Category : Google Analytics
Does Littledata work with my ecommerce reporting tool?
We often get asked if Littledata works with certain reporting tools that are popular among merchants. Here's the short answer: if your tool can pull data from Google Analytics or Segment, then our smart connections will help you get accurate data to use with those reporting or data insight tools. Here’s exactly how we work with each platform. The Establishment These are the main ecommerce reporting tools. If you're using one of these tools, you're in luck. Littledata integrates with them automatically. These products include: Google Analytics Google Data Studio Tableau Segment Power BI Read on to see how Littledata works with these data insights tools to improve the accuracy of your data and the usefulness of your reporting. Google Analytics The world’s most popular analytics tool gets even better when paired with Littledata’s smart connections and full audit to enhance the ecommerce event data captured from your store. GA is the core tool to which Littledata connects, allowing you to connect to other dashboards below, such as Tableau and Data Studio. [subscribe] Segment Segment’s data pipeline is a trusted way to get analytics from one platform into dozens of others without complex engineering. Our source for Shopify and Shopify Plus helps you automatically send ecommerce events into any of Segment’s hundreds of destinations. Once the Segment connection is set up, you never lift a finger. Google Data Studio Data Studio is our dashboard tool of choice for more custom-designed reports. Because Data Studio integrates with Google Analytics, Littledata’s connections can all be exported from GA into Data Studio. While it can be slow to generate reports at scale, its unlimited free reporting makes it hard to beat for ad-hoc analysis. [note]Have you done something unique with Data Studio and Littledata? We'd love to hear about it. Reach out and let us know.[/note] Tableau Tableau, now part of the Salesforce family, was one of the first tools to provide a smart, easy setup dashboard. Their connection with Google Analytics is well established, and as with Data Studio you can access the Littledata events from there. Power BI Microsoft’s popular reporting tool can also import data from Google Analytics, so anything Littledata pushes to GA is available in Power BI. Power BI is especially useful if you want to visually explore your ecommerce data, as the platform offers interactive visualizations and a range of business intelligence (BI) insights. They also allow on-premises report deployment (behind a firewall), which is great for larger brands with large in-house teams. Newer solutions In addition to the 'establishment' above, Littledata seamlessly integrates with a number of newer reporting tools that offer Google Analytics insights and visualizations. These apps and reporting tools include: Glew Glow Yaguara These tools are especially popular with Shopify and Shopify Plus stores. Glew Glew provides some cleverly-curated ecommerce reports, but any of the underlying data on marketing attribution or customer behaviour pulled from Google Analytics will require Littledata’s improved tracking for full accuracy. Here’s a more detailed guide of the differences between Glew and Littledata. Grow Grow is a newer dashboard tool with hundreds of reporting sources, of which Google Analytics is their ‘most popular’. While some of the detail from Littledata’s connections may be lost in ‘basic reporting’ from GA, their multi-channel marketing reports are useful. Yaguara Yagura provides a series of templates to gain insights into your ecommerce business. One of their key integrations is with Google Analytics, and so the extra insights from Littledata’s tracking can be pulled into a Yaguara dashboard. Tools we don't work with directly The following tools don't connect with Littledata, and we aren't planning an integration. Conversific Conversific is an analytics tool for Shopify, with similar reporting to Littledata. While Conversific doesn’t offer the same smart connections as Littledata, it’s unlikely you’d need to use the two together. Metrilo Metrilo offers to optimize marketing channels for ecommerce. While their guide says Metrilo is a good alternative to Google Analytics, it won’t replace the reporting that Littledata provides. Zaius Zaius is an ecommerce CRM, allowing you to personalise and automate marketing based on customer interactions. As such, it needs its own event data capture, and can’t integrate with Littledata reporting. [note]Have you built custom reports using Littledata? We'd love to hear about it. Give us a shout and let us know.[/note]
3 massive hurdles for merchants who manage subscription orders
