How to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV) for subscription ecommerce in Google Analytics
Many of Littledata's subscription customers come to us with a similar problem: how to calculate return on advertising spend, considering the varying customer lifetime value (CLV) of subscription signups. Calculating marketing ROI for subscription ecommerce is a big problem with a number of potential solutions, but even the initial problem is often misunderstood. In this post I break down what the problem is, and walk through two proven solutions for getting consistent, reliable CLV reporting in Google Analytics. What is customer lifetime value? I work with all kinds of subscription ecommerce businesses: beauty boxes, nutritional supplements, training courses and even sunglasses-by-the-month. All of them want to optimise customer acquisition costs. The common factor is they are all willing to pay way MORE than the value of the customers' first subscription payment... because they expect the customer to subscribe for many months. But for how many months exactly? That's the big question. Paying for a marketing campaign which bring trial customers who cancel after one payment - or worse, before the first payment - is very different from paying to attract sticky subscribers. A marketing director of a subscription business should be willing to pay WAY more to attract customers than stay 12 months than customers who only stay one month. 12 times more, to be precise. So how do we measure the different contribution of marketing campaigns to lifetime customer value? In Google Analytics you may be using ecommerce tracking to measure the first order value, but this misses the crucial detail of how long those shoppers will remain subscribers. With lifetime customer value segments we can make more efficient use of media, tailor adverts to different segments, find new customers with lookalike audiences and target loyalty campaigns. There are two ways for a marketing manager to see this data in Google Analytics: one is a more difficult, manual solution; the other is an easier, automated solution that ties recurring payments back to the original campaigns. A manual solution: segment orders and assign a lifetime value to each channel It's possible to see the required data in GA by manually segmenting orders and assigning a lifetime value to each channel. For this solution you'll need to join together: (a) the source of a sample of first orders from more than a year ago, by customer number or transaction ID and (b) the CLV of these customers The accuracy of the data set for A is limited by how your Google Analytics is set up: if your ecommerce marketing attribution is not accurate (e.g. using Shopify's out-the-box GA scripts) then any analysis is flawed. You can get B from your subscription billing solution, exporting a list of customer payments (and anonymising the name or email before you share the file internally). To link B to A, you'll need either to have the customer number or transaction ID of the first payment (if this is stored in Google Analytics). [subscribe] Then you can join the two data sets in Excel (using VLOOKUP or similar function), and average out the lifetime value by channel. Even though it's only a sample, if you have more than 100 customers in each major channel it should give you enough data to extrapolate from. Now you've got that CLV by channel, and assuming that is steady over time, you could import that back into Google Analytics by sending a custom event when a new customer subscribes with the 'event value' set as the lifetime value. The caveat is that CLV by channel will likely change over time, so you'll need to repeat the analysis every month. If you're looking to get away from manual solutions and excessive spreadsheets, read on... A better solution: tie recurring payments back to the original campaign(s) What if you could import the recurring payments into Google Analytics directly, as they are paid, so the CLV is constantly updated and can be segmented by campaign, country, device or any other standard GA dimension? This is what our Google Analytics connection for ReCharge does. Available for any store using Shopify as their ecommerce platform and ReCharge for recurring billing, the smart connection (integration) ties every recurring payment back to the campaigns in GA. Here's how the connector works The only drawback is that you'll need to wait a few months for enough customer purchase history (which feeds into CLV) to be gathered. We think it's worth the wait, as you then have accurate data going forward without needing to do any manual imports or exports. Then, if you also import your campaign costs automatically, you can do the Return on Investment (ROI) calculations directly in Google Analytics, using GA's new ROI Analysis report (under Conversions > Attribution), or in your favourite reporting tool. Do you have a unique way of tracking your marketing to maximise CLV? Are there other metrics you think are more important for subscription retailers? Littledata's connections are growing. We'll be launching integrations for other payment solutions later this year, so let us know if there's a particular one you'd like to see next.
