Harnessing data insights to drive retention and growth with subscriptions

Recently, Ari Messer, Co-founder and CMO at Littledata, caught up with Awtomic—who provides shoppers and merchants with the best tools to manage subscription products and membership services easily. Brands that have subscription models at the core of their business know that in 2023 increasing their retention rate for new and existing users is key to their growth. Ari shared the importance of using data effectively in decision-making by understanding consumer behavior and attribution saying:  “The marketing mix for every brand is a little different. To reach high-value customers you have to adjust marketing and not just aim for a big purchase at the beginning but for the right kinds of engaged customers. You have to use your data to build community.”   Many brands struggle with consistent, trustworthy data which can lead to poor decisions and ineffective marketing. Littledata’s app helps merchants clean up and organize their data sources so that they can make informed decisions—saving hours of implementation time and data maintenance.  Merchants' biggest problems with Google Analytics include inconsistent data, missing data, and double tracking. Littledata helps clean up these problems and provides consistent data by grabbing serverside and clientside data from their Shopify or BigCommerce store and sending it to destinations like Segment and Google Analytics (UA +GA4). The result is that merchants can confidently make decisions based on accurate data, including LTV and cohort analysis. This includes one-off or recurring orders which is something many brands struggle to sort out by doing analysis.   Of course, brands are looking at data to increase their bottom line but big players in the space also are using data to drive creative campaigns for their target audience which in turn amplifies their brand’s community and often reaches higher value customers. Looking to stay on top of the Shopify and BigCommerce data scene? Join the thousands of brands who receive news and updates from Littledata, sign up for our newsletter.


Which DTC brands are topping The Lead's Foremost 50?

