Web Analytics Demystified: Understanding Google Analytics for Ecommerce Success

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Google Analytics is a valuable tool for any ecommerce site. The insights that can be derived, when applied properly, can contribute to increased conversions and more satisfied and repeat customers. Hence, demystifying web analytics becomes extremely helpful especially for new ecommerce businesses.

But just as it offers opportunities for ecommerce growth and improvement, the reports can be confusing to navigate and understand.

In this article, we will demystify the complex world of web analytics and share with you the reports you need to look at from your Google Analytics account that will help you understand how effective your marketing efforts are, how your visitors use your site, and how to optimize your site for better ecommerce conversions and sales.

Real-Time Report

Once you are done with your Google Analytics Ecommerce setup and logged in on your account, you will see the basic reports you need on the left side menu – Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.

But on top of those four is a report that is just as helpful – the Real-Time Report.

real time report

Real-Time Report shows you the different activities going on in your website as it happens. It tells you who are currently on your website, where they come from, and what page they are browsing.

For ecommerce businesses, the Real-Time Report can be very handy if you recently launched a new campaign and you want to know so far how it is faring.

The Overview provides most of the information on the dashboard, such as the number active visitors, page views, traffic sources, active pages, and locations.

real time report overview

If you want to get deeper insights, select the different reports below Overview, which are Locations, Traffic Sources, Content, Events, and Conversions.

Audience Report

The Audience Report gives information on the people visiting your ecommerce store. There are nine reports under Audience that will give you more in-depth insights, but since this is an article on web analytics demystified, the ones you need to focus on are the following:

  • Overview
  • Demographics
  • Mobile

audience report

Audience Overview Report

Briefly, the Audience Overview gives you an introduction about your visitors. Immediately, you will see your total number of visitors (shown as sessions), your new and returning visitors (shown in a pie chart), and the following key metrics:

audience overview report

Sessions – the total number of visitor sessions
Users – the total number of unique visitors
Page views – the total number of viewed pages
Pages per session –the number of viewed pages per visit
Average session duration – the average amount of time visitors spent on your page
Bounce rate – the percentage of visitors leaving your site after visiting one page.
New sessions – the percentage of visitors who arrived on your ecommerce store for the first time

Audience Demographics

Audience Demographics gives you the age and gender of your site visitors.

audience demographics

If you want to ensure that you are targeting the right age group and gender for your campaigns, check out Audience Demographic. Similarly, if you are using Google Analytics to track your conversion goals, you can check the data next to your ecommerce conversion rates in the Demographics Report to see which age groups and gender are more likely to convert than others.

You can use this information also to create targeted ads, increasing your chances of making a conversion.

To get more in-depth information on the age and gender of your audience, open the Age and Gender reports under Demographics.

audience demographics overview

Audience Mobile Report

If you want to know the technology your visitors are using to browse your ecommerce site, turn to the Audience Mobile report. The overview report tells you the devices your visitors are using to access your ecommerce store (i.e. desktop, mobile, and tablet) arranged in decreasing order under Device Category.

audience mobile report

These are further complemented with information on acquisition, behavior, and conversions.

To know precisely the mobile devices used by your visitors, open the Devices Report under Mobile and you will see mobile device information specified by brand and model name.

mobile devices report

The same complementing information on acquisition, behavior, and conversions are also provided.

This is helpful data if you want to ensure that your ecommerce site is well optimized across all mobile devices. After all, it is mobile where more than half of all ecommerce traffic comes from. If you see that, on the average, the bounce rate is higher on mobile devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets) than on desktop, you know that your next project is to ensure your site’s responsiveness on mobile, or better yet, develop a mobile app for your store.

Acquisition Report

The Acquisition Report gives you information about how your visitors find you and how they were able to arrive on your site. You will know which channels are driving the most traffic and sales, and by knowing those, you can focus on them to make it more effective for you.

Information from the Acquisition Report can also help you identify the different websites that are linking to you. Knowing the amount of traffic they contribute will give you an idea where your other opportunities for driving traffic exist.

Of the five reports under Acquisition, focus your attention on:

  • Channels
  • Source / Medium

These two reports are under All Traffic in the Overview Report.

Acquisition Report

Acquisition Channels

The Channels Report gives you a summary of all sessions represented in a graph.

Below it is a chart of all traffic sources to your site grouped according to channel type. These groups are Organic Search, Direct, Referral and Social.

