How to track product page events using Littledata variables with Google Tag Manager

The product page is one of the most important places to capture data for any ecommerce store. It's a treasure trove of information on customer behavior, product performance, and, ultimately, conversions and revenue. But depending on your analytics setup, you might be sending data to different destinations—especially if you're using Google Tag Manager. The good news is Littledata is compatible with GTM, and actually improves the accuracy of your setup by using variables that give you deeper insight into the metrics you're collecting. In our newest courses episode, we'll show you how to track product page events using Littledata variables and your GTM setup to track more events and get more insight before you make critical decisions on your store. How to use Littledata Variables with GTM on the Product Page Setting up tracking in GTM for specific product page events is easy using Littledata's variables. All you need to do is set up an event trigger, make sure it's tracking the custom event you want, and label it. Once you have the trigger set up, you can connect it to a tag in your GTM setup and track it in your tags list. This allows you to track events like product name, brand, price, category, and so on. This whole process is expedited by using product variables from Littledata. These variables are stored in the templates section, and once you've selected the template you can search in the variables menu for the specific variable you want to track. From there, it's a simple copy and paste process to add the variable to the tag and start tracking. [tip]The world of analytics is changing—learn how to adapt to a world without third-party cookies in our latest white paper on first-party data.[/tip] Getting a more accurate picture of your store with Littledata and GTM Configuring a custom GTM setup can give you more hands-on control of your ecommerce store's analytics tracking than other solutions, but it also requires time to set up and maintain. If setup or maintenance isn't done properly, tags can break and you'll be left making decisions on incomplete or inaccurate data. Littledata's experts are happy to help you configure your own custom GTM setup, and using Littledata's variables takes some of the complications out of the equation by automating the process for you. If you want the ability to send data to many destinations while ensuring you're always seeing accurate data, then a custom GTM setup with Littledata's data layer could be just the right solution for you. Book a demo with our team to learn more or take advantage of the best deal in the ecommerce data game—30 days of Littledata's accurate tracking on your store absolutely free. [subscribe]

by Greg

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]

by Greg

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." 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Sales Performance Report The Sales Performance Report evaluates revenue and sales within a defined period of time at a glance. 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. 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. 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]

by Greg

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?

by Greg

How to create monetization reports in Google Analytics 4

Monetization—at the end of the day, this is what it's really all about for ecommerce brands. You need to know what's making you money and what isn't so you can continue to make improvements and grow. For many of us, when we think of analytics for our brand, monetization reports come to mind first. In Google Analytics 4, you can use these reports to see overall revenue from items, ads, and subscriptions, as well as what things specifically are generating revenue for you. While some of these reports are similar to the ecommerce reports in the old Universal Analytics, many are brand new in GA4. They're also not difficult to build and start using, so let's jump in and show you how to set them up for your store. [tip]Hear former Google's former Evangelist for Google Analytics Krista Seiden talk through everything you want to know about moving to GA4.[/tip] How to create monetization reports in GA4 When we talk about monetization reports, specifically this includes Overview reports, E-commerce Purchase reports, and Retention reports. GA4's new interface has a whole dropdown section dedicated to monetization reporting in the reports view, and this is where we'll start when building the report. After you navigate to this dropdown menu, selecting Overview will show you total revenue, total ad revenue, and ecommerce revenue. This report also shows your total number of purchasers (and first-time purchasers) along with the average purchase revenue per user. Comparing monetization for users based on demographics GA4 also allows you to use custom identifiers to create comparisons of different buyers so you can see revenue based on unique shoppers. To do this, click the 'Add comparison' icon in the top right of the report screen, then choose the specific identifiers you want to compare by. Watch the full walkthrough video below to see how to build ecommerce purchases and retention reports. How to use monetization reports Aside from the obvious usefulness as an insight into which of your products sell the most, monetization reports help you dig deeper into the nuances of where your revenue is coming from and what's really driving it. These reports will help you judge ad campaigns by attributing revenue, and help you zero in on your best buyers using custom identifiers to compare purchases made by different customers. The ecommerce report shows things like item views, purchases, purchase-to-view rate, and item purchase quantity—all of which will help you judge your product offerings and make changes if necessary. The retention report shows returning users compared with new users on your site, and even shows them by cohort, so you can determine how well you're doing at attracting repeat buyers—and what profile those buyers fit. Get more GA4 Making the move to GA4 is a process, but we've got you covered every step of the way. Use our resources below to make the switch painless. How to start off on the right foot with GA4 [Podcast] How to create source/medium reports in Google Analytics 4 How to create sales performance reports in Google Analytics 4 How to build customer behavior reports in Google Analytics 4 [tip]Want an expert's help setting up GA4 for your store? Book a call and talk to our team about how you can make the leap with just a few clicks.[/tip]