Each year, The Lead honors 50 digitally native, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that are challenging the industry norms and changing the way we do business online. 2023’s list just dropped and we’re thrilled to see so many of Littledata’s favorite brands celebrated for breaking the mold and redefining the future of ecommerce. Athletic Brewing Co. The craft beer industry is booming! And for health-conscious consumers, who want to enjoy an artisanal brew without the buzz, Athletic Brewing is the way to go! Since 2018, Athletic Brewing has offered a wide range of great-tasting, non-alcoholic beers, delivered straight to your front door. Five years later and Athletic Brewing is the largest non-alcoholic beer brand in the world, recently expanding operations across North America and Europe. But global expansion has its challenges, including unique preferences in both product and marketing.  To succeed in the global marketplace, it’s critical that Athletic Brewing tests different site layouts, product displays, and marketing strategies. By leveraging Littledata’s Google Analytics app for Shopify Plus stores, Athletic Brewing has an accurate view of their A/B test performance and can fuel their business decisions with real results. Don’t just take our word for it though, here is what Athletic Brewing said about Littledata: “​​Great tool that provides valuable information and insights for our eComm business. A must-have for back-end Google Analytics management and data connections. Customer support is top-notch with quick response and friendly service. Setup is easy and has really expanded our reporting capabilities.” — Athletic Brewing Company Littledata’s Google Analytics connection and advanced Recharge tracking give subscription brands like Athletic Brewing a deeper understanding of their customer’s lifetime value (LTV) and how it varies by product and channel. LTV is a crucial metric for any ecommerce brand, but especially for brands selling by subscription, revealing which product lines have the most loyal and profitable customers and which marketing channels are converting those high-LTV customers.  How Athletic Brewing leverages data With accurate LTV insights by channel, Athletic Brewing identified their top-performing channels and doubled down on their most profitable campaigns. They were able to boost conversion and retention rates, without increasing their ad budget or customer acquisition costs (CAC). Through optimizing their paid campaigns, Athletic Brewing successfully reached high-LTV customers.  BloomChic BloomChic is a digitally native, DTC clothing and lifestyle brand for the modern woman. Built on the philosophy “Live with ease, dress with joy,” BloomChic is dedicated to offering affordable, stylish, and comfortable clothes for women sizes 10-30. BloomChic has scaled their Shopify Plus store internationally to empower women around the world through accessible, inclusive fashion. After the release of iOS 14, ecommerce brands struggled to understand where their customers were coming from and which campaigns were converting them. BloomChic was no exception. As a fast-growing, data-driven brand, setting up Littledata’s Google Analytics connection was a no-brainer. The more data BloomChic captures about their global audience, the better they can optimize their marketing campaigns and boost conversions. By employing Littledata’s server-side tracking solution, BloomChic unlocked a complete picture of the customer journey. From discovery at the source to post-purchase events, they fixed their attribution dilemma and continue to scale their top-performing campaigns and marketing channels. How BloomChic leverages data When it comes to website optimization and UI/UX decisions, browsing behavior speaks volumes. BloomChic relies on accurate browsing and checkout behavior to optimize the user journey, identifying key customer touchpoints, which interactions lead to higher conversion rates, and where customers drop off during the checkout process. By leveraging accurate Shopify data in Google Analytics, BloomChic has improved their customer journey, optimizing conversion touchpoints for higher conversion rates and revenue. Bobbie Bobbie is shaking the stigma of how mothers choose to feed their babies. Bobbie’s revolutionary baby formula is the first European-inspired recipe to be approved by the FDA. As a mom-founded and led company, Bobbie is designed with high-quality ingredients and affordability and accessibility in mind. One of the biggest challenges new moms face is a lack of time in their newfound routines. Bobbie helps to support busy moms by offering convenient delivery options, including flexible subscriptions — easily pause, edit, or cancel your subscription at any time. Retention is always the goal — especially when it comes to subscription-based businesses — but the key to retaining customers lies in understanding them. And while Shopify’s standard Google Analytics tracking misses between 30 and 90% of orders for non-standard, subscription checkouts, Bobbie leverages Littledata’s plug-and-play Recharge connection to capture complete customer data, including post-purchase events like subscriptions. With complete subscription data at their fingertips, the Bobbie team is able to perfect their retargeting campaigns, optimize their subscriber experience, and never miss out on a loyalty opportunity. How Bobbie leverages data The majority of Bobbie’s sales are recurring orders, which makes complete subscription data an essential piece of their business. With accurate insights into their recurring orders, Bobbie’s management team can project quarterly and annual sales with ease and accuracy, helping them improve ecommerce logistics in ordering and managing inventory. By matching demand to their upcoming sales, Bobbie saves more on overhead costs, maximizes profit, and inventory doesn’t go to waste. [tip] Do you trust your subscription tracking? Download the Recharge smart connection guide to learn how to capture complete subscriber data in Google Analytics. [/tip] Harper Wilde Tired of the over-sexualized, overpriced bra industry, Jenna and Jane set out to create a more comfortable world for women, starting with the basics — bras and underwear. Along came Harper Wilde. Harper Wilde is built on a core belief that every woman deserves to feel comfortable and confident in her own skin, which is why they focus on creating high-quality, comfortable, and affordable undergarments for women of all shapes and sizes. But here’s the thing — they don’t just rely on their intuition to make decisions about their product development and business strategy. They’ve implemented a data-driven approach, powered by Littledata’s Shopify source to Google Analytics, to understand how customers interact with their ecommerce store and marketing campaigns.  With a complete view of their store performance in Google Analytics, Harper Wilde uses data to guide product, marketing, and UI/UX decisions. Accurate churn, retention, and LTV data in Google Analytics fuels critical business strategies, directs decision-making, and leads long-term growth plans. How Harper Wilde leverages data Harper Wilde uses accurate data in Google Analytics to better understand and communicate with their customers. With accurate insights on browsing behavior, Harper Wilde has built out personalized SMS and email marketing campaigns to retarget abandoned carts and engage customers based on their interests, previous purchases, and shopping behavior. By implementing a customer-centric messaging strategy, Harper Wilde has increased revenue, lowered customer acquisition costs, and boosted customer lifetime value. Spot & Tango Since the DTC boom in 2020, new brands have been popping up left and right, offering the products you love from the convenience of your home — and your pup’s favorite meal service is no exception! Spot & Tango specializes in curating custom meal plans based on your dog’s breed, age, weight, and activity level, ensuring that they have the proper nutrition to live a healthy life. And the best part? They use only the freshest, locally sourced ingredients. It’s no surprise that a brand like Spot & Tango has gone headless for maximum flexibility, speed, and personalization opportunities. But headless builds come with their fair share of challenges. Without the right tools, headless Shopify stores struggle with inaccurate and incomplete data across marketing channels, browsing behavior, sales data, and more.  By connecting Spot & Tango’s headless Shopify store to Google Analytics with Littledata, they didn’t skip a beat. Littledata uses server-side tracking to capture complete sales data, checkout events, and marketing attribution for headless setups, no matter how complex. How Spot & Tango leverages data A common challenge headless stores face is the disconnect between the front-end browsing experience and the back-end checkout events. Lucky for Spot & Tango, Littledata stitches together sessions to ensure accurate marketing attribution. They have since leveraged accurate marketing attribution and transaction data across first-time, one-off, and recurring orders to fix their retargeting and cart abandonment campaigns. With a real view of their customers’ behavior, Spot & Tango built out loyalty opportunities, increased customer lifetime value, and reduced acquisition costs through impactful marketing. [tip] Littledata tracks headless Shopify stores in Google Analytics and Segment. [/tip] Conclusion We love that The Lead pays homage to the top DTC brands that are redefining the future of ecommerce, and we’re honored to work hand-in-hand with so many of those incredible brands. Learn more about Littledata: Advanced Facebook Ads via Facebook Conversions API GA4: What Shopify stores should do TODAY to keep up with the new version of Google Analytics Is it possible to track headless Shopify setups? The Ultimate Guide to Subscription Analytics


