The rise of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and sunsetting of Universal Analytics
Last week, Google formally announced that they will be “sunsetting” Universal Analytics and pushing all users to move to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) by the second half of 2023. Does this mean that you should drop everything now and start fully embracing GA4? Actually, things are a bit more complicated. Like everything in the world of data, we recommend a methodical approach to the change. We’ve already outlined Littledata’s approach to GA4 for ecommerce stores. So in this article, we’ll take a deeper look at what Google just announced, what this means for your analytics setup, and recommend next steps for merchants using Google Analytics with ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. [tip]Get excited for what GA4 has in store with our 10 reasons to make the switch.[/tip] What’s happening to Universal Analytics? The summer of 2023 may very well be remembered across the ecommerce industry for the rise of GA4, as Google is officially sunsetting its predecessor, Universal Analytics (aka UA, GA3, or the “old version” of Google Analytics). Google’s official announcement, which you can read in full on their blog. This announcement may have come as a bit of a surprise to some. GA4 has been available for a while but wasn’t made a priority before. Fortunately, moving from UA to GA4 doesn't have to be a headache for your team—as long as you have the right setup in place. Littledata already has a GA4 connection in beta that select customers have been using for months. Google promises GA4 will bring an adjustment to more granular data, giving users more insights and better control over customers' privacy. That second point is especially important as the industry makes a major shift away from cookies toward embracing first-party data across platforms. [note]Setting up GA4 on your ecommerce store only takes a few clicks with Littledata. New and existing users can set up GA4 on their store free and ensure they're ready for the new era of analytics.[/note] What we know about GA4 On July 1, 2023, Google will stop standard Universal Analytics properties from processing data. Your Universal Analytics reports will remain visible for a short period after the change (Google hasn't specified how long) but new data will only flow into GA4 properties. In other words, if you haven’t already, you need to create a GA4 property ASAP. With the switch to GA4, Google promises several significant changes aimed at making its Analytics tool more “consumer-focused” overall. This, among other features, includes: A privacy-centric design to maintain key insights despite cookie blockers and privacy regulationsA new UI designed to showcase customer behavior through key events, and out-of-the-box capability to track those events (without requiring set up through Google Tag Manager)Machine learning models that automatically identify trends in data, such as churn probability, potential revenue from customer groups, and demand increasesMeasurement of both app and web interactions to snapshot the effectiveness of each of your marketing effortsData export to your BigQuery data warehouse [tip]See Littledata’s 10 reasons to move to GA4 for ecommerce analytics.[/tip] At the heart of GA4, Google says, is your customer—and more specifically how they interact with your business. This marks a move away from the old platform-centric measurement to instead track via User ID. The change should give a better picture of what actions customers took after discovering your business and track the whole lifecycle from first impression to final sale more effectively. Potential GA4 user concerns While there’s a lot to be excited about with GA4, the change from UA brings a few uncertainties for longtime users. Early versions of GA4, while positively received, did contain their share of bugs. As the platform won’t be rolling out at 100% perfection, we’ll help answer a handful of the most frequently asked questions we’ve seen around GA4. Will I be able to import historical data from UA to GA4? Most likely, the answer here is no. While you can run UA and GA4 in parallel as you make the switch, Google is launching GA4 as a new platform completely separate from UA. How difficult will it be to use the new interface? There’s no doubt users will experience a learning curve when migrating to GA4’s new UI. In essence, it will come down to thinking differently about what data you’re looking for and then creating reports around that. While this was a common concern in the early beta launch of GA4, Google has already added a number of template reports on funnels, user paths, and cohort exploration. We’re excited to see what’s next! To help our customers with the transition, we’ve already begun building our own Monetization and Retention reports in GA4 that will take over from Enhanced Ecommerce reporting in UA. According to the Google blog, The new Analytics gives you customer-centric measurement, instead of measurement fragmented by device or by platform. It uses multiple identity spaces, including marketer-provided User IDs and unique Google signals from users opted into ads personalization, to give you a more complete view of how your customers interact with your business. These improvements, paired with Littledata's tracking, will improve how businesses customize and assign weight to conversion types. Giving marketers and DTC brands better understanding of the customers lifestyle. Google does provide help documents and introductory courses on using the new interface. However, an easier (and more time-efficient) solution may be to have an analytics expert help set up a GA4 integration directly to your Shopify or BigCommerce store. [tip]We've recently launched a new GA4 Glossary to keep you in the loop on new terms and functions. [/tip] Is GA4 going to be a privacy law compliant, long-term solution for my business? This is one big area where GA4 is not just a solution right now, but in the future as well. Many of the changes made—from the new event-based UI to the learning machine-powered core—are built to adapt and grow alongside the global expansion in privacy laws. In other words, as you venture into the world of first-party data, GA4 will be your loyal guide along the way. What you should do now Our Shopify and Big Commerce stores and agency partners know that when it comes to Google Analytics, you can always count on Littledata as a single source of truth for truly accurate ecommerce data. This will remain true with GA4, and we’re excited about the flexible reporting capabilities in the newest version of Google Analytics. Our recommendation is to add a GA4 property now, but not to rely on it entirely. Instead, Littledata recommends continuing to use UA and GA4 in parallel until at least early 2023. This means that you will be able to explore GA4 while still having accurate, actionable data in Universal Analytics, including Enhanced Ecommerce reports, lifetime value reporting, and subscription analytics. All Shopify and Shopify Plus stores will soon be able to activate both UA and GA4 connections directly from their Littledata dashboards. [tip]Remember, setting up a GA4 connection for Shopify on your store has never been easier than with Littledata! Get expert advice on everything you need to know to make the switch.[/tip]
