The truth is that Google Analytics and Shopify need a little help to play nice together.
Most marketers use Google Analytics to track performance, but having a good data collection setup -- even for basic essentials like transactions and revenue -- is harder than it looks.
As a Partner Manager at Littledata, I work with a wide variety of apps and agencies, especially Shopify Plus Partners, who are in turn working with marketing managers and ecommerce directors. One of the most frequently asked questions I get from those marketers is “Why don’t my transactions in Google Analytics match those in Shopify?”
Tip: Here's why your Shopify data doesn't match what you see in GA.
So in this article I’d like to take you on a journey, explaining what could cause this, how it can affect marketing and how to get accurate data that matches your actual money in the bank.
Top 6 reasons for inaccuracy
There are many reasons for differences in tracking results, but let’s take a look at the top 6 reasons.
1) Some orders are never recorded in Google Analytics
Usually, this happens because your customer never sees the order confirmation page, and most commonly this is caused by payment gateways not sending users back to the order thank you page.
2) The Analytics / Tag Manager integration has some errors
Shopify has an integration with Google Analytics but it is a pretty basic one, tracking just a few of all the possible ecommerce events and micro-moments required for a complete picture. Although Shopify’s integration is meant to work for most standard websites, there are those who build a more personalised theme. In which case they would require a custom integration with Google Analytics. (Here’s what you can track with Littledata’s Shopify app)
3) A script in the page prevents tracking to work on your order thank you page
Many websites have various dynamics on the thank you page in order to improve user experience and increase retention. But these scripts can sometimes fail and create a domino effect preventing other modules to execute. Such errors can stop Google Analytics from tracking the event.
4) The user has opted out from Google Analytics tracking
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5) Too many products included in one transaction
Every time a page on your website loads, Google Analytics sends a hit-payload to its servers which contains by default a lot of user data starting from source, path, keywords etc. combined with the data for viewed or purchased products (name, brand, category, etc). This data query can get quite long if the user adds products with long names and descriptions. But there is a size limit for each hit-payload of 8kb, which can include approx. 8192 characters or information for about 20 products. Where this limit is reached, Google Analytics will not send the payload to its servers, resulting in lost purchase data.
6) Too many interactions have been tracked in one session
This inconsistency is not encountered as often, but it needs to be taken into account when setting up Google Analytics tracking. One of Google Analytic’s limitations for standard tracking is that a session can contain only 500 hits. This means that interactions taking place after the hit limit is reached will be missed by Google Analytics.
How a data mismatch damages your bottom line
We have found that 8 out of 10 Shopify merchants have only a 70 - 80% accuracy rate for transactions and revenue in Google Analytics mostly due to the reasons mentioned above. In other words, 80% of Shopify merchants are missing at least 20% transaction data!
Statistically, small or even medium-sized merchants dealing with four-figure monthly revenue can be very affected by the missing data because they are more likely to take bad marketing decisions based on segmented data. Hyper-segmentation is counterproductive if you’re working with bad data.
And for larger business which rely heavily on Google Analytics to make data-driven decisions, accuracy is an absolute must. Imagine having a 20% inaccuracy margin when dealing with six or seven figure monthly revenue! It kind of puts things into a different perspective, right?
It would be quite impossible to know how much to invest & re-invest in marketing without knowing the actual ROI.
Littledata’s Shopify app can automatically fix most of the tracking inconsistencies mentioned above. Here’s how our app works, it's like magic.
First, the app adds a DataLayer on your website containing all the Enhanced Ecommerce events. Then it inserts a tracking script on each layout which captures every fired event as soon as it occurs, and then using Server Side tracking, the app listens for all transactions to ensure 100% accuracy.
In addition to the guaranteed transaction accuracy, Littledata’s tracker attributes each sale by source together with granular user and product data. The app also sends custom information in 4 custom dimensions to understand KPIs regarding lifetime value (LTV).
Sound pretty geeky? It is. But the cool part is that the app uses automation and machine learning to do all the heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on growing your business instead of worrying about tracking issues.
And the tech extends to all the apps you use. We include smart connections with apps like ReCharge and Refersion, to ensure accurate data about every marketing channel and product mix, including subscriptions. For example, our ReCharge connection automatically tracks both first-time payments and recurring transactions. This gives you accurate sales data and marketing attribution for those sales.
Compare different tracking methods
I know it may sound too good to be true, and this is why we offer a 14-day free trial so you can test the results by creating a Test Property in your Google Analytics account and compare data between Shopify’s standard tracker and Littledata’s advanced solution.
Once you have accurate data, you can start benchmarking against other Shopify sites and optimising your website with data-driven decision making.
Questions? Littledata is here to help. We built our smart ecommerce analytics app to simplify everything, and with a clear picture of your ecommerce data and access to automated optimization tools you can truly take your business to the next level.
Are you ready for accurate data?