Grow your subscription business with revenue based loans

Revenue-based loans for early-stage companies burst into the mainstream in 2022. Whether you are a subscription commerce business or a SaaS company, this could be a powerful new way to fund your expansion. In this guide I’ll explain what I’ve learnt as a founder from many weeks of conversations about the different flavours of debt funding, and when they’re appropriate for your business. What is a revenue-based loan (RBL)? An RBL is a business loan secured against a company’s future recurring revenue stream rather than the company’s assets. Most growth-phase companies can’t borrow from traditional banks because they are not profitable, are asset-light, and don’t have big enough revenue streams. Alternative debt providers, including RBLs, have stepped in to fill that need. This is different to invoice factoring. Factoring companies take over the billing relationship with your customers to repay the debt, which doesn’t work for companies like Littledata where most of the revenue is from Stripe card processing or payouts from an app store. How do RBLs compare with traditional loans? RBLs are typically covenant-lite and without personal guarantees. This means if your revenue drops and you are unable to repay the loans the lender has no right to take control of the business or pursue you personally for the debt. That said, all debt needs to be repaid in full — even if your revenue drops unexpectedly. How do RBLs compare with selling equity (VC funding)? Firstly, they are much less dilutive - sometimes non dilutive. This means the current shareholders keep their same hard-earned share of the business. Some lenders may ask for warrants (share options) to share in the upside if your growth takes off, but these are still a lot less dilutive than VC funds. Secondly, RBL providers won’t interfere or distract you. They don’t want a say in how you run your business; they only want visibility on how your revenue is progressing. On the flip side, debt providers won’t be able to advise you on growth strategy — most are very transactional. Yet, in my experience, VC investors exaggerate the benefit of their advice, which can be just as distracting as helpful.  Since the outcome for most VC-based companies is very binary, VC funds inevitably focus their attention on the biggest winners in their portfolio — meaning you won't get their attention in times of need anyway. In many cases RBLs are not a complete alternative to equity funding — they just reduce your dilution by match funding other equity investments. Are RBLs the same as venture debt? The terms are often used interchangeably, but traditionally venture debt was taken on alongside a big injection of cash for equity (e.g. alongside a Series A investment). This boosts the size of an already large funding round but doesn’t help companies trying to grow up to this level. RBLs can be used independent of any equity funding round. Littledata’s Story Littledata started exploring revenue based loans back in 2020, and took out our first 3 month loan from Forward Advances. However, with our marketing mix and 30 day free trial it’s impossible to get a return on investment within 3 months. So in 2021 we took on a 12 month loan from ClearCo, and then in 2022 another 12 month facility from Capchase. Then later in 2022 we started working with Element Finance, who have been extremely helpful in working around our existing lending and can lend over 4 years to postpone a larger equity raise. Will taking on a loan reduce my funding options in the future? As this kind of debt funding becomes more mainstream it is becoming a useful bridge to ever-larger Series A rounds. In my experience, having a loan on your books will not block an equity investment - as long as it is not convertible into equity, and the warrants for the lenders are minimal. In fact, since debt funders are agnostic about the exit route or valuation, they keep open exit options that a VC might block. So for example, If your growth stalls and you want to switch to run your company for profit, once you’ve repaid the debt, the income is all yours. If you can use debt funding to achieve a certain scale ($5M+ ARR), you’ll be able to access much cheaper term loans from lenders like Silicon Valley Bank. Is my business suitable for an RBL? If you haven’t yet generated $100k annual recurring revenue (ARR), or you are investing in a new and unproven market, then equity funding is a better option. To get confident in the stability of your future revenue streams the debt provider will want to see: 1. Majority recurring revenue 2. High net year-on-year revenue growth (at least 50%+) 3. Low customer value churn (less than 50% per year) 4. Low customer concentration (any one customer churning has low impact) My company Littledata qualifies on all fronts with 100% recurring revenue, high year-over-year growth, less than 40% gross value churn, and our largest customer is less than 2% of our revenue. How much can I borrow? Loan values are usually expressed as a multiple of run rate ARR, and the maximum will be between 20% (2 months revenue) and 50% (6 months revenue) of your ARR. This maximum depends on revenue stability, term length, and other factors. I think I can raise a VC. Are RBLs still relevant? I think so, yes. It helps boost your valuation and gives you time to wait for the right investor. Investors value subscription-based companies as a multiple of their ARR, depending on growth and churn. If you’re growing at a predictable rate month-over-month, why would you sell out a bigger share now when you could hold off for a higher valuation in the future. Short-term RBLs won’t increase your runway unless you can increase your revenue faster than the loan duration - otherwise the extra revenue you gain from bringing forward hiring or marketing spending will likely be offset by the debt repayments. But VC funding can also reduce your runway (by encouraging higher burn rates) AND limit your exit options. It’s a necessary evil in some cases, but don’t believe it’s the only way. (Image credit: Founder Collective) What are the options for funding a sub-$2M ARR business? At this level, you are limited to borrowing over a maximum 12-month term. This means you’ll need to repay the loan monthly over a year, so if you borrow $200k you’ll repay around $18k per month including a fee. This fee is typically expressed as a discount rate — equivalent to the discount you might offer a customer for paying annually rather than monthly. Discount rates on 12-month loans currently range from 5% to 11% depending on the underwriting risk. This translates to an APR of 10% to 18% since half of the money is repaid within half the loan term. Some lenders will structure the repayments as a percent of your monthly revenue (i.e. you repay over a minimum of 12 months), which limits the cash out if your revenue sinks. But, in practice for a growing company, the repayments will be fixed. You could also borrow for 6 months for half the cost. This doesn’t work for us, but it could work for you if you can quickly translate marketing dollars into more recurring revenue. Since the process is usually fully automated — with data feeds from common accounting and banking platforms — these lenders are very quick, with offers in 24 hours and loans within 10 days. Some of the lenders in this space are: Clearco (previously Clearbanc) Uncapped Forward Advances (stopped lending) Capchase Velocity Capital Vitt Founderpath Pipe Full disclosure: we’ve taken loans from Forward Advances, Clearco, Capchase, and Element Finance. What are the options for funding a $2M+ ARR business? The lenders above will welcome you with open arms; at this scale, their risk is lower and the fees are higher. But there are now more options for lower interest rates and longer-term loans. Element Finance offers 4-year loans of $500k+, with no warrants. Element Finance recently provided funding to Littledata for the next stage of growth.  Saas Capital, based in Seattle, also offers 4 to 5 year loans with lower interest and warrants. They can lend between 4x and 12x trailing MRR, depending on growth and churn, but focus more on SaaS. Riverside Acceleration Capital offers a 3 to 5-year loan, with an interest-only period at the start to reduce cash out. Prefcap offers a 2-year, rolled-up loan (no monthly payments, but repaid or refinanced in full at the end of 2 years). This reduces your cash out, but they want warrants with the right to invest equity in the next round. Flow Capital, based in Canada, offers a 3 to 5-year loan with lower interest but with warrants. Lending over longer periods is much less predictable, so the process will be more like interacting with a VC: a week or two to get to a term sheet, and then 6 to 8 weeks to complete due diligence and access the funds. In Conclusion If you’re a growing subscription business, check out the possibilities for RBL financing. Even if you don’t need the money now, it can be a useful option for bridging to the next equity round — or allowing you to say no to egregious term sheets. I’ve spent many weeks pitching VCs and as flattering as it is to have experienced investors quiz you about strategy, I’d far rather be putting the capital to work in growing the product and customer base. RBL funding gives me that option.


