How Shopify Plus stores can set up multi-currency reporting in Google Analytics

An increasing number of ecommerce brands are using Shopify Plus to manage international stores and sell in multiple currencies. Since there are a few setups you may have, here are my recommendations in each case to get the most versatile reporting in Google Analytics (GA).  For a single store accepting multi-currency Littledata’s enhanced Shopify tracking already handles multi-currencies at all stages of the shopping journey.  We recommend you have just a single web property and single view in Google Analytics. Our audit checks will make sure the currency you have set up for this view matches your Shopify store currency. For multiple stores, with different default currencies (GA standard) I recommend you set up a single web property, but with different Google Analytics views for each country store. You can create one ‘All countries’ view in the same currency as your company’s default reporting, and then each country store would need filters set up to include traffic only from that country. Here's how to set up the filters: Go to the Admin section in Google Analytics, and click Filters under the View settings Then click to ADD Filter Then set up a filter to include traffic only from this store’s hostname Then Save the filter This could be tricky if you use a third-party checkout, where the hostname will be shared across stores (see below). Each country view in Google Analytics would have the same currency and timezone set as the Shopify store, so you can compare like-for-like orders. In Littledata, you would create different accounts for each country store and be able to audit and benchmark your stores' performances separately. Multiple stores, with different default currencies (GA 360)  With GA 360, you have the added flexibility of being able to setup a roll-up property, combining ecommerce events from multiple properties. So you have two options:  Go with the same solution as for GA Standard. The advantage here is that with a single web property, you can easily track visitors as they move between your country stores (i.e. if users are directed to a country after seeing a marketing campaign, you can still attribute the marketing campaign as they move to a different store). Set up a separate web property for each country store, and roll-up into a group property. The advantage here: your data is clean, but you can’t track cross-country visitors. Option 2 is going to work better if you leverage third party checkouts like ReCharge Payments or Bold Cashier, where it may be hard to filter out the traffic from only one country. If you're not sure what to think of this, don't fret — Littledata's analytics team can guide you in multi-site setup with an Enterprise plan, so please reach out if you're feeling confused. [subscribe] Multicurrency support for Shopify If your store presents prices in multiple currencies using Shopify Payment’s multi-currency feature, then Littledata’s app is 100% compatible with multi-currency. Here’s how it works for different parts of the data processing. We use Shopify’s definition of ‘presentment currency’ and ‘shop currency’. Storefront data layer All prices for products in the LittledataLayer and dataLayer variables will be in shop currency, regardless of the presentment currency. This includes the add-to-cart events handled by Littledata’s servers. Checkout steps Prices are sent in the presented currency and converted by Google Analytics (or Segment) to the target currency at current exchange rates. Orders & Refunds All orders and refunded items are sent to Google Analytics in the shop currency. Multiple country stores sending to one web property If you have multiple country stores, with different shop currencies, all sending data to a single web property in Google Analytics, this is also handled by our tracking script.

2019-09-24

Does Littledata work with my ecommerce reporting tool?