For merchants who run subscription-based businesses, accuracy is crucial for tracking recurring orders. The problem: popular platforms like Shopify provide merchants with native analytics that are broken. In other words, these platforms don't offer a complete picture (or an accurate one) of data that subscription-based stores depend on. There are many potential blockers for these store owners, but we narrowed it down to three: 1) Customisable orders & levels of membership Many successful subscription-based stores allow shoppers to customise their monthly orders. While this is an effective draw for consumers, it causes all kinds of headaches for the teams that manage the orders. The ability for customers to customise monthly orders adds layers of complexity for teams who manage product inventory, fulfillment and logistics in the back end. Perhaps the best example is from the hugely popular Dollar Shave Club. Known for their humor-driven marketing approach, the brand constantly encourages its subscribers add more and more products to their monthly shipments, which go out at different times each month. Due to the brand's meteoric growth over the past five years, this creates headaches — imagine fulfilling dynamic orders each month (different cart sizes, products and membership levels) for hundreds of thousands of customers across America. The 'curated box package' is another common subscription model. StitchFix, a curated clothing company for men and women, surprises its customers each month with a package containing 'personalised' new outfits. While the surprise factor might not be a draw for some, the brand's main appeal is the diversity of its products. Every month, StitchFix's variety is what appeals to its majority millennial market. Whether your store offers dynamic monthly ordering (where customers can change the contents of their cart) or follows a more traditional subscription model, it's crucial to have data you can trust. This means finding an ecommerce solution built to handle both customer changes and increased payload as your store scales. [subscribe heading="Automatically track your subscription orders" background_color="green" button_text="find out how" background_link="https://www.littledata.io/connections/recharge"] Affiliate marketing & partnerships It's common for subscription-based stores to partner with affiliate marketers to generate an additional source of revenue and tap into new customer groups. However, with more customers comes more demand, and the importance of accurate data only increases — this includes tracking sales made through affiliate partners, commission owed on each sale, etc. 2) Customer loyalty & reward programs When done right, effective customer loyalty programs create more loyal customers, boost customer retention and increase sales. These programs aren't used by every subscription-based brand, but for the brands that use them, they really do work, according to LoyaltyLion. However, as high shopper expectations continue to soar, the landscape for rewards programs is getting more competitive. Shoppers know that if they don't absolutely love one aspect of a brand's rewards program, they can easily run to a competitor that offers what they're looking for — whether it be a cheaper price tag, better discounts or more rewards available. Mark Hook, Head of PR and Communications for retail management software Brightpearl, had this to say: Over two-fifths of millennial shoppers (45%) admit to being less loyal to brands when compared to a year ago, and are quicker to abandon buying from companies that don’t meet expectations A great example of a rewards program within a subscription is Nike+. By putting the mobile shopping experience at the top of its priority list, Nike has developed multiple apps that work hand-in-hand with the Nike+ loyalty program by allowing its members to 'take the brand wherever you go.' By offering easy member access to the program, Nike gets higher engagement from community members and increased brand loyalty from repeat buyers. However, for merchants, a successful customer loyalty program hinges on back end analytics and whether or not it's set up properly. For merchants relying on Google Analytics for tracking, do you have custom dimensions set up? Are there parameters to track recurring orders, free trial offers, promo codes or even brand events? 3) Payment security & order changes Ecommerce businesses not operating on a subscription model typically receive credit card information every time a transaction is made. On the other hand, subscription-based businesses store data for recurring purchases, which simplifies the user experience and helps encourage users to continue paying each month. With potentially millions of credit card numbers stored in a database, brands are constantly at risk for large-scale fraud. This forces brands to invest in airtight security measures to protect your own revenue and the sensitive data of your customers. Merchants need to stay prepared for orders with expired credit card info, subscription cancellations and changes to recurring orders — all of which make it tougher to accurately track individual events and transactions. Running a subscription-based store with data you can trust Even with these hurdles, there's a shiny silver lining for merchants who rely on subscriptions. Littledata's plug-and-play ReCharge integration connects with Shopify and Google Analytics to do the following: Automatically track first-time payments and recurring transactions Provide accurate marketing attribution for subscription revenue Segment performance by payment source, subscription plan type and product category Benchmark your site and offer access to professional-level subscription analytics tools With Littledata's Shopify ReCharge integration, there's a better way forward for merchants who manage subscription orders. BullyMax, a popular nutrition and muscle-building supplement for dogs, and Dry Farm Wines, a health-focused natural wine club, are two top subscription brands that have seen great success with Littledata's Shopify ReCharge connection. Read more about our topintegration for subscription analytics. In a follow-up post, we discuss a fool-proof solution for Shopify merchants who manage subscription orders. Check it out!
