Grow your subscription business with revenue based loans

Revenue-based loans for early-stage companies have burst into the mainstream in 2022. Whether you are a subscription commerce business or a SaaS company, this could be a powerful new way to fund your expansion. In this guide I’ll explain what I’ve learnt as a founder from many days of conversations about the different flavours of debt funding, and when they’re appropriate for your business. What is a revenue-based loan (RBL)? An RBL is a business loan secured against a company’s future recurring revenue stream rather than the company’s assets. Most growth-phase companies can’t borrow from traditional banks because they are not profitable, are asset-light, and don’t have big enough revenue streams. Alternative debt providers, including RBLs, have stepped in to fill that need. This is different to invoice factoring. Factoring companies take over the billing relationship with your customers to repay the debt, which doesn’t work for companies like Littledata where most of the revenue is from Stripe cards or payouts from an app store. How do RBLs compare with traditional loans? RBLs are typically covenant-lite and without personal guarantees. This means if your revenue drops and you are unable to repay the loans the lender has no right to take control of the business or pursue you personally for the debt. That said, all debt needs to be repaid in full — even if your revenue drops unexpectedly. How do RBLs compare with selling equity (VC funding)? Firstly, they are much less dilutive - sometimes non dilutive. This means the current shareholders keep their same hard-earned share of the business. Some lenders may ask for warrants (share options) to share in the upside if your growth takes off, but these are still a lot less dilutive than VC funds. Secondly, RBL providers won’t interfere or distract you. They don’t want a say in how you run your business; they only want visibility on how your revenue is progressing. On the flip side, debt providers won’t be able to advise you — they are very transactional. Yet, in my experience, VC investors exaggerate the benefit of their advice, which can be just as distracting as helpful.  Since the outcome for most VC-based companies is very binary, VC funds inevitably focus their attention on the biggest winners in their portfolio — meaning you may not always get their advice in times of need anyway. In many cases RBLs are not a complete alternative to equity funding — they just reduce your dilution by match funding other equity investments. Are RBLs the same as venture debt? The terms are often used interchangeably, but traditionally venture debt was taken on alongside a big injection of cash for equity (e.g. alongside a Series A investment). This boosts the size of an already large funding round but doesn’t help companies trying to grow up to this level. RBLs can be used independent of any equity funding round. Will taking on a loan reduce my funding options in the future? As this kind of debt funding becomes more mainstream most VC investors see them as a useful bridge to ever-larger Series A rounds. In my experience, having a loan on your books will not block an equity investment. In fact, since debt funders are agnostic about the exit route or valuation, they keep open exit options that a VC might block. So for example, If your growth stalls and you want to switch to run your company for profit, once you’ve repaid the debt the income is all yours. If you can use debt funding to achieve a certain scale ($5M+ ARR), you’ll be able to access much cheaper term loans from lenders like Silicon Valley Bank. Is my business suitable for an RBL? If you haven’t yet generated $100k annual recurring revenue (ARR), or you are investing in a new and unproven market, then equity funding is a better option. To get confident in the stability of your future revenue streams the debt provider will want to see: 1. Majority recurring revenue 2. High net year-on-year revenue growth (at least 50%+) 3. Low customer value churn (less than 50% per year) 4. Low customer concentration (any one customer churning has low impact) My company Littledata qualifies on all fronts with 100% recurring revenue, 100% year-over-year growth, less than 40% gross value churn, and our largest customer is less than 2% of our revenue. How much can I borrow? Loan values are usually expressed as a multiple of run rate ARR, and the maximum will be between 20% (2 months revenue) and 50% (6 months revenue) of your ARR. This maximum depends on revenue stability, term length, and other factors. I think I can raise a VC. Are RBLs still relevant? I think so, yes. It helps boost your valuation and gives you time to wait for the right investor. Investors value subscription-based companies as a multiple of their ARR, depending on growth and churn. If you’re growing at a predictable rate month-over-month, why would you sell out a bigger share now when you could hold off for a higher valuation in the future. Unfortunately, short-term RBLs won’t increase your runway much. The extra revenue you gain from bringing forward hiring or marketing spending will likely be offset by the debt repayments. But VC funding will also reduce your runway AND limit your exit options. It’s a necessary evil in some cases, but don’t believe it’s the only way. (Image credit: Founder Collective) What are the options for funding a sub-$2M ARR business? At this level, you are limited to finance over a maximum 12-month term. This means you’ll need to repay the loan monthly over a year, so if you borrow $200k you’ll repay around $18k per month including a fee. This fee is typically expressed as a discount rate — equivalent to the discount you might offer a customer for paying annually rather than monthly. Discount rates on 12-month loans currently range from 5% to 11% depending on the underwriting risk. This translates to an APR of 10% to 18% since half of the money is repaid within half the loan term. Some lenders will structure the repayments as a percent of your monthly revenue (i.e. you repay over a minimum of 12 months), which limits the cash out if your revenue sinks. But, in practice for a growing company, the repayments will be fixed. You could also borrow for 6 months for half the cost. This doesn’t work for us, but it could work for you if you can quickly translate marketing dollars into more recurring revenue. Some of the lenders in this space are: ClearCo (previously Clearbanc) Uncapped Forward Advances Capchas Vitt Founderpath Pipe Littledata’s Story: Littledata started exploring revenue based loans back in 2020, and took out our first 3 month loan from Forward Advances. However, with our marketing mix and 30 day free trial it’s impossible to get a return on investment within 3 months. So in 2021 we took on a 12 month loan from ClearCo, and then in 2022 another 12 month facility from Capchase. Together these loans have helped us continue accelerating and postpone any major equity raise. Full disclosure: we’ve taken loans from Forward Advances, ClearCo, Capchase, and Element Finance. Since the process is usually fully automated — with data feeds from common accounting and banking platforms — these lenders are very quick, with offers in 24 hours and loans within 10 days.