We often get asked if Littledata works with certain reporting tools that are popular among merchants. Here's the short answer: if your tool can pull data from Google Analytics or Segment, then our smart connections will help you get accurate data to use with those reporting or data insight tools. Here’s exactly how we work with each platform. The Establishment These are the main ecommerce reporting tools. If you're using one of these tools, you're in luck. Littledata integrates with them automatically. These products include: Google Analytics Google Data Studio Tableau Segment Power BI Read on to see how Littledata works with these data insights tools to improve the accuracy of your data and the usefulness of your reporting. Google Analytics The world’s most popular analytics tool gets even better when paired with Littledata’s smart connections and full audit to enhance the ecommerce event data captured from your store. GA is the core tool to which Littledata connects, allowing you to connect to other dashboards below, such as Tableau and Data Studio. [subscribe] Segment Segment’s data pipeline is a trusted way to get analytics from one platform into dozens of others without complex engineering. Our source for Shopify and Shopify Plus helps you automatically send ecommerce events into any of Segment’s hundreds of destinations. Once the Segment connection is set up, you never lift a finger. Google Data Studio Data Studio is our dashboard tool of choice for more custom-designed reports.  Because Data Studio integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics, Littledata’s connections can all be exported from Google Analytics into Data Studio, making our Shopify app the top Data Studio connector for Shopify stores. While it can be slow to generate reports at scale, Data Studio's unlimited free reporting makes it hard to beat for ad-hoc analysis. And they often add new report templates and visualizations. With Littledata's Data Studio connection, you get: Accurate sales data, including refunds and repeat purchases Custom dimensions for LTV reporting and cohort analysis Better marketing attribution, since our app stitches sessions together automatically [note]Are you looking for accurate Shopify sales data in Google Analytics and Google Analytics? Get the free ebook on Shopify tracking, including tips for tracking refunds and repeat purchases.[/note] Tableau Tableau, now part of the Salesforce family, was one of the first tools to provide a smart, easy setup dashboard. Their connection with Google Analytics is well established, and as with Data Studio you can access the Littledata events from there. Power BI Microsoft’s popular reporting tool can also import data from Google Analytics, so anything Littledata pushes to GA is available in Power BI. Power BI is especially useful if you want to visually explore your ecommerce data, as the platform offers interactive visualizations and a range of business intelligence (BI) insights. They also allow on-premises report deployment (behind a firewall), which is great for larger brands with large in-house teams. Newer solutions In addition to the 'establishment' above, Littledata seamlessly integrates with a number of newer reporting tools that offer Google Analytics insights and visualizations. These apps and reporting tools include: Glew Glow Yaguara These tools are especially popular with Shopify and Shopify Plus stores. Glew Glew provides some cleverly-curated ecommerce reports, but any of the underlying data on marketing attribution or customer behaviour pulled from Google Analytics will require Littledata’s improved tracking for full accuracy. Here’s a more detailed guide of the differences between Glew and Littledata. Grow Grow is a newer dashboard tool with hundreds of reporting sources, of which Google Analytics is their ‘most popular’. While some of the detail from Littledata’s connections may be lost in ‘basic reporting’ from GA, their multi-channel marketing reports are useful. Yaguara Yagura provides a series of templates to gain insights into your ecommerce business. One of their key integrations is with Google Analytics, and so the extra insights from Littledata’s tracking can be pulled into a Yaguara dashboard. Tools we don't work with directly The following tools don't connect with Littledata, and we aren't planning an integration. Conversific Conversific is an analytics tool for Shopify, with similar reporting to Littledata. While Conversific doesn’t offer the same smart connections as Littledata, it’s unlikely you’d need to use the two together. Metrilo Metrilo offers to optimize marketing channels for ecommerce. While their guide says Metrilo is a good alternative to Google Analytics, it won’t replace the reporting that Littledata provides. Zaius Zaius is an ecommerce CRM, allowing you to personalise and automate marketing based on customer interactions. As such, it needs its own event data capture, and can’t integrate with Littledata reporting. [note]Have you built custom reports using Littledata tracking? We'd love to hear about it. Give us a shout and let us know.[/note]

2019-09-12

Why did Shopify delist Beeketing’s apps from their app store?

Shopify recently announced it will be delisting Beeketing apps from its store. Beeketing builds a popular range of marketing automation apps to improve on-site conversion on ecommerce stores. Shopify’s official statement says this was due to violations including “inadequate support for merchants and abuse of our marketing tools”. But was it also due to the apps' poor performance? [subscribe] To investigate, we looked at the July conversion rate for 115 stores using Beeketing’s apps versus 884 similar stores that did not use these plugins. We found that the median ecommerce conversion for stores using Beeketing apps was lower at 1.4% versus 1.6% for stores without their apps. At 10%, this confidence level is a significant differential. Although we found Beeketing apps increased add-to-cart rate (5.3% rate for Beeketing stores vs 4.2% without), this was not significant — it was based on a smaller sample of only 15 stores using Beeketing with add-to-cart rate tracked. What it means We can’t tell exactly which Beeketing apps these stores are using. However, we'd conclude that the seller urgency and intervening sales popups they are famous for might boost initial engagement, but don't help eventual purchasing. In delisting the apps, Shopify is likely not harming their merchants’ ability to sell. Speaking of ability to sell, did you know we've built a robust ecommerce benchmarking tool for merchants? Know where you stand with website benchmarks by industry and benchmark your own site with Littledata’s free optimisation tools.