by Greg

Lunch with Littledata: Mapping the evolution of subscriptions with Awtomic

Subscription ecommerce is evolving more rapidly now than ever before—thanks in large part to the boom in subscription sellers. As with any rising new industry, though, some things are still a work in progress. The future of subscription ecommerce is no doubt bright, but many new brands still face similar issues. Whether it's costly construction for customer portals, poor tools for subscription management, or blind spots in critical analytics, jumping these roadblocks is a key first step on the road to subscription success. To explore how brands can make that leap and build a great subscription store, as well as how the subscription industry has grown and where it should aim to go, we spoke with Emily Yuhas, CEO and Founder of ecommerce subscription platform Awtomic. She shares how to set your store up for success from the start, gives her thoughts on the industry's growth and future, and explains why diving deep into data is a must for any subscription seller. Greg from Littledata: What's the story of Awtomic? Emily Yuhas: My sister has a brand where she sells body products on Shopify. Over the years, I had multiple conversations with her about what could be better about her process and how I could help. One thing that kept coming up was how frustrated she was with her subscription app—and not only from a usability standpoint. So I audited the most effective methods that top premium subscription brands were using and the reasons that their programs had been so successful. When I looked into how I would actually implement them for her brand, I realized that there wasn't a good solution. The only solution really was to hire a developer to build it all custom. That was surprising to me because a lot of the methods I’d seen really working—things like progressive discounts or personalized bundles, really easy customer portal experiences—those are pretty common. I realized each one of the companies that I’d seen using those had to reinvent the wheel and basically build things from scratch. That's what got me really excited when creating Awtomic—building those features into a platform that goes beyond "subscribe and save" and actually delivers really easy-to-use experiences for merchants and customers out of the box. It allows our users to focus on their brand while we go out and do the research on what the most important tools are for subscription ecommerce. Then we make those easily available and constantly evolve as a platform to support our brands that way. Greg: There are a huge number of new subscription services that likely have similar issues to your sister too thanks to the recent DTC boom. What has it been like for you to see that growth and have brands adopt your product? Emily: Overall it’s really exciting. It goes to show how many merchants want to offer subscriptions because it's such an effective way to build that recurring revenue to really create a community and relationships with your customers. I think it's also really interesting to reflect on how far we’ve come. Just a few years ago, subscriptions felt kind of scammy. If you think back even, say, five years ago—you have a lot of people who had a visceral reaction of, ‘Oh, I didn't know I was signing up for a subscription. And then I got charged again. And then I had to call and stay on the phone for an hour to cancel. And then I had to cancel my credit card.’ That's just terrible, right? We've come a long way from that in a short amount of time. Now, there's a lot more transparency—a lot more consumer trust. Subscriptions are becoming accepted as a great way to automate purchases of products that you love. I think that's reflected in the growth of subscription services, the growth of merchants that want to offer subscriptions, and the overall growth of consumers who want to purchase subscriptions. So it's a really exciting space. What I constantly see when I look at the industry is how early we still are in it. When you compare the scammy days to where we are now, and then look forward to what it can become, we're still not at a place where subscriptions are actually the most convenient way necessarily to purchase products—but they really should be. I think there's a huge amount of opportunity to make it a lot easier for people to purchase the products that they use every day. “We're still not at a place where subscriptions are actually the most convenient way necessarily to purchase products—but they really should be.” Greg: How should stores go about adding subscription selling—or improving their current subscription offering? Emily: I think that a lot of merchants, when they add subscriptions, do it almost as an afterthought. They add the “subscribe and save” option and then just leave it at that. There's so much benefit to be had from starting from the point of thinking about your consumers and how they're going to use your product. Do customer interviews. Look at historical orders. Understand things like how often customers get refills of your products. Ask yourself “Which of my products work best for subscriptions?” Not every product in your store is a sure-fire fit. Think about things from your business’ perspective, as well. Ask “how many items do I need to sell together to reduce shipping costs?” I think those thought processes combined can build a really great subscription program. A lot of times we come at things from a very transactional view and think about how we can drive more sales now. Instead, make that mental shift to consider the long-term relationship with a customer. You don't want a customer who's going to subscribe every week and then cancel after three weeks because they have too many items in their drawer. You want to find the customer who subscribes closer to every month and a half (or whatever their exact usage is) and stays for years. If you get buyers to the point where they're actually getting your product when they want it and when they need it, that's when they retain and you build that long-term relationship. Greg: Awtomic offers a handful of advanced features. Can you recommend any that help merchants with customization that works better for their consumers? Emily: Absolutely. We’re really excited about our build-a-box feature. It's something that was a huge gap in the market—being able to sell a customized box of products and then make it easy for customers to manage it on an ongoing basis. A lot of times you’d see personalization on purchase, but then the buyer is stuck with that selection going forward and it’s difficult to make changes. We focused on making that feature a really seamless experience with our app and we found that it works across a lot of verticals. We see it work really well with pets, household, beauty, drinks, or meal services. But what's really great about it is it's an example of a feature that works for both consumers and merchants and makes that relationship stronger. Greg: Right. It helps subscribers get the exact products they want delivered via their subscription instead of thinking it's easier to just go to the store and buy individual items. Emily: Absolutely. We have some brands that come to us who have either had something like this in the past or know they need to offer it. But we also have a lot of brands who have been direct to consumer for many years and introduce it because it's part of our platform, which we love. It's just so easy. It's not something they have to go seek out and do custom development for. There was one case where I did a strategy session with a brand that had never considered doing this before. We set it up for her within a few minutes and that week I saw her average order value go from around $8 to around $30. It was just bonkers to see that happen so quickly all because it was something that resonated really well with her customers. They didn't mind purchasing in larger quantities and she gave them a bit of a discount for that. Ultimately, it's much better for her operationally and for her buyers. [tip]Learn three tactics that can help better your subscription sales.[/tip] Greg: Are there any other subscription selling strategies you've seen stand out? Emily: I would say the most important thing that still gets overlooked is transparency and flexibility. There's a reason that you see a lot of sites say “cancel any time” or “skip or pause when you want to” because that's really important for consumers. I’ve experienced it as a subscription enthusiast with products that I personally love. There's just a reality that sometimes we go on vacation or forget to use everything we got in a shipment—things that are part of life. It's frustrating when I can't go in and just say, “I don't need this right now.” Maybe my situation has changed and I want to change the thing that I'm subscribed to. Maybe I just want a new scent of soap. Whatever it is, I should be able to do those things quickly and easily. It's still the case with so many subscriptions that I'm on that I try to go manage them and I can't even get into my account. Then when I finally get there, there's no pause button. "Your subscribers are a special class of customers and they should be treated that way." Those are the things that drive me nuts as a consumer and they make me feel negatively about a brand, which is such a shame because it's a brand that I've already decided that I love. I think if you do nothing else, transparency and flexibility are the most important thing. I'm also a huge believer in subscriptions as memberships. Your subscribers are a special class of customers and they should be treated that way. Brands that really lean into that end up retaining their customers longer. That can mean anything from giving subscribers exclusive access to upcoming products to special discounts across the store. I think it's really cool when brands are mission-driven as well. We work with coffee companies who source from very specific communities and they can share more about the people in the communities with their subscribers as special content, maybe even live videos. As we come out of the pandemic, you could even think about potentially organizing live events for your subscribers. There's just so much opportunity to engage your subscriber community—these people who have already expressed that they really like your products and your brand. The more brands think about their subscribers as long-term relationships