Introducing Missions: actionable ideas to increase online sales
Over the past few months we’ve been working on a new feature for Littledata users. Our new Missions feature is a data-driven recommendation engine for ecommerce optimisation. The Missions concept is simple, yet powerful. First, you connect Google Analytics in order to see how your site is performing relative to the benchmarks in your sector. Then, if you are underperforming in any given area, the app will suggest some specific optimisation missions. Now, you might think that in 2018 the vast majority of ecommerce websites are serious conversion machines, but that’s simply not the case. Most websites remain woefully under-optimised and are leaving way too much money on the table. Checkouts are abandoned, users bounce before pages load, forms are left uncompleted, and so on. This is becoming a big problem, given the competitive landscape in many sectors. Acquiring new customers is increasingly expensive. A surefire way to make your marketing budget go further is to optimise your website, but where should you start? This is precisely where Missions comes into play: you launch individual missions and work your way through the suggested tasks to improve ecommerce performance, metric by metric. Missions: website optimisation made simple We’ve spent a lot of time researching optimisation techniques that have been shown to work for other companies. That’s not to say that they’ll definitely work for you, but proven ideas are usually well worth testing. We now have hundreds of actionable ideas, which have been clustered together into launchable ‘missions’. Missions are aligned to key ecommerce goals, such as increasing average order value, product list CTR, add to cart rate, checkout completion rate and conversion rate. Individual missions cover areas such as persuasion, merchandising, user experience, copywriting, pricing, CTAs, findability and trust. And since Littledata is good at measuring the little data, you’ll be able to see the results of your efforts within the app. Who should use Missions? Missions is for anybody that wants to optimise a website. It can be used by large digital organisations, SMBs and micro businesses. It is particularly useful for agencies with multiple clients, especially where there are recurring optimisation tasks over multiple websites. The ideas in each mission include guidance on who should be involved in implementation. Roles include ecommerce manager, web developer, copywriter, marketing strategist, and UX designer. [subscribe] How to launch a mission Start by connecting Google Analytics, so we can help you measure success and prove ROI. Once connected we’ll run a quick check to make sure your analytics setup is in good shape (the app will suggest fixes, if anything is awry). You can then compare your performance against your peers, to identify areas that are ripe for improvement. We’ll show you this at the top of your dashboard: By drilling down into each of the above categories you’ll be able to see the detail. As an example, let’s look at the main metrics in the ecommerce category. You’ll see your own data alongside ecommerce benchmarks from your sector (based on data from more than 12,000 websites). This makes it easy to compare and contrast performance. It looks like this: In the above example you can see that ‘add to cart rate’ and ‘conversion rate’ are both considerably lower than the norm. Both of these areas are ripe for improvement. Another metric in the ecommerce category is average order value. For this particular sector the average is $28, and while this particular website is doing reasonably well, it isn’t yet a top performer. Increasing AOV is one of the quickest ways of growing revenue, so we can launch the following mission: So, this first mission - ‘Average order value fundamentals’ - will help you to incrementally increase AOV. It includes ideas in areas such as product bundling, cross-sells, up-sells, wishlists, pricing strategies, personalisation, social proof, and so on. Here’s what the mission looks like - note that each tip can be expanded to reveal more information: You can work your way through the mission and implement (or skip) the ideas. Press the ‘mark as complete’ button to start tracking performance. Once you have done that we will start monitoring performance: Reach your goals, faster Missions should generate considerable - and provable - ROI for the SMBs, corporates and agencies that use it. Work your way through the missions to improve the customer experience, and remove the friction from the buying process. The first iteration of Missions is natural next step for Littledata. Our long-term goal is to develop Missions into an AI-driven optimisation engine for ecommerce teams. We hope you’ll join us for the ride. People trust Littledata to audit, fix and automate reporting. They also use our benchmarks to check and compare their performance, relative to their peers. And now, with Missions, digital teams can set about actively increasing ecommerce revenue. We hope that Littledata Missions will help you to fast-track your goals and KPIs. Give Missions a try today and shoot for the moon.
Are you looking at the wrong Black Friday metrics?
Paying attention to the right ecommerce metrics can help you establish the best customer base and shopping experience for long-term growth. But many retailers still focus only on the most popular metrics -- especially during the online shopping craze of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (#BFCM). Over the next few weeks ecommerce managers will be obsessing over data, but which stats are the most important? Two popular metrics -- ecommerce conversion rate and average time on site -- may be misleading, so I recommend looking instead at longer-term benchmarks. Here's how it all breaks down. Littledata's ecommerce benchmark data now contains indicators from over 12,000 sites, making it an ideal place to get a realistic view of Black Friday stats. Last year we found that the impact on Black Friday and Cyber Monday was larger in 2017 than in 2016. Using that same data set of 440 high-traffic sites, I dove into the numbers to see how this affected other metrics. Metrics to avoid I think that overall ecommerce conversion rate is a bad metric to track. From the leading ecommerce websites we surveyed, the median increase was 30% during the BFCM event last year...but nearly a third of the stores saw their conversion rate dip as the extra traffic didn’t purchase, with this group seeing a median 26% drop. Some stores do extremely well with deals: four sites from our survey had more than a 15-fold increase in ecommerce conversion rate during BFCM, and nearly a quarter saw more than double the conversion rate over the period. But the real question is: will tracking conversion rate hour-by-hour help you improve it? What could you possibly change within in day? Another misleading metric is average time on site. You may be looking for signs that the the extra traffic on the holiday weekend is engaging, but this is not the one to watch. The time on site for visitors who only see one page will be zero, which will mask any real increase from engaged visitors. Where to focus instead Now, do you know what good performance on funnel conversion metrics would look like for your sector? If not, have a look at Littledata’s industry benchmarks which now cover over 500 global sectors. Littledata’s benchmarks also include historic charts to show you how metrics such as add-to-cart rate vary for the average retailer in your sector month by month. Next try the ‘speed’ performance page to see how fast a user would expect a site in your sector to be. If you see site speed (as measured in Google Analytics) drop below average during Black Friday trading it’s time to pick up the phone to your web host or web operations team. Then, are you tracking return on adverting spend for extra Facebook Ads you're running during the quarter? Ad costs will spike during the peak trading period, and you make not be getting the same volume of traffic conversion into sales. Here are some quick pointers. Facebook Ads. Littledata’s Facebook Ads connection will ensure accurate data, with a dedicated Facebook report pack for automated insights. Shopify. If you're running your site on the Shopify platform, read up on which metrics are most important for Shopify stores and check out Shopify's BFCM Toolbox for seasonal online marketing. Missions. Use Missions in the Littledata app to make permanent improvements to your user experience. BFCM may be over before you can make the changes, but customers will keep buying the rest of the year. For example, can you increase add-to-cart rate with tips such as highlighting faster selling items or recommending an alternative to out-of-stock products? So focus on some clearer metrics and I hope Black Friday brings you every success! [subscribe]