Beginners Facebook Ads guide for ecommerce brands

So, you’re thinking of trying out Facebook ads for the first time for your eCommerce business.You’ve got your online store in your website all set up, you’ve optimised for conversion, you’ve got sufficient stock, you’re starting to see traction with your sales, but now you want to seriously scale…Well you’ve come to the right place! Paid ads in general, and specifically Facebook & Instagram ads for online retailers, are one the best ways to build out a sustainable and scalable revenue generating machine for your brand.There’s a reason why Facebook, alongside Google, is the biggest ad platform in the world. On average, over 1.6 billion (yes billion) users visit Facebook each day. That’s 1.6b potential customers to sell your products to.All these users mean that as a platform, Facebook has the largest global network of audience data, which allows for far better targeting in your specific niche! So you’re convinced Facebook is the place for your brand, but where do you start? WTF is a Facebook Pixel? Should you use daily budget or lifetime budget?Don’t fret! I’ve created an easy Facebook & Instagram ads tutorial to hold your hand and help you launch your first campaigns. This advice is based on my experience over the last 6 years managing a paid ads agency (Snowball Creations) specialising in all kinds of eCommerce businesses.You need all this basic stuff in place to get the most out of your budget - So let’s get started! Step 1: PreparationSet Up A Facebook Page And Instagram Account: First off, we need to set up your Facebook page and your Instagram account. You can’t just run ads across Instagram or Facebook if you don’t have a profile/page. You can create and manage ads for both of these platforms from within the Facebook Ads manager. Here’s is a simple guide from Facebook themselves to complete this step. Then you can create your profile for Instagram by just getting the app on your phone or tablet and signing up like any other person creating a profile. Here’s a guide for that too if needed. The next step is switching from a personal account to a business one. Here’s how. Finally, you need to connect your Facebook page to your instagram account to that they’re linked. Step one done ✅ Set Up Your ‘Business Manager’: Now you need to create a business manager account in Facebook. Some people refer to this as Facebook Ads Manager and the name is pretty self-explanatory. Here’s a quick guide to set up your ads manager account. When you’ve done that, you then need to create an ad account, add any payment details, and invite your colleagues as users. (Note: Make any new users you add are given sufficient permissions to access all levels of your ad account and campaigns.) Connect The Facebook Pixel: This is a vital step that will allow you to gather data on who is visiting your website/landing page, and where they came from. You can use this data to create things like lookalike audiences to target with your ads.If your only goal is to get views or engagement on your ads then you can skip this, but for basically every online seller, you will definitely want this in place. Within the settings of your business manager account, you can create a Facebook pixel. For ecommerce companies using Shopify for their website, there are some really useful integrations that make all this tracking very simple. You can just head to the sales channel section of Shopify and connect your store to your Facebook. Here’s a guide on how. If you don’t use Shopify, you can follow this guide to set up the pixel in Facebook Ads Manager. Remember To Verify Your Domain: People often forget this step, but it is needed and sounds more complicated than it is. Just follow this quick guide. Step 2: Campaigns Now let’s get into the nitty gritty (and more creative) part…The campaign structure I’m going to explain is assuming you have an average starting budget of around £1,000 per month for your Facebook Ads.If you have far more pieces of content you want to test, then you’ll need more budget, and if you have even less than 1k to spend, you could try reducing the number of overall ad variations.Essentially what you’re doing here, and what PPC advertising in essence, is creating a giant A/B testing machine to learn what does and doesn’t convert for your brand and your products. This is the structure you’ll be building: By using this strategy, you’ll be testing 3 different variations of audiences, and ad copy (text/caption) within your Facebook and Instagram Ads. Getting The Facebook Ad Copy Right You want to have a distinct headline and copy alongside your images/videos for each different ad copy. Below I’ve suggested three different angles to test for you: Direct Pitch - For this you’ll be focusing on the most compelling USPs and benefits of your eCommerce products. Reviews - This option is pretty self explanatory - Sharing positive reviews/testimonials from happy customers. Humorous/quirky - One other way to stand out among your competitors is to just portray far more personality and humour. This strategy can catch users off guard and disarm them. The aim is to create a fun impression around your brand online. The copy is equally as important as the images or videos in your ads. It’s where you’ll have a CTA (call to action) that actually drives conversions. You want to put plenty of time and effort into really nailing it, and you want to continuously be testing different copy to improve on your results.  Ultimately, which approach in the copy is best for your products and brand really depends on what is best going to represent what’s different about your particular offering. Facebook Ads, like any PPC, is all about testing, testing, testing.For example, some light-hearted, self deferencial humour can work well for retailers like ASOS who are mainly targeting a very young, chronically online audience. But if you’re selling more premium jewellery products for example, then jokes might not quite fit with your brand. Choosing Your Audiences The next step is trying to find your target audience on Facebook and instagram, and the simplest way to start is to segment by Facebook ‘interests’.Let’s take a vegan skincare brand for example. You have some brand new, colourful branding created to try and attract some new customers and reengage your existing customers. For this scenario, you could try building an audience on Facebook of people that have shown an interest in skincare, veganism, or cosmetics. Another way to approach it could be combining Facebook users who have shown an interest in both skincare, and veganism, rather than keeping them separate. There’s likely to be some overlap between these two groups, and joining those audiences helps you to narrow down even more who is seeing your Facebook ads. In theory, they like two things that your product represents, so should be even better potential customers.In summary, you need to create a clear distinction between each audience you test with the theory that you’re testing. For example, you might theorise that anyone who has liked a competitors posts will also potentially be interested in buying your range too. Using this structure I’ve suggested, you’re trying to end up with 3 separate audiences, to use for each different Facebook Ad set. Those three audiences will be the same across all campaigns. Avoid These Mistakes Further down in this article, I’ll go step-by-step to help you build the actual campaign within Facebook Ads Manager, but first I’m going to tell you some of the important things you need to be aware of, and some big landmines that Facebook loves to leave that could seriously waste your time (and money)... Which Is The Right Campaign Objective For You? Within Facebook Ads you will need to choose an ‘objective’ for your campaign based on what your main goals are. If you want to just get your ads in front of loads of people in the audiences you created, you can select ‘traffic’ or ‘engagement’ as your objective. This tells Facebook to show your ads to as many people as possible. But for most eComm brands, I’d suggest setting a goal that is much further down your sales funnel. By this I mean selecting an objective like ‘conversions’ or perhaps traffic but specifically on your checkout page. This means you’ll be optimizing your ads for sales. It varies massively depending on your route to market. For example, a food brand focusing on getting more sales of its products in supermarkets would be more focused on brand awareness over online sales. One important thing to remember though is that if you’re running Facebook Ads for the first time, you won’t have any data built up, and so optimising for something like conversions