Lunch with Littledata: Can an agency like Blend help multiply your revenue?
Want to learn from DTC founders and entrepreneurs shaking up their industries? Check out the other entries in our Lunch with Littledata series. Every ecommerce store wants to grow. The path toward that growth, however, can look different depending on a wide range of factors. Your revenue, your current team, your benchmark targets — they all come into play. Working with a Shopify agency like Blend is a tactic some of the most successful ecommerce businesses have used to develop their startup stores into household names. But before making the decision to bring agency help on, you need to know all the things they can do for you and how they would fit into your overall work flow. In this installment of Lunch with Littledata, we spoke with Blend co-founder and CEO Adam Pearce to discuss how he founded the agency, the approach they take to helping different clients, and what you need to know about your store to make the decision to bring an agency on and multiply your revenue. Greg from Littledata: How did you start Blend? Adam Pearce: Like every good business: a few too many beers and putting large plans into interaction, really. I met my business partner Peter about six or seven years ago in Dubai and, incidentally, we’re married to two girls who are sisters. So my business partner is actually my brother-in-law, and we’re kind of a family business. When when we met, both of us were working completely different careers — Peter was a city surveyor and I was a teacher. Over a period of time, we both went on different paths. He started out with apps and found this thing called Shopify. I went down the sales and marketing route and became a marketing director for an app company. So we knew we both had skills in a similar area. Meanwhile, people kept talking about Shopify and I'm like “yeah, yeah, whatever — it’s just another flash in the pan.” As time went on we knew it was time to actually create something together. Back then — about four or five years ago — there weren't many agencies out there giving people both a Shopify site and the marketing that would sit very neatly with it. So we both quit our jobs and that's exactly the service we created. We started our business around the kitchen table, and four and a half years later, we’re up to 18 employees in two different countries. What an awesome origin story. So how is it having that kind of family business? What are the relationships like? It's good. I mean, it isn't without its ups and downs. Over the course of those four years, we had to go from being friends to brothers-in-law to business partners, and then balance all those things. And for a period of time, our wives were both quite active in the business as well. There was an interesting dynamic there where I'd be working on something with my wife at work, and then going home and trying to switch up from that. The Blend Commerce family. What we learned — particularly me and Peter — is that when you have an issue or something bothering you, you have to get it out into the open. We've got a really open relationship now where if there's something that we need to talk about, we'll get it talked about straight away. Because we had a period where we both didn’t want to have any sort of confrontation or discuss anything difficult — what we would call “real conversations” essentially. We actually got to a point about ten years ago where we felt we didn't really want to be in business together anymore. But we had a very big outside discussion/argument and off the back of it, we did a thing called an Insights Profile. What we discovered is that both of us have good ideas, but we attack them from different angles. That was literally the point at which our business started to skyrocket. I would say to anyone who works with family, getting comfortable having those difficult conversations early on is by far the best piece of advice to give. How important would you say analytics are to the clients you have, and what tools do they use? When it comes to analytics, the first time you mention it to the client you're probably going to get a look of fear. I think the major issue is that a lot of people in ecommerce have fooled around in Google Analytics. They’ve been to that nice pretty GA homepage with those lovely little graphs. But then they get a little bit deeper and find all this data inside and think, “where the hell do I start?” The key thing we realized is, as an agency, there’s no point in us using a tool like Google analytics and just sending clients report after report. A lot of the clients that we work with want a smaller subset of information. "The absolute worst thing you can do is not know both the story behind the data and the rationale behind that story." We try and help tell a story with that data. Because the absolute worst thing you can do is not know both the story behind the data and the rationale behind that story. You know as well as I do that you can take data and cut it in different ways to tell different stories. But if you give the rationale to explain why you cut it in that way, you aren't hiding anything. In terms of tools our clients use, there's probably a big mix out there. A lot of people will be using Google Analytics in different ways. But there are other specific tools that have latched onto over time as well. So obviously, the pandemic had a huge effect on ecommerce. A lot of stores saw a big surge in demand. Did you guys make any adjustments during it? And do you have any plans in place for a post-pandemic ecommerce world? Yeah, we actually had a pretty big change. Initially from a business point of view, like many we were thinking “are we going to be OK or do we need to cut back a bit?” Then after a period of about four to six weeks, we were getting a lot of extra demand from clients. One of the interesting stats that we discovered — particularly for pet brands we worked with — is that in a three-month period they increased their revenue by 600% year on year. So in that context, we found that a lot of people we work with were dealing with this big level of growth that they’ve never dealt with before. Some of these brands only had a staff of one or two people. From a management standpoint, they would say things to us like, “what am I supposed to do with this traffic? I'm having problems with inventory. I don't want to lose the benefit of the analytics tracking that I've got. I'm still spending on Facebook ads, but do I need to?” They had all these different things going on. Then thanks to their increased revenue, they’re also saying things like, “we want to do a project to redevelop our website. And actually, we still need you to do the maintenance. Oh, by the way, can we get some strategic advice?” When we started out, we were very much a project agency. About a year or so in, we saw that actually wasn't working for us. We had a very famous incident where we started a project for forty thousand dollars and in the end, we lost twelve thousand dollars on it. That was it was a pretty big learning curve. We decided to switch to a retainer model which worked really well for the clients and for us. But, in the pandemic, we saw that