8 crucial ecommerce analytics metrics you should be tracking today
In the world of ecommerce, knowledge is power. The more you know about your customers, their behaviours, their preferences, and their values, the easier it’ll be to effectively target your marketing campaigns to them. That means more total revenue for you and a better customer experience for them.
Thankfully, getting that insight has never been simpler: All you need to do is gather and analyse data.
Once you’ve got the necessary data on your customers, your next step is to take that raw information and process it into analytics that will help you improve every aspect of your ecommerce business.
There’s a lot to know about ecommerce analytics before you start, though. That’s why we’re going to cover this range of topics related to ecommerce analytics:
- What is ecommerce analytics?
- Why does ecommerce analytics matter?
- Benefits of ecommerce analytics
- What metrics should you track?
- Four mistakes you could be making
- Ecommerce analytics best practices
- How to set up Google Analytics
- How can Ve help you better your ecommerce analytics?
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is ecommerce analytics?
In short, ecommerce analytics is gathering and analysing data—more specifically, data that impacts your online business in any way. This is done with the aim of developing a better understanding of customer behaviour, so you can use that understanding to create data-driven strategies.
You can think of ecommerce analytics as the foundation of all your ecommerce strategies. It gives you that valuable insight you need to gauge consumer patterns and predict what sorts of marketing efforts will be most effective (and which ones won’t do much).
Ecommerce analytics help ecommerce businesses create precise, well-thought-out plans that are based on facts and data rather than speculation. It’s a great way to avoid having to rely on the guess-and-check (or, more accurately, guess-and-hope) method.
Why does ecommerce analytics matter?
The more popular ecommerce becomes as a retail avenue, the more each online store stands to gain—and lose. It’s no secret that retail ecommerce is on the rise.
Of course, that also means that competition abounds, and each year brings more businesses into any given ecommerce niche. In other words, every ecommerce site has to work harder to stand out.
Ecommerce analytics makes that much, much easier.
By using ecommerce analytics to your advantage, you can help your business maximise its potential and boost its sales. That means you get to stand out among all your competitors, improve your customer satisfaction, and optimise your marketing strategy—all by using your ecommerce data effectively.
Benefits of ecommerce analytics
The benefits of using ecommerce analytics tools to your advantage are many, and varied.
Perhaps the biggest one is the boost that ecommerce analytics can give your sales. By gathering data on your customers, you can figure out exactly how to upsell to your existing customers while knowing which items to push to new customers. That means more sales, and higher value ones to boot.
Another huge benefit that comes with ecommerce analytics is happier customers. That’s because your data analytics will show you exactly how to optimise your website to create the best possible customer experience, as well as highlighting which things your customers love and what they think could use improvement.
More to the point of optimisation, you also get to ensure that you’re maximising your return on ad spend (ROAS), as well as using all your other marketing channels efficiently.
The rest of the benefits you can bring to your business depend on which metrics your ecommerce analytics data gathering focuses on. That’s why we’re going to take a look at some of the best ones to emphasise so you can make the most of the process.
What metrics should you track?
Before you can start reaping those, you’ve got to decide which metrics you’re going to track. After all, ecommerce analytics can only help you improve the areas you gather data on in the first place.
To put it bluntly, there are lots of potential metrics you could track. So many, in fact, that it’s easy to run into the problem of choice overload. That’s overwhelming and chaotic.
No business owner wants to end up feeling like that, so we’re going to narrow down the best metrics to track. Keep in mind that you can always add extra metrics onto your own personal list—these are simply some of the most universally useful ones that just about anyone can benefit from keeping track of.
The better you know your audience, the easier it is to effectively market towards them.
For example, imagine you’re going to create a marketing campaign. You know the ins and outs of your target demographic: The age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and interests of the average customer are all at your disposal.
It would be easy to start coming up with ideas, and even easier to test them, since it would instantly be clear to you whether any given person fits that target demographic.
Now imagine trying to create a campaign without knowing about any of those details. You’d have a much harder time giving that campaign a clear focus, let alone getting it to specifically target groups. After all, you wouldn’t even know which groups to target, or how to connect with your customers.
That’s why it’s a great idea to track metrics relating to your audience. Four of the most important ones are reach, impressions, engagements, and click-through, and we’re going to look at all four of them in detail.
Put briefly, reach describes the total number of viewers that your email or social media content has received. It’s always a good idea to track this metric for two key reasons.