How to adapt to a world without third-party cookies
The ecommerce data industry is going through unprecedented change. It seems every marketer, data scientist, and store owner has at least heard that privacy regulations like GDPR and major tracking prevention updates like iOS14 have broken the old system of collecting data about customers. But the most important question is how should you respond to these changes? The good news is there are still methods to collect critical information about your buyers and use it to target your niche and drive revenue. The main solution in a world without third party cookies—first-party data. Of course it's not enough to just be aware of first-party data. You need to know how to collect it, what insights you can glean from it, and the best methods to set up a first-party data strategy for your store. To help you with all of that and more, we have the only white paper you need on how to replace third-party cookies in your marketing. It's packed with everything you need to know about first-party data: what it is (and what it isn’t), how to collect it, and how to use it to optimize your marketing and make smarter decisions. We’ll also give you some helpful resources to set you on the path to success. How to replace third-party cookies with first-party data When it comes down to it, the biggest problem brands need to solve when replacing third-party cookies is preserving the insights they give into customer behavior. Fortunately there are a handful of ways that can be done with first-party data. In the white paper, we dive into each one, including how to set them up on your store, what insights they provide, and what overall benefits they have over third-party data. The customer insights you can gather from the methods we discuss in the white paper will make a significant difference when it comes to revenue and decision-making. You'll learn strategies to gather some of the biggest ticket metrics, like: Return on ad spendCustomer lifetime valueProduct engagementAdds to cartHighest value customers by demographicMarketing attributionAccurate sales data We also dive into the importance of using the right reporting tools, complete with a section on the newest version of Google Analytics—GA4—and why it matters to start tracking metrics there ASAP. Get ahead of your competitors by making the switch to first-party data with the insights in our white paper and you'll have the tools you need to drive revenue and secure steady growth. Dowload your copy>>> [subscribe]
How to set up Meta’s Facebook Ad Manager and Facebook Conversions API
Targeted ads have become essential for modern brands who want to find buyers in their niche and attract them with unique, engaging messaging. There's a wide range of content and delivery formats you can try, too. Video ads, carousel ads, dynamic product ads, user-generated content—the sky is the limit on how creative brands can leverage social ads to drive reach, conversions, and revenue. Just check out Facebook’s Ad Libary to see what we mean. But, due to many well-documented changes to third-party data, users of these ads have had to adapt to a new digital landscape and adjust the way they collect buyer data. In this guide, we will walk you through how to set up a Meta Facebook Manager Account and create ads using Meta's new first-party data solution—the Facebook Conversions API. Follow these simple steps below and you'll be ready to start tracking customer behavior and put that data to work for your Shopify store. How to set up Meta Facebook Ad Manager Step 1: Create your Meta Business Account Head over to Meta’s Business Suite and set up your account by clicking “create account” if you have not already done so using your Facebook login. This will allow you to request and manage page permissions to create a Facebook Ad Account. You will need to have permission to the page to connect your store to Facebook Ads Manager. Step 2: Connect a Facebook Ads account to your Meta Business Account Now that you’ve connected your business page from the dashboard, you can add, request access to, or create an ad account. This is where you'll create ads for your business, monitor spending, and execute your overall ads strategy. Step 3: Add Google Analytics to your Shopify store Next, you'll need to set up reporting to see the effectiveness of your ads. There are a couple of ways to add Google Analytics to your Shopify store, but we'll be sharing a solution here that both works for store owners of any expertise level and is one of the fastest—using the Littledata Shopify to GA connection. [tip]Don’t have a Littledata account yet? Sign up here for a free 30-day trial on us![/tip] Setup for using Littledata's Shopify to Google Analytics is as easy as signing up, installing the app from the Shopify app store, and following the self-serve onboarding flow to add Littledata's tracking script to your store. We have a complete detailed guide you can follow as well. Once you’ve connected, you will be able to see the following applicable events in your Facebook Ad Manager Account: Great job! You are on your way to starting to run your ads based on accurate data from your Shopify store. Next, we'll set up the Conversions API to run those powerful dynamic ads. How to set up Facebook's Conversions API on your Shopify store Once you're set up in Ad Manager, have Littledata installed, and have your reporting ready in Google Analytics, adding the Conversions API only takes a few steps. First, you'll add the connection from the Littledata dashboard and approve the change to your plan. CAPI uses a combination of client-side and server-side tracking to increase event match