How auditing Google Analytics can save you money

When is the last time you audited your Google Analytics account? If the answer is 'never', I understand, but you could be wasting a ton of cash - not to mention potential revenue. It's easy to put off an analytics audit as a 'someday' project considering the multitude of other tasks you need to accomplish each day. But did you know that auditing your Google Analytics account can save you money and add a big bump to online revenue, even with sites that are not ecommerce? Whether people spend money directly on your site, or your site is primarily for lead generation, you spend money to get those site visitors through your marketing channels. When you view a channel like AdWords, there is a clear financial cost since you pay for clicks on your ads. With organic traffic, such as from Facebook fans, you spend time crafting posts and measuring performance, so the cost is time. With an investment of any resource, whether time or money, you need to evaluate what works - and what does not - then revisit the strategy for each of your marketing channels. In this post, I’ll walk you through some of the automated audit checks in Littledata and take a look at what they mean for your online business. If your analytics audit doesn't ask the following questions, you're probably wasting money. Is your AdWords account linked to Google Analytics? If you run AdWords campaigns, linking AdWords and Analytics should be at the top of your to-do list. If AdWords and Analytics are not linked, you cannot compare your AdWords campaign performance to your other channels. Although you can still see how AdWords performs within the AdWords interface, this comparison among channels is important so you can adjust channel spend accordingly. If you discover that AdWords is not delivering the business you expected compared to other marketing channels, you may want to pause campaigns and reevaluate your PPC strategy. Are you tracking website conversions? There should be several conversion goals set up on your website because they represent visitor behavior that ultimately drives revenue. The above example shows a warning for a lead generation website. Although it is possible that no one contacted the site owner or scheduled an appointment in 30 days as indicated in the error, it does seem unlikely. With this warning, the site owner knows to check how goals are set up in Google Analytics to ensure they track behavior accurately. Or, if there really was no engagement in 30 days, it is a red flag to examine the strategy of all marketing channels! Although the solution to this warning will be different based on the individual site, this is an important problem to be aware of and setting up a goals in Google Analytics, such as for by destination, is straightforward. You can also get creative with your goals and use an ecommerce approach even for non-ecommerce websites. Do you use campaign tags with social media and email campaigns? This is an easy one to overlook when different marketing departments operate in silos and is a common issue because people do not know to tag their campaigns. Tagging is how you identify your custom social media and email campaigns in Google Analytics. For example, if you do not tag your paid and organic posts in Facebook, Google Analytics will lump them together and simply report on Facebook traffic in Google Analytics. In addition to distinguishing between paid and organic, you should also segment by the types of Facebook campaigns. If you discover poor performance with Facebook ads in Google Analytics, but do great with promoted posts in the Facebook newsfeed, you can stop investing money in ads at least for the short term, and focus more on promoted posts. Are you recording customer refunds in GA? Refunds happen and are important to track because they impact overall revenue for an ecommerce business. Every business owner, both online and offline, has dealt with a refund which is the nature of running a business. And this rate is generally fairly high. The return rate for brick-and-mortar stores is around 9% and closer to 20% for online stores, so less than 1% in the above audit seems suspicious. It is quite possible the refund rate is missing from this client’s Google Analytics account. Why does this matter? Let’s assume the return rate for your online store is not terrible - maybe 15% on average. However, once you track returns, you see one product line has a 25% return rate. That is a rate that will hurt your bottom line compared to other products. Once you discover the problem, you can temporarily remove that product from your inventory while you drill into data - and talk to your customer support team - to understand why that product is returned more than others, which is a cost savings. Are you capturing checkout steps? Most checkouts on websites have several steps which can be seen in Enhanced Ecommerce reports in Google Analytics. Shoppers add an item to their cart, perhaps log-in to an existing account or create a new one, add shopping information, payment etc. In the ideal world, every shopper goes through every step to ultimately make a purchase, but in the real world, that is rare. Last year alone, there was an estimated $4 trillion worth of merchandise abandoned in online shopping carts. Reasons for this vary, but include unanticipated extra costs, forced account creation, and complicated checkouts. By capturing the checkout steps, you can see where people drop out and optimize that experience on your website. You can also benchmark checkout completion rates see how your site compares to others. [subscribe] Are you capturing product list views? If you aren't tracking product list views correctly, your biggest cash cow might be sleeping right under your nose and you wouldn't even know it! Which products are the biggest money makers for you? If a particular product line brings in a lot of buyers, you want to make sure it is prominent on your website so you do not leave money on the table. Product list views enable you to see the most viewed categories, the biggest engagement, and the largest amount of revenue. If a profitable product list is not frequently viewed, you can incorporate it in some paid campaigns to get more visibility. The good news An audit is not only about what needs fixing on your website, but also can show you what is working well. After you run an audit, you will see the items that are set up correctly so give yourself a pat on the back for those - and know that you can trust reporting based on that data. Either way, remember to run an analytics audit regularly. Once a month is a good rule. I have seen cases where a website was updated and the analytics code was broken, but no one noticed. Other times, there may be a major change, such as to the customer checkout, so the original steps in your existing goal no longer work. Or an entirely new marketing channel was added, but with missing or inconsistent tagging. It is worth the time investment to ensure you have accurate Google Analytics data since it impacts influences your decisions as a business owner and your bottom line. Littledata's automated Google Analytics audit is especially useful for ecommerce sites, from online retailers to membership sites looking for donations. It gives a clear list of audit check results, with action plans for fixing your tracking. And Shopify stores can automatically fix tracking to capture all marketing channels and ensure that data in Google Analytics matches Shopify sessions and transactions (not to mention the data in your actual bank account!), even when using special checkouts like ReCharge and CartHook. When you're missing out on the revenue you should already have, an audit is the first step in understanding where it's falling away, or where you're over-spending. Run an audit. Make a list. Fix your tracking. Grow your revenue. Sometimes it really is that simple!