15 Shopify apps to help you increase average order value (AOV)
We recently flagged up 15 proven techniques to help you increase average order value, which is one of the fastest ways of growing ecommerce revenue. Many of Littledata's customers use the Shopify platform, so I thought I'd take a look in the app store to see what's available to help implement some of these techniques. I found dozens of great apps that can be used to quickly test some of our ideas. In doing so you might just increase conversion rates and other key metrics too. Below are 15 of the best ones - click on the screenshots to check them out in more detail. Many of these apps are paid-for, though normally offer free trials, and in any case the monthly cost is low. You should make back your investment and then some. I've focused on the apps that have high review scores. By installing these apps and launching Littledata's optimisation missions you'll be able to quickly improve ecommerce performance. Do let us know how you get on! [subscribe] CartHook CartHook's app allows you to create a customisable one-page checkout, which helps to simplify the user experience and can improve conversion rates. It also allows you to upsell, by showing customers relevant products after they have completed their initial purchase. CartHook also provides you with the option of showing customers a final thank you page. You can also use the app to build custom funnels for each product. Neat. Littledata integrates seamlessly with CartHook's one page checkout so you can track every part of the ecommerce sales flow. Enquire This app allows you to show customers post-purchase surveys, to help gain valuable insight into what made them buy. You can ask customers all kinds of questions. The default is 'How did you hear about us?', but other questions can help you profile your customers, to gather feedback, testimonials, reviews, or to segment email lists. Use the survey data to refine your marketing efforts, in order to attract the right kind of buyers. Plus, I've heard through the grapevine that a Littledata - Enquire integration is coming soon. Stay tuned! Cross Sell As you might have already gathered, this is a comprehensive cross-selling app. Persuading customers to add more products to their cart is a proven way of increasing average order value. With Cross Sell, you simply hand-pick the products you want to attempt to cross-sell with each item. It comes with the “Smart Cart” feature which recommends cross-sells based on the last product that the user added to their cart. The app will also cover you when the ones you select are out of stock, by showing default products. Upsell Bundled Products Here's another app that does what it says on the tin. Use it to create product bundles. Bundling reduces cognitive load and can be incredibly persuasive, especially when discounts are on offer. This app allows you to package up related products so that customers can buy them with one click. You can create unlimited bundles with the same product, to test different ideas. Discounts can be applied as a set price or a percentage (we advise that you do both, but definitely the former). Countdown Cart This is a widely used countdown app, which has been very well rated. It lets you choose from a wide range of themes to suit your store. The app is free, lightweight and installs very quickly. Features include a classic countdown timer, which puts pressure on the shopper to purchase before the clock hits zero. It also makes use of real-time social proof by show shoppers how many people are viewing items, and how many times something has been sold. This can increase the motivation to buy. Enforcing principles of scarcity can lead to an uplift in conversion rates and AOV. Discounted Pricing You can generate more sales by offering discounted pricing at different thresholds. This app allows you to offer shoppers volume discounts, which is a proven technique to increase order values. Show shoppers how bulk buying becomes more cost efficient, and they might just add more items to their cart to qualify for the bigger discounts. The app allows these discount tables to be visible on all devices, and is quick to set up. AfterShip Returns Center Reduce friction between your shoppers and your store by allowing free returns. This helps to encourage higher spending by creating a ‘risk-free’ purchase experience. With the app, customers are able to submit return requests in a few clicks. The best thing is that you don't necessarily need to lose the spend, as you have the option of adding credits to a customer's account (as well as issuing a refund back to their bank account). Wishlist Plus Wishlist Plus allows users to add products to a wishlist without needing to be logged in. It also syncs wishlists across devices. These features help to remove purchase barriers, and when checking out a shopper may be tempted to add products that are sitting in their wishlist, which will increase order value. The app has gained a 4.9 rating on the Shopify App store, and the reviews reference the "excellent customer service" provided by the developers. Rewardify Rewardify allows you to add credit to your customer’s account when they complete certain tasks such as meeting a minimum spend, selecting a specific shipping option or buying certain items. All great ways to increase AOV. Gift Cards, Loyalty & Rewards You can use this app to offer deals such as a free $10 gift card with the purchase of a $100 gift card, or selling $100 cards for $85. Show these kinds of offers to the right people at the right time and you might just increase AOV. The app also allows you to send gift cards to other people, and to use store credit as an upsell tool. Product Reviews Product Reviews is a simple app that provides a platform for social proof - a key psychological phenomenon to keep in mind when trying to increase AOV. It sends review scores to Google to enhance your listings, and you can also determine which reviews to show and hide. Gift Wrap Plus Many shoppers are happy to pay a few extra pounds to have their products gift-wrapped before they arrive. Installing this app allows you to offer that option, and it is one which can definitely increase your AOV. The app allows for extras such as gift messages, and lets you see your best performing gift-wrap styles. Ultimate Sales Boost Here's another app that focused on urgency and scarcity to boost conversion rates and average order value. It has plenty of features to help you improve merchandising, calls to action, and highlight social proof, such as low stock warnings and 'recently sold' alerts. The app is easy to use and configure, which helps to explain its 4.9 star rating. Smart Shipping Bar Use this to promote shipping offers via a bar at the top of the page, which updates as items are added to the cart. It will show customers when they qualify for free shipping. This is excellent for any store that offers free shipping when a minimum order amount has been reached, such as $50. And that's a proven way to increase AOV. Littledata Before optimising your store you must make sure that you have accurate data, in order to measure the results. We've found that almost nine out of ten Shopify stores have a broken analytics setup, so the chances are that you'll need to make some tweaks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE4nzZycVLE#action=share The Littledata Shopify app fixes your tracking automatically. It also provides benchmarks against over 12,000 ecommerce sites, so you can compare your own performance vs your peers, and includes a suite of AI-based reporting. What should you do with all that data? Littledata's new Missions feature recommends specific ideas to help you improve the crucial ecommerce metrics such as AOV, add to cart rate, product list CTR, checkout completion, and conversion rates. Missions provide step-by-step instructions for proven ways to optimise sales and conversions. Work your way through the missions and get ahead of the pack!