quality and Facebook Pixel attribution, so the next step is to enter your Facebook Pixel ID into the app. Finally, in your Business Manager account under the Events Manager section, you'll generate an access token to include with your Pixel ID and finalize the connection. And voila! You're ready to start running dynamic ads and reach your ideal customers using Facebook CAPI. Conclusion Social ads might be changing in our new cookie-less world, but by leveraging the power of server-side tracking and first-party data through tools like Facebook's Conversions API, you can still gain crucial insights about your audience and create ads that will delight them. Now that you know how to get your Meta Business Manager and Facebook Ads accounts up and running, plus how to set up the new Facebook Conversions API, the only next step is to make sure you have the best possible reporting for your data so you can make decisions based on a single source of truth. Try Littledata free for 30 days to see the difference it makes having a truly accurate data layer for your store, plus access to connections that help you manage subscriptions, paid ads, headless setups, and more. [subscribe]
GA4 Glossary of Terms: What you need to know to get started
Google Analytics 4 can be a little overwhelming for first-time users. The wealth of data and insights it provides can feel second to the wealth of new terms and acronyms you'll encounter when using it. We understand GA4 can seem confusing and difficult to navigate at first. That's why this post will offer you a glossary of some of the most common terms and acronyms used in GA4, to help you make sense of it all. With a little knowledge under your belt, you'll be able to start using this powerful tool like a pro! [note]You need to set up GA4 before July 1, 2023. Make the switch to GA4 today by following our migration checklist.[/note] Terms in Google Analytics 4 Bounce rate Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site without taking action, like clicking a link or making a purchase. Users who bounce from your site only view a single page and do not convert. In GA4, bounce rate has been replaced by engagement metrics known as "Engaged Sessions." https://youtu.be/XFrDq6VSU5M Engaged Sessions Engaged Sessions describe the percentage of sessions where users are actively engaged with your website. A session is considered "engaged" if users meet any of the following criteria: On a page for at least 10 secondsHad one or more conversion eventsViewed two or more pages Engagement Rate Engagement Rate is the percentage of sessions that were engaged sessions. In a way, engagement rate is the exact opposite of bounce rate. Custom Audiences Custom Audiences in GA4 come equipped with two audience types out-of-the-box — All Users and Purchasers. Building custom audiences allows you to group users based on similar actions or dimensions. Custom audiences can be used for retargeting campaigns and comparisons in GA4 reports. In addition to building custom audiences of your own, GA4 offers a range of suggested audiences, including templates and predictive capabilities. https://youtu.be/6OKztfGhmX8 Events Events describe any interaction on your website or app. Unlike Universal Analytics, which tracked users by sessions, Google Analytics 4 tracks users by events, connecting the user journey across multiple sessions. Types of events include: Automatically collected events, or any basic interaction with your website.Enhanced measurement events, or interactions with content on your website.Recommended events, or events that you implement. Custom events, or self-defined events. Custom events don’t show up in most built-in reports and instead require custom-built reports. GA4 Acquisition Reports Monetization Reports Monetization Reports are similar to Ecommerce Reports in Universal Analytics in that they provide deeper insights into your store’s revenue, including revenue generated from items, ads, and subscriptions. You can use these reports to understand which products are your top performers and compare revenue with different dimensions (i.e. city, age, gender, etc.) Ecommerce Purchase Report GA4’s Ecommerce Purchase Report is equivalent to Universal Analytics’ Product Performance Report, allowing you to see the product name, item views, and purchases by item name.The Retention Report reveals how long users engage with your website. https://youtu.be/gesg5JJ2Udk Source/Medium Reports Source/Medium Report are based on the Traffic Acquisition Report, which comes built into Google Analytics 4. The Source/Medium Report identifies the origin of your traffic and the general category of that source. https://youtu.be/IsCYCHl7w8c GA4 Exploration Reports Exploration reports custom-built reports and funnels in your GA4 property, found within the ‘Explore’ section. Checkout Behavior Report Checkout Behavior Reports are funnel reports that demonstrate how users move from one step of your checkout to the next, and at what points users are dropping off during the checkout process. https://youtu.be/8rY5bq8jxR4 Google Ads Report Google Ads Reports are customizable reports that allow you to take a deeper look at your Google Ad performance, revealing the post-click performance metrics for users who clicked on your Google Ads campaigns. [tip]Google Ads traffic can also be viewed by going to Reports > Acquisition > Overview > Sessions by session campaign.[/tip] Google Ads Keywords and Queries Report The Google Ads Keywords and Queries Report shows the search terms that led to a display of your Google Ads. https://youtu.be/kfMO9D1gXTI Please note that both Google Ads Report and Keywords and Queries Report will only populate with data once you’ve linked your Google Ads account. Landing Pages Report The Landing Pages Report Identifies which pages on your site are the highest trafficked and top-performing. Like all explorations in GA4, the Landing Page Report is easily customizable. Adjust the metrics in this report based on what’s important to your business—engagement rate, total revenue, conversions, and more. https://youtu.be/9PQbcbKCIOk Sales Performance Report The Sales Performance Report evaluates revenue and sales within a defined period of time at a glance. https://youtu.be/nLaCNDgfnG0 Shopping Behavior Report The Shopping Behavior Report is a funnel report that shows users’ flow through different steps of your site’s shopping experience. Use this report to understand where customers are dropping off during the purchase funnel. https://youtu.be/1ETqZYJlMhw Social Media Traffic Report The Social Media Traffic Report provides insights into traffic generated by social media. This information helps to understand which platforms bring the most traffic to your site, what types of content perform the best, and add clarity to the ROI of social media campaigns. https://youtu.be/ffDOLFvkeAE Want more GA4? We've got you covered with our resources below: Why Google Analytics 4 is so important to your ecommerce storeLunch with Littledata: Jumping into GA4 with Google Analytics Expert Krista Seiden10 reasons to move to GA4 for ecommerce analytics [subscribe]