Beginners Facebook Ads guide for ecommerce brands

So, you’re thinking of trying out Facebook ads for the first time for your eCommerce business.You’ve got your online store in your website all set up, you’ve optimised for conversion, you’ve got sufficient stock, you’re starting to see traction with your sales, but now you want to seriously scale…Well you’ve come to the right place! Paid ads in general, and specifically Facebook & Instagram ads for online retailers, are one the best ways to build out a sustainable and scalable revenue generating machine for your brand.There’s a reason why Facebook, alongside Google, is the biggest ad platform in the world. On average, over 1.6 billion (yes billion) users visit Facebook each day. That’s 1.6b potential customers to sell your products to.All these users mean that as a platform, Facebook has the largest global network of audience data, which allows for far better targeting in your specific niche! So you’re convinced Facebook is the place for your brand, but where do you start? WTF is a Facebook Pixel? Should you use daily budget or lifetime budget?Don’t fret! I’ve created an easy Facebook & Instagram ads tutorial to hold your hand and help you launch your first campaigns. This advice is based on my experience over the last 6 years managing a paid ads agency (Snowball Creations) specialising in all kinds of eCommerce businesses.You need all this basic stuff in place to get the most out of your budget - So let’s get started! Step 1: PreparationSet Up A Facebook Page And Instagram Account: First off, we need to set up your Facebook page and your Instagram account. You can’t just run ads across Instagram or Facebook if you don’t have a profile/page. You can create and manage ads for both of these platforms from within the Facebook Ads manager. Here’s is a simple guide from Facebook themselves to complete this step. Then you can create your profile for Instagram by just getting the app on your phone or tablet and signing up like any other person creating a profile. Here’s a guide for that too if needed. The next step is switching from a personal account to a business one. Here’s how. Finally, you need to connect your Facebook page to your instagram account to that they’re linked. Step one done ✅ Set Up Your ‘Business Manager’: Now you need to create a business manager account in Facebook. Some people refer to this as Facebook Ads Manager and the name is pretty self-explanatory. Here’s a quick guide to set up your ads manager account. When you’ve done that, you then need to create an ad account, add any payment details, and invite your colleagues as users. (Note: Make any new users you add are given sufficient permissions to access all levels of your ad account and campaigns.) Connect The Facebook Pixel: This is a vital step that will allow you to gather data on who is visiting your website/landing page, and where they came from. You can use this data to create things like lookalike audiences to target with your ads.If your only goal is to get views or engagement on your ads then you can skip this, but for basically every online seller, you will definitely want this in place. Within the settings of your business manager account, you can create a Facebook pixel. For ecommerce companies using Shopify for their website, there are some really useful integrations that make all this tracking very simple. You can just head to the sales channel section of Shopify and connect your store to your Facebook. Here’s a guide on how. If you don’t use Shopify, you can follow this guide to set up the pixel in Facebook Ads Manager. Remember To Verify Your Domain: People often forget this step, but it is needed and sounds more complicated than it is. Just follow this quick guide. Step 2: Campaigns Now let’s get into the nitty gritty (and more creative) part…The campaign structure I’m going to explain is assuming you have an average starting budget of around £1,000 per month for your Facebook Ads.If you have far more pieces of content you want to test, then you’ll need more budget, and if you have even less than 1k to spend, you could try reducing the number of overall ad variations.Essentially what you’re doing here, and what PPC advertising in essence, is creating a giant A/B testing machine to learn what does and doesn’t convert for your brand and your products. This is the structure you’ll be building: By using this strategy, you’ll be testing 3 different variations of audiences, and ad copy (text/caption) within your Facebook and Instagram Ads. Getting The Facebook Ad Copy Right You want to have a distinct headline and copy alongside your images/videos for each different ad copy. Below I’ve suggested three different angles to test for you: Direct Pitch - For this you’ll be focusing on the most compelling USPs and benefits of your eCommerce products. Reviews - This option is pretty self explanatory - Sharing positive reviews/testimonials from happy customers. Humorous/quirky - One other way to stand out among your competitors is to just portray far more personality and humour. This strategy can catch users off guard and disarm them. The aim is to create a fun impression around your brand online. The copy is equally as important as the images or videos in your ads. It’s where you’ll have a CTA (call to action) that actually drives conversions. You want to put plenty of time and effort into really nailing it, and you want to continuously be testing different copy to improve on your results.  Ultimately, which approach in the copy is best for your products and brand really depends on what is best going to represent what’s different about your particular offering. Facebook Ads, like any PPC, is all about testing, testing, testing.For example, some light-hearted, self deferencial humour can work well for retailers like ASOS who are mainly targeting a very young, chronically online audience. But if you’re selling more premium jewellery products for example, then jokes might not quite fit with your brand. Choosing Your Audiences The next step is trying to find your target audience on Facebook and instagram, and the simplest way to start is to segment by Facebook ‘interests’.Let’s take a vegan skincare brand for example. You have some brand new, colourful branding created to try and attract some new customers and reengage your existing customers. For this scenario, you could try building an audience on Facebook of people that have shown an interest in skincare, veganism, or cosmetics. Another way to approach it could be combining Facebook users who have shown an interest in both skincare, and veganism, rather than keeping them separate. There’s likely to be some overlap between these two groups, and joining those audiences helps you to narrow down even more who is seeing your Facebook ads. In theory, they like two things that your product represents, so should be even better potential customers.In summary, you need to create a clear distinction between each audience you test with the theory that you’re testing. For example, you might theorise that anyone who has liked a competitors posts will also potentially be interested in buying your range too. Using this structure I’ve suggested, you’re trying to end up with 3 separate audiences, to use for each different Facebook Ad set. Those three audiences will be the same across all campaigns. Avoid These Mistakes Further down in this article, I’ll go step-by-step to help you build the actual campaign within Facebook Ads Manager, but first I’m going to tell you some of the important things you need to be aware of, and some big landmines that Facebook loves to leave that could seriously waste your time (and money)... Which Is The Right Campaign Objective For You? Within Facebook Ads you will need to choose an ‘objective’ for your campaign based on what your main goals are. If you want to just get your ads in front of loads of people in the audiences you created, you can select ‘traffic’ or ‘engagement’ as your objective. This tells Facebook to show your ads to as many people as possible. But for most eComm brands, I’d suggest setting a goal that is much further down your sales funnel. By this I mean selecting an objective like ‘conversions’ or perhaps traffic but specifically on your checkout page. This means you’ll be optimizing your ads for sales. It varies massively depending on your route to market. For example, a food brand focusing on getting more sales of its products in supermarkets would be more focused on brand awareness over online sales. One important thing to remember though is that if you’re running Facebook Ads for the first time, you won’t have any data built up, and so optimising for something like conversions