Can you trust Smart Goals in Google Analytics?
Recently, Smart Goals in Google Analytics have resurfaced as a helpful feature for ecommerce merchants, but particularly Shopify merchants. In a previous post, we outline what Smart Goals are and why some ecommerce businesses use them. However, a lack of trust (and lack of endorsement) with the Google Analytics feature has turned away ecommerce merchants, particularly Shopify merchants. Like we discussed in the previous post, Smart Goals is a goal-setting users can enable in Google Analytics. Unlike other goals, Smart Goals uses both behavioral data and contextual (shared) data to predict which of your web sessions will result in a conversion. The pitfall here is that the data is not your data, which would naturally be the best predictor of future conversions. Instead, Google's algorithm seeks highly-engaged visitors and then uses that data to conclude the likelihood a given web session ends with a conversion. Google puts it this way: To generate Smart Goals, we apply machine learning across thousands of websites that use Google Analytics and have opted in to share anonymized conversion data. From this information, we can distill dozens of key factors that correlate with likelihood to convert: things like session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser. We can then apply these key factors to any website. The easiest way to think about Smart Goals is that they reflect your website visits that our model indicates are most likely to lead to conversions. Are Smart Goals a good idea? There's a big hitch in the original concept. Smart Goals was designed for merchants using Google Ads who don’t use conversion tracking. Smart Goals was to help optimise their Ads campaigns by collecting important metrics of user engagement. In theory, it sounds brilliant and helpful for ecommerce merchants and business owners of all scales. But here's how it breaks down in real life: Advertise, measure, repeat As a rule of thumb, ecommerce merchants with stores of all sizes should be measuring their advertising performance. Even if you're creating a "set it and forget it" Google Ads campaign, it's still crucial to track product views, page views, user engagements, cost per click, etc. If you're advertising your products without measuring, you're likely wasting your time and your budget. So how do you ensure you're making good use of ad dollars? Properly set up conversion tracking. Littledata's Google Ads connection is a great place to start. With the connection, you can be confident in your data reporting and that you're tracking the metrics that matter. [subscribe heading="Get Littledata's connection for Google Ads" background_color="grey" button_text="Get the connection" button_link=https://blog.littledata.io/2019/02/28/link-analytics-to-adwords-with-our-new-google-ads-connection/] With conversion tracking, you can follow a shopper's journey and see how many ad clicks lead to purchases, contacts, downloads, signups and more. This data will help you better optimise your campaigns and adjust the ad copy, visuals and calls-to-action to what performs best. Unfortunately, there are thousands of ecommerce merchants who advertise their products without proper conversion tracking. This sets them up for underperforming campaigns and stalls their online store from scaling. Can you really trust anonymous data? The short answer is a resounding no, and for a few reasons: Using other people's data to make crucial product and marketing decisions around your campaigns, your website and your customers isn't a good idea. Only your own customer behavior trends will guarantee you're making optimal business decisions for your product marketing campaigns and your online store. How does Google's algorithm determine likely conversions? If conversions aren't defined and conversion tracking isn't properly set up, how can likely conversions be determined? Google basically assigns each web session a score, with the top sessions made into Smart Goals. That begs the question, "what defines top sessions?" Google scans anonymous data (such as session duration, pages per session, location, device, and browser) to select the users that are "most engaged" in your online store. For example, let's say Shawna the Shopify merchant. Shawna uses Google Analytics to track her product sales and other "big data" figures. However, Shawna has never set up goals in GA. For someone like Shawna, Google would use engagement metrics in place of conversion metrics, since Shawna has no conversion tracking for her Shopify store. This is not necessarily problematic. What is problematic is that other important metrics are left untracked. This includes metrics like: Average order value Customer lifetime value Cost of engaged users Sales increases Google Ads campaign optimisation If conversion tracking was set up (rather than Smart Goals), Shawna would easily be able to trace the online journeys and user engagements on her Shopify store. Littledata's Shopify connection with Google Analytics would also provide Shawna with curated reports and analytics to help make sense of her GA data stream. What's the verdict? While even Google advocates for conversion tracking, there is a better way to track the metrics that support better decisions for your ecommerce business. When advertising, especially with Google Ads, it’s incredibly important to use your own data to make decisions for the positive growth of your campaigns.