Lunch with Littledata: Digital Marketing 101 with Sweet Digital
Digital marketing is quite the catch-all term. Nearly everything you can think of as a necessity when it comes to promoting your business online falls under this umbrella. Of course, it's not enough to be aware of what your digital marketing needs are, though. To create a strong promotion strategy that generates a steady stream of customers, you need to know how to market within them. That's when it helps to have a bit of expert advice. In this installment of Lunch with Littledata, we sat for a chat with digital marketing agency Sweet Digital's founder Laura Hogan to talk through the current state of social promotion, uncover the secrets to winning at PR, and find out how to zero in on the right marketing avenues for your brand. Greg from Littledata: Could you tell us the story of Sweet Digital? Laura Hogan: Sweet started pre-pandemic, just over three years ago with me and my dog in the kitchen pretty much (laughs). We've since grown to eight team members and very much specialize in SEO. But that includes all parts of SEO, whether it's the technical content or digital PR side of things. Recently we merged with a bigger company here in the West Midlands called Cube, so we've got much bigger resources from their digital team. We also have a really technical, specialized development and design team too. It's a really exciting time for us—lots changing and going on, which is good. Greg: When you're advising your clients, what are the key channels you suggest brands focus on? Laura: It’s partly budget-dependent. I always say if you're looking for a longer-term strategy, then we recommend SEO because that's going to be your lowest cost per acquisition sales channel. If people want a real quick hit, then Google ads and social advertising is always a really good route. For ecommerce specifically, TikTok is doing really well. Obviously, we've had Shopify add in-app shopping with product tagging for TikTok in the last year or so. The cost per click there is still pretty low from an advertising standpoint, too, especially if your product is something that you can show off how to use in seven or eight seconds. For some of the more traditional brands, LinkedIn advertising has been doing quite well, particularly if you're very specific. You can say, “I want to target people in these companies with these job titles or these industries” and really layer on your targeting. If you just want some general brand awareness and you're going for the longevity of SEO, then digital PR is always a good shout. Not only are you building knowledge of your brand, but you’re also getting referral traffic that you can track in Google Analytics and see what sales you've got from it. Plus, you get some SEO benefits too since it helps your website rankings by adding good links. [tip]See how to optimize your site and learn more about your customers by setting up server-side tracking.[/tip] Greg: Are there any key metrics that you look at when comparing the effectiveness of social advertisements, search ads, PR, and SEO? Laura: Social's gotten a bit more difficult with the new privacy laws and the iOS 14 update. We’ve moved to pulling in more multichannel reports to see how social is performing and to find out if it’s a touchpoint in the sale. We know it might not have been the final source, but we want to know if it was involved. So we’ve given social a bit of a wider attribution than we might have done years ago. From a metrics point of view, everybody cares about money don’t they? So it's always revenue and leads first and foremost, then we start to look more at the traffic. If we don't feel like things are going well necessarily with campaigns, then we check the bounce rate on a landing page from ads. We also check if the time on site is really poor. Then we can start working from there. We've actually found that, particularly with paid campaigns, heat mapping has been a really good addition to bring in and tell if the ad landing pages are too long and where they can be optimized. Greg: How would you recommend brands create buzz around new products? Laura: If you're able to send your product out to people to review and feature, that's a really good way of getting publicity. Obviously a lot of influencers charge, so you need to have a budget in mind and be mindful of who you can afford to have promote your product. I'm a big fan of the micro-influencer side of things—or really “specialist influencers.” If you've got a tech product, for instance, there are a lot of TikTok reviewers that only review tech and they can get millions of views per video. Some of them are actually very happy to just receive product as compensation. It takes a bit of research and time to look through and find those accounts, which of course is the thing that we don't have enough of. General journalists are great as well. They often send out requests when they're looking for specific products or features. There's a tool you can purchase called Response Source that puts requests straight into your inbox and saves some of the legwork. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a really good free version of that same type of tool. Twitter is another great way to get in touch with journalists. Many journalists just post on Twitter what they're looking for, and a lot of them actually have their email details on Twitter as well. It's just about digging through and finding the right person that's relevant to what you're after. Greg: Diving a bit more into social promotion—what's the state of things as you've seen them playing out right now? What are the best platforms and which are lagging? Laura: It's a bit of a mess, actually. Facebook's dwindling in influence for a lot of industries. The tracking prevention really hit them hard and it's made it difficult for users to know what's going on. Then from a management perspective, they're changing a lot on the back end. Rebranding to Meta, merging Instagram into the same kind of user interface as TikTok. They’re changing and moving a lot of things, but also the cost per click just isn't as strong as it used to be. They're actually tailoring on to be quite expensive what you get for what you're getting. I've never been the biggest fan of Meta’s platforms because they're targeting so broad. It's difficult to nail down a really strict demographic on those ads, compared to LinkedIn where it’s so easy to do. Even TikTok's quite good at nailing down a strict demographic. [tip]Learn how to retarget your best customers using Facebook's conversions API.