How Google’s new Universal Analytics can help you optimise your eCommerce website

5 years ago

Alex Jordan (Hyperlink Media)This is a guest blog by Alex Jordan, CEO of Hyperlink Media (a digital agency based in London) and business consultant specialising in start-ups and digital media.

Over the last few months, Google has been rolling out the next generation of its analytics tracking system, Universal Analytics. This is great news for eCommerce businesses as there is now more scope to integrate custom data which can be used to segment customers and analyse behaviour.

Universal Analytics offers many new features, but changes to eCommerce tracking and the introduction of custom dimensions are among the most important for eCommerce websites. When configured with the pre-existing ‘site search’ feature, you’ll be all set to begin to really get to know your customers and your business.

eCommerce Tracking

eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics is a simple concept. You place several custom code snippets on your website which allows you to provide Google Analytics with basic transaction and product data. This then appears in Google Analytics and can be compared with other data and used in reports that will allow you to make business decisions to optimise your website.

For example, you may discover that the majority of people who purchased product ‘abc’ entered your website via page ‘xyz’, or that customers using a mobile device tend to purchase fewer items per transaction.

Armed with this information you can determine whether specific content on your website is assisting conversions or whether it is hindering. eCommerce tracking also helps you set a benchmark so that you can make changes to your website and measure the impact on sales.

Custom Dimensions

In my opinion, ‘Custom dimensions’ is one of the most powerful new features of Universal Analytics. Standard accounts allow users to set up to 20 custom dimensions that can be used to collect data that Google Analytics wouldn’t otherwise have access to. This allows you to turn Google Analytics from a traffic tool into a tailored business tool to help you make the right business decisions.

For example, you could provide Google with a customer number, the author of an article, whether the user is a subscriber, a voucher code or pretty much any other information that you wish to explore and use to segment your traffic data.

This then allows you to dig even further into the data in a more meaningful way. You could, for example, take a standard metric like ‘Social Network Referral’ and a custom dimension like ‘voucher code’ to see which social networks produced traffic that redeemed specific campaign vouchers. You could then compare to decide which of your social networks are best to target specific campaigns.

Another example could be setting a custom dimension stating whether a visitor has used the on-site instant messenger for help. When compared with data from eCommerce tracking you could determine whether the purchasing behaviour of those that used the instant messenger feature varied from those that did not.

Site Search

Site search is not a new feature, but coupled with custom dimensions can be very powerful. It allows you to track what users are searching on your website. For instance, you could see whether a campaign page is indeed encouraging users to search for a specific product or brand. This can then be compared with eCommerce activity or whatever custom dimension you decide to set.

Universal Analytics is still being rolled out so not all accounts have access yet. Once your account has been enabled you should see banners throughout Google Analytics inviting you to make the switch. Until then, I’m afraid you’re going to have to be patient.

There are a lot of resources available to help you implement Universal Analytics. However, if you have any questions or would like to discuss tracking concepts please leave a comment underneath this article and I would be happy to assist where I can.