2018-08-01

The World Cup guide to marketing attribution

It’s World Cup fever here at Littledata. Although two of the nationalities in our global team didn’t get through the qualifiers (US & Romania) we still have England and Russia to support in the next round. And I think the World Cup is a perfect time to explain how marketing attribution works through the medium of football. In football (or what our NYC office calls 'soccer'), scoring a goal is a team effort. Strikers put the ball in the net, but you need an incisive midfield pass to cut through the opposition, and a good move starts from the back row. ‘Route one’ goals scored from a direct punt up the pitch are rare; usually teams hit the goal from a string of passes to open up the opportunity. So imagine each touch of the ball is a marketing campaign on your site, and the goal is a visitor purchasing. You have to string a series of marketing ‘touches’ together to get the visitor in the back of the net. For most ecommerce sites it is 3 to 6 touches, but it may be more for high value items. Now imagine that each player is a different channel. The move may start with a good distribution from the Display Ads defender, then a little cut back from nimble Instagram in the middle. Facebook Ads does the running up the wing, but passes it back to Instagram for another pass out to the other wing for Email. Email takes a couple of touches and then crosses the ball inside for AdWords to score a goal – which spins if off the opposing defender (Direct). GOAL!!! In this neat marketing-football move all the players contribute, but who gets credit for the goal? Well that depends on the attribution model you are using. Marketing attribution as a series of football passes Last interaction This is a simplest model, but less informative for the marketing team. In this model the opposing defender Direct gets all the credit – even though he knew nothing about the end goal! Last non-direct click This is the attribution model used by Google Analytics (and other tools) by default. In this model, we attribute all of the goal to the last campaign which wasn’t a Direct (or session with unknown source). In the move above this is AdWords, who was the last marketing player to touch the ball. But AdWords is a greedy little striker, so do we want him to take all the credit for this team goal? First interaction You may be most interested in the campaign that first brought visitors to your website. In this model, Display ads would take all the credit as the first touch. Display often performs best when measured as first interaction (or first click), but then as a ‘defender’ it is unlikely to put the ball in the net on its own – you need striker campaigns as well. Time decay This model shares the goal between the different marketing players. It may seem weird that a player can have a fraction of a goal, but it makes it easy to sum up performance across lots of goals. The player who was closest to the goal gets the highest share, and then it decays as we go back in time from the goal. So AdWords would get 0.4, Email 0.5 (for the 2 touches before) and Instagram gets 0.1. [subscribe] Data-driven attribution This is a model available to Google Analytics 360 customers only. What the Data-driven model does is run through thousands of different goals scored and look at the contribution of each player to the move. So if the team was equally likely to score a goal without Facebook Ads run down the wing it will give Facebook less credit for the goal. By contrast, if very few goals get scored without that pass from Instagram in the midfield then Instagram gets more credit for the goal. This should be the fairest way to attribute campaigns, but the limitation is it only considers the last 4 touches before the goal. You may have marketing moves which are longer than 4 touches. Position based Finally you can define your own attribution weighting in Position Based model, based on which position the campaign was in before the goal. For example, you may want to give some weight to the first interaction and some to the last, but little to the campaigns in between. Still confused? Maybe you need a Littledata analytics expert to help build a suitable model for you. Or the advice of our automated coach known as the analytics audit. After all, every strategy could use a good audit to make sure it's complete and up-to-date. So go enjoy the football, and every time someone talks of that ‘great assist’ from the winger, think of how you can better track all the uncredited marketing campaigns helping convert customers on your site.