between a defined retainer approach vs. defined project vs. defined maintenance, people want to dip into all of them, so we set things up to be a lot more flexible. That's when we had the idea of an on-demand digital department. Now if you’re a brand that's growing, when you come to work with us you’re going to have the equivalent of a full-time employee within your business. You could be using us for Klaviyo marketing or maintenance on your site or even redeveloping your product prototype. What we work on doesn't have to be that set, and equally, month-to-month people can change their priorities based on the recommendations we're making for them. But, I've got to admit that like a lot of people in ecommerce, we have been very lucky to have been able to grow. And obviously, that's because our clients have been growing right there with us. When would you say is the best time for a Shopify store to hire an expert like Blend? For me, it's all about percentage of revenue. There were some informal studies done a little while back that said that you need to spend between three and five percent of your total revenue on things like store development and SEO if you want to maintain your current level of growth as a Shopify merchant. They also found that if you want to grow, spending five to eight percent of revenue would help you move beyond where you are at that moment. Now if you're looking at those numbers and saying, “well five to eight percent, there's no way I could commit that at the moment,” then my point of view would be to continue doing what you can manage, then get an expert agency when you hit a higher revenue point. If you're looking at three to five percent and saying “yeah, we can do that now,” I would say it's worthwhile to do it because ultimately, this is a results-driven industry that we're in. If you’re between $5,000 to $10,000 a week, you’re certainly at the point where hiring an expert agency makes sense. I wouldn't say there’s a particular revenue level you need to reach either. Obviously, if you're getting $100 a week coming through Shopify, $5 isn't going to go far with an agency. But if you’re between $5,000 to $10,000 a week, you’re certainly at the point where hiring an expert agency makes sense, plus you've got the budget an agency would be interested in. For the stores that have the right budget and are trying to decide between an agency or hiring someone in-house, what do you think the advantages are for doing the agency? The main benefit for going the agency route is that when you employ someone within your business, regardless of what their skills are, you're always going to have around a six to 12-week lag before they can reach full capacity. A lot of our clients say the benefit of having one of our developers work with them is that we do a briefing session, we start planning, then we start working. If you're bringing a developer into your business, you need to bed them in, handle onboarding, all that stuff. Another benefit for the agency route is that when you hire someone full time — and this is particularly true in the past year — no one really knows what the economy's doing and what might happen. So, depending on where you’re located and what employment status you need to use, it can be a bit of a risk. If someone joins the business and you decide actually, we can't afford them, it's quite a difficult and very emotionally draining process to let them go. With an agency, if you decide you can't afford them or don't want to work with them anymore, typically speaking, it’s only a month to a couple of months before you know if you’re going to have to say bye-bye. You also haven't got that emotional aspect to deal with. An agency expedites that time to get people hitting the ground running and brings the energy and manpower it takes to actually manage a member of staff. Is there a way that an ecommerce store could audit their website and their promotion methods to determine what they might need to improve? I've always been super impressed with Littledata’s different data insights and reports. Particularly what you guys have done with benchmark rates for things like conversion, drop-off rate, bounce rate, etc. Those are good sticking points because when you're running a business, you almost operate in a vacuum. It's unlikely you're going to have a bunch of people doing exactly the same things with the same product that you have. So if you're an apparel brand, you might talk to someone that you've met who's got a food brand, but his CPM and conversion rates are going to be massively different from yours. Tip: Get benchmarks for your ecommerce business against others in your industry with a 30 day free trial of Littledata's platform. The main thing is to get hold of some data as a benchmark. Yes, it's just a benchmark, but you need to know how close or far away you are from those targets. The ones that you’re farthest away from, start fixing that first. Then work slowly but surely back through the others. Don't try and just fix something straight away. Find the most problematic thing you've got at the moment in terms of benchmarking your stats, work on it, fix it, and move on. That's my honest advice for how to work out what you need to do. How has data helped blend grow and succeed over the years? When it comes to data, the most key information for us tends to be around the number of leads we can get from our site based on the content that we put out. The data that has always been important for us is looking at UTM codes, where traffic is coming from, and what the actual conversions are to a call. We can see if someone clicks on a particular blog post and their user journey through the site is X, they have a 20 percent higher probability of converting to a sale than if they followed through another journey. So we try and navigate people to the particular areas of our site which are successful. We then use UI and UX to navigate people through that winning path with the hope that we then get them onto a call and obviously convert them. That's from our point of view. The other side is that when we work with a new client, we're always starting with a data point. When we first meet a client, they’ll usually show us their current site and point out what they want to change. When we ask what that change is based on, they usually say “well, it just feels like that's what we need to do.” It's really interesting that when you look into the data, particularly if you're using things like heat mapping software or looking at different analytics for site behavior, there are some things that that DTC brand owners understand very well and there are things they might feel come out of nowhere. It's hard when you’re so ingrained in a business to sit back and look at things like which website pages convert compared to others. That's where agencies like us are helpful because we can be that fresh set of eyes, look at the data side, and help make fixes. The clients win and we win because it means business. So data is important through and through. Right, it helps them get to that “a-ha” moment so they can understand where they might be losing a lot of attribution or where they can make website improvements. Exactly. Exactly. Do