Firstly, it’s important to know whether your content is being seen by the right number of people. You can determine whether that’s happening by gathering data on the reach of your content, then comparing that to the median for your platform and country.
For example, if your content is on Facebook, you can compare the views it gets to the average number of views any given branded Facebook post gets. The same is true for ads on Facebook; if you’re getting less than 12 clicks per ad each month, you’re falling below the global median.
Secondly, knowing the scope of your reach means knowing how many potential leads you can expect to have access to.
That makes for significantly easier planning for your marketers, since they’ll be able to adjust your marketing goals accordingly. If your reach is greater than you’d predicted, your marketers can raise the target number of conversions, and vice versa. This ensures you’ve always got realistic, fact-based goals to work towards.
This metric measures the total number of times your post was seen. It’s subtly different from reach, since reach counts the number of unique users who saw your content, while impressions focus on how many actual times your content was seen. One person might see it many times.
Knowing how many times your content was seen (or, what kind of impression it’s making) is incredibly useful when it comes to boosting your brand recognition.
If your leads are able to recognise your brand after only seeing it a handful of times, that’s good for business. Likewise, if social media users continuously come across your content, you’ll be likely to leave a lasting impression on them, which is important to know about.
To get a deeper understanding of your audience and how they interact with your content, it’s important to track engagements.
This metric refers to the number of users—generally, your brand’s social media followers and/or subscribers—who engage with your content. That engagement can take the form of liking, reacting, commenting, sharing, retweeting, or any other type of active interaction with your content.
More than any other metric, engagements measure how your audience responds to you. They show you more than just how many eyes are stopping to take in your content; they show you what sorts (and quantities) of responses your content evokes.
This metric describes the percentage of people who clicked on a specific ad or piece of promotional content. That percentage is generally quite low, though there’s a great deal of variety between industries.
Retail and legal are the two industries with the best click-through rates, but keep in mind that the rate still amounts to less than 2% of all the people who saw a specific ad. It’s important to know this and adjust your expectations and plans accordingly.
Click-through rate is something like a fusion between reach and engagements. That’s because it does measure how wide an advertisement’s reach is, but by the number of people who click on (or engage with) it, not by how many people see it.
It’s important to track this metric, since it shows you how your audience responds to your advertising efforts.
By tracking behavioural metrics, you can ensure that you know everything about the way your customers act throughout the customer journey. That comes with a range of benefits.
Knowing what makes customers move through each step of the journey more quickly helps you boost the speed of their journey. For example, if your leads tend to become paying customers very quickly after seeing a particular deal, you’ll know that that deal makes your products look especially attractive.
Additionally, tracking behaviour helps you work out which specific products are popular with which specific types of client. That means you’ll be able to target your demographics more precisely.
Lastly, customer behaviour should inform your marketing campaigns. Let’s say, for instance, that your customers respond very well to email marketing and remarketing. That helps you decide to focus on email campaigns, and shows you that behavioural emails are likely to be effective.
It’s a great idea to keep track of the ways you acquire new customers.
When you’re an ecommerce business owner, many of those people will be finding your store through search engines. Google is, by a wide margin, the most popular one.
Once you have the data to confirm how many of your acquisitions are finding you via Google, you can start working on your SEO (search engine optimisation) to achieve higher rankings there. That means you can boost your acquisitions in a targeted way based on where they tend to come from, securing more leads for your business.
Tracking metrics relating to your ecommerce conversions is always a good plan. It’s important to know all about the things that turn passive browsers into paying customers, and the rate at which that’s happening, so you can make it happen more often.
After all, without conversion, you could get all the views in the world and still make no sales. That’s why you’ve got to pay close attention to the factors that drive conversion, as well as the data that pertains to those factors.
Much like “audience”, though, “conversion” is a complex topic that needs to be broken down into subtopics for effective metric tracking to be able to take place.
Those topics are conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment rate, and average order value.
A business’ conversion rate describes the percentage of their leads (or site visitors in the case of ecommerce brands) that become paying customers. Higher conversion rates mean more new customers, which means more sales.
Conversions unfortunately don’t tend to just happen whenever businesses want them to. That’s why most ecommerce industries have a rate that falls between 0.9% and 3%, with only three industries exceeding that upper boundary.
It’s vital for an ecommerce business to always keep a close eye on its conversion rates. If, for example, you’re running an online store that sells home accessories, you’ve got to ensure that your rates never fall too far below 2.16%.