For every retail loser there's a retail winner
Today PwC's retail survey found the British high street is being reshaped as shoppers shift online - especially in fashion, where a net 100 high street stores closed. This misses the positive side of the story: all those shoppers are buying from independent UK brands online instead, which is one of the fastest growing area of the UK economy. We looked at 30 mid-sized online fashion retailers (with average sales of £1m per month) who get a majority of their traffic from the UK. This collection had grown their sales by an aggregate 21% from October 2017 to October 2018 (year on year). Fashion shoppers love to browse unique designs on Instagram and Pinterest, compare prices and get easy home deliveries. Independent ecommerce brands are bringing original designs to the British wardrobe, and we should celebrate their success. Behind the research Littledata gathers benchmark data from Google Analytics on over 12,000 websites, including many types of ecommerce businesses. Our customers get insights into their performance and recommendations on how to improve online conversion. [subscribe]
Introducing our new Facebook Ads connection
We're excited to announce a new Facebook Ads connection in the Littledata app! The integration automatically pulls ad costs and campaign data into Google Analytics, and the open beta release is free to try for all users. How do you know if you're getting the highest possible ROI on your Facebook Ads? For ecommerce sites, it's a difficult question. By their very nature, PPC platforms can provide only a limited amount of reporting, tied to their own network and performance data. Ecommerce sites need an outside view of marketing channels, and a way to connect that ad performance with shopping behaviour and product performance. But where should you start? You can trudge through Facebook's limited reporting, make endless spreadsheets and play guessing games. Or you can take advantage of the latest data tech for automated reporting and comparative attribution models. New Facebook connection We built a robust Facebook integration to automate everything so you can get back to business.Our goal is to show you the real ROI on your Facebook Ads. And to do so as painlessly as possible. It's an easy connection in the Littledata app, with numerous core benefits: Fix your campaign tracking Automatically pull ad cost data into Google Analytics Enterprise-level reporting on marketing channels and product performance Complete view of how your ad spend contributes to product and subscription revenue In addition to the automated reporting in your Littledata dashboard, which includes reports on social referrals, checkout funnels and recurring billing, this new Facebook connection gives you unlimited access to accurate Facebook campaign data directly in Google Analytics. Data geeks can drill down into PPC details and build models of their own as well. [subscribe] Fix your campaign tracking The Facebook Ads connection has its own succinct set of audit checks to make sure you're tracking things correctly. It's a natural extension of our popular analytics audit tool. Once you connect your Facebook Business account, the app automatically checks for accurate campaign tagging and ecommerce event tracking. Sites change and new campaigns are added or adjusted on a regular basis, so our app takes care of the busy work to monitor your campaigns and keep everything up to date. Focus on the most important metrics Littledata offers a range of AI-based reporting directly in the app, from dashboard visualisations to ecommerce benchmarks. The Facebook Ads connection extends your reporting capabilities to reveal essential metrics such as: Google Ads vs Facebook Ads conversion rates and revenue share Multi-channel attribution Top products sold from your Facebook Ads, including subscription products Landing page performance No need to wade through data in GA. With report packs, it's easy to get useful analysis with just a couple of clicks. Top report packs for Facebook Ads connection users include: Social traffic pack, with reports on social channel referrals from sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, including untagged social traffic and top campaigns Ecommerce performance pack, with reports on average order value (AOV), days to transaction, sessions to transaction, and details like product subcategory performance A dedicated Facebook Ads pack, with reports on revenue contribution, Google vs Facebook PPC stats, landing page performance, multi-channel attribution and more! Not a Littledata user yet? Find the plan that's right for you, whether you're on Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento or any other platform. Every subscription plan includes at least two free report packs, and enterprise plans include custom tracking and reporting. Plus, integrations like ReCharge, CartHook and Shopify are included at no extra cost. Try the new Facebook Ads connection today and let us know what you think! We're confident that this powerful new integration will help you get a higher ROI on your ad spend, with more sales from your best types of customers.
