Google Analytics Demystified: Part 6 – The Finale

Written by  August 24, 2007

Google AnalyticsOver the past few weeks, the Google Analytics Demystified series has shown us what a properly installed and well configured tracking system can do for our sales.

The knowledge you gain from complete and thorough statistics can put money in your pocket — literally.

When the proper elements are tracked and read, you’ll learn how your customers think, what they really want, and what items on your site need to be addressed in order to meet those needs. The results of this knowledge often reward you with an increase in the conversion rate of your website.

However, I often here people saying “Great, I have Google Analytics installed, so now just how do I use it to make more money? What should I be looking for, and what are all these reports telling me?”

Well, that is a good question. As many of you may already know, installing Google Analytics (or any other tracking system for that matter) will do you no good if you do not know what key statistics to focus on in the reports. In turn, those key statistics will do you no good if you do not understand what they they are telling you.

“Installing Google Analytics is a starting point — and one that is critical if you plan on learning how to increase conversion.

However just installing it alone will not do anything toward increasing your sales. For that you need to know the key report elements to look at and understand.”

What can Reading Key Report Elements do for Your Sales?

In a prior article titled Zen Cart + Best Ecommerce Practices = More Sales. Here’s the Proof , I showed a few actual screenshots of a Zen Cart driven website that in just 10 months went from ZERO sales on the Internet to over $100,000.00 in gross sales (and rising).

A bulk of the knowledge gained to drive conversion increases was taken directly from key elements provided by Google Analytics reporting. Using key elements reported by Google Analytics, one is able to measure the effectiveness of how well a website is able to generate sales.

In turn, the knowledge gained directly assists in uncovering exact points on your website that you need to address (make changes to) in order to get your visitors to buy your product. By properly interpreting the right numbers, you can in effect learn how individual changes to your website impact its ability to sell, and build off of those changes that have a positive impact.

It’s like looking into a crystal ball, seeing the future, and making it happen.

Do You Know the Key Statistics You Should be Looking at?

Did you know there are a few Key Elements provided to you in your Google reports that if looked at carefully, can actually help you increase conversion?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you know exactly what about your website is causing visitors to leave without buying?
  • Do you know the points that are doing their job, working well, and should be left alone?
  • Are you making changes to your website that have a negative impact on your ability to sell your product?
  • Do you know exactly where in your checkout process you might have problems?
  • Is your home page causing visitors to leave or is it your product page?
  • Could the login / registration page be causing them to leave, or is it setup of your entire checkout process?

If you don’t know for sure, then you need to look to your analytics reports to find out. The answer is often in there, just waiting to be uncovered; You just have to look in the right places for the information and understand what it is telling you.

In Google Analytics Uncovered for Zen Cart: The Workbook, I reveal a number key statistical elements you should be looking at and explain through both screenshot and illustrative written examples, how you can use these elements to help increase conversion of your web store.

The workbook addresses many concerns and questions users have raised in finding the “key” statistics provided by Google Analytics — those elements that play the most important role in helping you increase conversion. If you can’t be certain in answering the questions I raised previously in this article, then you could benefit from getting yourself a copy.

With that I’ll bring to a close this 6 Part series on Google Analytics. I hope you enjoyed it and found it beneficial to your success.

Until next time … keep tracking along.

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Comments

14 Responses to “Google Analytics Demystified: Part 6 – The Finale”

  1. garden sheds and carports on August 30th, 2007 7:02 pm

    Have you found it GA to be fairly accurate? I love it and i use it for our Key Metrics now, but i have noticed for our site it doesn’t track all the sales….

  2. econcepts on August 30th, 2007 10:01 pm

    Have you found it GA to be fairly accurate? I love it and i use it for our Key Metrics now, but i have noticed for our site it doesn’t track all the sales.

    I’ll be honest. I have tried more than handful of different tracking tools, and have paid quite a bit for some of them. In the end, they all have about as much accuracy as the other.

    All tracking has limitations to some degree. Most relay on some type of cookie and or JavaScript. That is where variations in reporting can come in. If a user clears their cookies, systems that track based on that mis-report the information.

    Likewise, systems that track based on JavaScript (as does Google Analytics) are limited to those users that have js enabled for their browser. So, you will notice at times that Google seems to “miss” a sale.

    More than likely if you look further at the analytics of the sale it missed (I have researched this and tested it for a number of months now) you’ll find it was because the user whom did not get tracked had JavaScript disabled in their browser (or their firewall blocked the tracking … another common barrier now adays.) This assumes you have in correctly installed of course.

    In any of those cases, you will have slight discrepancies in the reported data (again, this happens with even some of the big systems I have used as well.)

    In the end it is all the same as far as accuracy goes. That is where your ability to read and interpret the statistics plays an important role. Oftentimes, the margin of error is so slim anyhow that it really makes no difference in determining what helps or hinders conversion. The percentage that is affected by a lost sale or two is slim.

    I can tell you that I have seen the SAME if not better conversion result increases (and quite substantial at that) using Google Analytics as I have with larger tracking systems that make you pay to use them. A free tool like Google Analytics can’t be beat as far as I am concerned.

    When implemented properly, and able to be interpreted, there are enough Key Statistics it provides to help you see some better than average gains (which can translate to super sales results.)

