Introduction to Enhanced E-commerce Tracking in Google Analytics

I would like to start a series of blog posts on one the hottest topics in the Digital Analytics area “Enhanced E-commerce tracking” from Google. We all know how web tracking is important for any digital business. Obviously, in most cases the reason why we spend our time and money on analytics is to increase the output from our business without direct expansion, i.e. via user experience improvements, etc.  We thirst to find out the bottlenecks of our web sites and mobile apps, and Google has given us the tool that is free and easy to do it. We have been receiving a lot of useful information from Google Analytics for years but the most crucial information was hidden from us, i.e. we were not able to extract and analyze the data on what people are looking at or how they were interacting with your content before converting. Moreover, the conversion process was difficult to analyze. Of course, we had some workarounds and set up our own vision using what Google Analytics provided. As a result we still needed a lot of time to come up with a temporary solution to achieve our goals.

We needed additional information on user behavior and the conversion process, which was hidden from us. Lets look at the complete user experience with your content. This starts from finding your website and ends with a purchase. We then realize that it has an infinite number of parameters that influence the user’s behavior, and what is more important making a decision to purchase or not. Such techniques like improving the landing pages, page timings, mobile friendliness, quick checkout, etc. have been known here for a long time. Additionally, business owners are aware of the requirements and are trying to implement almost everything that is possible, and it is hard to surprise them with new ideas. However, we have a lot more parameters that could be improved on your websites and mobile apps. The first thing that comes to my mind is selecting a product and the checkout process. I think that the brains from Mountain View were guided by the same thoughts when they created a brand new feature.

In the first half of this blog post I touched on why we need it questions, and now I want to look at how we do that with Enhanced E-commerce tracking. First of all, let me describe the place of Enhanced E-commerce tracking among other Google products. This is a part of Google Analytics and can’t exist outside of it. It is an expanded version of GA e-commerce tracking which allows capturing e-commerce related user’s behavior data on your website or mobile app. Now we can track what products people are looking at, how they interact with your content, what is added to or removed from the cart, where people drop off at the checkout and gather more information about the products purchased without using custom dimensions. Note the screenshot of the new report, entitled Shopping Behavior Analysis, available to the Enhanced E-commerce tracking users. You can easily analyze your macro conversion steps and identify issues on your website. In addition, Google has added another report called “Checkout Behavior” for the detailed analysis of each checkout step. I have provided you with several examples, but Google offers a number of other reports and features alongside the e-commerce tracking itself, which are extremely useful in any type of analysis. For example, you can review the performance of any product in detail, i.e. obtain the count of product views and impressions (yes, now you can differentiate them), add to and remove from cart and how much revenue it generates. All that information is available in one place. Moreover, you can extract the data over API and do your analysis in other BI tools where you can import your costs for advertising and marketing.

There is no doubt that Google has done a great job and provided us with this awesome new feature. However, such features always have negative sides. I have found one that doesn’t seem to be a real problem, but it will take some time to figure it out. Such complex tracking requires code changes and new syntax never used before. Furthermore, you can’t install it on Classic Google Analytics. Your property should be upgraded to the Universal Analytics version. There are two ways to implement it on a website: inline JavaScript code or via Google Tag Manager in the data layer. Both versions work just fine and there are no differences in the available features. The implementation is straight forward enough. In particular the pure e-commerce set up without e-commerce related items like add-to-carts, etc. doesn’t require a greater level of effort than regular tracking set up but gives you a lot more information for your analysis.
In future posts I will switch focus to the technical side of enhanced e-commerce tracking and share with you the insights that new reports could bring to your analysis.

Posted under Uncategorized by Alexander Malyshko on 25th June, 2015

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