What are Smart Goals in Google Analytics?
In a nutshell, Smart Goals measure the most engaged visits to your website and automatically turn those visits into Goals, even if you don't have conversion tracking or ecommerce tracking. Those Goals are then used to improve your Google Ads bidding. Not only are Smart Goals one of our favorite features of Google Analytics, but also a helpful resource for ecommerce merchants of all sizes. How do Smart Goals work? The Smart Goals feature in Google Analytics is the result of machine learning algorithms and configured at the view level. These algorithms scan dozens of signals within your website sessions to determine which signals are most likely to result in a conversion. Each session is assigned a score, with the "best" sessions being translated into Smart Goals. So what are these "signals"? Session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser type are among the most popular. To determine the best sessions, Smart Goals establishes a threshold by selecting approximately the top 5% of the traffic to your site coming from AdWords. Once that threshold is set, Smart Goals applies it to all your website sessions, including traffic from channels other than AdWords. After enabling Smart Goals in Analytics, they can be imported into AdWords. What do I need before setting up Smart Goals? If you're an online store owner interested in using Smart Goals, you'll need to have an existing Google Ads account linked to Google Analytics. You'll also need edit permissions at the view level in order to complete the setup. Before setting up Smart Goals, your linked Google Ads account must also have sent at least 500 clicks to the selected Analytics view over the past 30 days (if the linked account falls below 250 clicks over the past 30 days for the selected view, Smart Goals will be deactivated until the clicks rise again to 500 or more). Google Analytics recommends that Smart Goals be used when you aren't measuring conversions. In other words, they're an easy way to use your best sessions as conversions. You can then use Smart Goals to optimise your Google Ads performance based on the best sessions pattern. [subscribe heading="Try Littledata free for 14 days" button_text="Start your free trial" button_link="https://littledata.io/app/get-free-trial"] How to set up Smart Goals If your user permissions are eligible, you can enable Smart Goals by selecting the goal type when following the regular goal setup flow: Sign in to Google Analytics. Click Admin, and navigate to the desired view. In the view column, click Goals. Click + New Goal. Select Smart Goal (if available). Give your Smart Goal a name and click Save. No additional configuration or customization is required (they're called "Smart" for a reason!) How to import Smart Goals into Google Ads After you've activated Smart Goals in Google Analytics, sign in to your Google Ads account, click the Tools tab, and select Conversions. Click Analytics in the left-hand menu. Check the boxes next to the goals or transactions you want to import. Click Continue. On the next page, you'll see settings that will apply to all of the goals or transactions you selected. Make your choices, then click Import goals. Click Close, or to import more goals, click Import more. Google Ads will begin importing the data from your Analytics account. Historical data prior to your import will not be included. Your Smart Goals report To see exactly how Smart Goals perform, use the Conversions > Goals > Smart Goals report. This report shows how Smart Goals traffic differs from other traffic to your website. You can also include the Smart Goals Completed dimension in custom reports. The Smart Goals report also shows how Smart Goals would perform even before enabling them in your view. This helps you determine if Smart Goals will be a useful feature for your ecommerce business. Interested in getting help with any of these features? Littledata's enterprise plans include complete support, a dedicated account manager, data analytics experts and ecommerce Google Analytics consulting. We covered what Smart Goals are, but are they actually beneficial? Next, we cover the why (or why not) behind Smart Goals.
