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ARTICLE Business TipsFebruary 5, 2016

Google Analytics series, part 3: How to make sense of e-commerce reports

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Making sense of Google Analytics reports can be a challenge for many of us. Here we examine a few of the most insightful reports for e-commerce businesses and what they convey about a website’s online performance.

Much of the power of Google Analytics comes from its ability to be customised. Learning how to manage the customisation can take a while thanks to the sheer number of options. But once you have identified what it is you are trying to achieve with the tool, and which business strategies Google Analytics should support, then its focus becomes narrower and its purpose more clear.

One of the options in terms of customisation is the type of reports you receive and the large amount of data included in those reports. Your major business goal might have to do with growth through customer acquisition or it might have more to do with upselling to current loyal shoppers. Whatever your strategy and goal, there is likely a report to help you measure and create success.

E-commerce marketers and business owners can track and measure how their website is performing by looking at a few must-have reports in Google Analytics. 

Audience Report

This report offers an overview of the characteristics of your audience: how often they visit your site, how they heard about you, where they come from, what common characteristics and interests they share, their demographics, etc.

Audience Reports reveal patterns that help a business owner or manager understand users more clearly. Segments of the report, such as “new vs returning visitors”, “device”, “demographics” and “location” are particularly important from an e-commerce perspective.

This type of report is “important for e-commerce as it helps in understanding which segment of users is driving the maximum sales," says Google Analytics expert Aditi Bajpayi. 

Behaviour Report

Often the way you think users will interact with your website or app is not the way they actually do. When they click between screens and look at specific types of content, they are not doing it with the same knowledge or intent that someone who works in the business might.

Some of the most valuable market research comes from user behaviour. Often visitors will reveal to you through behaviour or search activity within your site what they like and do not like about your offering. More often than not their search activity will also tell you what they hoped to find on your site but did not.

“This report also helps in understanding how a website is performing in terms of page load speed and which areas of a website require optimisation,” Bajpayi says.

Once Behaviour Reports show how people interact with your website, you can work towards making their experience better. 

Conversion Report

A “conversion”, according to the Google Analytics site, is “the completion of an activity that is important to the success of your business, such as a completed sign-up for your email newsletter (a Goal conversion) or a purchase (a Transaction, sometimes called an e-commerce conversion)”.

Bajpayi says e-commerce businesses should always be interested in return on investment and this report is the ultimate measure of that. As long as you have set up Goals or E-commerce Tracking in Google Analytics, several multi-channel reports become available to show what processes came together to make sales happen.

More than any other type of report, Conversion Reports demonstrate the awesome power of Google Analytics. Knowing why, how and when a sale took place and truly understanding the drivers behind that sale leave little room in a business for anything but growth.

Acquisition Report

Acquisition Reports help you to understand exactly how you are acquiring new visitors. They answer questions such as: how do people actually find your website and how do they come across your app, among others. Knowing all this is important for e-commerce businesses as it will help in identifying opportunities for growth and expansion of your business.

Bajpayi says, “This report helps e-commerce businesses find out the channels/mediums that are driving traffic to the website and helps them plan their marketing strategy better by focusing on channels more likely to drive sales.”

Whether a visitor lands on your website through email, search engine optimisation, Google Adwords, social media or some other function, Acquisition Reports help identify what is bringing people to your business and which marketing tactics are effective.

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