that they want to maintain, the more successful they'll be. Greg: Does that approach help with lifetime value as well? Emily: Absolutely. I think it helps with conversion, too, because buyers see if they subscribe to a product, they’re not just going to get a 10% discount. They’re going to become a member of this community and get all these other perks. Wine clubs have been doing this for a long time. If you're a wine club member, you get your shipment, but you also get free tastings when you come to the winery and you get treated like a VIP. You can book tables where others can't. You might get access to special dinners and other events. You can go visit other wineries associated with the one you joined. It’s a great model that's been around for a long time that can apply to almost any brand really. Greg: How important is data in subscription selling—and to your users specifically? Emily: Data is very important for subscription selling. Our users that are most successful with subscriptions care most about their data. It's only going to become more important as brands need to lean into subscriptions and recurring revenue. As we see marketing costs and cost of acquisition going way up, the reality is that subscriptions can absolutely be optimized. And like I said, a lot of folks come into it, just throw up the “subscribe and save” option and move on. But if you really start looking at the data, you can start to understand what products perform the best as subscriptions. You can even see what products are good ones to be added to subscriptions, even if they're just one-time add-ons. You’ll see what frequencies perform best. If your customers are subscribed monthly, you’ll see if they end up having a higher LTV. You’ll understand why people are canceling. Some of the most successful brands we work with will actually call their customers and ask them for a cancellation reason and how they could have been better. Data helps you deeply understand why people are canceling and what products people buy together. Could those be sold as bundles and increase AOV? You'll understand what discount incentives resonate with people. On our platform, you can easily even run experiments where you try different discounts and see if that impacts your conversion rate. You can see how people are engaging with your customer portal. Are they skipping often? Are they ordering now or are they swapping their products a lot? What are they swapping to? All of these things are data points that merchants really should be looking at on a regular basis. Understanding their customers' behavior and understanding the performance of their subscriptions will help them make their subscription program much stronger. Those who do see their proportion of subscribing customers go up. Ultimately, as soon as you get someone to a subscription, their lifetime value increases significantly. Greg: Do you see your users taking that data and creating personas of their top buyers and then retargeting them? Emily: I do. I think there's so much opportunity to do this specifically with subscribers. I would say it's actually really surprised me. We often do strategy sessions with our customers. One thing we talk about right off the bat is thinking about your marketing, messaging, and how you can target subscribers specifically. A lot of brands have that one lazy subscription option on and just continue marketing as if they're marketing one-time. But really understanding “who are the customers who become subscribers? How do I target them? What are the personas within?” That’s a really valuable way to increase subscriptions. For brands who do that, subscriptions pretty quickly become a really primary part of their offering. [tip]Profile and target leads that match your best customers using Facebook's Conversions API to run dynamic ads.[/tip] Greg: Right. It's understanding the difference in kinds of customers to find out, like you said, people who are going to stick around, who are looking for that membership, who are looking to get a product on a regular basis and are willing to pay for a subscription. Emily: Yeah, absolutely. I've started to see some behavior differences even in the types of products some of our brands will offer. Things like a discovery box or some kind of one-time purchase that indicates that the person is interested in trying something with the idea of potentially becoming a subscriber. Those are lead-ins to subscriptions that help identify different types of customers for you. Greg: Are there any specific metrics that your users look to the most? Emily: I would say the top-level metrics that people look at are overall subscriptions, number of buyers active/paused/canceled, involuntary churn, voluntary churn, revenue from subscriptions, and average order value. But again, I think there's so much opportunity to go deeper here. Those brands that do go deeper, they look using things like retention by cohort. That's a huge one to look at. It helps people understand which customers are retaining, what they did, and why they stayed. Being able to look at retention by product, buy by frequency—understanding how these things actually impact customers’ behavior and longevity. Looking at product