Google Analytics for beginners: how to use this for your online store?

The next few weeks we will look into Google Analytics (from now on referred to as GA), and the possibilities this platform offers to beginners, experienced users and advanced users. The Analytics package is also very popular within e-commerce, and we would like to help you to use it to its full potential. That’s why today’s subject is Google Analytics for beginners: how to use it for your web shop?

For readers that are completely new to ‘Google Analytics land’, here is a short introduction: Google’s Analytics platform is a tool to view/monitor your web shop statistics which you can use to improve your shop. By (a single) placement of a piece of code, Analytics can analyse every visitor to your web shop, and use this to display the full statistics of your site.

Where to begin?

Running a profitable web shop starts with attracting visitors, who you can turn into paying customers. That is why monitoring your visitors is the first step: this is easily done through GA.

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After logging in, you can see through ‘Standard reports > Audience > Overview’ the summary of visitors to your web shop. This summary is divided in different segments that are important to watch:

  • Visits:these are the number of visits to your web shop. Note: these are not unique visitors, this number includes every visit – also when the same person visits the shop several times.

  • Unique visitors: this is a number that is often found to be more important than the previous number, because it shows a ‘clean’ number of visitors at your web shop. Of course you can’t connect this to a good or bad sentiment: this is depending on the sector in which you operate, the amount of time that you have been active, how large the market is etc. Do try to set goals for yourself to work towards!

  • Page views: here you can see the amount of pages that have been visited by all your visitors put together. It shows what an average visitor does in terms of interaction, which we will explain in the next segment.

  • Pages per visit: how many pages does an average visitor look at in your shop? This is what you see here. Of course it is a good thing if this number is higher than 1, it shows that your visitors are actually looking around in your shop, looking for a suitable product.

  • Average time spend: this displays (in minutes and seconds) how much time the visitor spends in your web shop. Also in this case it is good to see more than a couple of seconds, which shows that your visitor finds the shop interesting. This goes well with the next segment.

  • Bounce percentage: the bounce percentage shows how many visitors leave straight away after visiting your shop – for whatever reason. In general it is good to have the lowest possible number here, definitely fewer than 40%. Are you making adjustments to your shop? Watch this number carefully to make sure it does not suddenly go up, this could mean that something went wrong.

Where do your visitors come from?

Now that you have a good overview in GA of the visitors that come to your web shop, and how many pages they visit. But where exactly do they come from? GA also has a tool for this – you can easily monitor which sources generate a lot of visitors.

Below you see a distribution such as is to be found in GA. You can view this by clicking on ‘summary of traffic sources, traffic sources>summary’.

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It is very important that there is a good distribution between the different sources. If almost all your visitors arrive through search engines, you are very depended on, for example, Google. It is therefore sensible to ensure a certain distribution, so you receive visitors via multiple sources. An 'ideal' allocation would be as follows:

- 40-50% organic traffic from search engines

- 20% direct traffic

- 20-30% references of other sites

- 10% paid campaigns or other traffic

In the coming few weeks we will look further into the possibilities of Google Analytics and everything it has to offer for web shops!