will be difficult as Facebook has no past conversion data to base things off of. For this reason, brands will often start out with a campaign goal further up the funnel like site visits, or perhaps time spent on the site as a nice middle ground until sales start coming in. Set Your Budgets At The Right Level When you’re budgeting for your ad spend to Facebook, you should aim to split it evenly across all your various ad sets. Facebook does give you the option to set your budgets at the campaign level instead of further down in the ad sets, but this gives Facebook the power to decide where to spend your money.From my experience running PPC campaigns for clients in all sorts of industries, Facebook hasn’t proven themselves to be very effective at judging the success of campaigns without a lot of data to go off. So it’s an especially ineffective budgeting strategy when you’re just starting out. I would instead suggest that you set a daily ad spend budget for each Instagram or Facebook ad set.So if you have a $1,000 a month ad budget for example, you can then divide that number by 30 days to give you $33.33 a day budget. Then, you want to further divide this number by the 9 ad sets you’ve created, giving you about $3.70 per ad set per day.Then obviously as the ads run and you start to see data and conversions coming in, you can make educated choices on which ad sets deserve more or less budget. Should You Use Dynamic Creative Ads? One other feature you’ll likely come across within Facebook is ‘Dynamic Creative ads’. This feature allows you to create multiple different options for each section of your ads, such as the ad title, the images, or the CTA.Then Facebook will A/B test those options you’ve created and attempt to ‘learn’ what does and doesn’t work for your business. In my experience, however, Facebook’s not the best at judging these things unless they have a massive amount of data built up to help them. For example, a common mistake could be that Facebook prioritises and spends more on ads that are getting a higher CTR (Click-through rate) or a lower CPC (Cost-per-click). But although those metrics are promising, as an online retailer your focus should be on optimising off of conversion data, not just engagement with your ads. What Is The Detailed Targeting Expansion? When you go about setting up a Facebook audience, there will be a small checkbox labeled ‘'detailed targeting expansion', which is usually turned on by default. This setting often reduces the quality of your audiences, as it lets Facebook move away from the parameters you’ve chosen and push your ads where they think is best/ still relevant. There’s probably a theme becoming obvious to you...Don't always do what Facebook suggests! It might sound odd, but honestly, most Facebook or Instagram ads experts will agree that the automated settings they suggest you use aren't suitable for the majority of businesses trying paid ads. Use Manual Placements In the case of audience placements, it’s actually often best to leave these open and to allow Facebook to push your adverts where it sees fit across their platform. However, the ‘audience network’ specifically has proven to be a lower-quaility option and doesn’t convert very well when we’ve used it for our eComm clients. For most brands I recommend switching to manual placements and unchecking ‘audience network’ too. How To Build Your Campaigns There is a great guide showing a complete step-by-step and up-to-date tutorial on how to build your Facebook or Instagram campaigns. You can read that here. 3. And We’re Live! Now you’ve got your ads manager account set up correctly, and your campaigns are built out with a solid starting matrix of different copies and audiences to be tested. You’ve double and triple-checked that your ad spend is input correctly and you’re not going to accidentally spend more than you can afford to. So, you're ready to get your ads live for the first time (YAY!)It’s time to start packaging and shipping those products… It’s All About The Data Ideally, you should be checking up on your Facebook campaigns daily, or as frequently as you’re able to. With that being said, you should never try and make decisions too quickly before you've given the ads a chance to run and build up data. However, by logging into your account daily you’ll be able to quickly spot and address any obvious errors presenting themselves that could waste your hard-earned money. Usually, after about a week, there might be enough data for you to start making decisions on which ad copy, audiences, or creatives are working for you and which have a really high cost-per-click or low click-through rate, and might be best to stop running. Perhaps just one of your theories and ad sets is producing all of your conversions, and you want to decide to turn off all other options in order to see an immediate jump in your ROAS (Return on ad spend). In short, you’ll slowly whittle down the campaign to just the best performing, meaning you’ll be continuously improving the return on your investment. What You Need To Know About The Facebook Conversions API You’re probably asking, what is the Facebook Conversions API? Well, the Conversion API (formally known as the Facebook Server-Side API), is essentially a tool that allows advertisers to send web events to Facebook from their servers.It is a way for you to send conversion data to your Facebook Ads Manager while still maintaining your customer’s privacy. That’s why the API has been involved in a lot of conversations around the iOS 14 update. You might be asking why you wouldn’t just rely on the Facebook Pixel to capture customer and conversion data? Why would you need both? Well with the Pixel, it’s Facebook that is collecting the data from your website. Whereas with the conversions API, it’s using your own data and giving it to Facebook. Simply put, the Facebook pixel can often miss important data and conversions, so by using the Facebook Conversions API, you can gain back conversions that weren’t being reported before. More data for you to play with basically, and so more data to optimise from!It should be run in parallel with the Facebook Pixel though. It’s not an either-or situation. Here’s a quick breakdown for you of how the Pixel works: It tracks and collects user actions and matches it to a profile on Facebook It tracks conversions and ‘events’ in order to track advert performance Now, before all the iOS 14 changes, this was more than sufficient. But now, with tracking rules imposed by companies like Apple and the subsequent changes Facebook & Instagram had to make in order to not break those rules, it leaves a much bigger space for gaps in conversion data. So that’s where the conversions API can save the day! By combining the pixel data and data from your own ecommerce site or CRM, Facebook can fill the gaps. [tip] Littledata's App offers Meta Facebook Ads Conversions API as a destination: Learn More [/tip] So in conclusion, the new API allows you to fill in the gaps in your conversion data with first-party data, leading to all round more efficient tracking, and better optimization of your paid advertising campaigns. Side note: Don’t worry about conversion events getting doubled up with both forms of tracking set up. Facebook, being clever as they are, have already created a solution for this situation so that events aren’t counted twice. 4. You’re done…Kind Of! So, now you’re up and running. You're a Facebook and Instagram advertising expert (or on your way at least).  You’re seriously building your customer base and a name for your brand online. This guide has helped you get the foundation knowledge on Facebook Ads needed to scale your online sales! The best ad campaign objective for your business will vary if, for example, you're aiming for lead generation rather than actual conversions from an online store. But in the eCommerce world, whether you’re selling skincare sets, bedding, dog toys, books, or furniture products, this guide should help you on your way to building a scalable revenue-generating machine from Facebook.This of course only scratches the surface of all there is to learn about Facebook ads and paid advertising more broadly, and the 100s of nuances in the platform and your testing that can make or break your campaigns. But if you want to continue learning my top tips and tricks then you may find my YouTube series useful.There’s actually a great video going over a checklist of everything you need before starting to spend your money on paid ads. If you want to really snowball your growth and don't have the time too learn it yourself, you can get in touch with us here at Snowball Creations for an exploratory chat. Happy selling!