Acquisition Channels

You can click on each channel group to more specific insights. This is a good report to look at to gauge whether your targeted keywords are working for you or not.

If you want to see if your referral program is working effectively, track it by expanding the Referral report.

Likewise, if you want to know whether your ads on social are working well towards driving traffic to your site, expand the ‘Social’ report.

In terms of ecommerce tracking, the Channels Report is helpful because you want to know where your shoppers are coming from. This will help you make the channels that are already working for you even stronger and those that are poor in delivering visitors improved.

Source / Medium

And to know where your users are before seeing your content and how they arrived on your site, click on the Source / Medium report.

This describes whether your users arrived at your content via search engines, social media or another website and it is corresponded with whether the medium is organic for unpaid search traffic and none for direct traffic. Each source is described further by acquisition, behavior, and conversions.

Source / Medium report

This is another helpful report for ecommerce tracking to gauge if your paid marketing efforts are doing well or not. Likewise, if you find that your traffic is mostly organic, then you can say with a degree of confidence that people are able to find you well on search.

Behavior Report

An example of web analytics demystified is to understand what the Behavior Report in Google Analytics has to offer.

It comes with different in-depth reports, but the ones you need to focus on are:

  • All Pages
  • Landing Pages
  • Exit Pages
  • Site Speed
  • Site Search

Behavior Report

The first three, All Pages, Landing Pages, and Exit Pages are under a bigger report called Site Content.

The Behavior Report will help you improve your site’s content and your visitors’ reaction to it. When used properly, it will help you focus on areas of your site that need improvement, leading to better site experience, which in turn promises a boost in conversions.

All Pages Report

Under Site Content is All Pages where you can see all your top content and its corresponding average revenue.

All Pages Report

This determines the content that performs well on your website. It also displays each of your top performing content’s page views, unique page views, average time on page, entrances, bounce rate, percentage exit, and page value.

Landing Pages Report

The Landing Pages report is where you will see the top pages on your site where your visitors enter. This comes with standards insights on acquisition, behavior, and conversions.

All these pieces of data can help you determine which of your web pages are most likely to convert visitors into sales.

Landing Pages Report

Exit Pages Report

The Exit Pages report shows you the web pages your visitors departed from before leaving your site. You want to look at this report to see what you can do to fix your bounce rate, keep your visitors engaged and spend more time on your website.

Exit Pages Report

It gives you the actual figures on exits, pageviews, and the percentage of exits. If you want your visitors to spend more time on your website, the best way is to add as many links to other pages of your website as possible.

Open the exit pages listed on the report and make sure too that each of those pages has clear options to subscribe to your newsletter or your social media accounts.

Site Speed Report

If you want to know how your site performs in terms of speed, check out the ‘Site Speed’ report.

Site Speed Report

The Site Speed Overview Report shows you the average load time of all the pages of your site in a graph. Below it are the following metrics which are all measured in seconds:

Average page load time – the average amount of time it takes for a page to load completely in your visitor’s browser
Average redirection time – the average amount of time spent in redirects before a page is fetched
Average domain lookup time – the average amount of time spent in the DNS lookup for a webpage
Average server connection time – the average amount of time spent in establishing a TCP connection for a webpage
Average server response time – the average amount of time that your server takes to respond to a request
Average page download time – the average amount of time to download a webpage

These metrics can guide you as you optimize the different elements of your site to make it load faster. Some practical tips to optimize your site speed are to reduce some of your image file sizes or remove certain plugins from your page.

Again, on the overview are quick reports on your website’s load times based on the browser used, the location of the visitor, and the page the visitor lands on.

Below the Overview are three more reports – Page Timings, Speed Suggestions, and User Timings.

Site Search Report

The Site Search Overview Report displays metrics for visitors who used the internal search feature of your ecommerce site.

Site Search Overview Report

Immediately, it shows you the percentage of your visitors who used your internal search box and those that did not. There are also quick reports on the categories and pages where visitors initiated a search and the terms they used.

If you want more in-depth insights related to your Site Search, open the reports on Usage, Search Terms, and Pages under Overview.

Conversions

The last of the reports in Google Analytics is Conversions. This shows you the path your visitors take before they turn into customers. It basically shows you their journey in your conversion funnel. Of its four reports, you need to focus on Goals, Ecommerce, and Multi-Channel Funnels.