Getting started with Universal App Campaigns
With 3.8 million apps available for Android users and 2 million apps in Apple's App Store, it can be tough for an app developer to stand out among the competition. But with Google's Universal App Campaigns (UAC), developers have an opportunity to market their mobile apps with targeting options based on audience demographics and behavior. It all happens automatically -- as long as you set up the campaigns correctly. In this post I take a look at how you can put machine learning to work for you, using the power of Google’s Universal App Campaigns. Campaign set up Getting started with a UAC is relatively easy. The three steps are to identify an audience, ensure conversion tracking is set up correctly, and relevant text, video, and images are available for the campaign. The two major actions for UACs are to find new users who will install the app or those who will perform an action inside the app, such as making an additional purchase. One the UAC is set-up, it is eligible to show on Search, Display, YouTube and the Play Store. The initial setup is straightforward. The advertiser only needs to provide four lines of text with images and with machine learning, Google decides which combination to show to a particular user. Goals When you consider goals for your UAC, the install action is an obvious one regardless of the app category. Targeting options includes people who are likely to install the app or who are likely to install it and perform in app action. It is up to the advertiser to determine what a valuable action looks like and ensure conversion tracking is set up before launching a campaign. In-app actions, or goals, or can be either success actions or proxy actions. With a success action, the app user makes a purchase inside the app, upgrades the service, or signs up for a paid subscription; something that generates revenue. Assuming success actions happen at least ten times a day with users, the system has enough data to identify and target the right audience for your UAC. If volume of success actions is low, there is not enough data for machine learning to make decisions. In that case, the advertiser can identify a proxy action which is a behavior that is likely to lead to success action. An example of this is someone who added payment information to upgrade service but did not follow through with upgrading. Or it could be tracking which of your users share incentives with their network. Advertisers need to think carefully about what a proxy action truly is. When it it is too early in the funnel, it includes people who are less likely to convert and not a good representation of those who will later perform a success action. If a mid funnel behavior is identified as a proxy action, rather the the top of the funnel, it may better represent people who are closer to converting so it is more likely to later result in a success action. [subscribe] Conversions Setting up and collecting conversion data is a crucial piece to success because these campaigns look at past searches, browsing behavior, and other apps used to determine who is most likely to convert. Before launching a UAC, ensure this conversion tracking is set up correctly or your will not be measuring goals that matter. For e-commerce sites, the primary conversion is clearly to drive revenue in the form of an in-app purchase or perhaps subscriptions. With luxury retail, it is especially important to have conversion recording correctly because of the multiple touch points. And Shopify users can use the Littledata reporting app to gain even more insight on the user journey through that platform. Measurement and optimization There are immediate metrics to monitor - app installs and in-app purchase - but there are also long term considerations such as the customer lifetime value (CLV), that should be part of your overall strategic marketing plan. A single user who makes a purchase provides direct revenue. If they refer someone to your app, that is considered indirect revenue. The first number is clear-cut revenue and easy to measure. The second is one that you determine based on your internal data, meaning what type of behavior and interaction with customers generally leads to a sale. The value of both of these actions contribute to the CLV. Lifetime is the length of time they interact with your app. If they install the app and use it to buy things over the course of a year, then stop, their CLV time period is one year. Once you have identified your CLV, use this value to set your target CPA and optimize it based on performance. Decide what you are willing to pay for a success action and what you will pay for a proxy action, knowing that number will likely change over time. As data comes in from your UAC, you can compare the lifetime value of your different customers through segments. Segments help you uncover those customers who purchase every couple months compared to those who only make an initial purchase. Those the make multiple purchases represent segments with a higher value. Drilling into data with segments allows you to see who gives you the best return for your investment. This level of detail helps you identify how much you paid in your UAC for to acquire each type of customer so you can adjust accordingly. Review what you paid initially for the type of users that you bring in and compare that to their lifetime value. Are you investing your budget in a UAC that brings in users that generate recurring revenue? When you bid strategically based on a lifetime value, you are not overly focused on short-term transactions. It is less expensive to keep a customer than to acquire a new one so you want to think in those terms. What next? Decide on UAC goals that make sense for the purpose of your app. What should users do in addition to downloading the app and what behaviors indicate they are getting close to a conversion? Gather assets - text, video, and image - that are enticing for users and ensure conversion tracking is setup properly. Without proper conversion tracking, you miss out on the data you need to determine success. Monitor performance of your campaigns, and if you run an ecommerce site, track a wealth of data with the Littledata app. Think about the CLV and optimize your campaigns to reach the right users rather than any users. Your bottom line is generating revenue so keep that in mind with every UAC. With careful planning and well managed campaigns, your app can stand out in a crowded marketplace.