At the same time, it’s very helpful to know when you’re outperforming your competition in this area. In the same example before, if your conversion rate is closer to 3% than to 2%, you’ll know you’re ahead of the industry average. That means you’ve got a leg up on the competition.
Shopping cart abandonment rate
Tracking your abandoned shopping carts is a great way to make sure you’ll have fewer of them in the future. That’s because gathering details about your cart abandonment rate lets you figure out not just when it’s rising, but also why it’s changing.
There are many reasons why customers might fill a shopping cart, then leave your online store before completing the checkout process.
Knowing what’s causing your shoppers to abandon their carts is the surest way to guarantee that you’ll be able to address those problems.
For example, if your customers are unhappy about being asked to create an account, you could offer a guest checkout to help make online shopping more convenient for them. Likewise, if they’re unhappy with the number of payment options, you can use that information as motivation to add more payment options to your checkout process.
Average order value (AOV)
Your company’s average order value (AOV) is less about pricing alone, and more about how many items each customer tends to add to their cart, as well as the value of those items.
Any ecommerce business would prefer to sell more high-value products and increase their product revenue that way. That’s easier to do when you know all about the items that tend to wind up in customers’ carts, and how much those items cost.
Upselling also becomes a lot easier when you’ve got lots of data on AOV. In other words, tracking AOV is a ticket to boosting your sales and ensuring that your high-value items get bought more often.
This metric is all about how good your business is at keeping its customers engaged. One-off customers are all well and good, but the ones that keep coming back to make more purchases offer more lifetime value to your company.
In other words, retention is about loyalty, and loyalty is a great asset.
Having an accurate grasp on the loyalty of your customers is absolutely vital if you’re hoping to keep them around for longer. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your customer retention; the more customers you retain, the better your average customer’s lifetime value will be.
Customers that stick with your brand for a long time are also much more likely to branch out from the individual products that drew them to you. They’ll either consider your broader product list eventually or they’ll be those outliers that are super dedicated to a small subset of your products and make the same unique purchases every few months.
Either way, they’ll be spending more money with your company the longer you’re able to retain them.
Referral is another great metric to track. That’s because you’ll want to stay on top of the reasons why it happens, as well as the frequency with which your customers are giving referrals, so you can focus on the former and boost the latter.
In short, you want your customers to “recommend a friend” as often as possible. And it’s easier to encourage more of them to do that when you understand the most popular reasons why your loyalists keep referring others to you.
It’s also a good idea to offer some sort of reward for referrals as an incentive. By tracking your referrals, you’ll always know when someone’s made one and when they’re entitled to the reward of your choosing.
Social media analytics
As of 2020, over half of the world’s population—a whopping 3.96 billion people—are active on social media. That’s a great indicator of the massive scope, power, and value of social media analytics.
It’s always good to know how people are engaging with your content on social media, as well as how many followers you’ve got. Your business can also benefit from knowing which platforms are the best for their content, and on which ones they get the most engagement.
Tracking social media analytics is a great way to go about this.
Additionally, knowing more about the way your social media efforts are going is very helpful when you’re trying to improve your digital marketing strategy. That’s because your marketers can use the knowledge of what your customers look for in their online experience to optimise their digital marketing strategies.
Paid marketing efforts
Your paid marketing efforts include any advertising (Google Ads, etc.), networking, and brand awareness building efforts you’ve put money towards. Since there was an initial investment, it’s important to know whether that paid off, and to what extent it did.
In other words, tracking your paid marketing efforts means knowing all about your ROAS, as well as your ROI (return on investment) in other areas.
That’s very useful when it comes to figuring out which marketing efforts are worth investing more time and effort into, and which should be left in the past. What that essentially means is that tracking paid marketing efforts lets you streamline your marketing efforts and make the most of each investment.
Four mistakes you could be making
Now that we’ve gone through the most important metrics to track, it’s time to look at how to make sure you’re going about that process the right way. The first thing we’re going to consider is what mistakes you might currently be making.
Even if you aren’t actively making these mistakes, it’s a good idea to keep them in mind. That way, you’ll be able to avoid them—plus, you get to catch them before they can turn from “oops” into “we’ve got a big problem”.
The word “disorganised” already tells you everything you need to know about this common mistake. Disorganised data is, well, a mess.