you think there’s one client of yours that you could say has been your most successful client? If so, why have they been your most successful? I like this question. There are a few different examples, and I can actually give two. The first one is a DTC startup brand that we worked with about three years ago. The founder had to dream and came to us to make it happen. We worked with her on designing the store, running the marketing, and started her on one of the biggest promotion methods at the time — Facebook groups. At that point, they were becoming a lot more important for developing a community for marketing. Within the first six to eight weeks, we got a heck of a lot of traction from those Facebook groups. The growth enabled that one founder, within two and a half years, to build a team of 10 people. They've got locations of different countries. They’ve got excellent margins. For me, that was a tremendous success because we've helped that one person not only get their dream but then take it even further. The other client I’d mention knew that their business had a lot of potential when they started working with us. They also had some ideas of what they wanted to do. Off the back of those ideas, we did an in-person workshop and found a lot of information that we just wouldn't have covered from simply looking at their data. We worked out that they had a lot of things happening on the operations side of the business impacting their ability to sell products. Now, in the time that I've been working with that client, they've actually 6x-ed their revenue and 8x-ed their profitability. That was a massive win because we were involved with something that transformed their business. Although ecommerce can feel a little bit devoid of being people-focused at times, I really like those kinds of success stories where you hear about the impact it makes on people. Ecommerce is a fantastic opportunity to do that. Particularly when we think about people like you and me as partners, the people working on the supply chain, people that make the product — there's a lot of people's lives that it touches. For me, that’s a massive buzz. We've noticed that ReCharge seems to be growing really fast, especially in the UK right now. Has that been your experience too? Massively. We partnered with ReCharge three or four years ago now. At the time we started, subscriptions were a much bigger business in the US. But in the past 18 months, there's been a massive boom in subscriptions in the UK, particularly on things that we like. Things like beer, like gin, like food (laughs). But I think you also see it in more unusual subscription items, like clothing, for example. I think it stemmed from the fact that people have become a lot more comfortable with buying through subscriptions overall. It was a bit of an alien concept to the UK market. The great thing with ReCharge is that they have that core focus of their tool being wholly on subscriptions. Yes, there are other options out there in terms of subscriptions, but our experience has been that ReCharge really does know their stuff very well. And, importantly, they look after their customers absolutely goldenly. That's important for us as an agency because when our clients work with partners like ReCharge, we want to feel like we're passing them on to safe hands. We've always been super impressed with ReCharge in that respect. With Shopify opening up the checkout, people were questioning what would happen with subscription services. But as we've seen in the past month or so that what ReCarge is doing is very distinct from what Shopify’s doing. It's much more focused toward those higher growth merchants than people who are starting out on the Shopify side. You work a lot with Klaviyo as well. Are email campaigns for subscription ecommerce pretty different from the email campaigns for nonsubscription? They are. It’s one of the areas that a lot of people get into trouble with because they don’t always make the connection that the process you need to take with email marketing is different for subscriptions. A prime example where we’ve seen a lot of clients we work with fall down is abandoned carts. For example, let's say I’ve got a gin subscription box, you happen to be a subscription customer, and you go and look at a particular gin on my site which may be part of your subscription. Because you’ve looked at that on my site and technically “browsed abandoned,” you’re going to get an email from me saying, “Hey! I caught you peeking at X, Y, Z, gin — get 10 percent off your next purchase for it here.” That's a surefire way for me to annoy you. And it’s one of the things that you have to be very, very careful with. You need to be sure you’re taking people out of certain flows in Klaviyo who are part of subscriptions. Secondly, when it comes to subscriptions, you need to do a lot more communication on email than you do for one-time purchasing. That’s because a) subscriptions are very valuable in terms of revenue, and b) the level of connection in that subscription customer is going to be higher. They're going to expect more from you. It's a fine line of getting the communication right. But as long as you are, as a starting point, separating emails off for singles versus subscriptions, then you should be on a good path. Quick links Learn everything you need to know about subscriptions and subscription analyticsFind out why so many ecommerce stores are using Facebook's conversions APISee how coffee maker Grind pivoted from brick and mortar to £500,000 monthly ecommerce revenueBoost your customer retention with 11 tested and trusted retention strategies
Shopify Analytics: Everything You Need to Know
Every good business runs on good data. It doesn’t matter if you’re choosing a store design, analyzing your marketing, or setting revenue targets, it all comes back to what the data tells you. On the flip side, running on bad data can lead to your store whiffing on those big decisions. That’s where, if you’re a Shopify store, Shopify Analytics (and other analytics options) come into play. In this post, we’re going to: Break down what Shopify Analytics doesDiscuss Shopify Analytics’ limitationsShare tools that can give you deep, accurate data and drive revenueShow you how to add powerful data tools to your ecommerce store What does Shopify Analytics do? Built within its platform, Shopify has an analytics tracker that allows you to generate data based on your store’s performance. This data includes high-level metrics like your total store sessions, number of sales, returning customers, and the average value of orders placed. Shopify Analytics' overview dashboard gives you a snapshot of your store's high-level metrics. Metrics like these help you get a snapshot of how visitors are interacting with your store. That way, you can pinpoint elements of your website to tweak or update based on what the data is telling you and continue to improve your metrics overall. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more popular metrics that Shopify Analytics displays within its overview dashboard: Total Sales: This metric displays the total revenue your store has generated over a specific date range minus costs like shipping and taxes.Online Store Sessions: The online store sessions metric counts the total number of customers who visited your site in a given date range, including repeat visitors.Returning Customer Rate: Returning customer rate shows the percentage of customers who have purchased from your store more than once. These customers are valuable due to their loyalty and subsequent higher lifetime value.Online Store Conversion Rate: Conversion rate tracks the number of visits that led to a purchase.Average Order Value (AOV): Average order value is calculated by taking your total order revenue and dividing it by the number of orders. The first step to using these metrics to improve your store is knowing where to find them. How to use Shopify Analytics Shopify displays data and reports about your store’s performance within its “Overview Dashboard.” The Overview Dashboard also allows you to carry out a range of basic data analyses. This includes: Comparing the value of your current sales to a previous date rangeTracking how many sales you receive from a variety of marketing channelsGenerating your AOVTracking your site trends over time To access this Overview Dashboard, start from your Shopify admin page and go to Analytics > Dashboards. The dashboard will display data generated from today and compare it to the day before. You can change this date range by selecting the date menu. You can also change the comparison period for this data by clicking compare to previous dates, then Apply and your data will be generated. You can then select “View report,” which gives you a more detailed analysis of your chosen metric. Be aware, however, that not all metrics will generate in your report. The metrics you can see will depend on the Shopify plan you are currently on. What analytics are in Shopify If your store uses Shopify Lite, your analytics report will show you a basic range of metrics, including the overview dashboard, finance reports, and analytics about your products. To access detailed reports like visitor behavior analysis or marketing and sales reports, you will need to upgrade to the Basic Shopify plan or higher. Shopify Analytics can generate a few other metrics beyond the most high-level ones mentioned above. Incorporating these into your data strategy is also important to maximize marketing attribution and revenue. Sales Metrics Some of the most valuable sales metrics generated through Shopify Analytics include: Total sales - the amount of revenue that was generated through your online store or your Point Of Sale if you have a physical storefront.Sales Source - this lists the sources from which your sales generated (i.e. social media channels, ads, or direct traffic.)Total orders - this metric displays the total number of orders generated through both your ecommerce store and your physical store. Customer Metrics Top products by units sold - This metric shows the items in your store which sold the most by volume, helping you identify your most popular offerings.Top site landing pages - This indentifies the most frequent landing pages on your site where visitors started a session.Returning customer rate - This gives the percentage of customers who have bought from you repeatedly in a selected time period. Shopify Behavior Reports Shopify also provides behavior reports which record customer actions on your site and allow you to: Track how your online store conversions have changed over time.Determine the top online searches for your product.Track how your product recommendations change over a given period. Shopify Analytics' behavior reports help you drill down into how key metrics have changed over time. All these metrics can play a key part in your overall marketing strategy and help you improve marketing attribution. But to make the best decisions for your business, you need truly accurate data — something Shopify Analytics has a spotty record with. Is Shopify Analytics good? Shopify Analytics is a good tool overall for what it is: an out-of-the-box solution for basic analytics tracking on your ecommerce store. Shopify Analytics provides the top-level metrics to give you a broad snapshot of your store’s health and customer behavior. But it lacks the detailed reports of a more robust analytics service like Google Analytics. What is Shopify analytics lacking? Unfortunately, Shopify Analytics also has a poor history when it comes to accuracy. Shopify Analytics’ tracking has shown to be both unreliable and incomplete. In fact, an analysis conducted of Shopify Analytics found that for every 100 orders tracked in Shopify Analytics, 12 go missing. There are a handful of other shortcomings those who rely on Shopify Analytics as their main data source face, as well. These include: Cross-domain tracking being setup incorrectlyServer-side tracking is missingSales data doesn't segment between first-time purchases and recurring transactions (subscriptions)Refunds not included in Google Analytics Many of Shopify Analytics’ shortcomings obscure traffic sources and disrupt attribution tracking. As an example, when customers check out on your Shopify store they’re redirected to a Shopify domain, causing the visitor’s session to end suddenly — even if they are in the process of buying an item. This affects what Shopify Analytics shows as their last click and takes away from the power of the data you’re collecting. So, is there a better way to track referrals sources, collect customer behavior metrics, and ensure accurate analytics? Yes: using a more powerful analytics tool like Google Analytics. Shopify Analytics vs. Google Analytics Google Analytics (GA) is a household name for analytics reporting across nearly every industry. In fact, it’s the world’s most popular marketing analytics platform, used by 98% of online stores. While both Shopify Analytics and GA offer unique benefits, store owners who opt for GA get more data for their dollar. We can see this first hand on a metric like sales by traffic source. Tip: Read our full ebook on why Shopify Analytics and Google Analytics don't match, plus how to fix it for your store. Littledata looked at 180,000 orders from 10 Shopify stores, and the marketing channels in Shopify Analytics were as follows: Direct 83.5%Social 9%Search 4.5%Unknown (other websites, not social or search) 3%Email ~0.1% The Direct channel sticks out like a sore thumb, mainly because it dwarfs every other source of traffic. Compare this with the last-click attribution of sales from GA, and the difference in accuracy becomes clear: To put it simply, Shopify Analytics lacks both the accuracy and specificity of data that a tool like GA provides. How to add Google Analytics to Shopify While GA doesn’t work automatically with Shopify, it’s not difficult to set up for your store. There are multiple ways you can add Google Analytics to Shopify, and the method you choose will depend both on your technical skill and the time you have to dedicate to set up. Once you’ve created a Google Analytics property for Shopify, you can follow your preferred method to add GA to your store and start getting full, accurate data. Read on to discover which method will work best for adding GA to your store. For Universal Analytics Before 2020, Universal Analytics