performance, not only with subscription but which products pair well together for subscription or as one-time add-ons. Understanding cancellation rates and why people are canceling.Going deeper into the voluntary and involuntary churn. Our platform has a lot of advanced functionality around reducing involuntary churn. We actually give merchants some tooling to experiment there with different numbers and intervals of reach-out attempts via SMS. So there's a lot of optimization to be done there. Also, again, cancellation reasons give merchants the ability to constantly evolve as they get that feedback. Another area is discounts and incentives. There's the basic "subscribe and save 10%," but you can go so much further than that. You can reward people for a number of products that they have in their subscription. You could reward people for longevity on the platform or how many people they've referred. I think all of these things are metrics that merchants can watch as they play with the different settings and experiments and get feedback from customers. [tip]Go deeper on your data with the ultimate guide to subscription analytics.[/tip] Greg: Are there major challenges that you see facing a lot of subscription sellers right now or down the road that they need to be aware of? Emily: A big one we already discussed is that we can't just rely on that simple subscribe and save discount to convert and retain people anymore. That's a very basic level entry point and it's not going to be the thing that keeps people long-term. What I see is this lean into changing your mindset around not really thinking of these as transactional relationships, but thinking of them as long-term relationships and really building community and depth in that relationship. That's what will set the brands apart. That will end up really winning this game. Greg: You mentioned the lack of a development team in the beginning as a blocker for some subscription sellers. Do you have any thoughts on the impact of the no-code movement and how it could affect the future of ecommerce apps like yours? Emily: I think overall it's a really positive thing. In the past ecommerce brands have had to kind of be half ecommerce and half tech company. That just doesn't make sense. Development costs are extremely high. To have engineers on staff is incredibly expensive. What's so great about Shopify and a lot of the no-code solutions out there, including Awtomic, is that they make it so that you don't need developers, but you can still get a lot of the same power, capability, and even flexibility. It gives you the ability to still express your brand and uniqueness, but not have to be in the deep plumbing of how everything pipes through to orders and fulfillment and inventory. I think our app and other no-code apps on Shopify make it so that you don't need to invest in custom solutions when they shouldn't need to be custom. That, I think, will have a big impact on which brands win as well. Actually, there's been a really interesting trend I've been seeing where larger brands that already have custom solutions are looking for how they can get off those solutions and onto apps and platforms that will do it for them because of the platform benefits they would get. In a sense, it's free development. They don't have to constantly invest in development costs themselves and maintenance. They also get flexibility from the platform as apps like Awtomic continuously do research and invest in improving the capabilities they get to unlock as they come online. They don't have to have someone on their team go out and do the research, go design, go build with a team, maintain the thing forever, constantly change it, and have that lack of flexibility. They actually get more flexibility from being part of a platform. I think ultimately the no-code movement's most impactful effect is empowering ecommerce brands to focus on the things that they want to do and do best without having to effectively become tech companies to be able to offer those functionalities. Greg: Is there anything on the horizon for Awtomic that you'd like to share? Emily: We're always thinking about how can we really deepen relationships between merchants and their consumers. So, we're working a lot on bridging the gap between what it means to be a subscriber and what it means to be a member. Of course, we’re also leaning into a lot of the features that differentiate us already, like our build-a-box and helping merchants sell more and become more operationally optimized. We’re really working to make the consumer experience as powerful and easy to use as possible. I think that's something that's really unique about our team. We come from a user experience and tech background, so from the beginning, we focused a lot on the ease of access and usability of our portal. Constantly moving the needle on making our app experience really delightful is so important to us. Quick Links: Littledata and Awtomic join forces to elevate subscription ecommerce management 4 tips for creating a powerful subscription experience Lunch with Littledata: How to take a Smartrr approach to subscriptions 3 ways to better your subscription sales How to win with subscription selling on BigCommerce