It’s sometimes also referred to as unstructured data, since it’s information that doesn’t fit within a predefined structure. While unstructured data is still useful information, it’s very difficult to use due to having no formal structure or organisational system.
To avoid ending up with disorganised data, ensure that you’ve always got a model of organisation in place before you start collecting your data.
For example, if you’re gathering data on the locations of your customers, you’d want to decide if you’re sorting it by city, county, country, or even continent first. That way, any new data will be in the right format. You’d only really need county information if that’s the category you’re sorting by; you’d be frustrated at only having continent information when you were looking for specific cities.
Not removing test data
You’d ideally start gathering your official sales data after first running a few tests to make sure your web analytics platform is working as intended. That’s a good thing. It can lead to mistakes, however, if you forget to remove your test data from the final result.
Let’s say, for example, that you want to optimise your on-site experience. To do that, you run extensive tests on each component of your website, so you can guarantee that it works perfectly in all browsers.
Then, you decide to start gathering data on your site traffic to understand its relationship with your sales. HoweveR, you forgot to account for the fact that 20 of the clicks on your landing pages were from your testers. Suddenly, your data is skewed.
The goal of analytics is to get insights into the metrics you’re gathering data on. That’s difficult to do if your conclusions are based on smaller samples, rather than the full set of data.
Data sampling can be a useful tool for getting a quick, rough understanding of a broader population. It’s not quite as useful when it comes to creating in-depth insights. By data sampling, you run the risk of over-generalising.
To avoid this mistake, ensure you’re always generating results based on the full set of data you gathered.
The term “duplicate transaction” describes a situation where a single tracking code is executed twice or more without seeing a new order placed.
Lots of these duplicate transactions can have a negative impact on the accuracy of your sales data, since they interfere with the generation of accurate information about how many orders are placed.
You can address this mistake by making sure your site visitors can only access the order confirmation page one time per order. Another option is to disable the function that executes the tracking code whenever the confirmation page is refreshed or reloaded.
Ecommerce analytics best practices
When used correctly, analytics can be fantastic for enhanced ecommerce marketing. That’s why we’re going to look at just how to use ecommerce analytics to their maximum potential through these best practices.
Collect all your data
Every day, humans produce billions and trillions of bytes of data—around 2.3 zettabytes, to be exact.
Of course, it’s impossible for one ecommerce company to collect all of that data. Instead, it’s a good idea to collect all the data that you feasibly can collect.
The thing about data is that there’s no such thing as gathering too much of it. You can eliminate surplus data during the analysis stages, but you can’t make up new data if you collect too little in the first place.
Gather all the data you might need, and you’ll never want for insights.
Understand your data insights
There are few things that are quite as useful as accurate customer insights, provided you know what it is they’re telling you.
Insights are only as valuable as the information they can convey. That’s why it’s incredibly important to make doubly sure that you know exactly what your insights are actually showing you.
If understanding insights is a challenge for you, it’s well worth considering whether you’d like the help of a Digital Assistant. These can help you stay on top of your data, as well as interpret and make use of the insights you get from that data. Not to mention using data itself to massively improve customer experience.
Data, analytics, and insights can show you what needs to be done, but they can’t do it for you. It’s up to each ecommerce business owner to act according to what their analytics suggest.
For example, your data gathering efforts can give you an approximate daily pageview count for your product pages. They can’t, however, change your pages to improve that count—that much is up to you.
If your product performance reports contain results you’re unhappy about, that’s a good sign that it’s time to align your actions more closely with your insights.
Automate your reports
When you automate your reports, you get to reap all the associated automation benefits, including the ones in the graphic below.
In short, automation comes with a lot of benefits. Perhaps the most prominent one for many ecommerce businesses is the streamlining of internal processes (in this case, report generation). That’s because automated programs can generate reports far more quickly and accurately than humans, allowing you to save time and human resources.
Keep a calendar
If there’s one thing you’ve learned so far, we hope it’s that tracking and organising data is immensely useful.
Applying the same mindset to organising the day-to-day processes and appointments in your business is just as helpful. That’s why a calendar is an absolute must-have; they help keep your company’s important dates organised, as well as giving you a hand with tracking when important deadlines are going to hit.
Keeping a calendar makes it easier for the whole company to stay on top of things. That’s doubly important for companies with big goals that they regularly work towards. After all, if your employees know the exact date by when you want something to be accomplished, they’ll have an easier time planning around that.