Tactics every brand needs in 2023 to combat market volatility [Webinar]

The ecommerce industry is ever-changing and in today’s increasingly unpredictable market, it’s more important now than ever before for brands to be on top of the latest trends. In 2022, rising inflation, privacy regulations, and continuous supply chain issues changed the ways many direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands do business. What trends does 2023 have in store, and how can you best prepare your brand to overcome these challenges? Littledata is joining forces with the ecommerce experts at Ordergroove, ShipBob,, and Avex to arm you with the insider knowledge every brand needs to supercharge their ecommerce strategy and make for a fruitful 2023. Join us for a live webinar on Thursday, January 26 at 3 PM EST as we dive into the tactics you need to combat market volatility in 2023: Register now. [tip] ICYMI, watch the webinar on-demand here [/tip] In this webinar, you’ll learn: Ways top brands are leveraging technology to keep up with consumer demands Little-known ecommerce insights that will impact your brand in a big way  Actionable hacks to supercharge your 2023 strategy Claim your spot >>> About Littledata In today’s uncertain market, brands need to take a data-driven approach to their marketing.  Littledata’s combined client-side and server-side tracking captures data at every touchpoint, from discovery with accurate marketing attribution insights to post-purchase events like subscriptions and upsells, to empower Shopify and BigCommerce with a holistic view of the customer journey. Littledata's Ordergroove integration is just the beginning — it's what you do with the data that counts. Our plug-and-play connections send 100% accurate data to the top reporting tools, including Google Analytics (Universal Analytics and GA4) and Segment.  Check out our Shopify app for Google Analytics and GA4 Check out our BigCommerce app for Google Analytics and GA4 Get our free Ordergroove ebook to learn how to track recurring orders in Google Analytics, Segment, or the reporting tool of your choice See how to automatically improve Facebook Ads performance with the Conversions API (especially powerful for brands selling by subscription!)