was the Google Analytics default. To find out if your store has Universal Analytics, check your web property ID. A universal analytics web property ID will start with ‘UA’. If you’re using Universal Analytics, the two options we’d recommend to connect GA to your Shopify store are: Using Shopify’s built-in tracking, found in-store preferencesUsing Littledata’s advanced Shopify to Google Analytics app For Google Analytics 4 Since late 2020, GA4 has operated as the default Google Analytics property. There are a handful of benefits to using GA4, not least of which being that it provides more thorough reports delivered within a faster timeline. Shopify does not yet support Google Analytics 4, so the built-in tracking feature is not an option here. However, you can try using GA4 and Shopify Analytics in parallel to test the performance of both and see the differences yourself. The “least hassle” option If you want to add GA to your store and you’re looking to save time and get things done correctly, implementing Littledata is likely your best bet. Littledata provides a Getting Started guide to help you add Google Analytics to your Shopify store. Once connected, the Littledata app gives you a thorough data overview and sends weekly updates as Google and Shopify add new features. Tip: Try Littledata's Google Analytics connection free for 30 days to see how it can fix your tracking while integrating with your other Shopify apps. Using Google Analytics with Shopify Analytics GA and Shopify Analytics can be used in conjunction with one another, as each have their uses. As an example, you could use Shopify Analytics as a quick overview dashboard for store performance while relying on GA for a complete analysis of sales and marketing efforts. In depth data decisionmaking will still most likely be coming from what you see in GA, but you can still rely on Shopify Analytics to capture big picture metrics. Connecting dashboards and reporting tools The most successful modern DTC stores operate not with GA alone, but with a full data stack that helps them cover each step of the customer journey. They increase the scope of their data coverage by connecting other data dashboards and tools. ReCharge A great tool to connect to your store, especially if you offer subscriptions, is the ReCharge Connection. This connection is an advanced GA integration that helps you to track subscription ecommerce behavior. Connecting Shopify and ReCharge with Google Analytics allows you to obtain accurate sales data, including first-time orders, recurring payments, and subscription lifecycle events. It also allows you to obtain accurate marketing attribution for first-time orders, recurring payments, and subscription lifecycle events. Segment A further tool you could use to track your Shopify data is the Segment app connection, which allows you to track each customer touchpoint within your website, including the checkout steps taken by customers, sales information, and the lifetime value of a specific customer. Segment is a Customer Data Platform (CDP) that makes it easy to combine customer data with marketing data, then send that data to other platforms you use, whether that’s a data warehouse or an email marketing tool. As such, Segment isn’t just for analysis. It’s also a popular way to build new marketing audiences, such as building lookalike audiences in Facebook from your highest-spending Shopify customers. Google Ads and Facebook Ads Online advertising is a major source of traffic for modern DTC brands. To ensure your making the best decisions in your advertising strategy, you need accurate data. That’s where the Facebook Ads and Google Ads connections can play a key part in your overall analytics stack. The Facebook Ads connection fixes campaign tagging and allows for importing ad costs so you can drill down marketing attribution costs. The Google Ads connection is ideal for tracking sales expenses in reports and connecting marketing data with ecommerce performance. Wrapping it all up Now that you know exactly what Shopify Analytics can provide for you, what analytics strategy will you implement to ensure you’re making smart business decisions for your store? Using Google Analytics with your Shopify store gives you: a thorough view of the dataa complete snapshot of the entire customer journeyadvanced metrics you need to improve attribution and boost revenue Using these, you can plan changes to your store and product offerings based on accurate data while improving your visibility by taking control of your analytics tracking. And once you’ve connected other powerful reporting tools and dashboards like Littledata’s ReCharge and Segment apps, you’ll have all the information you need to dial up your store’s growth. Take the first step by getting a free data audit when you start your 30-day free trial with Littledata.
Tracking Subscriptions in Shopify Checkout: Everything You Need to Know
The checkout is one of the most important steps in the ecommerce buying process for merchants. “Of course,” you might say, “it’s where I get paid!” But there’s a lot more to a good checkout strategy than simply completing transactions, especially if you sell products by subscription. Many modern DTC brands sell by subscription. Whether offering everyday items such as deodorant or custom monthly offerings such as fashion boxes or craft beverages, ecommerce businesses use a subscription model to increase customer lifetime value (LTV), referrals, and retention. Shopify noticed this trend and made some major moves this past year to push subscriptions into the native checkout. Most importantly, the change allows Shopify app developers to build tools with greater support for subscription business models. You probably have a lot of questions about what this means for your business, especially if you are focused on data-driven growth. We’re happy to announce that Littledata now offers plug-and-play solutions for tracking subscriptions in the native Shopify checkout, including for headless builds. Our ecommerce data platform works seamlessly with apps like ReCharge, Ordergroove, Smartrr, and Bold, and you can send the data to Segment, Google Analytics (GA), or any connected reporting tool. In this post, we’ll answer common questions about subscriptions in the native Shopify checkout — from what this really means (what is a “unified checkout” anyway?) to what data is available or “exposed” for your ecommerce marketing team. This post covers:I. Why Shopify moved to a unified checkoutII. The state of subscription ecommerceIII. Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) in the subscription industryIV. Tracking subscriptions in the Shopify checkoutV. Subscription apps supported by Littledata I. Why Shopify moved to a unified checkout In the past, Shopify merchants who wanted to offer subscription products had to use third-party apps, such as ReCharge or Bold Subscriptions, where payment data can be stored and subscriptions managed. As a result, customers had to go through a different checkout process for subscriptions versus one-time orders. For example, customers would be redirected away from a Shopify store site to a separate ReCharge checkout, then return to the initial store they were on after completing payment. Last year, Shopify introduced new subscriptions APIs with the aim of creating a more seamless checkout experience for subscribers. Now, customers can start product subscriptions without leaving the store’s website, while the post-purchase management of the subscription is still handled by the subscription app. These new APIs bring a handful of additional benefits as well: Complete subscription data is stored by Shopify, allowing for improved reporting and analyticsA faster, more streamlined checkout process for your customersMore flexibility, so you can experiment with new subscription modelsNative checkout security provided by Shopify Shopify’s payment gateway does come with some limitations around product sales and region-based availability. If your store sells products that are outlawed in certain major markets (like cannabis) Shopify’s payment gateway will not offer support for your store. Likewise, if your store is not based in one of the countries Shopify lists under their umbrella of coverage, you’ll need to use another payment gateway to complete transactions. You can find more information on payment gateways to use by following the directions Shopify provides for stores outside their main regions of coverage. Note: Make sure to read both Shopify’s guide to setting up subscriptions and Littledata’s analytics setup guide for subscriptions in the Shopify checkout. There are several steps you need to take in each of a) Shopify’s admin, b) the subscription app you installed from the Shopify App Store, and c) Littledata in order to track everything correctly. II. The state of subscription ecommerce Not so long ago, ecommerce businesses focused on single transactions to grow their business. But the landscape has changed. Shoppers and brands are now focusing on relationship-driven ecommerce, and subscriptions are at the heart of the change. Many ecommerce customers now see the benefits of becoming a subscriber. It helps them stay ahead on the latest updates related to their favorite products and services. It also gives them flexibility to set up a steady flow of products when they want them, and the option to pause or swap subscriptions from a customer portal. Brands obviously see the value in loyal subscribers. Subscription ecommerce has never been growing so fast. Subscription payments app ReCharge analyzed data on more than 9,000 of their subscription customers and found an average of 90% growth in subscribers across all verticals, with an average LTV growth of 11%. Source: ReCharge payments State of Subscription Commerce report (2021) Growth was not limited to one specific vertical, either. In fact, Recharge’s report shows that nearly every vertical saw subscription merchant growth double in 2020. Source: ReCharge payments State of Subscription Commerce report (2021) Subscription ecommerce growth isn’t simply an effect of buyers worldwide shifting online due to the pandemic, though. A 2019 study from the Subscription Trade Association (SUBTA) found that the ecommerce subscription market experienced annual growth of 17.33% in the last five years. It also predicts three-quarters of DTC brands will offer subscriptions by 2023, while global ecommerce subscriptions will account for 18% of the total market share. Another recent survey by McKinsey showed that there is a 40% increase in consumers’ intent to spend online even after COVID. All this research concludes that the groundwork is set for continual growth in LTV and overall revenue for stores targeting subscription customers instead of maximizing one-time purchases. And those purchases often start with a discount. In a recent study, Bold Commerce found that discounts on subscriptions actually fuel monthly revenue growth, and smaller discounts (not too big and not too small) see the biggest return over time. Tip: Follow our free guide to start tracking your store's subscriptions and key subscription metrics with Ordergroove. With great growth comes greater competition The rush of new subscription ecommerce merchants in recent years is of course a huge benefit for buyers. It offers greater product diversity and more flexible buying options. But for sellers both old and new, the increased competition means they have to make smart decisions and truly know their audience to survive. The proven most efficient and powerful way to do that? A promotion strategy founded on accurate data. That’s where crucial metrics like return on ad spend (ROAS), average order value (AOV), and especially customer LTV come into play. III. Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) in the subscription industry Customer LTV, or the value a customer contributes to your business over their lifetime, is the holy grail of ecommerce metrics. This stat begins tracking when a new customer first makes a purchase and ends with the “moment of churn,” when they decide to no longer buy. Focusing on LTV can help you define clear marketing goals and sales strategies to reduce acquisition costs, improve retention, and encourage existing customers to spend more over their lifetime with your business. Subscription customers add more to your store’s overall LTV as they make repeat purchases and can be upsold to add more revenue. Leading ecommerce stores know this, and are enjoying higher LTV as a result. The same ReCharge study referenced earlier found stores activated between 2019 and 2020 realized an average LTV growth of 11%. Source: ReCharge payments State of Subscription Commerce report (2021) Successful stores know to focus on metrics like LTV because it affords them the ability to deeply understand the needs of their customers. To do this well, though, you need accurate data and high engagement with buyers. As for calculating LTV for subscription customers, it isn’t difficult when using a powerful data tool like Google Analytics. In fact, we have a guide you can follow to calculate customer lifetime value in Google Analytics. If you’re looking for a true deep dive into LTV that covers calculation methods, multiple improvement strategies, and roadmaps for Shopify subscription success, jump into our ultimate Shopify guide to LTV tracking. III. Tracking subscriptions in the Shopify checkout Getting accurate data about your customers’ behaviour is especially difficult for subscription commerce. If you’re using Shopify’s default GA tracking, a significant percentage of your orders might be missing. This can lead you to form an incomplete picture of your marketing attribution and sales performance, and a lesser understanding of your customer’s behaviour. After sampling larger merchants on Shopify, we discovered that on average, for every 10,000 orders processed, 1,200 are missing in GA. However, these discrepancies look even worse for recurring orders, with the percentage of orders tracked ranging between 9% and 70%. This happens because recurring orders are processed without the customer interacting with your online store. Fortunately, there is a fix for this issue. Littledata’s Shopify app can repair these tracking disparities automatically upon install. It works by first adding a data layer onto your website containing all Enhanced Ecommerce events. Then, it