Top 3 Overlooked Metrics in Google Analytics for Ecommerce Websites

By Scott Garrett | Jun 19, 2013
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In my last blog post I wrote about my Top 10 Dashboard Widgets in Google Analytics for eCommerce Websites. Today, I will be telling you about the specific metrics important to eCommerce sites – including ones you may have overlooked.

With the vast number of metrics available to track in Google Analytics, it is easy to get overwhelmed and only focus on the big ones (i.e., cost, revenue, transactions). While these three metrics are often the deciding factor in whether your eCommerce efforts are successful or not, you must not overlook the other metrics that feed into these 3 main metrics. Understanding how the other metrics combine and interact with each other to increase revenues, for example, or decrease overall costs, is crucial for truly optimizing your eCommerce website. Discovering the real metrics that drive performance in your account brings you one step closer to understanding “the riddle of steel” (also known as Conan the Barbarian’s epic quest to understand the finer points of eCommerce analytics…I think that is how that movie goes, or maybe I’m thinking about the sequel).

Google Analytics and Conan
Anyway, no need to pray to Crom for guidance on the finer points of eCommerce analytics, because here are my top 3 overlooked metrics in Google Analytics for eCommerce websites.

Unique Purchases

Google Analytics says “Unique Purchases is the total number of times a specified product (or set of products) was a part of a transaction.” This is a great metric to help you figure out the purchase habits of your customers. For example, if you see that product A has been purchased 500 times, but only has 10 unique purchases, it means that product A was bought on 10 separate occasions in quantities of 50 at a time. From that information, it is clear to see that your customers often buy product A in bulk. Therefore, to encourage customers to purchase even more of product A, you could provide a discount for purchases over a certain quantity, which in turn could help increase the number of transactions and your overall revenue.

Time to Purchase (Days and Visits)

Another interesting metric to help you determine the purchasing habits of your customers is Time to Purchase. Google Analytics allows you to see the overall time to purchase for your products through the metrics of days and visits. Determining the average duration (from the first time they are cookie’d on your site) it takes for a customer to purchase a product from your site gives important insight on the buyer behavior of your customers. Knowing this behavior can help you fine-tune your remarketing tactics, so your remarketing duration can match your customers’ average time to purchase duration; thereby increasing the odds of them purchasing a product (increased revenue), and avoiding remarketing to them when they are not likely to purchase (decreased costs).

Average Value (Average Order Value)

Average value is simply the average value (in dollars) of  all your eCommerce transactions. The average value does not reflect the quantity of products sold, only the price of the products sold. Keeping a fine eye on this value will help you understand the price of products that are most sold on your site. For example, if you have a high average value then that means you are mostly selling big ticket items. However, even with a high average value you still might see a decrease in overall revenue, as a higher product price can often cause lower quantities to be sold. Therefore, looking at transaction quantity relative to average value is critical.  Since average value as a standalone metric can be misleading, it should be viewed in conjunction with other metrics such as transactions, revenues, and costs.

Understanding how these 3 often overlooked metrics (unique purchases, time to purchase, and average value) interact and work together with the 3 main metrics (cost, revenue, and transactions) will allow you to have further control and understanding of “the riddle of steel” (eCommerce analytics optimization). Learn more about Google Analytics practices by downloading our Digital Marketing Checklist.

Google Analytics is best in life

What metrics do you find are the most telling of your overall  eCommerce performance? Comment below and follow me on Twitter @ScottGarrett89.

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