Track Ecommerce Web Conversions Beyond $

In our series on website goal tracking, “How Can I Tell if My Website Is Successful?” we identified three primary site models: Ecommerce, Educational and Informational. It’s the latter two that are often the hardest to identify goals for since educational and informational sites, by definition, aren’t selling something.

In our first two posts, we talked about ways to track goals for an informational site, like this very blog or an association’s resource site. One of those goals was ranking for search engine keywords.

This week, we’ll switch gears a bit and look at evaluating success for an ecommerce site. Although some goals are obvious, like sales, there are others that you have to dig a bit deeper to uncover—but that can yield even greater insights.

What Is an Ecommerce Site?

OK, let’s get the definition out of the way. We’re specifically talking about a site that sells a product or service online. The product can be real, like a TV, or it can be electronic, like an ebook or an MP3 download. You can visit the site, select a thing to buy, put it in your cart, and check out; this final step is a process that often includes entering shipping and billing information, payment details, confirming the order and submitting the payment. Anyone can own an ecommerce site, from the smallest seller on Etsy to Amazon.com.

Sample Ecommerce Goals

Ecommerce goals are typically straightforward. What do you want to do with your site? You want to sell something. That’s the business objective. This objective can be translated into the following common goals:

  • Increase total sales revenue
  • Increase the number of products sold
  • Reduce cart abandonment rates
  • Increase average order value
  • Increase number of repeat purchases

Sample Ecommerce KPIs

Now, in order to track these goals, we have to translate them into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are the measurable outcomes of the goals, the trackable data that you can pull from your site’s analytics and put into a dashboard that you review on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.

Here are some ways you could translate the goals listed above into KPIs:

  • Total sales revenue
  • Conversion rate
  • Average order value
  • Transactions
  • Purchased products
  • Goal funnel completions
  • Number of transactions by returning visitors

Keep in mind, too, that any of these KPIs also have the added dimension of time—are you tracking them daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly (or all of the above)?

How To Track Ecommerce Goals

Because we’re Google Analytics (GA) qualified, this is the tool we’ll be talking about. (In fact, we expressed the KPIs above in terms of data you can find in GA.) Luckily, KPI data is pretty easy to find; most of it can be found in the ecommerce section.

The most important part of ecommerce tracking, however, does require some setup in Google Analytics and help from your friends in IT: goal funnel tracking. This allows you to see how customers behave during each step of a defined process, or goal funnel. In the case of ecommerce sites, this is the checkout process.

In the Settings for your site’s Profile in GA, you’ll need to set up a goal funnel for your checkout, including every step from start to Thank You. Be sure your site’s profile settings has “yes” selected for “E-commerce Website”! But setting up your goal funnel in GA is only half the battle; your programmers will have to add special GA code to the checkout process pages to pass the sales data to Google so it will show up in Analytics.

You can also dive down deeper into the data for any one of these KPIs, using filters, Advanced Segments and the built-in dimensions available in Google Analytics. For example, for the KPI for repeat visitors, you could apply the default Advanced Segment for repeat visitors and only view the ecommerce data for this segment.

Or, on the Transactions screen, select the Visitor Type dimension in the pulldown menu at the top of the column next to the Transactions column. Now you’ll see all the transactions expressed as either from new or returning visitors. Click the column header again to sort them by Visitor Type. How many were from new visitors? How many from returning?

Ecommerce Tracking Mini-Case Study

Here’s an example of ecommerce goal and KPI tracking in action. Let’s say our client, the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel, is introducing a new customer loyalty program. The goal of the program is to increase repeat stays by previous visitors. They want to track whether this program is successful in achieving this goal.

In this example, it will be valuable to view the ecommerce data in terms of returning visitors, particularly in number of transactions, so we’ll apply the Returning Visitors Advanced Segment, in addition to All Visits, to see how the performance of this segment compares. We’ll start tracking data for this segment when the program launches and evaluate its performance over time. We’ll also look at the goal funnel data; do Returning Visitors behave differently in checkout than others? Should we consider optimizing the checkout process for them?

Other Ways To Track Ecommerce

Once you’ve gotten familiar with tracking these common goals, think of other ways that data can help you understand how you’re meeting your business objectives. Try creating an Advanced Segment for users who spend more than your average order value for the last 90 days; do they behave differently? Where are they leaving the checkout process? How can you keep them from abandoning their carts?

Or look at which marketing channels are driving the highest number of sales, or greatest number of transactions. These deserve a bigger part of your advertising budget, wouldn’t you say?

The more you dig into the data, the more you’ll learn and the more you’ll be able to optimize your site for ecommerce success.

Your Turn

  • Do you have an ecommerce site?
  • How do you measure success?
Scroll To Top