If the lack of consistency between Shopify’s dashboards and the audience numbers in Google Analytics is confusing, you might conclude that it’s safer to trust Shopify.
There is a problem with the reliability of transaction volumes in Google Analytics (something which can be fixed with Littledata’s app) - but using Shopify’s reports alone to guide your marketing is ignoring the power that has led Google Analytics to become over by over 80% of large retailers.
Let’s imagine your shoe store runs a Google AdWords campaign for ‘blue suede shoes’. Shopify allows you to see how many visits or sales were attributed to that particular campaign, by looking at UTM ‘blue suede shoes’.
However, this is only capturing those visitors who clicked on the advert and in the same web session, purchased the product. So if the visitor, in fact, went off to check prices elsewhere, or was just researching the product options, and comes back a few hours later to buy they won’t be attributed to that campaign.
The campaign reports in Shopify are all-or-nothing – the campaign or channel sending the ‘last-click’ is credited with 100% of the sale, and any other previous campaigns the same customer saw is given nothing.
Google Analytics, by contrast, has the ability for multi-channel attribution. You can choose an ‘attribution model’ (such as giving all campaigns before a purchase equal credit) and see how much one campaign contributed to overall sales.
Most online marketing can now be divided into ‘prospecting’ and ‘retargeting’; the former is to introduce the brand to a new audience, and the latter is to deliberately retarget ads at an engaged audience.
Prospecting ads – and Google AdWords or Facebook Ads are often used that way – will usually not be the last click, and so will be under-rated in the standard Shopify reports.
So why not just use the analytics reports directly in Google AdWords, Facebook Business, Twitter Ads etc.?
The problem is that all these different tools (and especially Facebook) have different ways of attributing sales to their platform – usually being as generous as possible to their own adverting platform.
You need a single view, where you can compare the contribution of each traffic source – including organic search, marketing emails and referrals from other sites – in a consistent way.
Unfortunately, Google Analytics needs some special setup to do that for Shopify. For example, if the customer is redirected via a payment gateway or a 3D secure page before completing the transaction then the sale will be attributed to a ‘referral’ from the bank - not the original campaign.
Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS)
Once you iron out the marketing attribution glitches using our app, you can make meaningful decisions about whether a particular form of marketing is driving more revenue that it is costing you – whether there is a positive Return on Advertising Spend.
Then Google Analytics uniquely allows you to decide if a particular campaign is bringing more revenue than it is costing and, on a relative basis, where are the best channels to deploy your budget.
Shopify’s dashboards give you a simple daily overview of sales and products sold, but if you are spending more than hundreds of dollars a month on online advertising – or investing in SEO tactics – you need a more sophisticated way to measure success.