Articles in the Benchmarking & Measuring Success Category

March 4 2008

Ecommerce Reports in Google Analytics – Three Random Questions

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Last week, I was asked three different questions about the Ecommerce section of reports in Google Analytics. And, I was able to give a different answer for each question! 🙂

Here are those questions – and my answers to each one. Maybe (just maybe) you had a similar question in mind:

Question #1: Why isn’t order #1234567 showing up in the Transactions Report?
A: There is a high degree of probability that you will not see every order appear in Google Analytics. As I mentioned in my very last blog post, Google Analytics uses a combination of Cookies and JavaScript as its tracking mechanism. If a user doesn’t accept the Google Analytics cookies that your website is trying to set on their computer, or if a user has disabled any JavaScript tracking, then Google Analytics cannot track any data for that person, including Ecommerce data. Another reason why you may not see order #1234567 is if a user lands on your receipt / “Thank You” page, and leaves that page quickly, before the Ecommerce Data has a chance to be captured by Google Analytics.

Remember, Google Analytics isn’t a replacement for your accounting software, and you shouldn’t use and think of it as such. Use Google Analytics to view and compare trends and patterns, not to keep official records.

Question #2: Why is it that in one report, the Revenue figure is $100,000, but in another report, the Revenue figure is showing as $113,345?
A: You should know that there are two different Revenue figures. There’s “Revenue”, which is used in the Overview and the Transaction reports, and there’s “Product Revenue”, used in the Products sub-section. The difference between the two is that Product Revenue excludes tax and shipping costs, while Revenue adds in those figures. In most situations, Product Revenue + Tax + Shipping should = Revenue. If there is still a large discrepancy, your data collection process could be faulty, and have bugs – please check with your programming team to verify if your Ecommerce coding is accurate.

Question #3: I’d like to erase / delete some orders from Google Analytics. How do I do that?
A: What you can do is you can actually issue a credit for an order. Unfortunately, once an order happens and Google Analytics collects that data, you cannot erase it from the system. But what you can do is have an order processed with negative numbers, which will in effect “cancel out” an order. For example, let’s say someone purchased a $19.99 Green T-Shirt from your store, and then changed their minds and had the order canceled. You can run an order on your system for -$19.99 to nullify the order in Google Analytics. If you decide to do this, I suggest creating a new product name for these order cancellations, so that you can view how many you’ve had to handle during a given period of time. You can also apply discounts and rebates this same way, if you so choose.

I hope these answers helped you!

February 19 2008

Why are my Visits different from my Clicks?

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Traffic Sources Navigation in Google AnalyticsA very popular Google Analytics report amongst the Campaign Management and Campaign Strategist teams here at MoreVisibility is the AdWords Campaigns report, located within the Traffic Sources section. This report is fantastic, as it pulls in click, impression, and click-through rate data straight from your Google AdWords account, and integrates it within the Google Analytics system.

This report really makes our lives easier, as we don’t have to toggle back and forth between two different systems. All of our Google AdWords Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Keywords are all in GA, and we can even see how much we spent! This report is probably one of the most under-rated features of all of Google Analytics.

Anyway, let’s talk about the title of this post, which is another very common question that I get asked. First of all, let’s define both “Visits” and “Clicks” – this is exactly how Google Analytics defines them:

Visits – The number of Visits to your site
Clicks – The number of Clicks on your search ad(s)

Clicks are pretty simple to understand – a person clicks on your ad, a click is registered, and counted as such. Visits is the tricky one. Visits counts the number of unique sessions created by your visitors. A unique session is basically a connection between a user and a webserver (your website).

There are a few different reasons why these two metrics are always different from each other, in the exact same date-range:

Multiple Clicks – There is nothing stopping a person from clicking on your ad multiple times in a specific date-range. No, it’s not click fraud, it’s probably comparison shopping. They click on your ad once, they go back and click on a competitor’s ad, then they go back again and click on your ad again, because they liked your offer or website better :). AdWords will record both clicks in that same session; however, Analytics only counts that as one visit, as the session was never terminated (they left your site, but the connection was still alive / their browser was still open). AdWords = 2 Clicks, Analytics = 1 Visit.

Multiple Visits – This is very close to the opposite of the first reason. Someone can click on your ad, close their browser or shut down their computer. Later, they can come back to your site via a bookmark, or if they remember your URL, they’ll type it in manually in the address bar. In this case, AdWords = 1 Click, Analytics = 2 Visits.

The Impatient Visitor – There’s also nothing stopping someone from clicking on your AdWords ad, and while your website is loading, they may get tired of waiting around for your website to load and go back to Google Search, or hit the “Stop” button on their browser. AdWords will count that click, but chances are that Analytics will not have had enough time to register that person as a visitor. Here, it’s AdWords = 1, Analytics = 0.

Invalid Clicks – There is always the issue of invalid clicks on your AdWords ads. The Google AdWords system automatically filters out invalid clicks from your account before you even see them. However, if these clicks land on your website, Analytics has no choice but to count those as visits. Analytics can’t automatically filter out “invalid visits” like AdWords can filter out “invalid clicks”. Therefore, the score here can be something along the lines of AdWords = 4, Analytics = 9.

The best possible answer that I can provide for the question “Why are my Visits different from my Clicks?” would be that both metrics are tracked and calculated differently by two completely different systems. Remember, you’re charged for the clicks – the visits are free ;).

February 15 2008

Goal Values can increase the Value of your Goals

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Google Analytics uses the Goal Value of each Conversion Goal to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) metric, as well as other currency-oriented figures that you see almost every day. Often, the Goal Value – which is optional – is left blank, leaving over 40 different reports in GA without this very important piece of the puzzle.

The most common reason I hear regarding why this is done is “…because I am not an Ecommerce website, so my Goals don’t have a monetary value…”. In my opinion, this is exactly when you need to insert a Goal Value, so that you can attach some kind of Dollar, Euro, or other currency to the actions that you want your website’s visitors to take. For profiles in Google Analytics that have Ecommerce enabled, the Goal Value is automatically populated into the reports (if that Goal is where the Ecommerce code happens to be processed). For any non-Ecommerce goals, you’re going to have to enter the value in yourself.

“…but how do I know what my Goals are worth? How do I calculate my Goal Value?”
There are a few different ways that you can determine your Goal Value. First, there’s the common approach taken by most people with non-Ecommerce goals. For example, let’s say that you have an inquiry form on your website, and the “Thank You” page of that inquiry form is a non-Ecommerce goal. These leads get sent to your sales team, and your sales team can close 10% of those leads. Let’s also say that the average sale amount for each closed lead is $2,000. You can take $200 (10% of $2,000), and use that as your Goal Value (don’t worry, Google Analytics will do all of the math for you in its reports).

Another way that I’ve seen Goal Value being used is by taking the amount given to a customer on a coupon or promotion code. If you have a “Print this $50 off Coupon” page as Goal, you can use $50 as your Goal Value. You would just need to constantly remind yourself of how you came about using $50 as your Goal Value when looking at reports, so that ROI and Margin figures don’t appear to be ridiculously low (or high) for you.

Finally, you can even make up a number! Does $25 sound good to you? How about $82.15? Perhaps $150,000 works for you? If your website or your online business structure / purpose doesn’t allow the flexibility of calculating a monetary value for a Conversion Goal, then you can just make up your own, so that you can get the most comprehensive set of data to look at and analyze.

Knowing how valuable your Goals are can let you know where you stand, and whether or not they are performing well or worth your efforts. Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether your Goal Value was invented out of thin air, or if it was precisely calculated – as long as you have a number in there, you can begin to evaluate your Goals with a greater level of intelligence than you could before.

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