How to increase Average Order Value (AOV) on your ecommerce site
Average order value (AOV) is a bona fide north star metric for Shopify stores, and ecommerce companies more broadly. Increasing AOV is a priority goal for ecommerce teams as it directly boosts revenue (and profits, if you’re doing things right). Growing revenue often requires retailers to acquire more traffic, but with AOV you can increase sales simply by convincing shoppers to spend that little bit more. AOV can be improved by adopting a number of proven optimisation techniques. Many of these have their roots in offline retail, where price, promotion, placement and merchandising all play a part in persuading customers to buy additional - or more expensive - items. We’ll get onto these tactics soon enough, but for now let’s start at the beginning. What is average order value? AOV is the average amount spent by customers when they place an order. To calculate AOV you divide total sales by the total number of orders (typically over a certain period of time). You can monitor AOV via Google Analytics. If you’re using Littledata then you’ll see it on your dashboard and in ecommerce report packs. Why is average order value important? AOV is one of the primary KPIs in ecommerce. It is a measure of sales trends and reflects customer behaviour and buying preferences. This insight can be used to optimise your website, pricing strategy, and guide decisions on what you choose to sell. It is also a good indicator of your ability to optimise ROI, as your marketing budget will go that much further if you increase AOV. It is worth investing time and money into moving the AOV needle, as it will create universal uplift. Implement the right kind of tactics - and technology - and we are sure that you will see some positive results, especially if this is an activity you haven’t yet spent too much time on. The results? New and existing customers are likely to spend more with you whenever they buy. Better sales numbers, bigger profits, and various additional benefits. Just like the other ecommerce KPIs, it is best not to view AOV in isolation. Related metrics include customer lifetime value (CLV) and customer acquisition cost (CAC), particularly for ecommerce subscription businesses. How do I know if my average order value is in good shape? Littledata has robust benchmarking data from a sample of 12,000 ecommerce sites. You can drill down by category and revenue to see how you compare vs your peers. For example, we analysed AOV across 379 medium-sized ecommerce sites in September and found that $123 is the typical amount spent. But average is relative - it very much depends on the sector. Start a free Littledata trial to see your AOV alongside the benchmark for your sector (we will show you some other juicy metrics and benchmarks too). It will look like this: Pretty cool, huh? If you happen to be underperforming in any area then our app will suggest some proven optimisation ideas to help you improve your store. Other stores have used our ecommerce benchmarks to grow sales, and we're confident that you will experience similar results. What affects average order value? Lots of things influence how much people spend when they buy from your site. Consider the last time you bought a higher priced item, such as a TV, laptop or mobile phone. More often than not there are upsells and cross-sells as you progress down the purchase path. You end up buying related items (mobile phone cases), upgrading your initial choice (256MB memory vs 64MB), purchasing add-ons (extended warranty), or clicking on a compelling product bundle (phone + case + warranty = 15% off). This kind of buying behaviour helps ecommerce teams to sleep soundly at night. It is to be encouraged. A real world example Apple is an absolute master of maximising AOV. Let’s take a quick walkthrough of one of its purchase pathways. First, we’ll select a Macbook Pro and will then see the following page, which invites us to customise our order. Add a little more memory and one item of software, and the order value increases by about 30%. Boom. Now let’s click the ‘Add to Bag’ button. We’ll progress to an ‘Essentials’ page. Yet more ideas to help us spend extra money. Think we’re all done? Not so fast. Click on ‘Review Bag’ and you’ll enter the checkout. Note the ‘Related Products’ that appear underneath the basket summary. Is it any wonder that Apple is valued at more than one trillion dollars? How can I increase my average order value? The million dollar question (or maybe a few billions, in the case of Apple). The researchers for our newest product feature - called Missions - have discovered plenty of ideas for you to try out. Littledata Missions provide step-by-step guides to help ecommerce teams optimise performance, and AOV was one of the very first metrics we wanted to explore. The following ideas are taken from our Average Order Value Fundamentals mission. There are a bunch of others in there to try too. Missions automatically generate based on your ecommerce benchmark data in the Littledata app (try Missions for free today). I’ll wager that at least one of the following will help you to grow AOV. And a super combo might seriously move the dial. Once you’ve optimised AOV - and there might be a ceiling - you can work on increasing purchase frequency, customer referrals, and then scale up your customer acquisition efforts. So then, here are 12 ideas to help you start to grow average order value... 1. Provide free shipping for orders above a certain amount Betterware grew AOV by 20% after introducing free shipping for orders above £30. M&S also provides free standard delivery for orders that exceed £30, as seen in the screenshot. A study by UPS found that 58% of consumers would add extra items to their cart in order to qualify for free delivery. As such this is a great way of increasing average order value. Free delivery is an expectation these days, so if you're late to the party - and concerned about margins - then a minimum threshold is worth testing. 