by Greg

Why Google Analytics 4 is so important to your ecommerce store [Podcast]

Good decisions start with good data. That's not just a phrase we like to toss around here at Littledata—it's a mantra we live by because we've seen it ring true across the ecommerce landscape. But as the analytics world is rapidly changing amid wider privacy regulation, increased tracking prevention, and third-party cookies going away, getting that good, accurate data is more of a challenge. That's why it's not enough to simply add the right apps to your tech stack to collect accurate data. You need to choose a smart place to see that data and act on it as well. For us—and tens of millions around the world—Google Analytics is the simplest and most powerful way to report your store data. Of course, as you may have heard, Google Analytics is getting an overhaul. Google Analytics 4 is on the way and will replace the old version of GA officially on July 1, 2023. While many have already jumped in to see the new look and features, reactions have been mixed. Our Head of Customer Success Bianca Dihoiu joined the Milkbottle Labs podcast to explain just what's so great about GA4 and why it's so important for your ecommerce store. Why GA4 is so important for your ecommerce store Speaking with host Keith Matthews, Bianca explains that getting your data flowing to Google Analytics—especially when using a data platform like Littledata—gives you a single source of truth for all metrics on your store. Customer Lifetime Value, marketing attribution, return on ad spend, conversion rate for specific products: these are just the high-level metrics you can see in GA. During their discussion they jump right in on GA4, covering: What GA4 is and how it's different from the old GA The best new features in GA4 How to build reports and use the new dashboard Why GA4 is a strong solution now and in the future Check out the full episode below. Get more GA4 Need more resources to get ready to make the switch? We've got you covered. Google Analytics 4: Ready to make the switch? How to build customer behavior reports in Google Analytics 4 How to create sales performance reports in Google Analytics 4 How to create source/medium reports in Google Analytics 4 [subscribe]

by Greg

3 ways to start using first-party data for ecommerce

First-party data is the buzzword floating all about the ecommerce world—and for good reason. As you probably know already, third-party cookies are soon to be no more. Add in the overhaul that iOS 14's tracking opt-out and other intelligent tracking prevention brought about, and getting accurate metrics on attribution and customer behavior looks a whole lot different to marketers than ever before. That's where first-party data collection comes to the rescue to save your campaign reporting. First-party data is data you collect directly from a user, and it's about to become the standard for data collection across the ecommerce landscape. To help you learn more about first-party data—and start using it yourself—we have three helpful posts covering different first-party data solutions and how they fit into your marketing strategy. 10 reasons to switch to server-side tracking for ecommerce analytics Server-side tracking is a method of collecting first-party data via a cloud-based server rather than by taking data directly from a website visitor's browser (known as client-side tracking). In addition to being a more secure way to process data, server-side tracking complies with new privacy regulations and is not disrupted by ad blockers. There are numerous benefits server-side provides, and we've got 10 of them for you to check out in this blog post. How to run dynamic Facebook ads with Facebook Conversions API While there are plenty of promotion methods available to ecommerce store owners today, PPC and social ads still reign supreme as the top option. From top DTC brands to small startup stores, ads are a great way to get your product in front of ideal buyers using personalized ads to convert leads into sales. Of course, ad blockers and tracking prevention has changed the way brands can leverage this tool. To help you learn how to keep personalized ads that return on spend, we have a guide on how to create dynamic Facebook ads using Facebook's Conversions API (CAPI). How to build customer behavior reports in Google Analytics 4 Marketing methods aren't the only things that need changing in our new first-party data world. Reporting on your marketing efforts requires the same overhaul—and we can show you how to do it with the newest version of Google Analytics (GA). GA4 comes with tons of new custom reporting features and advanced capabilities previously only available to paid users. That includes the ability to use more custom dimensions to build detailed reports on customer behavior. One of the more helpful reports we recommend using is behavior reports. They allow you to see what customers are doing once they make it to your store, and what they do when they're at the checkout. Plus, setting these reports up in GA4 only takes a few minutes, as you'll see in our how-to video on creating shopping and checkout behavior reports. [subscribe]

by Greg

Try the top-rated Google Analytics app for Shopify stores

Get a 30-day free trial of Littledata for Google Analytics or Segment