Do Shopify's new Commerce Components fit the modern data stack?

We are off to the races in 2023 already with Shopify officially launching Commerce Components by Shopify (CCS), an improved offering for large retailers. CCS allows enterprise retailers to access Shopify's foundational, high-performing components, such as its checkout, along with flexible APIs to build dynamic customer experiences that integrate seamlessly with a retailer's preferred existing services. But larger brands don't just want composable commerce. They also want -- actually, need -- complete, accurate, actionable data. Have Shopify's new Commerce Components been designed with the modern data stack in mind? There are lots of good things to say about Commerce Components. Enterprise retailers can take the components they need and leave those they do not, and developers are “free to build with any front-end framework they choose”, says Shopify. CCS uses Shopify's global scale infrastructure, which has over 275 network edge points to enable fast storefronts and checkouts no matter where customers are located -- and in a year where consumers are savvier than ever and demand a great experience. While we are excited about how this will attract larger brands to the Shopify ecosystem, we feel the Data Analytics component is underwhelming -- and won’t allow enterprise brands to track full server-side event data for building marketing attribution, product recommendation, or personalization data models. This component uses ShopifyQL, launched in mid-2022, as a neat query language for charting. But data analysts using ShopifyQL to query Shopify’s own data tables can only query the current state of the customer or order, and not understand the customer journey that led to that order. Popular reports such as marketing attribution by campaign or channel are just not possible from this data set. Furthermore, most enterprise brands we talk to want to own their own data warehouse and have the flexibility to use best-in-class tools like BigQuery, Looker, and dbt to store and analyze the data. Littledata provides a raw event data feed, directly sourced from Shopify’s servers to power just such a modern data stack -- and gives analysts the flexibility to build their own data models. Littledata is excited to work with brands using Commence Components (including headless stores), but we think Shopify will need to lean on its partner network to provide the breadth of functionality, especially in data analysis, that enterprise brands require. For now brands on our Littledata Plus plans are skeptical about the initial release of Commerce Components, just as they have been about Shopify's new Web Pixel and overall Shopify Theme changes.


How to track ecommerce conversions in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)

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: To 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 [/tip] 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 Conversions Revenue Recurring orders Upsells 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. The difference between having accurate or questionable ROI data in these reports rests on how the purchase event is tracked. 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.


Twelve Days of Data Tips from Our Founder

Hi Everyone, This is Edward, Founder of Littledata, making it easy for modern DTC brands to get accurate data. 2022 has been a bumper year for Littledata. We extended the product to work with BigCommerce as a data source, and Facebook Ads as a data destination. And after closing a funding round during a tricky period in the financial markets last summer we’ve grown the team to 40 people globally. I’m immensely proud of the glowing reviews we get from customers, and we’ve now been judged as a category leader by G2. It’s been great to see customers like Geologie driving a 25% increase in retention using the improved subscription data available with Littledata. Customers drive Littledata forward, and I always welcome your feedback on where we can take the product next. As something festive for this time of year I wanted to add a data twist to an English classic - the Twelve Days of Christmas. Here it goes! On the twelfth day of data, My analyst sent to me: Twelve reports drumming Management reports are the beating heart of any digital business and you need to be able to trust the data you make decisions from in 2023. I recommend Google Analytics 4 as a powerful, free way to build reports on online marketing, merchandising, customer experience and more. And if you find GA4 a bit ugly you can use the same events in Looker Studio (previously Data Studio) to build pretty management reports. Eleven data piping DTC companies generate valuable first-party data from their customer interactions - but are you piping that data to marketing or analytics platforms where you can make use of it? Littledata pipes first-party data from Shopify and BigCommerce into the platforms that brands rely on - Google, Facebook and hundreds of others via Segment. Ten charts a leaping Data doesn’t come to life until it’s visualized and, as much as I like the chart designs in Shopify Analytics, Google Analytics 4 provides more than ten powerful ways to look at your customer behavior. You can use the GA exploration module to build whatever you fancy, including customer behavior, sales performance and checkout funnels. Nine feeds to Looker If you want more from your charting, look to Looker. Google has rebranded Data Studio to be Looker Studio - and it’s still the same fast and free data visualization suite. Connecting a Google Analytics 4 source is easy, and if the reports don’t run fast enough for you try hooking Looker Studio up to BigQuery. Eight ROAS If you’ve given up on measuring Return On Advertising Spend by campaign in 2022, don’t despair! For Facebook Ads there is a fix in the form of Facebook’s Conversions API, sending the conversion events via Littledata’s servers. And for Google Ads you can import conversions from Google Analytics to improve attribution and measure ROAS. Seven data warehouse Is building a data warehouse on your long to-do list for 2023? Even if you don’t have the budget or bandwidth for deeper data analysis now, it could be a valuable asset for the future? Well you can tick this task off today! GA4 includes a free data feed into BigQuery - Google’s high-scale cloud warehouse. Hosting your event data in BigQuery will cost no more than tens of dollars a month, and from there you could pipe it into another data store of your choice: Snowflake, AWS RedShift or even SQL Server. Six orders matching Accurate management reports need accurate event data to feed them. If your store made 6 orders, you’d expect to see 6 orders in Google Analytics right? Wrong! Stores which rely on the thank you page being tracked to feed an order into GA see only 5 of these 6 orders. A 20% loss of orders and revenue will put a big dent in the trustworthiness of your reporting, and it is totally fixable with server-side order tracking. GA4! Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of GA, and the only version you can use from July 2023. It’s a must for any brand wanting a single source of truth on marketing performance, and powerful ways to share data across Google’s marketing platform. Get started today with Littledata’s GA4 connector! You’ll at least need 6 months of historical data, so it can’t wait until July to get started. Four CAPI birds Facebook Conversions API (CAPI) was one of the big marketing innovations of 2022. It’s the only way to get back some of the lost visibility on Facebook Ads due to iOS 14, and power advanced targeting like dynamic product ads. Earlier this year we launched Littledata’s Conversions API destination for Shopify and BigCommerce to make it super-easy to match Facebook Ads to online conversions. It can’t wind back all the changes to cookies and browser tracking, but it can boost your Facebook performance by 34%. Three UTMs UTM tagging - decorating the link clicks from your online marketing campaigns - is still the bedrock of marketing attribution. Littledata can help you link orders to landing pages, but your company needs a consistent UTM tagging system to get the most from your reporting.  Luckily common platforms like Klaviyo and Google Ads have tools to make this UTM tagging easy. Two data truths ONE - brands that invest in better data get better growth. See case studies of Grind Coffee, Rothys and Geologie. TWO - Google Tag Manager brings as many problems as it solves. Don’t waste weeks getting server-side Google Tag Manager to run - license a proven server-side data platform. And events in Big-Quer-er-er-ry! The icing on the Google Analytics Christmas cake for me is the fast and reliable data feed into Google BigQuery, and from there into Looker Studio or any reporting tool of your choice. For $99 a month you can now license the kind of data pipeline that enterprise brands have spent hundreds of thousands building. There really is no trade off between accuracy and cost saving. Have a very happy Christmas, and wishing your family, team and data a safe and successful 2023! Best wishes, Edward