2. Offer minimum spend discounts Much like introducing a free shipping threshold, you can provide a discount if the customer spends a certain amount on your site. Although it might seem to go against the goal of increasing average order value, setting offers such as this can tempt visitors into spending whatever is necessary to achieve the discount, because it appears like a deal. There are a number of ecommerce plugins to help with this. A lot of happy Shopify stores use the Product Discount app. 3. Make the most of up-selling Up-selling is the art of convincing prospective customers to increase their spend, typically by buying a more expensive item to the thing they're looking at. For example, in the screenshot below we can see how Amazon shows higher priced TVs to the one initially selected. By listing out the features side by side it may be enough to convince the prospective buyer that the next model up is a more attractive option. This is a sure-fire way to increase average order value, though it's not without its risks as you'll need to change the shopper's mind about something ("You don't really want that, you want this."). So be careful when experimenting with up-selling techniques. 4. Embrace cross-selling Amazon has attributed around 35% of its revenue to cross-selling. Not exactly small change. As such it is crucial to find a cross-selling strategy that works for your website. Cross-selling is the science of persuading customers to buy additional products related to the thing they’re about to purchase. For example, buy a camera and you might see recommendations for camera cases, bigger memory cards, battery chargers, etc. Adding items to the basket in this way is highly likely to increase average order value. However, it is important to specify which customers receive cross-sell offers. You should certainly think twice before cross-sells to customers who regularly return items. 5. Allow customers to use live chat A Forrester study found that there is a 10% increase in order value from customers who used the live chat function. The study also discovered that live chat helps to increase revenue by 48% per chat hour, and increased conversion rate by 40%. The business case for live chat would appear to be strong. Why is this? Mainly because customers like the immediacy - and familiarity - of chat. It has been reported that 73% of consumers who have used live chat were pleased with the experience. So, live chat is good for AOV, sales, conversion rates and customer satisfaction. What's not to like? [subscribe] 6. Show how others have enjoyed the product Average order value is 6% higher among shoppers who read reviews, compared with those who don't bother, according to a Bazaarvoice study. Positive social proof is incredibly powerful. It goes a long way towards encouraging people to progress to the checkout. Social proof comes in many forms, from reviews and ratings to testimonials and buyer videos. Make it highly visible at key points in the buyer journey, to build trust and reinforce the decision to buy. 7. Offer financing for high-ticket items Analysis by Divido has shown that sales can increase by 40% when high-ticket items are offered in monthly instalments. Your most expensive items are the ones which can be heavily responsible for driving up your average order value. If you offer customers the option to pay in instalments it can help you sell more of these higher valued products. For example, Goldsmiths offers shoppers 0% interest-free credit on purchases which total more than £750. This may appeal to people looking at items in the £500+ range - they might end up being tempted to spend more once they see the financing available. 8. Offer volume-based discounts Office supplies company Paperstone generated a 19% average order increase when a bulk discount deal was offered. As well as helping to grow AOV, strategic discounting can be great for clearing out excess inventory. However, remember that it is important to calculate bulk discounts very carefully. You need to offer deals that attract customers, but which do not hurt your profit margins. 9. Use dynamic retargeting to increase average order value Stella & Dot increased AOV by 17% after experimenting with dynamic retargeting, which allows ecommerce firms to show shoppers the right kind of ads during the shopping journey (such as product recommendation ads, based on their browsing behaviour or purchase history). This technology also recaptures lost sales from visitors who leave websites, by showing them personalised offers to re-engage them. 10. Send personalised emails OneSpot found that average order value increased by 5% upon the personalisation of emails. Simply put, customers are more likely to feel valued by your site if you provide them with messages that are relevant to their specific interests. Personalisation often starts at the customer's name ('Dear sir' won't cut it), but extends to the content of the email. If this is based on prior browsing and purchase history then you're more likely to engage the shopper, to reinforce - or complete - the purchase. 11. Offer a gift card or loyalty scheme By offering customers rewards for shopping with you, you’re likely to see an increase in orders, as well as an increase in the size of those orders. It has been shown that offering rewards for purchases 15-20% above average order size can increase the amount people are willing to spend. Encouraging big spenders to buy more frequently will also have the effect of increasing AOV. A study by BigDoor found that loyal customers make up 70% of total sales in some cases, so it is important to give something back to those customers once in a while. 12. Create product packages A case study into BaubleBar, a jewellery site, showed that average order value increased significantly when product bundling was offered. One pair of its earrings costs $30, but a bundle of three is just $48. This bundle screams “deal” to a customer. BaubleBar saw its average order increase by $22 in a matter of days. Bundling reduces cognitive load. If you can help shoppers avoid thinking too much then you're onto a good thing. Bundles can be viewed by visitors as a valuable deal, especially if they contain products which supplement the one they are already interested in. Packaging up items this way can be incredibly persuasive, particularly when you're offering a discounted price. They can also save the shopper time - no need to browse for add ons. Start the AOV mission today In summary, trying to increase average order value is worth the effort, and will be a gift that keeps on giving once you move the dial in the right direction. You can launch the Average Order Value mission directly from your Littledata dashboard. Our app will track your progress as you test ideas to discover what works best for your site. People trust Littledata to audit, fix and automate reporting. They use our benchmarks to check and compare their performance, relative to their peers. And now, with Missions, digital teams can actively set about increasing ecommerce revenue.
Is it worth attending that ecommerce conference?
