Have you mapped out a data plan for 2023 yet? If you’re selling on a major DTC platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, GA4 is probably on your mind.
With the sunsetting of Universal Analytics (GA3 or the “old version” of Google Analytics) on the horizon, it’s time to get going with event-based tracking. Many brands have been procrastinating about setting up GA4 – or, worse, only setting it up halfway so that browsing behavior is tracked but revenue and conversions are missing.
But can you blame them?
- Shopify isn’t planning to release native GA4 integration until March 2023 at the earliest (and nobody’s expecting it to work well for serious DTC brands)
- BigCommerce released a beta version of their GA4 integration in November, but it’s extremely minimal, tracking only begin_checkout and purchase events
- Manual setup is costly and confusing (and has to be maintained every time you change your site or checkout flow)
GA4 revenue tracking should be your top priority, but there’s a lot of confusion around GA4, made worse by Shopify apps that claim to offer GA4 integration but only offer client-side tracking. It shouldn’t be so complicated. At Littledata we’ve already fixed GA4 tracking for hundreds of top DTC brands.
In this post I’ll show you how to check if you’ve set up GA4 correctly to capture orders and revenue, and how to start tracking ecommerce conversions today in the most secure and reliable way possible. Follow this guide to GA4 and you’ll be on your way to ecommerce data tracking in no time.
We’ll look at how to get from this:
How to check if you’re tracking GA4 revenue and conversions
After creating a new GA4 property and following the setup assistant to create a new data stream, you might have noticed that you’re instructed to copy and paste the Google tag (gtag.js) script on every page of your ecommerce site.
Once you’ve added the Google tag to your site and linked your GA4 property, everything will just start tracking automatically, right?
Wrong. With the basic script all you get are engagement events such as page_view, session_start, view_search_result, and click. Obviously these “automatic events” are super important, but they don’t tell you what happens post-click.
Here’s how to check if your GA4 ecommerce setup is working or not.
1. Check your Acquisition reporting in GA4
There are two places to look to see if you’re capturing ecommerce conversions. First, the Acquisition reports.
You’ll see user and traffic engagement details grouped by channel, but no conversion or revenue data exists. You’re seeing which organic or paid channels are bringing visitors to your store, but you can’t tell if you’re generating any revenue from these visitors. GA4 revenue reporting not showing is one of the most asked questions by merchants and performance marketers.
2. Check your Engagement and Monetization reporting in GA4Taking a step further, check your Engagement and Monetization reports. Do you see GA4 reporting data about cart updates, interactions with the checkout flow, or any purchase or revenue data?
If revenue is missing in GA4’s monetization overview, you need to start tracking ecommerce activity ASAP. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of data points that lead nowhere and you will not have an accurate understanding of your ecommerce store’s performance.
Tip: Use our complementary instant order checker for GA4 to check your property
How to track ecommerce conversions and revenue in GA4
After landing on your store, online shoppers interact with collections and products before adding items to their carts and going through the checkout process. These web interactions must be captured as events and linked with customers and marketing data in GA4 to get a complete picture of your business.
We have looked at what data can be missing from your GA4 events and which enhanced ecommerce events you should track. But how can you get all these ecommerce events in GA4?
Google Tag Manager (GTM) has always been the most common tracking method for Universal Analytics, and the setup process can be carried over to GA4. However, for a lean team, the setup process can be quite time-consuming and complex, having to create a Data Layer In Shopify, and then for each event, you must create:
- Firing Triggers in GTM
- Data Layer Variables in GTM
- Ecommerce Tags in GTM
Needless to say, there are quite a few maintenance pitfalls if you’re going down this route. Setup is just the beginning. To make matters worse, Shopify is removing GTM from the checkout for Shopify Plus stores (standard Shopify stores never had access). So even if you take the time to add all your own events to tracking visitors before they make a purchase, you’ll no longer be able to track checkout steps (add-to-cart, etc) with GTM.
If you want to save time and money while still having confidence in the accuracy of your GA4 data, Littledata is the perfect solution for you. Our proven app is used by over 1500+ brands and can help you track your ecommerce conversions with ease, giving you the reliable data you need to make informed decisions about your business. Littledata’s data layer uses a unique combination of client-side and server-side tracking to ensure accurate, complete ecommerce data in GA4 and any connected data warehouse or reporting destination.
Littledata captures complete ecommerce data automatically in GA4 for Shopify and BigCommerce stores. We can break down those events into seven general categories:
- Marketing channels
- Browsing behavior
- Checkout steps
- Recurring orders
Of course, each reporting category has useful data, but brands that really want to scale link it all together to look at revenue and LTV by channel, splitting out first-time purchases from repeat purchases or recurring orders (subscription analytics).
As I mentioned earlier, Acquisition reports are some of the most valuable sets of data GA4 offers. They show which of your team’s marketing efforts bring the most results, from traffic through engagement and conversions.
It is useful to have the engagement metrics grouped by channel, but the difference between having accurate or questionable ROI data in these reports rests on how the purchase event is tracked.
Get started with Littledata today so you will have the data you need to scale faster the smart way. We recommend tracking in UA and GA4 “in parallel” as soon as possible.