How to choose the best Google Analytics consultant for your store
It's no secret that Google Analytics is the bedrock of modern analytics. For data analytics experts in all verticals — not only ecommerce — Google Analytics is the primary tool for setting goals, tracking results, ecommerce benchmarking and optimising campaigns for peak performance. But GA is no walk in the park. It's a complex platform with a robust dashboard, unique features like Enhanced Ecommerce and dozens of helpful tracking features for merchants big and small. Because GA can be a learning curve for inexperienced users, many merchants opt to work with a Google Analytics consultant or Google Analytics consulting group to help them navigate the waters of GA and fully optimise their product campaigns. [subscribe heading="Get the best Google Analytics consultants for ecommerce" background_color="green" button_text="get started" button_link="https://www.littledata.io/app/enterprise"] Before you go hunting for a GA consultant for your online store, make sure they check all the important boxes: Coding experience: from UTM parameters to more complex bug fixes, a respectable GA consultant should be comfortable messing around with code. While troubleshooting and custom implementations are the most common calls for coding experience, Google Analytics experts should be well-versed in coding within GA. Segmenting aptitude: As the old adage goes, averages always lie. In other words, the insight of data reports goes beyond the average numbers that GA shows. To better understand the data, an experienced GA consultant should know how to segment the data. If you hire a GA consultant who shows you plain GA exports exactly as Google shows it to the user, he/she is providing your store no value. Data without a plan of action is just a collection of reported numbers — nothing more. Deliver insights, not reports: Not every store owner understands bounce rates, but most understand the type of person that finds their website, don't take any on-site action, and leave the site right away. In other words, a good GA consultant should not be interested in exports from GA, but insights from GA. They should be able to extrapolate data from GA, explain to store owners what it means and communicate the impact for ecommerce business owners. Typically, store owners are not interested in complex GA data, and they don't have time to read comprehensive reports — they need guidance, translation and plain english to turn data into actionable insights. There's no getting around it — highly effective (and affordable) Google Analytics consultants are difficult to come by. Luckily, there's a better way for merchants to track data they can trust and build their strategy around reliable reporting from GA. Littledata's enterprise plans offer all the benefits of a personal Google Analytics consultant along with better insights, the experience to address complex issues, and dashboards to visualise the KPIs that matter to your store. [subscribe heading="Try Littledata free for 14 days" background_color="grey" button_text="start my free trial"] Why store owners choose Littledata enterprise plans 1) Start with an audit, sail to higher revenue After all, Littledata was started as a next-gen audit tool, so it's no accident that enterprise plans begin with an audit review. During the audit, we review your store's data gaps and tracking issues keeping you from data you can trust for actionable insights. Our audits extend across marketing channels, mobile app performance and user behaviour on your storefront and product pages. Our Google Analytics-certified account managers ensure a smooth process through strategy, implementation and optimisation. 2) Define project goals If your store requires more than just ongoing audit fixes, we work with your team to define custom goals for the products you really want to push. This can be something as standard as setting up Enhanced Ecommerce in Google Analytics or as complex as developing a multi-site dashboard to analyse average customer revenue by location. Either way, our enterprise plans offer complete online support for peace of mind. 3) Decision-making power throughout the process Unlike some account managers, our team is hands-on from initial GA set up to implementation. You'll be looped in throughout the entire process with an in-app, custom dashboard that updates real-time. If you have GA questions, enterprise customers can also communicate with our account team through online tools like Slack and Trello. 4) Always getting better Our GA team monitors your data collection for accuracy and depth before creating custom recommendations. These include step-by-step reports showing how to use your new analytics setup, how to maximise automated reporting and how to improve your marketing ROI and drive more revenue through fixed attribution. Take the first step In addition to deep experience with platforms including Shopify Plus, Magento, Demandware (Salesforce) and BigCommerce, we support and smoothly connect with the full range of popular tools for ecommerce analytics, including Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Segment, Facebook Pixel, and more. Take the first step into Littledata's custom enterprise plans!