2019-08-29

Why Shopify is still the best ecommerce platform for larger merchants

It's no accident that Shopify is the cream of the crop in the world of enterprise ecommerce. But what do Shopify's major announcements last week mean for the platform's growth going forward? To remain on top, Shopify must continue investing in areas of opportunity and customer need. That's exactly what they're doing, including major investment in an independent fulfillment network, multi-currency and multiple-store/multi-site improvements for Shopify Plus, and a stunning new range of developer-friendly APIs. In this post, I'll look at: Which types of ecommerce merchants are using the major platforms Shopify's announcements at the Shopify Unite conference 2019 What these announcements mean for larger retailers, Shopify experts and agencies Who's using what: ecommerce platforms by size and use I've been crunching the numbers in several different ways these past few weeks, and my findings were consistent: Shopify is the platform of choice for mid-sized to large stores globally. Last week at the annual Shopify Unite partner event, Shopify announced the plans that will keep Shopify leading the pack (Magento, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, BigCommerce, etc.). Shopify's recent announcements confirm my research findings. Shopify will continue to be the ecommerce platform with the strongest growth in larger stores. At first I looked at trend data from BuiltWith that showed the number of net installs on each platform over the past year. Only the top 1 million websites were measured (as defined by BuiltWith.com). When it came to pure volume of installs, WooCommerce came out on top. However, the average WooCommerce store is much smaller and less active than the average Shopify store. I confirmed this by looking at our own data set of over 4,000 stores on these ecommerce platforms: The bars represent range from the bottom to top quartile of store sizes, with the purple marker representing median store size. While Magento 2 and Salesforce Commerce Cloud had higher median store sizes (32k and 107k monthly visits, respectively), Shopify had a very consistent interquartile range of 6,000 to 60,000 monthly visits. By contrast, WooCommerce only had one quarter of stores receiving over 10,000 monthly visits — and zero stores doing more than 2.5 million visits in our data set. In other words, if this trend continues, Shopify is positioned to take on a big share of the stores migrating from Magento 1 over the next year or so. And that's not all. What this means for merchants using Littledata These larger stores will need a range of robust apps to extend Shopify’s platform, especially when it comes to analytics. We've responded to this need in a many ways, including: Launching the only recommended Segment connection for Shopify and Shopify Plus Rebuilding our Shopify data layer and tracking script for speed and performance at scale Standardising Littledata's Enterprise Plans to provide account management and SLAs Working with select clients to build private connectors and apps to bridge legacy systems In other words, Littledata's commitment to Shopify's ecosystem has only continued to grow. We hope the pattern continues as we hone our popular Shopify integrations like ReCharge for subscription analytics, and continue to improve our better smart connections for other popular apps (CartHook, Refersion, Bold Cashier) over the coming months. [subscribe heading="Try Littledata free for 14 days" background_color="green" button_text="get started"] What this means for Shopify users Enterprise-grade features In the past, global brands running a network of stores in multiple countries have been frustrated by the simplicity of Shopify’s setup. The launch of features such as multi-currency, multi-language and multi-store login from a single Shopify Plus dashboard will go a long way in quelling those user frustrations — all while making Shopify Plus an attractive alternative for current users of Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Fulfillment network to compete head-to-head with Amazon (FBA) Fulfillment is the biggest headache for DTC brands selling globally, and FBA is currently the only game in town for end-to-end purchasing and logistics. However, as ecommerce brands scale, more and more are looking to "own the experience" from start to finish. This includes branded packaging and visibility of delivery on the customers' end. Both of these things may very well have a better solution in Shopify Fulfillment Network: Amazon vs Shopify. @aobtweetz says Shopify is like retail entertainment: consumers who want to read the blog, engage with the brand and then buy - not just buy a commodity on Amazon @debriefevent #ShopifyUnite — Edward Upton (@eUpton) June 21, 2019 The network will start in the US. While it will take time to scale, early looks indicate it will be a sensible way for Shopify to spend its large pile of cash while pulling itself away from the crowded pack of SaaS ecommerce. Developer-first attitude We developers love companies that don’t forget their product-first roots. Much of Shopify’s growth has been due to making the platform easy to extend while encouraging a vibrant yet curated app store. Shopify continues to exercise caution when offering its existing app partners access to new core features (subscription billing, opening up new APIs for partners to develop on). A staggering 11 new APIs were announced at this Unite alone. While Shopify clearly believes that core experiences like checkout and payment should be owned and developed by Shopify itself, many non-core features (including many types of reporting) are actively pushed to partners with a relevant app or service. A living example of Shopify's developer-first approach? Their new Shopify app CLI, which speeds up timetables for new app launches. Where does Shopify go next? After more than doubling its number of active stores over the last two years, Shopify's current haul of 820,000 active stores is in good position to surpass 1.5 million stores within the next two years. For many larger Shopify partners, perhaps the more important pattern of growth isn't Shopify's standard offerings — it's Shopify Plus. [subscribe heading="Try Littledata free for 14 days" background_color="green" button_text="get started"] At a recent Commerce Plus event in London (organised by Shopify Plus), the main "complaint" was that Shopify’s sales reps "can’t onboard shops fast enough". With a newly revamped, user-centered design, Shopify Plus is an exciting platform to be a part of right now. It's only going up from here. If you didn't get a chance to read about everything Shopify announced last week in Toronto, don't worry. We have you covered! Check out our full recap of announcements. Also, check out our award-winning Google Analytics Shopify app. With AI-based tech, the app fixes your Shopify analytics by providing: Website benchmarks by industry Ecommerce benchmarking Shopify reporting Customer lifetime value Average order value Other crucial data metrics Wondering how your site compares? Check out our list of essential benchmarks for Shopify stores.