Conversions Report

Conversion Goals Report

The Goals Overview report gives you a summary of the total goal completions made on your site or the total number of completed conversions.

Conversion Goals Report

You will also see important metrics namely:

Goal Value – the total revenue produced by goal conversions. It is generated by multiplying the number of goal conversions by the value assigned to each goal.
Goal Conversion Rate – The total of all individual conversion rates
Total Abandonment Rate – The rate at which goals were abandoned

You can also see the pages where goal completions were made and expand the link to Source / Medium to see where converting traffic originates. There are also detailed reports that you can look into under Goals, such as Goal URLs, Reversal Goal Path, Funnel Visualization, and Goal Flow.

Ecommerce Report

This is the report that shows your customers’ journey in your conversion funnel. On the overview, it shows a summary of your ecommerce conversion rate, transactions, revenue, average order value, unique purchases and the quantity of product units that you were able to sell.

Also on the overview, you can see data essential to your top revenue sources, namely your products, its corresponding SKUs, categories, and traffic sources. If you want more in-depth ecommerce reports, expand the reports under Overview, which are Product Performance, Sales Performance, Transactions, and Time to Purchase.

Essential to access this report is to ensure Google Analytics ecommerce setup is successful for tracking.

Multi-Channel Funnels Report

Although the reports in Conversions all give details about your customers’ path towards your conversion funnel, the Multi-Channel Funnels Report gives you a better picture of the entire journey. It helps you discover that it takes more than just one marketing funnel to make a successful sale.

Often, Google Analytics attributes your conversions from the last referral that turned your visitor into a customer. However, the shopping journeys of customers are unique and do not always follow a linear path.

For instance, someone saw your ad on Facebook, but decides to buy because of a retargeting ad they saw seven days after. Or someone lands on your site via a search engine, but buys from you because of an ad they saw on social media. Customer journeys can take on many combinations and you want to see what those are.

In the Multi-Channel Overview, you will see a summary of each marketing channel that converted visitors into customers.

Multi-Channel Funnels Report

It shows the total number of conversions and assisted conversions. Assisted Conversions is the number of conversions where a marketing funnel appeared, but not where the final conversion interaction took place. You can expand the report on this under Conversions to see all marketing channels that contributed to your conversions.

Multi-Channel Conversion Visualizer shows the percentage of conversion paths that included combinations of different marketing channels, and beside it is a diagram that shows where these marketing channels overlap.

For more in-depth Multi-Channel Funnels reports, there are reports you can expand under Overview, which are Assisted Conversions, Top Conversion Paths, Time Lag, and Path Length.

Google Analytics Site Search

We previously mentioned Site Search under Behavior. Enabling Google Site Search allows you to get data on how your customers are finding things on your site, how quickly they find it, what they have trouble looking for, and what they think are missing on your site. It offers a wealth of information, which you can use to improve user experience and your overall ecommerce conversion rate.

Check out our essential guide to Google Analytics Site Search – a step by step guide on how to set it up, the most important reports to look at, and when and how to use site search data – to start reaping the benefits this often overlooked Google Analytics feature has to offer.

Conclusion

When you do business with an actual storefront, you have the ability to see your customers, view their purchasing behaviors, and speak to them.

Doing business online may rid you of that opportunity, but Google Analytics does it for you. It gives you all the information you need about your visitors and customers as if you are interacting with them firsthand.

It also gives you the reasons behind why customers leave your store, why they stay, what makes them return, and so much more.

With Google Analytics, you can have a better understanding of your marketing efforts, measure its effectiveness, and know where to optimize your site for better traffic, sales, and conversions.

And with this article on web analytics demystified, you know exactly the reports on your Google Analytics you need to look at and focus on. You can also refer to this documentation should you need more information on how to use Google Analytics’ advanced tools and features.

About the Author

John Komarek is the founder of Pixelter. He helped over 63 e-commerce businesses boost their mobile sales by up to 183.5%. He uses advanced UX research, A/B testing, and AI-driven personalization to deliver the results. Learn more about how he can help you grow your sales.

The Ultimate Guide:

29 Steps To Boost Mobile Sales

We’ll share with you proven techniques that helped our customers achieve up to 57.3% boost in mobile sales.

[mc4wp_form id="19816"]

[mc4wp_form id="19736"]