will be difficult as Facebook has no past conversion data to base things off of. For this reason, brands will often start out with a campaign goal further up the funnel like site visits, or perhaps time spent on the site as a nice middle ground until sales start coming in. Set Your Budgets At The Right Level When you’re budgeting for your ad spend to Facebook, you should aim to split it evenly across all your various ad sets. Facebook does give you the option to set your budgets at the campaign level instead of further down in the ad sets, but this gives Facebook the power to decide where to spend your money.From my experience running PPC campaigns for clients in all sorts of industries, Facebook hasn’t proven themselves to be very effective at judging the success of campaigns without a lot of data to go off. So it’s an especially ineffective budgeting strategy when you’re just starting out. I would instead suggest that you set a daily ad spend budget for each Instagram or Facebook ad set.So if you have a $1,000 a month ad budget for example, you can then divide that number by 30 days to give you $33.33 a day budget. Then, you want to further divide this number by the 9 ad sets you’ve created, giving you about $3.70 per ad set per day.Then obviously as the ads run and you start to see data and conversions coming in, you can make educated choices on which ad sets deserve more or less budget. Should You Use Dynamic Creative Ads? One other feature you’ll likely come across within Facebook is ‘Dynamic Creative ads’. This feature allows you to create multiple different options for each section of your ads, such as the ad title, the images, or the CTA.Then Facebook will A/B test those options you’ve created and attempt to ‘learn’ what does and doesn’t work for your business. In my experience, however, Facebook’s not the best at judging these things unless they have a massive amount of data built up to help them. For example, a common mistake could be that Facebook prioritises and spends more on ads that are getting a higher CTR (Click-through rate) or a lower CPC (Cost-per-click). But although those metrics are promising, as an online retailer your focus should be on optimising off of conversion data, not just engagement with your ads. What Is The Detailed Targeting Expansion? When you go about setting up a Facebook audience, there will be a small checkbox labeled ‘'detailed targeting expansion', which is usually turned on by default. This setting often reduces the quality of your audiences, as it lets Facebook move away from the parameters you’ve chosen and push your ads where they think is best/ still relevant. There’s probably a theme becoming obvious to you...Don't always do what Facebook suggests! It might sound odd, but honestly, most Facebook or Instagram ads experts will agree that the automated settings they suggest you use aren't suitable for the majority of businesses trying paid ads. Use Manual Placements In the case of audience placements, it’s actually often best to leave these open and to allow Facebook to push your adverts where it sees fit across their platform. However, the ‘audience network’ specifically has proven to be a lower-quaility option and doesn’t convert very well when we’ve used it for our eComm clients. For most brands I recommend switching to manual placements and unchecking ‘audience network’ too. How To Build Your Campaigns There is a great guide showing a complete step-by-step and up-to-date tutorial on how to build your Facebook or Instagram campaigns. You can read that here. 3. And We’re Live! Now you’ve got your ads manager account set up correctly, and your campaigns are built out with a solid starting matrix of different copies and audiences to be tested. You’ve double and triple-checked that your ad spend is input correctly and you’re not going to accidentally spend more than you can afford to. So, you're ready to get your ads live for the first time (YAY!)It’s time to start packaging and shipping those products… It’s All About The Data Ideally, you should be checking up on your Facebook campaigns daily, or as frequently as you’re able to. With that being said, you should never try and make decisions too quickly before you've given the ads a chance to run and build up data. However, by logging into your account daily you’ll be able to quickly spot and address any obvious errors presenting themselves that could waste your hard-earned money. Usually, after about a week, there might be enough data for you to start making decisions on which ad copy, audiences, or creatives are working for you and which have a really high cost-per-click or low click-through rate, and might be best to stop running. Perhaps just one of your theories and ad sets is producing all of your conversions, and you want to decide to turn off all other options in order to see an immediate jump in your ROAS (Return on ad spend). In short, you’ll slowly whittle down the campaign to just the best performing, meaning you’ll be continuously improving the return on your investment. What You Need To Know About The Facebook Conversions API You’re probably asking, what is the Facebook Conversions API? Well, the Conversion API (formally known as the Facebook Server-Side API), is essentially a tool that allows advertisers to send web events to Facebook from their servers.It is a way for you to send conversion data to your Facebook Ads Manager while still maintaining your customer’s privacy. That’s why the API has been involved in a lot of conversations around the iOS 14 update. You might be asking why you wouldn’t just rely on the Facebook Pixel to capture customer and conversion data? Why would you need both? Well with the Pixel, it’s Facebook that is collecting the data from your website. Whereas with the conversions API, it’s using your own data and giving it to Facebook. Simply put, the Facebook pixel can often miss important data and conversions, so by using the Facebook Conversions API, you can gain back conversions that weren’t being reported before. More data for you to play with basically, and so more data to optimise from!It should be run in parallel with the Facebook Pixel though. It’s not an either-or situation. Here’s a quick breakdown for you of how the Pixel works: It tracks and collects user actions and matches it to a profile on Facebook It tracks conversions and ‘events’ in order to track advert performance Now, before all the iOS 14 changes, this was more than sufficient. But now, with tracking rules imposed by companies like Apple and the subsequent changes Facebook & Instagram had to make in order to not break those rules, it leaves a much bigger space for gaps in conversion data. So that’s where the conversions API can save the day! By combining the pixel data and data from your own ecommerce site or CRM, Facebook can fill the gaps. [tip] Littledata's App offers Meta Facebook Ads Conversions API as a destination: Learn More [/tip] So in conclusion, the new API allows you to fill in the gaps in your conversion data with first-party data, leading to all round more efficient tracking, and better optimization of your paid advertising campaigns. Side note: Don’t worry about conversion events getting doubled up with both forms of tracking set up. Facebook, being clever as they are, have already created a solution for this situation so that events aren’t counted twice. 4. You’re done…Kind Of! So, now you’re up and running. You're a Facebook and Instagram advertising expert (or on your way at least).  You’re seriously building your customer base and a name for your brand online. This guide has helped you get the foundation knowledge on Facebook Ads needed to scale your online sales! The best ad campaign objective for your business will vary if, for example, you're aiming for lead generation rather than actual conversions from an online store. But in the eCommerce world, whether you’re selling skincare sets, bedding, dog toys, books, or furniture products, this guide should help you on your way to building a scalable revenue-generating machine from Facebook.This of course only scratches the surface of all there is to learn about Facebook ads and paid advertising more broadly, and the 100s of nuances in the platform and your testing that can make or break your campaigns. But if you want to continue learning my top tips and tricks then you may find my YouTube series useful.There’s actually a great video going over a checklist of everything you need before starting to spend your money on paid ads. If you want to really snowball your growth and don't have the time too learn it yourself, you can get in touch with us here at Snowball Creations for an exploratory chat. Happy selling!


