Running a Shopify store is tough. First, you need to get your products and pricing right. Second, you need to work on your marketing, and third, you need to make sure you’re looking at your Shopify analytics to identify any bottlenecks and improve the way your store works.
Update in January 2022: We have updated this guide due to dramatic changes in the Analytics world such as the arrival of Google Analytics 4.
In this post, we’re going to walk you through two analytics programs: Shopify’s own analytics tool and Google Analytics to help you understand how to use them to improve the way you measure your store’s success. We are also going to cover Shopify’s Google Analytics integrations with Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.
It’s common for store owners to only look at their traffic and conversion. After all, analytics tools are confusing, right?
By the end of this post, you’ll be clued up on the best ways to use the platforms to your advantage, and more importantly, you will have up-to-date information and even learn how to set up Google Analytics 4 for your store with ease.
On its own platform, Shopify has an analytics dashboard that allows you to look closely at how many store sessions you generate, your total sales, how many of your customers return to make an additional purchase, as well as your average order value.
This information is invaluable for you as a store owner, especially on a dashboard level. It gives you a clear overview of how your store is running, and what elements you need to work on further. For example, if you have a really good returning customer rate but your average order value is still really low, you could think about adding a Shopify plug-in that allows you to upsell other products.
Alternatively, you could think about implementing a subscribe and save feature if you notice customers keep returning to make the same purchase over and over.
As you can see, being able to understand analytics is more than just looking at numbers and watching the increase on the charts. It all comes down to understanding the data, and actually using that data to improve your Shopify store.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that Shopify’s analytics are not free for everyone. No matter what Shopify plan you’re on, you’ll get access to the overview dashboard and finance reports (including taxes and payments).
Despite that, if you only have Shopify lite, you won’t be able to make use of features such as live view, acquisition reports, inventory reports, behavior reports, and so on.
Luckily for you, though, this is where Google Analytics comes into play. You will find detailed information on how Google Analytics integrates with Shopify below. Our friends at Analyzify have also created a detailed guide on Shopify Analytics, feel free to check that one as well.
Before you begin trying to navigate your Google Analytics account, it’s a good idea to make sure you know what you’re looking for.
It’s important to note that Google launched the new version of Google Analytics: Google Analytics 4 (aka GA4), and this brought about a great deal of confusion for the Shopify world because Shopify’s native integration only supports Universal Analytics, the older version.
It means that you either have to use a Shopify Analytics app or insert Google Analytics 4 codes by yourself. In fact, it wouldn’t really be wise for you to go for the second method as you could miss some significant amount of data.
What’s more, a potential mistake while adding/removing the codes would end up ruining your store’s storefront. You’ll find more details on this below.
Why Google Analytics for Shopify Merchants?
It is a fact that Google Analytics has a wide range of data & information to offer. While this might be good for people with a lot of experience, it can quickly become overwhelming if you’re just getting started.
Ideally, you’d want to look for the following:
- Email traffic
Armed with this data, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about how to optimize your store further.
For example, if you see your traffic via email source, you might recognize that it’s dropped significantly. This could highlight that your emails need some work to increase open rates or perhaps you don’t send as many emails as you used to.
If you’re reaching out to people you haven’t had communication with for a while, it’s a good idea (in the wake of GDPR) to reach out to them in a similar way to how Autotrader does.
By asking for permission to continue emailing potentially lost prospects, you reignite the conversation in a nice way.
However, if you’re looking to drive traffic to your Shopify store, an opt-in email might not be the most effective. You could also consider offering everyone who reads that email a certain % off their next purchase. Not only would this improve the number of people who navigate to your website from your emails, but it would also increase the chance of a sales conversion.
Which Google Analytics reports should you be looking at?
It’s a fact that Google Analytics has tons of reports – but unfortunately, they are not so user-friendly. So, here’s a list of reports you should examine to improve efficiency on a regular basis.
Traffic Acquisition Report
You’d always want to know which channel brings you the visitors and sales. The traffic acquisition report can provide you with a nice summary of it. Yet, most Shopify merchants don’t have their UTM tags configured correctly on their Ads campaigns. So, you should make sure that you have the UTM tags configured properly on all of your Ads in order that the traffic acquisition report works great for you.
Top performing pages
If you look at your top-performing pages and notice that lots of people go to your blog post about “how to choose a fitness band”, you have really useful information about potential sales opportunities.
Imagine you sold fitness bands and included a link to your product on that page. How lucrative do you think that would be? People landing on that page are obviously looking for fitness bands and when you provide them with exactly what they’re looking for, the chance of conversion increases.
Another way to use the data from your top-performing pages is to optimize those that don’t perform as well. Each page you have on your website should ideally rank for a specific keyword.
Editor’s note: It’s fine for a page to rank for more than one keyword as it leads to increased traffic.
Mobile vs desktop
How many people come to view your website from their desktop vs from their mobile device? Unsure? You’re not alone. Too often, people forget to check if their site runs well on mobile as well as desktop.
It makes sense. After all, when you build the site, you probably look at it on your desktop to ensure that you get the full experience.
But when it comes to your customers, you’ll miss out on sales once you do not optimize for mobile. This means ensuring that you don’t need users to zoom in on the screen to see specific pages or read the text more clearly.
As you can see, when it comes to e-commerce sales, more sales happen on someone’s mobile than the desktop. If your site isn’t yet optimized for mobile, check your analytics to see where you’re missing out on potential sales.
Some products perform much better than others, that’s natural. Even so, you’d want to know which ones do, and then you can try to see what’s the reason behind that and optimize the products accordingly. Cart-to-view and purchase-to-view rates can tell you more than you’d imagine, indeed.
It’s a shame so few people are really invested in using their site search (or even having site search enabled on their website).
First, it gives you a wealth of information about how people navigate your website. Second, it’s a goldmine for new product ideas.
Want to know how? Let’s look further.
Many successful e-commerce stores use site search to help their customers navigate their sites better. This is useful for two reasons.
First, if someone cannot find something using the traditional route of storefront >> category >> subcategory >> product
They’ll instead try to use the search bar. This helps them go straight to the product they’re looking for.
If you look at your analytics and see that a majority of people have searched for the same thing, it gives you a good opportunity to improve the way potential customers can find this information.
However, if you look at your analytics and notice that a large group of people has searched for an item you don’t stock, you now have some light validations that customers want this item. So not only is site search data good for improving the UX of your site, but it’s also good for finding new product opportunities.
How to set up Google Analytics on Shopify?
Until this year, it was a seamless experience to set up Google Analytics for Shopify merchants. We would just navigate to Online Store > Preferences, and add our Universal Analytics tracking ID there just as shown below.
Well, you can still get everything done this way for Universal Analytics – the old version of Google Analytics. However, you need a little bit of a different path to set up Google Analytics 4.
We will soon write a detailed post on how you can set up GA4 by yourself. Alternatively, you can also use apps like Analyzify and Elevar.
Now that your Shopify store is up and running and you’ve made a handful of sales, it’s time to get your analytics in place. Although you might not have as much data as you’d like to initially, starting to get into a habit of looking at your Shopify data early on will help you immensely in the long run.
What’s your favorite analytics tool?
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