    Do I like it? Absolutely. How accurate is it? No different than other systems on the market. In the end can it help you generate more money from your online store? You bet. 🙂

  3. single and double absco garage on August 31st, 2007 4:47 am

    HI Econcepts,

    Thanks for the reply, your right in it doesn’t need to be 100% accurate as long as it’s consistent you’ll be able to see the stats rise and fall.

    I did however work out what the problem was (i think). I watched a couple of people through the process today and noticed people were going to paypal to pay, but then never returned to the site. Thus the sale registered but the customer never hit the checkout success page there fore not tracking.

    Keep up the good work with this blog and all the training.

    Cheers, ToNy!

  4. econcepts on August 31st, 2007 7:59 am

    Tony,

    Yes, that is one other circumstance that Google (or any other tracking system that expects the final “action” to take place on the originating website) will not record data. 🙂

    Obviously if a user decides not to click the “return to merchant” button at the end of a PayPal transaction, your sale will not be recorded in GA. This is a problem with any off site processing solution, and as long as you are able to determine the cause of the missing sales, you can back those figures into your end result if they are significant enough.

    Glad you enjoy the blog. I am happy to help out where ever I can, and appreciate the kind feedback.

  5. absco garden sheds on August 31st, 2007 8:18 am

    Did i mention i’m looking forward to your posts on the “Google Web Optimizer” 😀

  6. econcepts on August 31st, 2007 10:50 am

    Did i mention i’m looking forward to your posts on the “Google Web Optimizer”

    Already in the works. 🙂

    Been using it for a LONG time, and it is yet one more key element and important tool toward increases conversion.

    Stay tuned.

  7. Amy on September 4th, 2007 9:50 am

    Have you had any experience with the SEO URLs mod? Ever since I installed it, my Analytics data has stopped coming in, perhaps because of the rewrite of the URLs. I would still think that the URLs in my funnel (shopping cart, payment pages, checkout success) and my index page would still show some traffic, but everything has gone down to since digit or 0 when I know that I am still getting visitors and order, but they are not showing up in Analytics. Got any advice? Thanks! Amy

  8. econcepts on September 4th, 2007 10:39 am

    Have you had any experience with the SEO URLs mod? Ever since I installed it, my Analytics data has stopped coming in, perhaps because of the rewrite of the URLs. I would still think that the URLs in my funnel (shopping cart, payment pages, checkout success) and my index page would still show some traffic, but everything has gone down to since digit or 0 when I know that I am still getting visitors and order, but they are not showing up in Analytics. Got any advice? Thanks! Amy

    Yes, I have used (and do use) the SEO URL mod with no problems.

    What is probably happening is that you have to make sure you set the proper URL within your Google account for where the tracking code is located (and similarly, you will need to make alterations to your Funnels and Goals to reflect the new url structure).

    If your Google Analytics is setup to find the tracking code at http://www.yourdomain.com/page=checkout_success (only as an example) and with the new SEO URLs that url is actually re-written as
    “http://www.yourdomain.com/checkout_success.html”
    then you will need to make the appropriate adjustments to your Google Analytics account.

    Does that make sense? It is not in the way the module itself works, but in the url structure you have setup within your Google Analytics account.

    Make sure you have the correct url’s listed, and you should notice the numbers begin to flow again.

  9. Amy on September 4th, 2007 2:58 pm

    I checked and none of the checkout pages have changed URLs but I did notice that some of the URLs were not entered properly so we’ll see if it makes a difference now that they are corrected. I still have the problem if my main entry page not showing up at all, showing no visitors when I know that is not the case. Thanks for the input :o) Amy

  10. Emiliano on March 11th, 2008 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the posts…
    I’ve been a regular reader after Stumbling your site. Any way since this topic was commented on I want to ask, after installing the SEO URL Mod are any old URLs still active as to not lose traffic that is already linked to the old unmodified URL…

    thanks again,
    Emiliano
    PS I hope the two downloads are as good as the regular contributions.

  11. Eric Leuenberger on March 12th, 2008 8:29 pm

    I want to ask, after installing the SEO URL Mod are any old URLs still active as to not lose traffic that is already linked to the old unmodified URL…

    Most SEO URL modules use what is called “mod rewrite” to rewrite the urls and then do a redirect from the dynamic page to the new one.

    That alone will not cause any lose in traffic as the write is performed on the site itself directing traffic from the previous url to the new one.

  12. Emiliano on March 12th, 2008 8:34 pm

    Thanks for the reply Eric,

    This doesn’t effect ranking, as I thought search engines don’t like redirects? Or is it fine as it happens server side?

  13. bill parker on September 20th, 2008 1:19 am

    Question: My analytics ecomm data from simple ga122 is only hitting about 50% and same for goals. I’ve been fighting with this for a couple of months now and have torn it apart. Everything looks fine and obviously it works because i do see $ values in GA but only about 1/2 of my sales. I’m using paypal at the checkout and running v137. Any ideas?

  14. Eric Leuenberger on September 20th, 2008 2:29 pm

    Bill,

    Switch to the URCHIN version of the tracking code. Google has reported that they have a bug on their end in the GA version of the tracking code that has yet to be fixed and that affects the goals and ecom portion of tracking. The Urchin is the more stable version at this point.

    This should be specified in the “configuration” section of your Google analytics (zen cart version) as well.

    Hope that helps.

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