2019-06-25

6 essential benchmarks for Shopify stores

Understanding how your website performs versus similar sites is the best way to prioritise what to improve. In this post we take a look at 6 top benchmarks for optimising Shopify store performance. Accurate benchmark data is especially useful to the increasing number of ecommerce companies using web performance benchmarks, such as bounce rates and home page reliance, as core elements of their sales and marketing KPIs. Understanding benchmarks is a key to success. To put together this new benchmarking report, we analysed current data from 470 Shopify retailers. If you're wondering how you compare, check out our Shopify analytics app. Average order value Average order value (AOV) or Average revenue per paying user (ARPU) is the total monthly revenue divided by the number of users which transacted that month. It is a measure of how well you are up-selling and cross-selling your products, depending on your product mix. What is a good average order value for Shopify stores? The benchmark is $69. The average is slightly lower ($63.50) if you are a smaller Shopify store. More than $120 AOV would put you in the top quartile, and one of our top-performing stores in the luxury ecommerce sector is averaging $2,080 per order! If your Shopify store has a lower AOV than the benchmark, you might try increasing your average checkout value by cross-selling other products, offering free shipping above a minimum threshold or increasing pricing on selected products. [subscribe heading="How do you compare?" button_text="BENCHMARK YOUR SITE"] Ecommerce conversion rate Ecommerce conversion is the number of purchases divided by the total number of sessions. Most visitors will take more than one session to decide to purchase, but this is the standard measure of conversion rate. It is a measure of how good a fit your traffic is for your products, and how well your site converts this traffic into customers. What is a good ecommerce conversion rate for Shopify stores? The benchmark is 1.75%. Larger stores have pushed this to 1.85%, and if you are more than 2.8% you are in the top quartile. The highest conversion rate we’ve seen on Shopify is 8%. Can you increase the conversion rate with more attractive product displays, or improving the checkout process? Enhanced ecommerce tracking will help you identify exactly where the blockers lie. Bounce rate from mobile search Since more than 60% of Google searches are now done on mobile, ensuring your site design works on a small screen is important for branding and sales. Bounce rate is the percent of visits of only one page – and will be high if your landing pages do not engage. Google will even adjust your mobile ranking for a given keyword depending on what proportion of visitors stick on your page - a good indication that your link was useful. What is a good bounce rate from mobile search for Shopify stores? The benchmark is 47.5%. The biggest Shopify stores have got this below 40%, and overall large retailers have 38% mobile bounce rate. So it’s not a problem with the Shopify platform, so much as a problem with the store theme – or how the options and products are displayed on a smaller screen. Can you improve the first impressions of the landing pages, put key content higher up the page, or decrease the page load speed to reduce that bounce rate? Delay before page content appears The delay between a page request by the user and them being to read or click on that page. This is more important than full page load speed for AJAX / lazy loading sites (also called the ‘DOM Interactive Time’). What is a good delay time before page content appears? The benchmark for Shopify stores is 2.75 seconds. Even larger retailers have this down to 2.8 seconds, so Shopify sites do well on this score. Anything less than 3 seconds is generally acceptable. Internet users are increasingly intolerant of slow sites. Your developers could look at Google PageSpeed Insights for more details. Often the delay will be down to extra scripts which could be delayed or removed. [subscribe heading="How do you compare?" button_text="BENCHMARK YOUR SITE"] Server response time This is the part of the page load speed which is entirely outside of your control – and due to the speed of the servers your site runs on. What is a good server response time for Shopify stores? The benchmark is 322ms. The average for larger ecommerce is 542ms – so Shopify’s server infrastructure is serving you well here. Reliance on the homepage This is the percent of visitors who land on your homepage. If this is below 40% you rely heavily on your homepage to capture brand or paid search traffic. Google increasingly rewards sites with a greater volume of landing pages targeting more specific keyword phrases. What is a good reliance on homepage percentage for Shopify stores? The benchmark is 32%. Larger Shopify stores, with many more landing pages, have reduced this to 7.3% of traffic landing on the homepage on average. Can you build out product landing pages and inbound links to copy their advantage? Ready to benchmark your own website, stop playing guessing games and start scaling your ecommerce business? Our Shopify reporting app is the easiest way to get accurate benchmarking. Install Littledata today and you'll get instant access to up to 20 relevant industry benchmarks for ecommerce sites, plus the tools you need to fix your analytics for accurate tracking, so you'll always know for sure where your website stands. It's all about smart data that helps you focus on making changes that drive revenue and increase conversions. We're here to help you grow!