2018-07-02

Google Analytics Data Retention policy - which reports does it limit?

From 25th May 2018 Google allowed you to automatically wipe user-level data from the reporting from before a cut-off date, to better comply with GDPR. We made the change for Littledata's account to wipe user-level data after 26 months, and this is what we found when reporting before February 2016. Reports you can still view before the user data removal  Audience metrics Pageviews ✓ Sessions  ✓ Users  X Bounce rate  ✓  Audience dimensions Demographics  X OS / Browser  X Location  X User Type  X  Behaviour Pageviews ✓ Custom events X

2018-06-04

Troubleshooting your Google Analytics goals setup (VIDEO)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGY013J9QGg So you've got your new sales plan in action and you've set up unique goals in Google Analytics. Are they tracking what you think they're tracking? Are you sure they're giving you reliable data? If you've audited your analytics setup, you might have noticed any number of incorrect audit checks about how you've set up custom events for your Google Analytics (GA) goals. Goals are used to make important business decisions, such as where to focus your design or advertising spend, so it's essential to get accurate data about them. In this quick video we cover common issues with setting up Google Analytics goals, including: Tracking pageviews rather than completed actions Selecting the wrong match type Inconsistent naming when tagging marketing campaigns Filters in your GA view rewriting URLs (so what you see in the browser is different from what you see in GA) Issues with cross-domain tracking [subscribe] In GA, a goal is any type of completed activity on your site or app. GA is a remarkably flexible platform, so you can use it to measure many different types of user behaviour. This could be visitors clicking a subscribe button, completing a purchase, signing up for membership -- known as 'conversion goals' -- or other types of goals such as 'destination goals', when a specific page loads, and 'duration goals', when a user spends over a particular amount of time on a page or set of pages. That all sounds well and good, but trouble comes if you simply set up goals and then trust the data they give you in GA, without double-checking to make sure that data's consistent and reliable. We hope you find the video useful. And don't despair -- even a little extra time spent on your GA setup can yield awesome results. Sign up for the Littledata app to audit your site for free, and let us know if you've experienced other common issues with setting up goals in GA.

