Google Analytics Workaround for E-commerce

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During the holidays, ecommerce takes center stage for many businesses as consumers turn to their digital devices for their gift-buying needs. In fact, this year’s Cyber Monday marked the single biggest online shopping day in history1. One of the best ways to ensure you’re gaining the insights from the bump of digital traffic is through Google Universal Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce.

Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce is implemented using a Data Layer through Google Tag Manager and enables product impression, promotion, and sales data to be sent with any of your Google Analytics pageviews and events. For businesses, this data can be invaluable as you are able to use pageviews to track product impressions and product purchases, and use events to track checkout steps and product clicks.

Marketers can quickly understand how much money is left on the table by viewing the Customer Journey from impression to addition to the cart, to purchase and calculation of revenue metrics through five new product action types:

  1. Product Impressions & Clicks
  2. Product Detail Views
  3. Add/Remove from Cart
  4. Checkout Flow
  5. Purchase & Refunds

Even with these new product actions types, when it comes to users changing their minds when they read reviews, or building a wedding registry there’s much to be desired. Enhanced Ecommerce is a huge upgrade to Transaction Tracking Reports, but still falls short when it comes to tracking “the other stuff” users are doing on your website.

In response, some may argue “um… you just use a track event method to measure the ‘add to registry’ actions of our blissful couple.”

I would somewhat agree. However, this method still creates two road blocks to efficiently tracking “the other stuff” customers do with your products:

  • Custom dimensions cannot handle delimited strings; so, using a dimension to capture a delimited string of products will result in a report of “infinite” combinations of products making it less than digestible for reporting
  • Your product scoped dimensions can only be applied to the standard product dimensions provided by google. So, if you want to track “all the other stuff” with track event calls you’re going to need to create Hit scoped duplicates of all of these dimensions. This likely is not an option for GA Standard and it’s still less than efficient for GA360.

The Workaround

As a GA-certified partner, we’ve advised numerous brands across the globe on their Google Analytics implementation and in my eyes, the Product List Performance report is the least useful of the out of the box reports.

Hijacking Product List Clicks, the variable from this report which uses product impressions and clicks to calculate click-thru rates of elements like your product grid page, works around the limits of Google Analytics without impacting stakeholder needs.

As we help advertisers identify “the other stuff” they want to track e.g. “add to registry”, here are the steps we take to make sure they’re tracking successfully:

  • create a product scoped Custom Metric
  • implement a track event method with a product list click action.
  • increment the product scoped custom metric by “1” within the product list click

This method inflates the Product List Click metric and CTR. Don’t freak out!

We then build two new custom metrics which I call “Adjusted Product List Click” and “Adjusted Product List CTR” to mitigate inflation. We get the first by subtracting each of the “the other stuff” product scoped metrics from the standard Product List Click metric, and the latter by dividing that metric by Product List Impressions.

Now you just have to build a custom report to replace the standard Product List Performance reports, but you just gained the ability to track “all the other stuff” your customers do while still being able to apply the product scoped custom dimensions you’re using for merchandising attributes.

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1. Statista 2015, Statistics and facts about Holiday Season E-commerce

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About Author

Scott Friedman is Manager of Client Services at Stratigent, the Marketing Performance Optimization division of Ebiquity – North America. Scott studied at Oakland University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing

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