to other users on your account. We always recommend annotations are set to ‘shared’ as a default to allow for the understanding of all users on the account. Once this is complete you will need to press Save and voila!

Annotations are indicated by the speech bubble symbols positioned along the dateline on the bottom of the graph. To see the details again, simply click the downwards arrow tab again for a list of annotations. You will then see the latest annotation appear at the bottom of the list.

To Be Continued…

So that wraps up our top 5 tips for Data Analysis in eCommerce. Over the coming months, we’ll be publishing our top 50 tips for your eCommerce business, grouped together into bite-sized chunks like this one focusing on a single area. We’ll then release all of these tips collated into a white paper with additional recommendations, actions and resources to keep your eyes peeled for that.

The next instalment will be here soon…