12 Days of Tipmas

2022 has been an exciting year — we’ve helped over 1,400 DTC brands get accurate insights on their Shopify and BigCommerce store performance, launched several new connections and data destinations to empower merchants with complete data across the customer journey, and we’re not stopping there!  We’ve got big plans on the horizon for 2023, and there’s no doubt you do too! As we round out the holiday shopping season and prepare for 2023, we asked experts across the ecommerce industry to share their top tips to help you kick off the new year and make 2023 your best year yet. 1. Pivot your retention strategy With acquisition costs at an all-time high during the holiday shopping season, now is the perfect time to focus on keeping your current customer base satisfied and coming back for more. “Beat rising customer acquisition costs by pivoting to your retention strategy.  “2023 is the year of LTV. Weaving in more LTV touchpoints into your customer journey is going to be absolutely crucial. We see brands implementing this in some really creative ways, particularly in the customer account portal! Totally transforming their customer account portals into engagement hubs, our brands are adding subscription-led loyalty programs, referrals, upsells, and even opportunities to gift subscriptions all directly built-in to the account portal experience.  “Moreover, gone are the days of the standard ‘Subscribe and Forget’ subscription experiences. Brands are complementing these LTV touchpoints with total flexibility over their subscription experience. Be sure to give your loyal customers total control over their customer journeys enabling them to expedite next orders, skip next orders, add or swap new products in their next orders to create more of a membership-like experience.” — Gabriella Tegen, Founder & CEO at Smartrr 2. Run ads and scale them on Facebook If BFCM has proven anything to DTC brands it’s that Facebook Ads are back! Brands are seeing their Facebook ads convert more effectively (and more affordably), but the key is building strong campaigns with proven ads. “As marketers, we’re constantly adapting to changes, new trends, tactics, & best practices, but sometimes you just need to think more simply: run ads and scale them. “Every Facebook Ad account should have a ‘Cold ABO Testing’ campaign and a ‘Cold CBO Winners’ campaign. “Your ABO campaign should be used to test your new ads and determine whether they’re winners or not. Move the winning ads into your CBO campaign because you know these are going to convert. We do not want to test new creative in CBO because we are letting Facebook automate here. So let's give Facebook the strongest ammo we’ve got! “Following your cold campaigns, establish a ‘Warm Remarketing’ campaign to target all the people who engage with our brand, but did not convert. “The goal of Facebook Ads is to get out of the learning phase as fast as possible and stay out of it. Build a plethora of strong evergreen ads that you’re going to run for a long period of time. I like to call these ads your account’s muscle. If your ads are performing in your testing campaign, leave them on & scale them as well. “Run ads & scale them. It's easier than you’re making it seem.” — Tim Ferrar, Account Manager at Media Jet Marketing 3. Find the perfect moment to pop-up Amidst a rising ‘opt out’ culture, consumers have grown increasingly wary about who they share their contact information with. Finding the perfect moment to enroll customers in your SMS campaigns is crucial to understanding your customer base and growing your subscriber list. “Since SMS is a more personal and intimate channel (that’s part of its inherent value), it can make some consumers wary of opting in. If you find that to be the case among your target audience, take a value-first approach and wait until after they’ve made a purchase. This way you’ve been able to demonstrate value for them before asking for something as personal as their phone number, which builds trust and increases the engagement and long-term value of their contact. “Use the order thank you page here with an in-page promotion so that it appears native to your website or via a pop-up to collect SMS opt-ins. This is great for order information like tracking notifications so they can know exactly when their purchase will arrive. (No porch pirates please & thank you!)” — Michael Wadsworth, Partner Marketing Manager at Justuno 4. Send new subscribers a warm welcome Speaking of SMS, now that you’ve found the perfect time to get their digits, it’s time to give them a warm welcome to your SMS community. “SMS Pro Tip: 24 hours after a subscriber joins your SMS program, send a triggered message with educational content. You can share information like how your products are crafted, your brand’s values and mission, or how their purchases will make an impact. Include a link back to your brand’s “About” page so they can learn more.” — Elodie Huston, Content Marketing Manager at Attentive 5. Don't underestimate the power of marketing “The run-up to Christmas signals an end to the calendar year and so we believe it's an opportune time for ecommerce brands to position themselves strongly for 2023. The power of marketing during this time cannot be understated, those brands that put in the graft and double down on marketing efforts will have the most success going into the new year.  “Focus on diverse traffic acquisition (i.e don't focus solely on Facebook or Google Ads for example) and push hard to be unique and stand out from the competition so that customers choose your brand over others.  “It's also worth noting that it can cost five times as much to acquire a new customer compared to maintaining an existing one, highlighting the importance of retaining your relationship with customers once you’ve acquired them to ensure they're kept satisfied and come back all year round.” — Ross Adamson, Marketing & Partnerships Executive at Charle Agency 6. Reward your best customers at the end of the year The end of the year is the perfect time to show your top customers some love— after all, it is the season of giving. Running an RFM analysis with a reporting tool like Daasity makes it easy to identify which customers are your top performers, based on how recently they placed an order, how often they’ve made purchases, and how much they spent.  “Reward your best customers at the end of the year!  “At Daasity, we believe the best way to group customers by value (and ID your best customers) is via RFM Analysis. “RFM breaks down customers by three dimensions of behavior: Recency, Frequency, and Monetary.  “Almost every brand has RFM charts like this… “…Where you can see that the longest bar corresponds to RFM 1 customers (i.e., your top 10% of customers on an LTV basis), who are almost 40x more valuable than RFM 10 customers (i.e., your bottom 10% of customers on an LTV basis).  “Basically, your RFM 1 customers are the best-of-the-best-of-the-best: they’re the most engaged with your brand, spend the most, and (probably) love you the most. Shoot them a 10% end-of-year “Thank you for being you” discount, and you might just drive some extra purchases before 2023.” — Dave Swendemen, Senior Content Manager at Daasity 7. Get your budget ducks in a row To keep the momentum going into the new year, prioritize what needs to happen in Q1 and set aside a budget for this. This will allow your team to remain agile and start off strong at the head of the new year! “Get your budget ducks in a row. “As an agency, we often hear this side of the New Year that merchants would rather pick up certain conversations about projects or builds at a later date. While this is undoubtedly a very busy time for many, these discussions are then further delayed when merchants need to then reassess budgets. This leads to a brand delaying the start of a project from early January to some time towards the end of Q1 as a result of not focusing on any financial preparation activities ahead of time. These delays can be costly for brands that cannot afford to lose momentum. “Align with your team on what needs to happen in Q1 in relation to your ecommerce store, then designate a specific budget to this, or even push forward with conversations with suppliers so you can hit the ground running. If you get to grips with where your spend either is currently or what it needs to be from 2023 onwards, it means that you’ll have the ability to move quickly on activity that will be able to help you start the year strong. Avoid a Q1 lull by getting ahead!” — Nathan Abbott, Head of Growth at Underwaterpistol 8. Use data to prevent BFCM churn Many BFCM customers often yield a low LTV — whether they’re discount shoppers, or buying gifts for people on their holiday list, they don’t intend to come back for more. Using customer data, brands can better understand these customers and offer strategic incentives to help mitigate their churn.  “The most important strategy post-holiday season in my mind centers around customer retention.  “Typically, brands see a large influx of new customers and subscribers as a result of their BFCM marketing pushes and promotions. In addition to a nice bump in sales, you now have a treasure trove of data to analyze over the next several months. Use this data to track customer cohorts that signed up during the holiday season, and follow their short-term and long-term behaviors as it pertains to churn.  “It is common for businesses to see an increase in customer churn from this cohort, as a lot of savvy customers buy a product or sign up for a subscription just for the discount, and then churn. Mitigate this behavior by offering incentives at strategic junctures in a customer’s lifecycle with your brand. This could be free shipping (if you don’t already offer it), a one-time discount, or even a “surprise and delight” gift before the charge that your data shows most customers tend to churn on.  “Remember, even extending your customer lifecycle by one charge can have a massive impact on your bottom line!” — Paul Hughes, Senior Account Manager at Recharge 9. Personalize your SMS strategy Stand out from the crowd with personalized SMS messages. And no — that doesn't just mean calling your subscribers’ by their first names! With 96% of customers interested in receiving weekly text messages from the brands they love — up from 31% last year — now’s your chance to perfect your SMS strategy, understand what drives your customers, and build a community around your brand. “We all get dozens of texts each day — your messages need to stand out for recipients to pay attention. People are more likely to act on a text when it looks like you wrote it just for them. This means more than just including basic details like a first name — provide value to your customers by speaking to their unique needs and interests, or by sending exclusive offers aligned with their past purchases. “Strategically personalizing your texts helps you nurture relationships with customers by making them feel special. Plus it motivates them to take action immediately.” — Jessica Schanzer, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Klaviyo 10. Understand your top-performing channels The key to maximizing your customer retention and optimizing your acquisition costs — especially in uncertain economic conditions — is understanding which channels and campaigns are performing the best and bringing in more high-LTV customers.  With accurate attribution insights at your disposal, you can better allocate your marketing budget to campaigns that work, and spend less on those that don’t. “Based on Shopify’s 2023 ecommerce trends report, 73% of DTC brands plan to rely on external financing in the coming year to get closer to profitability. After a bumpy Q3 and Q4 we expected to see this, but perhaps not such a high percentage.  “For most of these brands, 2023 will be all about increasing customer net revenue retention and decreasing the cost of new customer acquisition as aggressively as possible.  “One of the key factors to steer these brands towards a positive outcome is having accurate product and purchase data linked with the complete marketing attribution data in your Google Analytics or other data destinations used by your organization.  “So for 2023, my advice to all DTC brands is to prioritize having accurate acquisition, ecommerce, and marketing data even over saving costs.” — David Pascu, Head of Client Services at Littledata 11. Re-engage your BFCM shoppers Your brand is more than the discounted rate you offered during BFCM. Build a loyal community by re-engaging your customers and incentivizing them to buy again. “Following BFCM, brands now need to focus on re-engaging with the customers who bought during this time.  “A solid strategy around capitalizing on the influx of new customers is imperative. You can start by looking into order quantities from these customers and comparing this with the average days between transactions. This will give you an idea of when they may reorder or replenish, meaning you can time your reorder or replenishment messaging perfectly. “Now is a great time to demonstrate value beyond just the discounted rate they got for BFCM. Start building brand value and loyalty by making them feel part of your tribe with some regular communication. By showing them some love, you’ll give yourself the best chance for them to return and pay full price next time. “Create engaging touchpoints to build trust. Why not ask them how the product they bought is performing? Are they enjoying the product? If the product was a gift, ask how it was received. “Lastly, why not surprise and delight your newly found customers with an unexpected gift or a thank you? This doesn't need to be expensive, but it does need to feel personal and relevant. After all, this is also likely to cost you less than acquiring a new customer.” — Jason Chappel, Head of Client Strategy at Blend Commerce 12. Leverage subscriptions to boost retention Between an unsteady economy and rising acquisition costs, brands have their focus on keeping their current customers satisfied. To keep customer lifetime value (LTV) high, integrate as many opportunities for upselling and recurring orders as possible. “With the days of cheap customer acquisition behind us, and many of the key ecommerce markets in recession, customer retention is now mission-critical for DTC brands. Increasing repeat order rate, repeat order frequency, cross-sell conversion, and minimizing subscription churn are all essential levels to pull in order to maintain a strong customer lifetime value in 2023 and win the DTC race.” — Harry Willis, Partnerships Lead at Relo by Blueprint And that's a wrap! As we wrap up 2022, take these tips with you to start off 2023 on the right foot. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop on all things ecommerce analytics with weekly updates from our analytics experts.