adds a tracking script to capture each event as it happens. Finally, using robust server-side tracking, the app grabs all transactions and ensures 100% accurate ecommerce data. That allows you to see truly meaningful data that eliminates the worry of making incorrect decisions based on faulty numbers, while giving you the power to make your marketing dollars work better for your store. Tip: Try Littledata’s script on your store free for 30 days. Get a data audit of your current metrics and see the difference you could be missing on marketing attribution. IV. Subscription apps supported by Littledata Stores using subscription apps to manage recurring orders set up in the Shopify checkout can track their recurring orders using Littledata’s Google Analytics and Segment apps in the Shopify app store. In fact, Littledata works automatically with all subscription apps used by Shopify stores. Here are a few of the most popular subscription apps to consider using for your store. ReCharge ReCharge is a subscription management app designed to let your store offer subscription products with a few clicks. In addition, it helps increase LTV by allowing customers to manage their own subscriptions while setting you up with revenue-boosting tools like upsells, SMS and email notifications, and actionable subscription insights. Bold Subscriptions Bold Subscriptions aims to help you establish predictable recurring revenue via better customer loyalty using customizable subscription programs. The app is compatible with multiple payment gateways, allows API customization, and features checkout integrations that further enhance your customizability, and in turn, the value you can provide to customers. Ordergroove Ordergroove is a tool to help you grow average order value (AOV) and maximize subscriber enrollment through promotions, retention rewards, and the ability to craft a custom subscriber experience. It’s a popular solution for larger brands and offers a range of integrations to help you scale. Smartrr Smartrr’s subscription ecommerce app offers a recurring revenue engine designed to help you offer curated subscriptions to members. That includes through methods like allowing subscribers to manage their recurring orders, gifting options, upsell addons, and even product swaps that increase consumer satisfaction. What’s next? Shopify’s new unified checkout has bolstered app developers to create more innovative products. Those apps in turn help you target subscriptions in your store checkout and use enhanced ecommerce metrics to get a full, accurate picture of your subscriber audience, then customize your checkout and promotion methods to reach your most valuable audience. But how can you scale a subscription store without accurate data? That’s where Littledata comes in. Tip: Take the first step in realizing the true potential of your ecommerce store and get accurate data from Littledata free in our 30-day trial.
Segment Recipe: Create Facebook lookalike audiences of your top-spending customers
The promotional power of Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads is no secret. All of our customers use them. Smart ecommerce marketers, however, know that beyond their wide reach, the true value of these ads comes in using them to reach specific buyer personas. Targeting those who are most likely to make a purchase is a great way to boost sales, but how do you reach that audience over time? In short: How do you find more customers like your highest LTV customers? Littledata has worked with top DTC brands using Shopify and Segment, such as Rothy's and Sheertex, to enable data that lets you do exactly that. One key way is lookalike audiences. To help you dive into utilizing these audiences for your store, we've created an analytics recipe along with our partner Segment. The recipe is made to help you stop wasting time building audiences manually while still allowing you to reach your highest-value customers — the ones who are ready to buy and more likely to make bigger purchases over time. It explains step by step how to continuously target a similar audience to your top-spenders, so you'll start getting your ads in front of eager potential buyers. Lookalike audiences such as these are a staple in successful ecommerce brands' promotion strategies, as they widen your audience while ensuring you get the most value out of the advertising dollars you spend. Read the full post on Segment's blog to learn how you can start utilizing this recipe in your Facebook Ad strategy.We look at how to: Create an audience in Segment Personas of highest spending customersAutomatically sync that audience with Facebook AdsCreate a lookalike audience in Facebook Ads to find more high-value customers If you've wondered how to use rule-based audiences to increase revenue, this is the recipe for you. Do you know how accurate your ecommerce reporting is? Get a clearer picture with a full data audit from Littledata as part of our 30 day free trial to start owning your data and make decisions off truly accurate data.
Lunch with Littledata: Why a headless build is right for your store with Nacelle
Shopify Analytics vs. Google Analytics: Why don't they match?
If you're a Shopify store owner using both Shopify analytics and Google Analytics, you're probably familiar with the often large discrepancies between the two tracking systems. What you might not know is that this happens in part because Shopify's default analytics misses tracking on 12 out of every 100 orders. That leaves you unaware of your true sales performance and marketing attribution, and what actions your customers are taking at key touchpoints along their buying journey. Layering expensive data dashboards and connectors on top of this, as many stores often do, just compounds the problem and leads to more wasted marketing spend. It's never a good idea to make decisions based on bad data. An insider's guide to fixing your Shopify store analytics The first step to fixing your Shopify tracking is understanding where it fails. You know the data is missing, but what's going on behind the scenes to cause it? And is there a better way? Fortunately, there is. Our free guide on why Google Analytics doesn't match Shopify analytics dives into: The main reasons why transactions go missing in GAHow a data mismatch affects your bottom lineA comparison of different tracking methodsWhat you can do to fix Shopify analytics Read the ebook >>> Adding Google Analytics to Shopify If you're not already using Google Analytics with your Shopify store, getting it set up should be your first step toward improved data accuracy. Though Shopify does have a default GA integration, it misses tracking many key metrics. We have a full walkthrough on setting up Google Analytics on your Shopify store, which covers what to look out for after you've set up GA as well. Using the methods in our guide will help you ensure you get a full and accurate picture of your data in GA. For a fast way to connect them automatically, try out Littledata's GA to Shopify connection for free. The trial allows you to get an accurate snapshot of your key metrics, and you'll still own that data in GA whether you continue using our advanced data connections or not.