2018-02-21

GDPR compliance for ecommerce businesses

Ecommerce companies typically store lots of personally identifiable information (PII), so how can you make compliance easier without compromising analysis? With the deadline for GDPR compliance looming, I wanted to expand on my previous article on GDPR and Google Analytics to focus on ecommerce. Firstly, who does this apply to? GDPR is European Union legislation that applies to any company trading in Europe: so if you sell online and deliver to European Union member countries, the regulations apply to you. It's essential that you understand how your online business is collecting and storing PII. Splitting PII from anonymous data points Your goal should be to maintain two separate data stores: one that contains customer details, from where you can look up what a specific customer bought, and one that contains anonymous data points, from where you can see performance and trends. The data store for the customer details will typically be your ecommerce back-end and/or CRM (see below). This will include name, email, address, purchase history, etc. It will link those with a customer number and orders numbers. If a customer wants the right of access all the relevant details should be in this store. We use Google Analytics as the anonymous data store (although you may have a different ecommerce analytics platform). There you can store data which only refers to the customer record. These are called pseudo-anonymous data points under GDPR: they are only identifiable to a customer if you can link the customer number or order number back to your ecommerce back-end. Pseudo-anonymous data points you can safely send to Google Analytics include: Order number / transaction ID Order value / transaction amount Tax & shipping Product names and quantities Customer number Hashed email address (possibly a more flexible to link back to the customer record) If a customer exercises their right to removal, removing them from the ecommerce back-end will be sufficient. You do not also have to remove them from your Google Analytics, since the order number and customer number now have nothing to refer to. You do still need due process to ensure access to Google Analytics is limited, as in extreme circumstances a combination of dimensions such as products, country / city and browser, could identify the customer. [subscribe] Isn’t it simpler to just have one store? Every extra data store you maintain increases the risk of data breaches and complexity of compliance – so why not just analyse a single customer data store? I can think of three reasons not to do so: Marketing agencies (and other third parties) need access to the ecommerce conversion data, but not the underlying customer data Removing a customer’s order history on request would impact your historic revenue and purchase volumes – not desirable Your CRM / ecommerce platform is not built for large scale analysis: it may lack the tools, speed and integrations needed to get meaningful insights Beware of accidental transfers There are a few danger areas where you may inadvertently be sending PII data to Google Analytics: Customer emails captured in a signup event A customised product name – e.g. ‘engraving for Edward Upton’ Address or name captured in a custom dimension Our PII audit check is a quick, free way to make sure that’s not happening. Multiple stores of customer details GDPR compliance becomes difficult when your customer record is fragmented across multiple data stores. For example, you may have product and order information in your ecommerce database, with further customer contact details in a CRM. The simplest advice is to set up automatic two-way integrations between the data stores, so updating the CRM updates the ecommerce platform and visa-versa. Removing customer records from one system should remove them from the other. If that’s not possible, then you need clear processes to update both systems when customer details change, so you can comply with the right to rectification. Conclusion GDPR compliance need not require changing analytics tools or databases, just a clear process for separating out personally identifiable information – and training for the staff involved in handing that data. I hope this brief overview has been helpful. For further advice on how your ecommerce systems comply, please contact us for a free consultation. Littledata has experience with every major analytics platform and a wide range of custom setups. However, as a number of global companies are concurrently prepping for compliance, we highly recommend that you get in touch sooner rather than later!

2018-02-13

How to set up demographics tracking in Google Analytics (VIDEO)

Could you be missing out on your best customers - those that are more likely to convert, and more likely to make big purchases when they do? Watch this quick video to find out how to to set up demographics tracking in Google Analytics. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=PAeCubNxoKI[/embed] Demographics and interests data provides information about the types of customers that are using your site, along with the interests they express through their online travel and purchasing activities. Once you set up this tracking, you'll be able to see your customer base broken down by age group, gender and interests. This data isn't just nice to have; it helps you market to the biggest potential spenders by discovering who's most interested in your products or services. Analytics and AdWords use the same age, gender, and interests categories, so this is particularly useful for improving your targeting on the Google Display Network. [subscribe] That said, connecting demographics data with shopping activity and revenue is a complicated art. Our popular Buyer Personas feature automates reporting and shows you how to improve that spend. And we don't just stop with paid ads. We include personas for every significant channel, including email marketing, organic search, affiliates/referrals and social media campaigns. Wherever you want to use demographics targeting to increase revenue, we've got you covered.

2017-12-05

How to set up campaign tagging in Google Analytics (VIDEO)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVxi0sQmro0&t=5s Google Analytics is only as smart as your tagging. To lower average CPA and increase conversions in a sustainable way, you need an in-depth view of customer acquisition channels. Accurate campaign tagging makes it possible to get the data needed to understand acquisition costs based on particular source and medium. If you want to improve marketing ROI, it's essential to get campaign tagging right in Google Analytics. But how does it all work? Follow the simple rules in this quick how-to video to make sure you're getting accurate data about where your traffic is coming from. [subscribe] Questions addressed in the setup video: What is a campaign in Google Analytics (GA)? What is UTM Parameter and how do I use it? Is it possible that a large volume of my 'Direct' traffic in GA is actually coming from sources such as email or social, but just wasn't tagged correctly? How do I know? I want to see all email marketing campaign traffic as one line item in my GA reports. Do spellings matter? Are UTM parameters case-sensitive? What are the best practices for GTM tagging using the Google Analytics Link Builder? For more info on custom campaign tracking, check out this detailed post about campaign parameters and how to use them. Remember that when you set up new campaigns or marketing channels, things can change or get lost in the mix. It's important to keep an eye on your analytics setup. Even once you've successfully set up campaign tagging in GA, we recommend auditing your analytics on a regular basis. And don't stop there. Once you've established data accuracy, follow in the footsteps of the most successful ecommerce sites and use Buyer Personas to get a clear view of which types of customers are more likely to convert in each channel. Now that's smart growth, driven by data!