[/tip] Pinterest is coming back again—there does seem to be more buzz there and the cost per click there is decent. Again, like TikTok, Pinterest is great for ecommerce because we can drive buyers straight through from a post to buying a product. But TikTok is just driving everything. If you’re working with user-generated content on TikTok, you can actually request the influencer send you a spark code so you can create paid ads of their TikTok video. Since you pay for it, the video is in your ad account, but the ad shows that it's coming from that user which makes it look a lot more organic. We're seeing a lot of big brands doing that rather than it coming directly from the brand’s page. I think that's a really cool approach to take. The influencer can license it to you for a year at a time so you can have that asset for a while as well. Greg: If a brand is working with influencers on any platform, what do you recommend for strategies they should try? Laura: Make sure you get ownership of everything and clear the ability to use content in any videos or imagery that you want. Don't forget that influencer content can go on your website, in your email marketing, organic social, paid social—you want to use it as much as possible so that you're getting your money's worth. We always recommend that people write that in when they're doing their agreements with influencers. I'd also not be fooled by follower numbers. Look at the engagement people are getting rather than how many people follow them. Because you quite often find that the bigger the following, the smaller the engagement. I'm also not a huge fan of influencers where every other post is a #ad. It makes it feel like the food's not authentic. Again, it's really down to research and spending hours trawling through social media to find the right kind of people to go after. Greg: You mentioned a few times how iOS hit a lot of promotion methods hard and really changed the whole landscape. How have you seen different brands adjusting to post-iOS, cookieless marketing? Laura: A lot of them have just had to go broader with their targeting. People have just had to go big with their audiences, but then also go quite heavy on retargeting from that. Some of the funnels we've started working with is we'll get a video and then we'll target that video quite broadly and then do a retargeting channel that hits people who engaged with that video. So then you kind of self-refine everything because a lot of the really small user groups and audiences you can't target right away anymore. Using your web metrics and retargeting from website visits is important as well. The way things are now you have to do that broad segment first to get your data in then filter it down. [tip]Combat tracking prevention and preserve customer insights by using first-party data.[/tip] Greg: What's something you see digital marketers get wrong all the time about PR? Laura: Sometimes people just go too broad. It's very much a “throw it and see what sticks” approach. Links are brilliant for SEO. We know that links are a core part of the algorithm and I'd be highly surprised if they ever disappeared from the algorithm. But how we could build links ten or so years ago—where you could put a link about puppies on a website about shoes—we can't do that anymore. We need to be a bit more specific about what our brand is about and what's related to them, then find the best sites for it. Your national press and your local press are always going to be in that mix because they are the trusted sites. They have a good Domain Authority (DA) or Trust Flow, whichever you use, and they have a good audience in them. So it's fine targeting those, but if your company has nothing to do with music and then you're suddenly trying to get loads of links on music websites, the relevance just isn't there. That's one of the biggest mistakes, brands who look at trying to get loads and loads of links anywhere they can, rather than focusing on the quality and the relevance of those links to the brand. Greg: It's similar to the influencer strategy—you want to pick something that's really relevant to your product and your message versus, like you said, putting it on something that's completely irrelevant because it has a high DA. Laura: 100%. You see it too often. I’ll say as well—we know controversy gets coverage, but just make sure you're not crossing a line and always bearing in mind your brand's reputation. There are instances where a brand has pieces that have gotten them so much coverage, but actually the message that's coming across isn't necessarily the most ethical message or the best for that brand. It's such a tough line because journalists are getting hundreds and hundreds of emails every day and you want to stand out in the inbox. Greg: When you see a brand bootstrapping their own PR, do you have any advice for them to get started? Laura: Surveying customers is always quite good because it's data that you've got ready waiting from your own customer base. Find out the pain points for your customers and answer some questions around that. If you're an HR company, for example, you might want to ask, “on average, how many sick days are employees taking a month?” Then you can spin that into stories, especially if you put a financial angle on it. Staying with that example, for instance, say if employees on average were taking three sick days a month, you could then work out what the average cost a year is to that business from sick pay. Then it kind of spins the story out of itself because it's usually quite a shocking figure. So use the data that you have, first and foremost. Sign up for the HAROs and things like that where you get the free journalist inquiries into your inbox, and don't be afraid to be a bit creative. Canva is a fantastic tool. There's a free version of it and you can make really professional-looking