How to set up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a helpful analytics platform that will help you start to track all your relevant data, as well as process that data into easily readable graphs and charts. Setting it up is easy as well—all you need to do is follow these simple steps.
- Create a Google Analytics account, or sign in to the one you’ve already got. For the former, just click on the “Start for free” button. For the latter, you’ve got to click on “Sign in to Analytics”.
- Connect your ecommerce site to your account so the platform knows where to collect the data from. To do this, you’ll want to click on the “Set up a property” function.
- Set up your reporting view. This is your shortcut to filtered analytics reports that give you an accurate, real-time overview of your website’s data. You can adjust the filters to your liking.
- Add a tracking code to your website. This will let you gather data from your website. The Google Analytics platform will provide instructions for how to do this.
When you’re done, your ecommerce reports should look a little something like this:
How can Ve help you improve your ecommerce analytics?
Ve’s Digital Assistant lets our experts help you set up, create, and manage campaigns with your branding. In other words, it’s a fantastic tool that gives you access to expert guidance throughout the process of crafting new marketing campaigns.
It’s also easier to increase your customer satisfaction when you use Ve’s Digital Assistant. That’s because it can help you continuously measure and report on your performance in this area, allowing you to respond in real-time to your customers’ experience. You can rapidly experiment with behavioural insights thanks to this function.
With Ve, you can measure, learn, and build the perfect experience for each one of your customers.
The Digital Assistant gives you insights that provide a unique perspective of your customers. It helps you understand your clientele better. That means it’s easier to impress them and craft that ideal customer experience.
Ve’s Digital Assistant provides a fully account managed service that delivers incremental growth for your business. It’s great at boosting conversion rates and driving sales, making it the ideal companion for your ecommerce business.
Ecommerce analytics is, in short, a fantastic path to better ecommerce.
Analytics is data-based, meaning that all the moves you make are rooted in the everyday facts of your business’ reality. They’re uniquely tailored to your business’ specific experience.
To get these highly useful analytics, you’ve got to gather a lot of data first. In this article, we covered some of the best metrics to track for any online business—if you’re stuck for ideas, check those out.
In particular, it’s important to track metrics related to your customers’ experience, as well as ones to do with your sales and conversions. The former helps you deliver amazing customer experiences; the latter is necessary to increase both your sales and your conversions.
If ecommerce analytics seem overwhelming to you, don’t worry. That’s where Ve’s Digital Assistant can come in. With it, you can create outstanding customer experiences in real-time and better monitor the progress of your business, by gathering loads of valuable behavioral data.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is ecommerce analytics?
Ecommerce analytics is the practice of gathering data about all relevant aspects of your online business, then processing and analysing that data into usable formats. It’s an important part of improving and optimising the way any ecommerce platform runs.
Examples of the kinds of topics that ecommerce analytics gather data on include customer satisfaction, bounce rate, AOV, site traffic, and many more.
Ecommerce analytics is not a passive thing; it’s not about just gathering the data and then letting it sit there. The aim is to actively put in effort to use that data to drive improvement in all aspects of an ecommerce business.
Is ecommerce analytics important?
Put briefly, yes it is.
Put a little less briefly, ecommerce analytics is absolutely vital to any ecommerce business owner who wants their site to perform as well as it possibly can. Optimisation doesn’t happen spontaneously, after all; you need to use the right tools to perfect your ecommerce website.
Ecommerce analytics is that tool. It’s great at ensuring that every measure you take to drive improvement is data-based, which means you’ll be more likely to see positive results quickly.
It’s also a fantastic tool to help you understand the behaviours of your customers. Having a better grasp on how your customers tend to act lets you adjust your approach so your marketing efforts and ecommerce site alike are structured to suit their preferences. That, in turn, means improving the customer experience and thereby boosting sales.
Which metrics should I track in ecommerce analytics?
There are a lot of metrics you could track, though not all of them are equally useful.
Your top priority should always be to focus on metrics that are relevant to your business. For example, if you place a big emphasis on customer satisfaction, then tracking engagements and impressions might be extra important to you.
With that said, there are a few metrics that anyone can benefit from tracking. Those are the ones in the areas we’ve covered in this article: Audience, reach, impressions, engagements, click-through rates, behaviour, acquisition, conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment rate, AOV, retention, and referral.
These are broadly useful metrics that improve the way any ecommerce store runs, which makes them exceptionally suitable for ecommerce tracking.