[Free ebook] Accurate Shopify data is closer than you think
Even for essential ecommerce data like product sales and transactions, setting up a reliable data collection system is harder than one might think. Many ecommerce marketers use Google Analytics to track performance, but it's not as simple as a "1...2...3" setup. At Littledata, we work with top apps and agencies in the Shopify ecosystem, especially Shopify Plus partners. In turn, these partners work with marketing managers, data analytics experts and ecommerce store managers across the globe. One of the questions we often receive from these managers: Why don’t my transactions in Google Analytics match those in Shopify? While a plethora of factors can cause differences in Shopify tracking results, we’ve narrowed it down to 6 main causes. 1) Orders go unrecorded in Google Analytics Why does this happen? As a Shopify store owner, your customer never sees the order confirmation page. When online orders go unrecorded in Google Analytics, it’s almost always due to payment gateways not sending users back to the order thank you page. 2) Errors occur in the Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager integration The Google Analytics/Tag Manager integration allows Google Analytics to track only a few “micro-moments” (page visits, page bounces, etc.) required for a complete picture of your customers' online shopping journey. Though commerce connections like Shopify’s are designed to work for standard websites, some store owners build themes that are more personalised to their products. This requires a custom integration with Google Analytics. Want to know the other 4 causes? These two issues probably seem highly fixable (they are) but they don't stand alone. There are a host of factors that cause data mismatches between Shopify and Google Analytics data, all of which threaten to weaken your marketing strategy, hurt your sales performance and damage your bottom line. Luckily, we have just the thing to help. Our free ebook, Why your Google Analytics data doesn't match your Shopify data, isn't just an answer to the question — it's packed with details, pro tips and an ultimate solution to your data mismatches. The ebook will also show you how common tools like ReCharge and CartHook can actually skew your data (and how to fix this). The best Shopify analytics are those that are accurate and trustworthy. With the help of our ebook, you're on your way to Shopify greatness! [subscribe heading="Get the free ebook" background_color="green" button_text="Free download" button_link="https://www.littledata.io/app/ebook-why-google-analytics-dont-match-shopify-analytics"]
Is Google Analytics accurate? 6 common issues and how to fix them
Google Analytics is used by tens of millions of websites and apps around the world to measure web visitor engagement. Due to some users choosing not to be tracked or blocking cookies, Google Analytics can't measure 100% of visitors. But when set up correctly, GA measures over 95% of genuine visitors (as opposed to web scrapers and bots). At Littledata, our customers come from a range of industries. But when they first come to the Littledata app for help fixing their analytics, we hear many of the same questions: Is Google Analytics accurate? How do I know if my Google Analytics setup is giving me reliable data? In this blog post, we dissect some common issues with Google Analytics before providing a solution to help your ecommerce tracking be as accurate as possible. 6 common issues with Google Analytics (and how to fix them) 1) Your tracking script is not implemented correctly There are two common issues with the actual tracking script setup: It's implemented twice on some pages It's missing completely from some pages When the script is duplicated, you’ll see an artificially low bounce rate (usually below 5%), since every page view is sending twice to Google Analytics. When the script is missing from pages, you’ll see self-referrals from your own website. How to fix it Our recommendation is to use Google Tag Manager across your whole site to ensure the tracking script is loaded with the right web property identifier at the right time during the page load. 2) Your account has lots of spam When it comes to web traffic and analytics setup, spam is a serious issue. Spammers send 'ghost' referrals to get your attention as a website owner. This means that the traffic you see in Google Analytics may not come from real people, even if you have selected to exclude bots. How to fix it Littledata’s app filters out all future spammers and Pro Reporting users benefit from having those filters updated weekly. 