graphics from it. I'm not a designer by any stretch, but things that I've made on Canva have been in the national press in the UK. I also like to look at what the press is covering. Obviously, cost of living is a huge discussion point globally at the moment. So if you've got an angle on that and it’s going to be slightly different to what others are saying, push it out. We've just done one for a client of ours about what the most expensive appliances in your home were. We worked out how much these items cost per hour and how much that was costing you a year to use them. That got picked up quite broadly throughout national press in the UK. If you can make it relatable and factual and add your numbers, there's a really good chance of it getting picked up. Nothing in that piece I did cost any money to get that information together other than time. Greg: Right. The journalist wants to write about it because they know they'll get someone to read it. Then you're getting your promotion in there really by just offering valuable information. Laura: Yeah, and sometimes it's less about you and your business and more about the advice or information that you’ve given. I'd say the core exception to that is if you have a really quirky product, then that in itself can get the press coverage because it's just so out there that people want to read about it because it's fun. That's a scenario when you can be really “me, me, me” with it. Outside that, you'll be the credit for the information or the quote in there rather than the whole piece be about you. I think gone are the days where the press care about this company celebrating 20 years or we've just bought this MD in. Unless you're a giant-sized company, of course. Greg: That’s again similar to the SEO strategy where you want to provide value and information so people intially come to find you as a resource, engage with your brand, and then learn more about your product. Laura: 100%. It's a really nice, soft intro for people to who you are and what you do. I mean, the piece we just did about the cost of appliances in your home was actually for a homeware client. So it was super relevant to what they actually sell and it just keeps them top of mind for customers. There's definitely times we've seen, in the analytics, straight referral revenue from PR pieces. That's such a good feeling when you see that. Greg: What's the advantage of bringing on an agency versus doing it all? When would a brand know it’s time to say, “all right, I'm ready to bring an agency on board?” Laura: I think the truth is the biggest benefit is time. Time and also contacts. If we've been working with journalists before, we’ve built up a rapport with them already. So it makes it makes it slightly more likely that you might get the coverage—as long as it's still relevant to that journalist of course. Then just the time saved in researching new media lists, overseeing the data, making creative assets, making press releases and emails—it can get quite time-consuming and I 100% appreciate that a lot of business owners don't have that time to sit down and do it. When to bring in an agency is a tough one because a lot of people jump the gun too soon and want to get the agency when they don't have the logistics in order or their customer department and things like that. So I think I think you need to get your house in order fast, make sure that you can fulfill anything that comes through, and that if you're B2B, you've got your sales pipeline and structure in place so that you are chasing up leads quickly when they come in and staying on top of them. Because the last thing you want is to be driving traffic and potential customers and then have the conversions from it end up slim. Once you have your house in order and you're ready to take that next step to get some coverage out there or you've got something you want to talk about, then I think it's a good time to engage with an agency. Greg: Right—get the infrastructure ready before just trying to scale right away without a structure and plan in place. Laura: 100%. It can be as simple as making sure you've got some reviews on your products beforehand. That's a trust factor and people are more likely to buy when they see it. Also, make sure you're not just sending people to a Gmail address for contact. It can be such little nuanced things like that which can make a huge difference for conversion and trust. Even if you’re just running your business out of your bedroom, you can definitely make it look like you’re not. Greg: Is there anything on the horizon for Sweet Digital that you wanted to share? Laura: Our marriage with Cube is obviously a big one for us internally. New processes and new team members, which has been really exciting for us. Then, just keep doing good work. Keep going, keep doing, keep keeping clients happy. Keep doing some really good work and keep building. We've signed some really cool new clients recently which we're excited to get stuck into—from smartwatches to recruitment and things. So I'm quite excited to get into those and just start going. Quick links: Lunch with Littledata: Mapping the evolution of subscriptions with AwtomicSix reasons to start using Meta’s Conversions API nowGet the DTC guide to subscription analyticsLunch with Littledata: Can an agency like Blend help multiply your revenue?
Get the DTC guide to subscription analytics
The subscription ecommerce industry has soared in recent years, allowing customers to routinely receive the products they love and opening up possibilities for merchants to build predictable, recurring revenue streams. Once a small subset of the ecommerce industry, the global subscription ecommerce market is set to be worth $478 billion by 2025. Subscription offerings we see winning today have changed over the past few years, from innovative, new recurring revenue engines to legacy brands like BMW offering exclusive auto features by subscription. But there's one area where ecommerce subscription brands fall short time and time again — their analytics. Thanks to today’s plug-and-play subscription solutions, DTC merchants can start selling by subscription in just a few clicks. When it comes to optimizing their subscription model, though, many merchants run into a bit of trouble. While ecommerce subscription platforms have made strides in recent years, their native analytics are sub-par, making it difficult to understand product performance, measure customer lifetime value, and attribute subscribers’ sales to marketing