Tactics every brand needs in 2023 to combat market volatility [Webinar]

The ecommerce industry is ever-changing and in today’s increasingly unpredictable market, it’s more important now than ever before for brands to be on top of the latest trends. In 2022, rising inflation, privacy regulations, and continuous supply chain issues changed the ways many direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands do business. What trends does 2023 have in store, and how can you best prepare your brand to overcome these challenges? Littledata is joining forces with the ecommerce experts at Ordergroove, ShipBob, Checkout.com, and Avex to arm you with the insider knowledge every brand needs to supercharge their ecommerce strategy and make for a fruitful 2023. If you missed the live webinar on Thursday, January 26 at 3 PM EST you can now watch on demand above or on our Youtube Channel. [tip] Learn more about tracking subscriptions with our handy ebook: The DTC Guide to Subscription Analytics[/tip] In this webinar, you’ll learn: Ways top brands are leveraging technology to keep up with consumer demands Little-known ecommerce insights that will impact your brand in a big way  Actionable hacks to supercharge your 2023 strategy Claim your spot >>> About Littledata In today’s uncertain market, brands need to take a data-driven approach to their marketing.  Littledata’s combined client-side and server-side tracking captures data at every touchpoint, from discovery with accurate marketing attribution insights to post-purchase events like subscriptions and upsells, to empower Shopify and BigCommerce with a holistic view of the customer journey. Littledata's Ordergroove integration is just the beginning — it's what you do with the data that counts. Our plug-and-play connections send 100% accurate data to the top reporting tools, including Google Analytics (Universal Analytics and GA4) and Segment.  Check out our Shopify app for Google Analytics and GA4 Check out our BigCommerce app for Google Analytics and GA4 Get our free Ordergroove ebook to learn how to track recurring orders in Google Analytics, Segment, or the reporting tool of your choice See how to automatically improve Facebook Ads performance with the Conversions API (especially powerful for brands selling by subscription!)


Do Shopify's new Commerce Components fit the modern data stack?