3) Your own company traffic is not excluded Your web developers, content writers and marketers will be heavy users of your own site, and you need to filter this traffic from your Google Analytics to get a view of genuine customers or prospects. How to fix it You can do this based on location (e.g. IP address) or pages they visit (e.g. admin pages). [subscribe] 4) One person shows up as two or more users Fight Club aside (spoiler alert), when the same person re-visits our site, we expect them to look the same each time. Web analytics are more complicated. When Google Analytics speaks of 'users', what it's really tracking is a visit from a particular device or browser instance. For example, if I have a smartphone and a laptop computer and visit your site from both devices (without cross-device linking), I’ll appear as two users. Even more confusingly, if I visit your site from the Facebook app on my phone and then from the Twitter app, I’ll appear as two users — the two apps use two different internet browser instances. How to fix it While Google is looking at ways to use its accounts system (Gmail, Chrome, etc.), there's not a lot which can be done to fix this at the moment. 5) Marketing campaigns are not attributed to revenue or conversions If the journey of visitors on your site proceeds via another payment processor or gateway, you could be losing the link between the sale (or goal conversion) and the original marketing campaigns. You will see sales attributed to Direct or Referral traffic, when theyactually came from somewhere else. How to fix it This is a remarkably common issue with Shopify stores. That’s why we built a popular Shopify reporting app that solves the issue automatically. [subscribe heading="Get the Littledata Shopify reporting app" background_color="grey" button_text="get the app" button_link="https://www.littledata.io/shopify"] For other kinds of sites, the issue can often be resolved by setting up cross-domain tracking. 6) You aren't capturing key events (like purchases or button clicks) Google Analytics only tracks views of a page by default, which may not be meaningful if you have a highly interactive website or app. How to fix it Sending custom events is the key to ensuring your tracking is both accurate and relevant. Google Tag Manager makes this easier than it would be otherwise. However, you may need to speak to a qualified Google Analytics consultant to decide what to track. For better certainty that your analytics are fully accurate, try Littledata's free Google Analytics audit or get in touch for a quick consultation. We ❤️ analytics and we're always here to help.
How to fix marketing attribution for Safari ITP 2.2
The latest version of Safari limits the ability for Google Analytics (and any other marketing tags) to track users across domains, and between visits more than a day apart. Here’s how to get this fixed for your site. This article was updated 12th June 2019 to clarify changes for ITP 2.2. How does this affect my analytics? Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) dramatically changes how you can attribute marketing on one of the web's most popular browsers, and ITP 2.1 makes this even more difficult. How will the changes affect your analytics? Currently your marketing attribution in Google Analytics (GA) relies on tracking users across different visits on the same browser with a first-party user cookie - set on your domain by the GA tracking code. GA assigns every visitor an anonymous ‘client ID’ so that the user browsing your website on Saturday can be linked to the same browser that comes back on Monday to purchase. In theory this user-tracking cookie can last up to 2 years from the date of the first visit (in practice, many users clear their cookies more frequently than that), but anything more than one month is good enough for most marketing attribution. ITP breaks that user tracking in two major ways: Any cookie set by the browser, will be deleted after 7 days (ITP 2.1)Any cookie set by the browser, after the user has come from a cross-domain link, will be deleted after one day (ITP 2.2) This will disrupt your marketing attribution. Let’s take two examples. Visitor A comes from an affiliate on Saturday, and then comes back the next Saturday to purchase: Before ITP: sale is attributed to AffiliateAfter ITP: sale is attributed to ‘Direct’Why: 2nd visit is more than one day after the 1st Visitor B comes from a Facebook Ad to your latest blog post on myblog.com, and goes on to purchase: Before ITP: sale is attribute to FacebookAfter ITP: sale is attributed to ‘Direct’Why: the visit to the blog is not linked to the visit on another domain The overall effect will be an apparent increase in users and sessions from Safari, as the same number of user journeys are broken in down into more, shorter journeys. How big is the problem? This is a big problem! Depending on your traffic sources it is likely to affect between a quarter and a half of all your visits. The update (ITP 2.1) is included in Safari version 12.1 onwards for Mac OS and Safari Mobile. It does not affect Safari in-app browsing. Apple released iOS 12.2 and Mac OS 10.14.4 on 25th March 2019, and at the time of writing around 30% of all web visits came from these two browser versions on a sample of larger sites. The volume for your site may vary; you can apply this Google Analytics segment to see exactly how. The affected traffic will be greater if you have high mobile use or more usage in the US (where iPhones are more popular). Why is Apple making these changes? Apple has