Ecommerce conference season is upon us. In the past few weeks, the Littledata team was at Shop.org in Las Vegas, Paris Retail Week, and the Google Expert Summit in Waterloo, Canada -- three very different events in three rather different countries. Then we also hit up Agile Cambridge and Technology for Marketing in the UK, the UPRISE fest in Dublin, TechDay LA in sunny Los Angeles and the BigCommerce partner summit in Austin. And while we unfortunately couldn't make ReCharge's Recur event for the subscription industry, or Hawke Media's Hawkefest, the ultimate anti-conference, many of our partners and merchants were there and had awesome things to say. But wait a second. Slow down! With so many exciting events to potentially attend during what is already one of the busiest times of year for those of us in the industry (Black Friday is just around the corner from a marketer's perspective), how do you choose? Is that conference you've been debating attending really worth it? If we've learned anything... Over the years I've had a mixed experience with conferences. But with Littledata we've found a good rhythm. Of course it helps that we're on the cutting edge of new technology, actually using AI and machine learning as opposed to just talking about it, and that we already have major customers around the world, even though we're technically still a 'startup'. This gives us a wide range of high-quality speaking and learning opportunities. But at the same time our productive conference experiences haven't happened by accident, whether for ecommerce or general tech events. We've found such a good conference rhythm -- a dance that produces a consistently high ROI on in-person events -- by looking closely at our own data on a quarterly and yearly basis. Our strategy is always evolving, but some stats have been consistent. For example, we discovered that at the right events: Though we don't necessarily have a higher win rate for enterprise leads from conferences, the sales cycle is condensed, on average 3x faster from meeting to close. This saves our sales team valuable time chasing down leads, and also helps us improve our product, pitches and processes at a faster rate. Agencies we meet in person are 4x more likely to refer us a customer within the next 30 days -- even if we never did a formal product demo. What's your company's take on conferences? Here are a few insights that might help you get more out of the conference experience, whether that means big tech industry events or smaller, focused meetups. [subscribe] There is no such thing as a must-attend conference The great irony with ecommerce conferences is that they tend to be scheduled at what are already busy times for those of us in the industry. Whether it's the shows we attended these past 6 weeks that overlapped with everyone getting back to work after summer holidays, or European standbys like NetComm Suisse's later fall events and One to One in Monaco every March, right after SXSW in Austin, it's either an embarrassment of riches or -- depending on your perspective -- a really confusing hodge podge of hard-to-classify opportunities. There are simply too many choices, and it's especially hard to decide whether to attend a tech conference or meetup if your company has never attended that particular show before. One thing I love about our industry is that merchants (stores and ecommerce managers) and vendors (apps, platforms, consultants, designers and agencies) are all in the same boat. In short, we have no time for BS. We want events that focus on real information, emerging technologies and human connection. So how do you decide? First things first, make your own list. There are a ton of blog posts out there about 'must attend' conferences, those 'not to miss'. Give me a break! Every business is unique, and you're only as viable as your buyer personas. So make a list of conferences, events and meetups that might help connect you with your prime customers and best partners. Brainstorm, look online, ask around. Make your own list and plan to review every quarter. Then once you've made that list, on paper or Trello or however you work best, go through the following checklist with as many members of your team as possible, especially if you can bring in decision makers from both Product and Marketing. A simple checklist When deciding if you should attend a conference for the first or second time, it's useful to have a checklist for quick, consistent analysis. The checklist I use is deceptively simple. It has only 5 indicators. Would one significant sale pay for itself in terms of customer acquisition cost (CAC)? If the conference did work out, is it something you would attend every year? Would it be the right place for you to speak, either now or in the future? Is this your scene, your community? Are there companies, merchants, agencies, vendors etc. attending whom you wouldn't see any other time this year? (Even just one counts, if sufficiently high-value.) In short, if you can tick all five boxes then you should attend the conference. If you can only tick four, it's probably worth attending but needs more debate. If this is the case, then considering point number one in detail -- looking at your current LTV/CAC ratio and considering how the conference could help improve or at least maintain it -- is essential. For ecommerce tech companies like our own, this generally means one big sale or partnership. For ecommerce sites it can also take the form of discovering new tech (like Littledata, Klickly or ReCharge) that will help increase sales and marketing ROI. If you can tick all five boxes then you should definitely attend the conference The checklist works even if you've already attended the conference in the past. Just consider point two already covered and proven! If you're in the ecommerce space, definitely consider platform-specific conferences. Shopify and Magento have regular events and meetups around the world, and word on the street is that BigCommerce will be really ramping up their local partner events in 2019. Shopify Unite has consistently been that rare conference that ticks all the boxes for us here at Littledata, but that doesn't mean we're ignoring others that only tick four. We've cast our net wide (using the checklist of course) and are still seeing results. If you want to get a head start on conference browsing for next year, Veeqo has created a calendar of best worldwide ecommerce conferences for 2019. Across the board remember this: success at a conference almost never comes in the form of expected outcomes. Yes, the best outcomes will be aligned with your sales and marketing goals, but sometime the biggest benefits will not be clear for 3, 6 or even 12 months down the line. That's why we do quarterly and yearly reviews of all in-person activities, from networking events to large conferences. I suggest you do the same. Most importantly, have fun! Gone are the days of boring trade shows. Show up. Make connections. And if we're there too, come say hi! Maybe nobody can make analytics sexy, but we at least promise to make them useful. And usefulness is a good place to start...
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