We are off to the races in 2023 already with Shopify officially launching Commerce Components by Shopify (CCS), an improved offering for large retailers. CCS allows enterprise retailers to access Shopify's foundational, high-performing components, such as its checkout, along with flexible APIs to build dynamic customer experiences that integrate seamlessly with a retailer's preferred existing services. But larger brands don't just want composable commerce. They also want -- actually, need -- complete, accurate, actionable data. Have Shopify's new Commerce Components been designed with the modern data stack in mind? There are lots of good things to say about Commerce Components. Enterprise retailers can take the components they need and leave those they do not, and developers are “free to build with any front-end framework they choose”, says Shopify. CCS uses Shopify's global scale infrastructure, which has over 275 network edge points to enable fast storefronts and checkouts no matter where customers are located -- and in a year where consumers are savvier than ever and demand a great experience. While we are excited about how this will attract larger brands to the Shopify ecosystem, we feel the Data Analytics component is underwhelming -- and won’t allow enterprise brands to track full server-side event data for building marketing attribution, product recommendation, or personalization data models. This component uses ShopifyQL, launched in mid-2022, as a neat query language for charting. But data analysts using ShopifyQL to query Shopify’s own data tables can only query the current state of the customer or order, and not understand the customer journey that led to that order. Popular reports such as marketing attribution by campaign or channel are just not possible from this data set. Furthermore, most enterprise brands we talk to want to own their own data warehouse and have the flexibility to use best-in-class tools like BigQuery, Looker, and dbt to store and analyze the data. Littledata provides a raw event data feed, directly sourced from Shopify’s servers to power just such a modern data stack -- and gives analysts the flexibility to build their own data models. Littledata is excited to work with brands using Commence Components (including headless stores), but we think Shopify will need to lean on its partner network to provide the breadth of functionality, especially in data analysis, that enterprise brands require. For now brands on our Littledata Plus plans are skeptical about the initial release of Commerce Components, just as they have been about Shopify's new Web Pixel and overall Shopify Theme changes.


How to track ecommerce conversions in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)

Have you mapped out a data plan for 2023 yet? If you’re selling on a major DTC platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, GA4 is probably on your mind. With the sunsetting of Universal Analytics (GA3 or the “old version” of Google Analytics) on the horizon, it’s time to get going with event-based tracking. Many brands have been procrastinating about setting up GA4 – or, worse, only setting it up halfway so that browsing behavior is tracked but revenue and conversions are missing. But can you blame them? Shopify isn’t planning to release native GA4 integration until March 2023 at the earliest (and nobody’s expecting it to work well for serious DTC brands) BigCommerce released a beta version of their GA4 integration in November, but it’s extremely minimal, tracking only begin_checkout and purchase events Manual setup is costly and confusing (and has to be maintained every time you change your site or checkout flow) GA4 revenue tracking should be your top priority, but there’s a lot of confusion around GA4, made worse by Shopify apps that claim to offer GA4 integration but only offer client-side tracking. It shouldn’t be so complicated. At Littledata we’ve already fixed GA4 tracking for hundreds of top DTC brands. In this post I’ll show you how to check if you’ve set up GA4 correctly to capture orders and revenue, and how to start tracking ecommerce conversions today in the most secure and reliable way possible. Follow this guide to GA4 and you’ll be on your way to ecommerce data tracking in no time. We’ll look at how to get from this: To this: How to check if you’re tracking GA4 revenue and conversions After creating a new GA4 property and following the setup assistant to create a new data stream, you might have noticed that you’re instructed to copy and paste the Google tag (gtag.js) script on every page of your ecommerce site. Once you’ve added the Google tag to your site and linked your GA4 property, everything will just start tracking automatically, right? Wrong. With the basic script all you get are engagement events such as page_view, session_start, view_search_result, and click. Obviously these “automatic events” are super important, but they don’t tell you what happens post-click. Here’s how to check if your GA4 ecommerce setup is working or not. 1. Check your Acquisition reporting in GA4 There are two places to look to see if you’re capturing ecommerce conversions. First, the Acquisition reports. You’ll see user and traffic engagement details grouped by channel, but no conversion or revenue data exists. You’re seeing which organic or paid channels are bringing visitors to your store, but you can’t tell if you’re generating any revenue from these visitors. GA4 revenue reporting not showing is one of the most asked questions by merchants and performance marketers. 2. Check your Engagement and Monetization reporting in GA4Taking a step further, check your Engagement and Monetization reports. Do you see GA4 reporting data about cart updates, interactions with the checkout flow, or any purchase or revenue data? If revenue is missing in GA4’s monetization overview, you need to start tracking ecommerce activity ASAP. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of data points that lead nowhere and you will not have an accurate understanding of your ecommerce store’s performance.  [tip] Use our complementary instant order checker for GA4 to check your property [/tip] How to track ecommerce conversions and revenue in GA4 After landing on your store, online shoppers interact with collections and products before adding items to their carts and going through the checkout process. These web interactions must be captured as events and linked with customers and marketing data in GA4 to get a complete picture of your business. We have looked at what data can be missing from your GA4 events and which enhanced ecommerce events you should track. But how can you get all these ecommerce events in GA4?  Google Tag Manager (GTM) has always been the most common tracking method for Universal Analytics, and the setup process can be carried over to GA4. However, for a lean team, the setup process can be quite time-consuming and complex, having to create a Data Layer In Shopify, and then for each event, you must create: Firing Triggers in GTM  Data Layer Variables in GTM Ecommerce Tags in GTM Needless to say, there are quite a few maintenance pitfalls if you're going down this route. Setup is just the beginning. To make matters worse, Shopify is removing GTM from the checkout for Shopify Plus stores (standard Shopify stores never had access). So even if you take the time to add all your own events to tracking visitors before they make a purchase, you’ll no longer be able to track checkout steps (add-to-cart, etc) with GTM. If you want to save time and money while still having confidence in the accuracy of your GA4 data, Littledata is the perfect solution for you. Our proven app is used by over 1500+ brands and can help you track your ecommerce conversions with ease, giving you the reliable data you need to make informed decisions about your business. Littledata’s data layer uses a unique combination of client-side and server-side tracking to ensure accurate, complete ecommerce data in GA4 and any connected data warehouse or reporting destination. Littledata captures complete ecommerce data automatically in GA4 for Shopify and BigCommerce stores. We can break down those events into seven general categories: Marketing channels Browsing behavior Checkout steps Conversions Revenue Recurring orders Upsells Of course, each reporting category has useful data, but brands that really want to scale link it all together to look at revenue and LTV by channel, splitting out first-time purchases from repeat purchases or recurring orders (subscription analytics). As I mentioned earlier, Acquisition reports are some of the most valuable sets of data GA4 offers. They show which of your team’s marketing efforts bring the most results, from traffic through engagement and conversions. The difference between having accurate or questionable ROI data in these reports rests on how the purchase event is tracked. It is useful to have the engagement metrics grouped by channel, but the difference between having accurate or questionable ROI data in these reports rests on how the purchase event is tracked.  Get started with Littledata today so you will have the data you need to scale faster the smart way. We recommend tracking in UA and GA4 “in parallel” as soon as possible.