made a strong point of user privacy over the last few years. Their billboard ad at the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this year makes that point clearly! Although Google Chrome has overtaken Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox in popularity on the desktop, Safari maintains a very dominant position in mobile browsing due to the ubiquitous iPhone. Apple develops Safari to provide a secure web interface for their users, and with Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) they intended to reduce creepy retargeting ads following you around the web. Genuine web analytics has just been caught in the cross-fire. Unfortunately this is likely not to be the last attack on web analytics, and a permanent solution may not be around for some time. Our belief is that users expect companies to track them across their own branded websites and so the workarounds below are ethical and not violating the user privacy that Apple is trying to protect. How to fix this There are three outline fixes I would recommend. I’m grateful to Simo Ahava for his research on all the possible solutions. The right solution for your site depends on your server setup and the development resources you have available. If you’re lucky enough to use our Shopify app the next version of our script will include solution 1 below. Contact our support team if you'd like to test the private beta version. For each solution, I’ve rated them out of three in these areas: Quick setup: how much development time it will take to solveCompatibility: how likely this is to work with different domain setupsLongevity: how likely this is to work for future updates to Safari ITP Solution 1: Local storage Quick setup *** Compatibility ** Longevity* To solve the one day cookie expiry, you store the GA client ID in the browser’s local storage (which does not expire), along with the cookie. So before we allow GA to set a new client ID we first check if the Safari browser has a local storage. Here are the full technical details. Solution 2: Common iFrame plus local storage Quick setup ** Compatibility*** Longevity * The problem with solution 1 is that local storage is only available to an individual subdomain. Let's imagine a user journey that goes: Day 1: Visits blog.mysite.comDay 8: Visits shop.mysite.com In this case, the two visits cannot be linked because after 7 days the cookie has expired, and shop.mysite.com cannot access local storage on blog.mysite.com. Solution 2 fixes this by setting up a page on the top level domain (e.g. www.mysite.com/tracker.html) on which that local storage is set, and the page can be accessed from any subdomain. What makes it longer to setup is it will require a new page on your web server, not just script changes on the existing pages (or via GTM). Full technical details. Solution 3: Server-side cookie service Quick setup * Compatibility *** Longevity *** In the long term, ITP may target the local storage API itself (which is already blocked in Private browsing mode). So solution 3 securely sets the HTTPS cookie from your web server itself, rather than via a browser script. This also has the advantage of making sure any cross-domain links tracked using GA's linker plugin can last more than one day after the click-through with ITP 2.2. The downside is this requires either adapting your servers, proxy servers or CDN to serve a cookie for GA and adapt the GA client-side libraries to work on a web server. If your company uses Node.js servers or a CDN like Amazon CloudFront or Cloudflare this may be significantly easier to achieve. If you don’t have direct control of your server infrastructure it’s a non-starter. Full technical details. What about other marketing tags working on Safari? All other marketing tags which track users across more than one session or one subdomain are going to experience the same problem. With Google Ads the best solution is to link your Ad account to Google Analytics, since this enables Google to use the GA cookie to better attribute conversion in Google Ads reporting. Facebook will no doubt provide a solution of their own, but in the meantime you can also attribute Facebook spend in GA using Littledata’s connection for Facebook Ads. Are there any downsides of making these changes? As with any technical solution, there are upsides and downsides. The main downside here is again with user privacy. Legally, you might start over-tracking users. By resetting cookies from the local storage that the user previously requested to be deleted, this could be violating a user’s right to be forgotten under GDPR. The problem with ITP is it is actually overriding the user’s preference to keep the cookie in usual circumstances, so there is no way of knowing the cookie was deleted by the user … or by Safari supposed looking out for the user! Unfortunately as with any customisation to the tracking code it brings more complexity to maintain, but I feel this is well worth the effort to maintain marketing attribution on one of the world's most popular browsers.
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