2019-06-14

Littledata’s V8 Shopify Tracking Code: faster and more versatile

As experts in web analytics for ecommerce sites, we often tinker with our data collection ‘engine’ to get the best results. In the latest iteration of our tracking code, we’re proud to announce some major improvements. Littledata's V8 Shopify Tracking Code comes with exciting improvements in three major areas: data accuracy, page speed, and versatility. These new changes will affect both our Google Analytics and Segment tracking code for Shopify sites, plus any stores using our data layer to trigger events in Google Tag Manager (GTM). Here's a quick rundown of the update: Improvements for accuracy We improved the way we track key events so that: Product list views are sent only as users scroll down the page and view a product for more than 300 milliseconds (the minimum time it takes the human brain to process an image) Product list views and clicks have more accurate position information to help optimize product sort order Search pages are also tracked as product lists Social shares and clicks on product images on product detail pages are tracked These new improvements follow other recent improvements  we've added, which include: Using the latest gtag and GTM libraries Tracking page views only when the page was actually viewed [subscribe] Improvements for page speed Our research on performance has shown that faster page load speed is linked with better ecommerce conversion rates. With this in mind, we're reducing the time it takes to load the tracking script. Here's how we're doing it: A much smaller data layer for product list pages, especially for stores with lots of product data Minified tracking code, hosted on a content delivery network (CDN) Moved to server-side tracking of add-to-carts, resulting in a smaller script in the browser Removed dependency on jQuery As an example, let's imagine a product listing page has 30 products. Previously, the total Javascript data layer size would have been ~100Kb, but after the update would be less than 20Kb — up to 5x zippier! Improvements for versatility Tracking adds-to-cart is surprisingly hard. While this is partly due to add-to-cart buttons being targeted by many other scripts, the main culprit is something else — many online stores have a mini-cart or a separate checkout button. This means users may never actually see a 'cart' page at all. Our new V8 Tracking Code bypasses this issue by tracking cart updates from Shopify’s servers without generating any extra or cost for your web servers. This means that whenever an online shopper adds or removes your product from their cart — whether by clicking on desktop or swiping on mobile — that action will be tracked with 100% accuracy. How do I get this update? [Update] V8 is now out of private beta — this means all Shopify stores installing the Littledata app use the new tracking code. This updated script, as well as all future improvements, is included with your ongoing Littledata subscription. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy automatically accurate data about your Shopify store performance. What if I need to keep the previous script version? That's fine too. Just reach out to our support team before 6th September and we can make sure you don't get the V8 script.