Twelve Days of Data Tips from Our Founder

Hi Everyone, This is Edward, Founder of Littledata, making it easy for modern DTC brands to get accurate data. 2022 has been a bumper year for Littledata. We extended the product to work with BigCommerce as a data source, and Facebook Ads as a data destination. And after closing a funding round during a tricky period in the financial markets last summer we’ve grown the team to 40 people globally. I’m immensely proud of the glowing reviews we get from customers, and we’ve now been judged as a category leader by G2. It’s been great to see customers like Geologie driving a 25% increase in retention using the improved subscription data available with Littledata. Customers drive Littledata forward, and I always welcome your feedback on where we can take the product next. As something festive for this time of year I wanted to add a data twist to an English classic - the Twelve Days of Christmas. Here it goes! On the twelfth day of data, My analyst sent to me: Twelve reports drumming Management reports are the beating heart of any digital business and you need to be able to trust the data you make decisions from in 2023. I recommend Google Analytics 4 as a powerful, free way to build reports on online marketing, merchandising, customer experience and more. And if you find GA4 a bit ugly you can use the same events in Looker Studio (previously Data Studio) to build pretty management reports. Eleven data piping DTC companies generate valuable first-party data from their customer interactions - but are you piping that data to marketing or analytics platforms where you can make use of it? Littledata pipes first-party data from Shopify and BigCommerce into the platforms that brands rely on - Google, Facebook and hundreds of others via Segment. Ten charts a leaping Data doesn’t come to life until it’s visualized and, as much as I like the chart designs in Shopify Analytics, Google Analytics 4 provides more than ten powerful ways to look at your customer behavior. You can use the GA exploration module to build whatever you fancy, including customer behavior, sales performance and checkout funnels. Nine feeds to Looker If you want more from your charting, look to Looker. Google has rebranded Data Studio to be Looker Studio - and it’s still the same fast and free data visualization suite. Connecting a Google Analytics 4 source is easy, and if the reports don’t run fast enough for you try hooking Looker Studio up to BigQuery. Eight ROAS If you’ve given up on measuring Return On Advertising Spend by campaign in 2022, don’t despair! For Facebook Ads there is a fix in the form of Facebook’s Conversions API, sending the conversion events via Littledata’s servers. And for Google Ads you can import conversions from Google Analytics to improve attribution and measure ROAS. Seven data warehouse Is building a data warehouse on your long to-do list for 2023? Even if you don’t have the budget or bandwidth for deeper data analysis now, it could be a valuable asset for the future? Well you can tick this task off today! GA4 includes a free data feed into BigQuery - Google’s high-scale cloud warehouse. Hosting your event data in BigQuery will cost no more than tens of dollars a month, and from there you could pipe it into another data store of your choice: Snowflake, AWS RedShift or even SQL Server. Six orders matching Accurate management reports need accurate event data to feed them. If your store made 6 orders, you’d expect to see 6 orders in Google Analytics right? Wrong! Stores which rely on the thank you page being tracked to feed an order into GA see only 5 of these 6 orders. A 20% loss of orders and revenue will put a big dent in the trustworthiness of your reporting, and it is totally fixable with server-side order tracking. GA4! Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of GA, and the only version you can use from July 2023. It’s a must for any brand wanting a single source of truth on marketing performance, and powerful ways to share data across Google’s marketing platform. Get started today with Littledata’s GA4 connector! You’ll at least need 6 months of historical data, so it can’t wait until July to get started. Four CAPI birds Facebook Conversions API (CAPI) was one of the big marketing innovations of 2022. It’s the only way to get back some of the lost visibility on Facebook Ads due to iOS 14, and power advanced targeting like dynamic product ads. Earlier this year we launched Littledata’s Conversions API destination for Shopify and BigCommerce to make it super-easy to match Facebook Ads to online conversions. It can’t wind back all the changes to cookies and browser tracking, but it can boost your Facebook performance by 34%. Three UTMs UTM tagging - decorating the link clicks from your online marketing campaigns - is still the bedrock of marketing attribution. Littledata can help you link orders to landing pages, but your company needs a consistent UTM tagging system to get the most from your reporting.  Luckily common platforms like Klaviyo and Google Ads have tools to make this UTM tagging easy. Two data truths ONE - brands that invest in better data get better growth. See case studies of Grind Coffee, Rothys and Geologie. TWO - Google Tag Manager brings as many problems as it solves. Don’t waste weeks getting server-side Google Tag Manager to run - license a proven server-side data platform. And events in Big-Quer-er-er-ry! The icing on the Google Analytics Christmas cake for me is the fast and reliable data feed into Google BigQuery, and from there into Looker Studio or any reporting tool of your choice. For $99 a month you can now license the kind of data pipeline that enterprise brands have spent hundreds of thousands building. There really is no trade off between accuracy and cost saving. Have a very happy Christmas, and wishing your family, team and data a safe and successful 2023! Best wishes, Edward


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