Littledata named a category leader on G2

We're happy to share that G2 has named Littledata a category leader in the E-Commerce Analytics category. G2 is the world’s largest and most trusted software marketplace, and we were honored to be awarded G2's Winter 2023 Leader badge. In the Winter 2023 G2 Grid® Report for E-Commerce Analytics, Littledata emerged as a leader with notably high satisfaction ratings, including a 98% likelihood to recommend the software. Highlights from Littledata's G2 reviews: Littledata named a Leader in the E-Commerce Analytics category Top analytics connector for mid-market brands (typically on Shopify Plus or BigCommerce Enterprise) 5-star reviews across the board, from both data scientists and ecommerce managers Littledata users have a 98% Likelihood to Recommend the software As the only complete, automated server-side tracking for Shopify and BigCommerce stores, Littledata has continued to lead the pack since launching our first Shopify app in 2017. But we aren't letting success go to our heads. “We're not resting on our 5 star laurels,” says Edward Upton, Littledata CEO. “Littledata continues to invest to beat the ad blockers and future-proof your e-commerce data. As recent G2 reviewers have noted, we already offer full support for Google Analytics 4, the new version of Google Analytics, without the need for custom tagging or Google Tag Manager (GTM) setup.” Bianca Dihoiu, Head of Customer Success, notes that the customer success team supports Google Analytics just as much as it supports the Littledata platform: “Accurate data is something every business desires, but it can become tedious to implement and maintain numerous apps and tools in this ever changing ecosystem. Littledata’s automated tracking eliminates the hefty maintenance time and costs typically associated with advanced Google Analytics setups for Shopify sites. As brands start to trust their data again in Google Analytics, our team is here to help with any questions around the new platform and assistance in how to use it.” Littledata achieved the Leader award by receiving positive reviews, from verified users compared to similar products in the E-commerce Analytics category. For inclusion in the quarterly report a product must have received 10 or more reviews, and in 2022 Littledata received 12 independent reviews from verified buyers. "Rankings on G2 reports are based on data provided to us by real software buyers," said Sara Rossio, Chief Product Officer at G2. "Potential buyers know they can trust these insights when researching and selecting software because they’re rooted in vetted, verified, and authentic reviews."  Learn more about what real users have to say (or leave your own review of Littledata) on G2’s Littledata review page!  

by Ari

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