2019-06-11

Is Google Analytics accurate? 6 common issues and how to fix them

Google Analytics is used by tens of millions of websites and apps around the world to measure web visitor engagement. Due to some users choosing not to be tracked or blocking cookies, Google Analytics can't measure 100% of visitors. But when set up correctly, GA measures over 95% of genuine visitors (as opposed to web scrapers and bots). At Littledata, our customers come from a range of industries. But when they first come to the Littledata app for help fixing their analytics, we hear many of the same questions: Is Google Analytics accurate? How do I know if my Google Analytics setup is giving me reliable data? In this blog post, we dissect some common issues with Google Analytics before providing a solution to help your ecommerce tracking be as accurate as possible. 6 common issues with Google Analytics 1) Your tracking script is not implemented correctly There are two common issues with the actual tracking script setup: It's implemented twice on some pages It's missing completely from some pages When the script is duplicated, you’ll see an artificially low bounce rate (usually below 5%), since every page view is sending twice to Google Analytics. When the script is missing from pages, you’ll see self-referrals from your own website. How to fix it Our recommendation is to use Google Tag Manager across your whole site to ensure the tracking script is loaded with the right web property identifier at the right time during the page load. 2) Your account has lots of spam When it comes to web traffic and analytics setup, spam is a serious issue. Spammers send 'ghost' referrals to get your attention as a website owner. This means that the traffic you see in Google Analytics may not come from real people, even if you have selected to exclude bots. How to fix it Littledata’s app filters out all future spammers and Pro Reporting users benefit from having those filters updated weekly. 3) Your own company traffic is not excluded Your web developers, content writers and marketers will be heavy users of your own site, and you need to filter this traffic from your Google Analytics to get a view of genuine customers or prospects. How to fix it You can do this based on location (e.g. IP address) or pages they visit (e.g. admin pages). [subscribe] 4) One person shows up as two or more users Fight Club aside (spoiler alert), when the same person re-visits our site, we expect them to look the same each time. Web analytics are more complicated. When Google Analytics speaks of 'users', what it's really tracking is a visit from a particular device or browser instance. For example, if I have a smartphone and a laptop computer and visit your site from both devices (without cross-device linking), I’ll appear as two users. Even more confusingly, if I visit your site from the Facebook app on my phone and then from the Twitter app, I’ll appear as two users —  the two apps use two different internet browser instances. How to fix it While Google is looking at ways to use its accounts system (Gmail, Chrome, etc.), there's not a lot which can be done to fix this at the moment. 5) Marketing campaigns are not attributed to revenue or conversions If the journey of visitors on your site proceeds via another payment processor or gateway, you could be losing the link between the sale (or goal conversion) and the original marketing campaigns. You will see sales attributed to Direct or Referral traffic, when they actuallycame from somewhere else. How to fix it This is a remarkably common issue with Shopify stores. That’s why we built a popular Shopify reporting app that solves the issue automatically. [subscribe heading="Get the Littledata Shopify reporting app" background_color="grey" button_text="get the app" button_link="https://www.littledata.io/shopify"] For other kinds of sites, the issue can often be resolved by setting up cross-domain tracking. 6) You aren't capturing key events (like purchases or button clicks) Google Analytics only tracks views of a page by default, which may not be meaningful if you have a highly interactive website or app. How to fix it Sending custom events is the key to ensuring your tracking is both accurate and relevant. Google Tag Manager makes this easier than it would be otherwise. However, you may need to speak to a qualified Google Analytics consultant to decide what to track. Wrapping up For better certainty that your analytics are fully accurate, try our free Google Analytics audit or get in touch with our Google Analytics consulting team for a quick consultation. If you're ready to give it a shot, go ahead and try Littledata free for 30 days — we'll even walk you through the app! We ❤️ analytics and we're always here to help.   Quick links How to get extra support from our team of Google Analytics experts Enterprise plans to help you scale your store faster EBOOK: Why does my data in Google Analytics not match what I see in Shopify?