2017-10-31

Is Google Analytics compliant with GDPR?

From May 2018 the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into force in the European Union, causing all marketers and data engineers to re-consider how they store, transmit and manage data – including Google Analytics. If your company uses Google Analytics, and you have customers in Europe, then this guide will help you check compliance. The rights enshrined by GDPR relate to any data your company holds which is personally identifiable: that is, can be tied back to a customer who contacts you. The simplest form of compliance, and what Google requires in the GA Terms of Use, is that you do not store any personally identifiable information. Imagine a customer calls your company and using the right of access asks what web analytics you hold on them. If it is impossible for anyone at your company (or from your agencies) to identify that customer in GA, then the other right of rectification and right of erasure cannot apply. Since it is not possible to selectively delete data in GA (without deleting the entire web property history) this is also the only practical way to comply. The tasks needed to meet depends on your meaning of ‘impossible to identify’! Basic Compliance Any customer data sent ‘in the clear’ to GA is a clear break of their terms, and can result in Google deleting all your analytics for that period. This would include: User names sent in page URLs Phone numbers captured during form completion events Email addresses used as customer identifiers in custom dimensions If you’re not sure, our analytics audit tool includes a check for all these types of personally identifiable information. You need to filter out the names and emails on the affected pages, in the browser; applying a filter within GA itself is not sufficient. But I prefer a belt-and-braces approach to compliance, so you should also look at who has access to the Google Analytics account, and ensure that all those with access are aware of the need not to capture personal data and GDPR more generally. You should check your company actually owns the Google Analytics account (not an agency), and if not transfer it back. At the web property level, you should check only a limited number of admins have permission to add and remove users, and that all the users only have permission to the websites they are directly involved in. Or you could talk to us about integrations with your internal systems to automatically add and remove users to GA based on roles in the company. [subscribe] Full Compliance Other areas which could possibly be personally identifiable and you may need to discuss are: IP addresses Postcodes/ZIP codes Long URLs with lots of user-specific attributes The customer’s IP address is not stored by Google in a database, or accessible to any client company, but it could potentially be accessed by a Google employee. If you’re concerned there is a plug-in to anonymise the last part of the IP address, which still allows Google to detect the user’s rough location. ZIP codes are unlikely to be linked to a user, but in the UK some postcodes could be linked to an individual household – and to a person, in combination with the web pages they visited. As with IPs, the best solution is to only send the first few digits (the ‘outcode’) to GA, which still allows segmenting by location. Long URLs are problematic in reporting (since GA does not allow more than 50,000 different URL variants in a report) but also because, as with postcodes, a combination of lots of marginally personal information could lead to a person. For example, if the URL was mysite.com/form?gender=female&birthdate=31-12-1980&companyName=Facebook&homeCity=Winchester This could allow anyone viewing those page paths in GA to identify the person. The solution is to replace long URLs with a shortened version like mysite.com/form And for bonus points... All European websites are required to get visitors to opt in to a cookie policy, which covers the use of the GA tracker cookie. But does your site log whether that cookie policy was accepted, by using a custom event? Doing so would protect you from a web-savvy user in the future who wanted to know what information has been stored against the client ID used in his Google cookie. I feel this client ID is outside the scope of GDPR, but guaranteeing that the user on GA can be linked to opt-in consent of the cookie will help protect against any future data litigation. The final area of contention is hashing emails. This is the process used to convert a plain email like ‘me@gmail.com’ into a unique string like ‘uDpWb89gxRkWmZLgD’. The theory is that hashing is a one-way process, so I can’t regenerate the original personal email from the hash, rendering it not personal. The problem is that some common hashing algorithms can be cracked, so actually the original email can be deduced from a seemingly-random string. The result is that under GDPR, such email hashes are considered 'pseudonymized' - the resulting data can be more widely shared for analysis, but still needs to be handled with care. For extra security, you could add a ‘salt’ to the hashing, but this might negate the whole reason why you want to store a user email in the first place – to link together different actions or campaigns from the same user, without actually naming the user. There are ways around that strike a compromise. Contact Littledata for a free initial consultation or a GDPR compliance audit.

2017-10-19

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