5 DTC brands using Shopify Plus to fuel their success
Do you want to make more money with your ecommerce store? Of course! The better question is: do you know which services can get you over the hump? The Shopify Plus plan is an enterprise-level platform designed to be the launchpad for your ecommerce business. Whether you’re launching a new brand or migrating to Shopify from a custom build or a platform like Magento, Shopify is a streamlined ecommerce option, and Shopify Plus offers even more functionality and support. Shopify Plus gives you access to: Advanced apps designed for high growthCustomized checkout and better control over brandingAbility to sell globally in multiple currenciesShopify’s organization admin to manage all your stores from a single location These features could help you unlock sales and bring exponential growth to your store. Advanced app connections, specifically, can help you optimize key areas of your promotion strategy. Here at Littledata, we’ve seen many successful brands use these to their advantage. So we thought, what better way to help you choose if Shopify Plus is right for you than by showing you who has already succeeded using it. Here’s a look at five standout ecommerce stores that you can look to for inspiration when deciding if Shopify plus is right for your ecommerce store. #1 - Rothy’s Popular San Francisco-based startup Rothy’s makes stylish machine-washable shoes and bags. Sustainability is key to their mission, so they use recycled and natural materials in manufacturing. That includes repurposing items like discarded plastic bottles and algae to craft shoe inserts and soles. Rothy’s offers a wide range of colorways and designs for their shoes and other products. So, customers browse the website longer and hit various touchpoints before checking out. With Shopify plus, Rothy’s were able to design a streamlined path for customers to follow on their buying journeys. To ensure they capture valuable data on each touchpoint, Rothy’s uses Littledata’s Segment data destination. This gives full visibility of customer behavior through 100% accurate server-side tracking. Rothy’s can use the add-on to find what offerings grab the most clicks, use the data to make real-time product recommendations, and even adjust future designs and pricing based on popularity and customer engagement. They can also see customer activity during checkout and fine-tune the process to optimize their conversion rate. #2 - Sheertex One of the fastest rising ecommerce brands, Sheertex went from one founder’s bold idea to becoming one of TIME magazine’s best inventions. The company makes ultra-durable tights and pantyhose using award-winning fabric. They bring in a range of customers thanks to marketing their product as being “made for everyone.” Like many of the most successful Shopify Plus brands, Sheertex uses both Segment and Google Analytics in their data stack. They use Segment to personalize the customer experience, from emails to ads, and Google Analytics to analyze marketing data and make data-driven decisions. Shopify Plus has been a great fit for Sheertex in general as they have a large number of products and product variants. Using the Shopify source for Segment helps them customize the user experience so shoppers get more of what they love! #3 - Athletic Brewing You might think, “beer for athletes, really?” But this brand is different. Athletic Brewing makes award-winning, non-alcoholic craft beer for more health-conscious beer lovers. Their brews earned them features in The Wall Street Journal, BBC, and Bloomberg, and partnerships with the Ironman and USA triathlon events. Testing different store layouts, marketing strategies, and new product lines is a staple of ecommerce. To get the most from their own experiments, Athletic Brewing uses the Google Optimize connection on their Shopify Plus store. This connection gives them accurate results from A/B tests, plus the ability to segment tests by products viewed, adds to cart, and other key metrics. The result is a fully optimized store crafted to drive sales and earn customers. The more data Athletic Brewing can capture about this diverse audience, the better they can optimize sales. That’s why they connected Google Analytics (GA) to their store. While Shopify offers a basic analytics option, for every 100 orders it tracks 12 go missing. Littledata’s GA connection and advanced ReCharge tracking give subscription brands like Athletic Brewing accurate data about sales, buyer behavior, and customer lifetime value (CLV/LTV). They can also compare their site benchmarks against over 12,000 ecommerce sites and set goals for faster growth. #4 - SodaSense Homemade soda rose as a trend in the mid to late 2010s, and has continued to boast a passionate community since. As homemade soda drinkers know, the biggest hassle for this hobby is often getting more CO2 for your soda maker. So, Shopify Plus user SodaSense stepped in with their own retail-based solution: a CO2 refill and exchange program. It gives subscribers the ability to exchange their CO2 canisters, no matter the brand, for freshly filled ones. For $12.99, SodaSense users can exchange empty canisters for a refilled canister of the brand of their choice. To manage these payments, which can be one-time or recurring, Sodasense uses the reCharge add on for their Shopify store. This connection allows them to track first-time payments, recurring transactions, and subscription lifecycle events. It also captures the marketing attribution for their subscription revenue. This data is key for determining CLV/LTV and maximizing their overall revenue. #5 - African Ancestry New DNA kits and ancestry test companies are arriving often as the genealogy industry has grown. Increased availability of genealogy kits for non-eurocentric people is one major benefit of the industry’s rise. African Ancestry is one great example of this. Their test kit uncovers the users’ country of origin and even the tribe they descended from. As with any growing industry, though, standing out from the crowd is essential to growth. Social media advertising can be a powerful tool for making that crucial impression with customers. Of course, the success of social ads depends on executing campaigns correctly. To get this just right, African Ancestry linked their Shopify Plus store with the Facebook Ads connection. It allows them to ensure accurate campaign tagging and tracking, making sure they aren’t missing data and paying more for less reach. Should I get Shopify Plus for my ecommerce store? In short, the answer to this question depends on the goals you have. If you’re in a growth stage and looking to increase revenue, then Shopify Plus offers crucial tools and connections that will help you achieve it. As the stores above demonstrate, there are many functions of your business you can focus on to boost growth. Customer acquisition, attribution, and lifetime value are all key metrics to consider. Leveraging Shopify Plus connections, along with the right approach to data evaluation, can be the key to unlocking your store’s true revenue potential. Want to make sure you have the right data guiding your ecommerce growth journey? Give Littledata's 30-day free trial a spin and find where you can optimize your promotional approach for the best results.
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