2019-05-27

How to fix marketing attribution for Safari ITP 2.3

The latest version of Safari limits the ability for Google Analytics (and any other marketing tags) to track users across domains, and between visits more than a day apart. Here’s how to get this fixed for your site. This article was updated 3rd October to clarify changes for ITP 2.3. How does this affect my analytics? Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) dramatically changes how you can attribute marketing on one of the web's most popular browsers, and ITP 2.1 makes this even more difficult. How will the changes affect your analytics? Currently your marketing attribution in Google Analytics (GA) relies on tracking users across different visits on the same browser with a first-party user cookie - set on your domain by the GA tracking code. GA assigns every visitor an anonymous ‘client ID’ so that the user browsing your website on Saturday can be linked to the same browser that comes back on Monday to purchase. In theory this user-tracking cookie can last up to 2 years from the date of the first visit (in practice, many users clear their cookies more frequently than that), but anything more than one month is good enough for most marketing attribution. ITP breaks that user tracking in two major ways: Any cookie set by the browser, will be deleted after 7 days (ITP 2.1)Any cookie set by the browser, after the user has come from a cross-domain link, will be deleted after one day (ITP 2.2)Any local storage set when the user comes from a cross domain link is wiped after 7 days of inactivity (ITP 2.3) This will disrupt your marketing attribution. Let’s take two examples. Visitor A comes from an affiliate on Saturday, and then comes back the next Saturday to purchase: Before ITP: sale is attributed to AffiliateAfter ITP: sale is attributed to ‘Direct’Why: 2nd visit is more than one day after the 1st Visitor B comes from a Facebook Ad to your latest blog post on myblog.com, and goes on to purchase: Before ITP: sale is attribute to FacebookAfter ITP: sale is attributed to ‘Direct’Why: the visit to the blog is not linked to the visit on another domain The overall effect will be an apparent increase in users and sessions from Safari, as the same number of user journeys are broken in down into more, shorter journeys. How big is the problem? This is a big problem! Depending on your traffic sources it is likely to affect between a quarter and a half of all your visits. The update (ITP 2.1) is included in Safari version 12.1 onwards for Mac OS and Safari Mobile. It does not affect Safari in-app browsing. Apple released iOS 12.2 and Mac OS 10.14.4 on 25th March 2019, and at the time of writing around 30% of all web visits came from these two browser versions on a sample of larger sites. The volume for your site may vary; you can apply this Google Analytics segment to see exactly how. The affected traffic will be greater if you have high mobile use or more usage in the US (where iPhones are more popular). Why is Apple making these changes? Apple has made a strong point of user privacy over the last few years. Their billboard ad at the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this year makes that point clearly! Although Google Chrome has overtaken Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox in popularity on the desktop, Safari maintains a very dominant position in mobile browsing due to the ubiquitous iPhone. Apple develops Safari to provide a secure web interface for their users, and with Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) they intended to reduce creepy retargeting ads following you around the web. Genuine web analytics has just been caught in the cross-fire. Unfortunately this is likely not to be the last attack on web analytics, and a permanent solution may not be around for some time. Our belief is that users expect companies to track them across ­their own branded websites and so the workarounds below are ethical and not violating the user privacy that Apple is trying to protect. How to fix this There are three outline fixes I would recommend. I’m grateful to Simo Ahava for his research on all the possible solutions. The right solution for your site depends on your server setup and the development resources you have available. If you’re lucky enough to use our  Shopify app the next version of our script will include solution 1 below. Contact our support team if you'd like to test the private beta version. For each solution, I’ve rated them out of three in these areas: Quick setup: how much development time it will take to solveCompatibility: how likely this is to work with different domain setupsLongevity: how likely this is to work for future updates to Safari ITP Update: Solutions 1 and 2, using local storage will no longer work with ITP 2.3 Solution 3: Server-side cookie service Quick setup * Compatibility *** Longevity *** In the long term, ITP may target the local storage API itself (which is already blocked in Private browsing mode). In ITP 2.3, the local storage is wiped after 7 days, along with cookies. So solution 3 securely sets the HTTPS cookie from your web server itself, rather than via a browser script. This also has the advantage of making sure any cross-domain links tracked using GA's linker plugin can last more than one day after the click-through with ITP 2.3. The downside is this requires either adapting your servers, proxy servers or CDN to serve a cookie for GA and adapt the GA client-side libraries to work on a web server. If your company uses Node.js servers or a CDN like Amazon CloudFront or Cloudflare this may be significantly easier to achieve. If you don’t have direct control of your server infrastructure it’s a non-starter. Also, a caveat is that Apple recommends settings cookies as HttpOnly to be fully future proof - but those would then be inaccessible by the GA client tracking. Full technical details. What about other marketing tags working on Safari? All other marketing tags which track users across more than one session or one subdomain are going to experience the same problem. With Google Ads the best solution is to  link your Ad account to Google Analytics, since this enables Google to use the GA cookie to  better attribute conversion in Google Ads reporting. Facebook will no doubt provide a solution of their own, but in the meantime you can also attribute Facebook spend in GA using Littledata’s  connection for Facebook Ads. Are there any downsides of making these changes? As with any technical solution, there are upsides and downsides. The main downside here is again with user privacy. Legally, you might start over-tracking users. By resetting cookies from the local storage that the user previously requested to be deleted, this could be violating a user’s right to be forgotten under GDPR. The problem with ITP is it is actually overriding the user’s preference to keep the cookie in usual circumstances, so there is no way of knowing the cookie was deleted by the user … or by Safari supposed looking out for the user! Unfortunately as with any customisation to the tracking code it brings more complexity to maintain, but I feel this is well worth the effort to maintain marketing attribution on one of the world's most popular browsers.

2019-05-24
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