campaigns. The DTC Guide to Subscription Analytics If you’re already running an ecommerce store, chances are you have already noticed some major data discrepancies between Shopify or BigCommerce and Google Analytics. From missing sales data to undifferentiated subscription vs. one-off orders, subscription tracking adds another layer to the madness. We sampled a set of larger DTC stores, processing over 50,000 orders a month through a standard Shopify checkout, and found that, on average, only 88% of Shopify orders were tracked in Google Analytics. Looking at a set of stores with non-standard checkouts, including subscription checkouts, we found that between 9% and 70% of orders were tracked in Google Analytics. Data mismatches that big lead to unattributed marketing spend and failed retargeting campaigns that doom your future decision-making. So, what causes data mismatches? How can you solve it? And how can you master subscription analytics? In The DTC Guide to Subscription Analytics, we uncover: The state of subscription ecommerce How to fix your subscription tracking Metrics to grow your recurring revenue Tools to fuel your ecommerce subscriptions Download The DTC Guide to Subscription Analytics >>>
Six reasons to start using Meta’s Conversions API now
One of the biggest marketing areas hit by iOS14 updates, and tracking prevention in general, is social ads. As Meta’s main moneymaker, the company of course wasn’t going to stand by and have their best feature for brands become unusable. Enter Facebook's Conversions API (CAPI), a solution that complies with new tracking and privacy laws by letting Facebook and Instagram Ads users share customer actions from the servers directly to Facebook. Facebook Ads via Conversions API work alongside Facebook Pixel to help you improve the performance, measurement, and data collection of your campaigns for Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads. But Facebook CAPI isn’t a replacement for Facebook Pixel. Instead, it’s an enhancement that enables deeper first-party data to help you understand performance in more detail and run more effective ads. Using Littledata to set up CAPI on your store makes this data more accurate and reliable so that your campaigns reach the right shoppers at the right time. When using Littledata and Facebook CAPI together, you can: Automatically improve Event Match Quality Score Run dynamic product ads based on accurate shopping data Make revenue data in Shopify match revenue data in Facebook In this post, we’ll share six reasons why you need to add this powerful advertising tool to your toolbelt ASAP. Why use Facebook CAPI? 1. Facebook CAPI solves for VPNs and ad blockers Originally, Facebook Pixel provided us with all the information we needed to build powerful audiences for our ads. Then, VPNs, ad blockers, and other privacy software began causing some discrepancies in the data. This is where the Facebook Conversions API came in. Facebook CAPI sends events “server-side” instead of “client-side” through the third-party browser a customer is using to access your site. That means they aren’t interrupted by the web browsing and privacy trends mentioned above. Even better, you can share almost 100% of purchases from your store with Facebook via CAPI. [tip]Learn how to use Facebook CAPI to run dynamic Facebook ads and target your top buyers.[/tip] 2. Facebook CAPI is iOS14-friendly With iOS 14 privacy changes, we’re not just dealing with discrepancies in the data, but gaps. Those gaps negatively impact Facebook ad targeting because iOS 14 limits what data advertisers can collect through client-side (pixel) tracking and allows users to turn tracking off entirely through app tracking transparency (ATT). Facebook CAPI sends user data directly from your server (not the user’s device) to Facebook instead of relying on the cookie and browser data the Facebook Pixel collects. Even if the customer has opted out of marketing cookies — meaning the purchase cannot be attributed via Facebook’s Pixel ID — Facebook CAPI can send some extra user identifiers like email address, physical address, and phone number. These give Facebook a better chance of linking the purchase to a user, and from there to the ad the user clicked on. We’ll talk more about user data below. 3. Facebook CAPI captures important lower-funnel activity Facebook CAPI allows you to send more than just website behavior to Facebook. Not all server-side events happen and/or are recorded directly on your site. They may happen on your app, a free tool, a third-party payment tool, a support hub, or offline (like through phone calls). If you record this data in your CRM, you can send additional data to Facebook through Facebook CAPI. Events in payment and shopping cart tools are often lower-funnel, making them particularly important to track. 4. Facebook CAPI will be necessary when cookies are gone Perhaps most importantly, when third-party cookies are gone, Conversions API will be our only source for conversion tracking and ad performance data. Google has already announced the phase-out of third-party cookies, and as the market leader, every other service using them will almost surely follow suit. Enabling Facebook CAPI on your store now protects the accuracy of your data, even after third-party cookies have been thrown out. 5. Get a complete picture of your conversion data Facebook Conversions API helps you to see information that the Facebook Pixel can’t see as a result of ad blockers, iOS 14, ATT, and cookies. This includes website events, offline events, and ad CRM data. On the other hand, Facebook Pixel helps you to see information that Facebook CAPI can’t, such as demographic, psychographic, and other behavioral data from around the web. That’s how they work together and why each covers gaps the other has. 6. Get more out of your budget With both Facebook Pixel and Facebook CAPI working together to give you the most accurate data possible, you can: Understand exactly who is interacting with your ads Better understand the customer journey Build strong audiences and generate leads on Facebook, even with iOS 14 Make data-driven optimizations and allocate the budget accordingly Now that you know why you need Facebook CAPI, it's time to get it set up on your store. Get in touch with our data experts and they’ll help you set it Facebook CAPI, show you how to track events, and ensure you get accurate data on your ads in the new age of first-party data. [subscribe]
Fire up the boosters—Littledata launched today on Product Hunt!
We're excited to announce that Littledata launched today on Product Hunt, a community where people find great apps and tools. While Littledata is not by any means a new product, we’ve built something pretty special and powerful over the last several years we can't wait to share—accurate ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics 4. [tip]Get the scoop on the rise of GA4, the sunsetting of Universal Analytics, and what we recommend to make the switch.[/tip] Recently when we surveyed an audience of about 40 Shopify stores, only 16% said they had enabled GA4 and will be ready for the sunsetting of Universal Analytics this July. We’ve now made it our mission to help more ecommerce stores set up a GA4 property and build out the next steps for their data layer. Our promise to you is no code, accurate data, courses on ecommerce like GA4, and top-notch customer service. Product Hunt will help us bring more visibility to Littledata's data platform—but we could use your help. Jump into our launch to share your experience with Littledata and check out what we have going on. [tip]Need some help setting up your GA4 property? Book a demo with our analytics experts and they'll show you how in just a few clicks.[/tip]
4 ways to future-proof your business by using the right subscription tools
No one can predict the future. But as economic uncertainty and major data tracking changes loom, now is an important time for brands to prioritize future-proofing their businesses by developing strategies to minimize the effects of any potential downturns. Recurring revenue from subscription models can be a great way to generate predictable, long-term income. As a best practice, focusing on maintaining solid relationships with customers and ensuring a superior customer experience will help retain them in the long run. During hard times, it will be the most loyal customers who stay committed to your brand. Plus, with acquisition costs rising, focusing on retaining current customers is a much more sustainable option. In this post, we’ll share how you can future-proof your business by building a strong subscription model that attracts subscribers and show you the tools you need to do it. 1. Focus on Subscribers First, rely on subscribers, as they are the most loyal and valuable customers who chose your brand over numerous competitors. Keeping these customers is critical for brands, as it is much less resource-intensive than acquiring new customers. Build your growth strategy around gaining subscribers’ trust, delighting them with exclusive membership perks, and allowing them to advocate for your brand. Throughout the subscription experience, provide flexibility and transparency to establish trust with customers. Specifically, demonstrate transparency by displaying details of what the subscription program entails, emphasizing that customers have the authority to change, skip, or cancel their subscription at any time. You can offer the most relevant subscription options by analyzing customer buying behavior data; for instance, monitor your customer’s average frequency selection when deciding which subscription option should be defaulted on the product page. Offer flexibility from the beginning by allowing customers to adjust the cadence in which they would like to receive the product and how much of it. Letting customers choose the quantity and frequency of their subscriptions solidifies this trust. Your customer won’t feel like they have to fully unsubscribe because they can mold the subscription program to their specific lifestyle, ultimately increasing your retention. That way, you’ll avoid losing valuable customers just because they needed fewer products during a certain month. [tip]See how brick-and-mortar staple Grind scaled DTC sales 50x in 3 months through subscription selling.[/tip] 2. Create a Brand Engagement Hub Transform your brand’s customer account portal into an engagement hub to increase retention and lifetime value for subscribers. Providing access to a consistent, branded customer portal helps develop strong relationships with customers which plays a critical role in retaining them long-term. Customize your customer’s account portal to adhere to your brand guidelines and craft an experience that aligns with the products that you are selling. Intuitive, straightforward tools built directly into the portal empower customers to serve themselves independently and make them more likely to continue doing business with you rather than switching to a competitor. Frictionless account management gives customers the opportunity to manage their subscription journey the way they see fit with intuitive options to gift, skip, swap, or send now. Having an easy customer support function within the customer account portal is mutually beneficial for your brand and your customers, as it saves your Customer Service team’s time and leaves customers satisfied. Typically, customers would rather solve an issue on their own without needing to contact a customer service representative. So saving them time and avoiding any frustrations further decreases the likelihood of them churning. 3. Build Brand Champions Take your subscriber’s loyalty and expand on it as much as possible with customer loyalty features that give customers a reason to come back. This includes subscriber-only promotions and discounts, exclusive gifts, early access to new products, and one-time add-ons. As a best practice, use retention data to create a strategic subscription program. For example, use a retention cohort analysis to determine if you are offering too high of a discount on first subscription orders. Merchants may find customers canceling their subscriptions after the first order when the subscriber discount is too high. By keeping a pulse on these metrics, merchants are able to course correct by getting rid of large, upfront discounts and instead, reward subscribers based on loyalty. Help improve average order value by placing strategic upsells based on data that identified top-performing products or products commonly purchased together. Then recommend these products for a tailored customer experience. Offer early releases of new products and allow loyal subscribers to give feedback, making them feel even more special and valued as customers. Try giving subscribers “X% off of their X order,” free products with orders, or birthday gifts. Create brand awareness with referrals and gifting features built directly within the account portal. Aim to get loyal customers to continue to buy your products, buy more products, and gift products so that your brand awareness extends to friends and family. Many brands take advantage of referrals like “Give X, Get X,” where if you refer a friend, you each receive a discount. Not only does this ensure that subscribers directly benefit from their referrals, but also that friend now has the ability to try your product and later on subscribe themselves. This creates champions of your brand who continue to spread the word and love to friends and family. 4. Littledata and Smartrr Having subscription management software that fits with your main data reporting tool is critical in subscriptions. Google Analytics and server-side tracking give you the first-party tracking you need to understand your buyers and make data-driven decisions that benefit your store. You can use a subscription tracking service to see complete sales data, including one-off purchases, subscriptions, and refunds. Using Littledata and Smartrr as your subscription management and analytics stack allows you to: Calculate marketing attribution for all transactions, including recurring orders Set up custom dimensions to calculate LTV Use information to strategically use upsells, gifting, add-ons, and more Send Smartrr subscriptions data to Facebook Ads via the Facebook Conversions API Conclusion Each of these strategies helps to build a solid foundation to retain customers and ultimately, future-proof your business. Make strategic business decisions by tracking the key performance indicators that drive your business, such as average order value, sales by specific product, churn over time, lifetime value, and subscription revenue growth. Retain customers by crafting a seamless experience through a consumer-focused subscription program with an intuitive account portal that includes features to engage subscribers and build brand champions. Retaining your highest lifetime value customers will help solidify recurring revenue from subscription models and ensure predictable, long-term income. This is a guest post from Anna Jacobson, Marketing Associate at Smartrr—the premium subscription app for DTC Shopify brands. Built with your end consumer in mind, Smarter increases brand engagement and LTV with a variety of out-of-the-box subscription models, a beautifully branded subscriber account experience, member-only benefits, and more.
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