The traffic you get to your store is precious. You’ve spent a lot of time and resources growing it. It’s yours, you’ve earned it.
When you’re putting together a plan to improve conversions you don’t want to waste that hard-won traffic on a battery of multivariate tests that won’t contribute to lifts in conversion.
Use your analytics tools to identify the pages with the best opportunity for lifting conversions while also identifying specific page issues.
Interpreting the data you have readily available in key reports can lead you to pinpoint trouble areas. Digging deeper will reveal the most likely problems, narrowing down the changes and improvements you can make.
Here are the key reports you should start reviewing as part of your optimization efforts.
A quick list of 8 must-have Google Analytics reports for Ecommerce Optimization:
- Demographics Reports
- Screen Resolution and Browser Reports
- Mobile Overview Reports
- Mobile Device Reports
- Site Speed Page Timings Reports
- Funnel Visualization Report
- Goal Flow Report
- Time Lag + Path Length Reports
Wait, before diving into the ecommerce reports…
You should never analyze the traffic to your store as a whole. Those are average numbers. You don’t want to calculate based on averages because your customers aren’t average.
They don’t think or act the same way consistently.
When you compare new vs. returning visitors, different devices and browsers, and buyers vs. non-buyers you’ll see a notable difference in performance.
At the very least, segment your traffic into desktop vs. mobile users.
Whatever segments you choose to analyze, make sure you run every Google Analytics report for all of your segments.
1. Demographics Reports
It’s not the most reliable data but it’s quite good nonetheless.
You need to know who your audience is and how your content and message appeal to them, how they interact with your site, and how those interactions contribute to your revenue.
You can access this report by navigating to Audience > Demographics > Age
Review both age and gender when running demographic reports.
This Google Analytics report provides insight into how traffic and engagement metrics vary among age groups. The data will also be split per the segments you have established. Once you’ve reviewed the Age data click to Gender to see opportunities to improve engagement and how Gender engagement varies from engagement by Age.
2. Screen Resolution and Browser Reports
Conversion issues are very often related to usability issues. A site doesn’t necessarily have to be broken to have a usability issue. Sometimes seemingly innocent layout bugs and quirky interactive features cause the visitors to doubt the quality or security of the site.
Given the variety of devices, browsers, and screen sizes you may encounter engagement and usability problems that threaten conversions on just one type of mobile device.
Check this data by going to Audience > Technology > Browser & OS
Once there, look at the data for “Browser” and “Screen Resolutions”.
If you discover a much lower than average conversion rate you can check for issues there:
- Non-responsive interface on some browsers and screens
- Key conversion elements like CTAs pushed below the fold
- Elements interrupting the flow of conversion like unresponsive modals
- Form input issues on some browsers or resolutions
3. Mobile Overview Reports
This Google Analytics report shows acquisition by device lets to tap into data around shoppers accessing your site by the device.
You can find this report under Audience > Mobile > Overview
In the example above the mobile conversion rate is noticeably low, roughly a quarter of desktop conversions (24%). The average ecommerce conversion rate for mobile should be closer to about 50% of desktop conversions. That’s an opportunity to improve the mobile experience. Note that tablets account for only around 4% of traffic so, any optimization for tablets should be given a lower priority.
This report can also show you:
- Ecommerce bounce rate per device
- How each device has contributed to revenue
- Overall conversion rate per device
4. Mobile Device Reports
Use this report to get a comprehensive view of the different mobile devices used by your customers and site visitors. Expect a significant variety of devices so sort the data accordingly.
You can find this report under Audience > Mobile > Devices
If you find some devices are underperforming, then perform usability tests with those specific devices to locate the problem.
5. Site Speed Page Timings Reports
Site speed is a critical factor in conversion, especially with mobile users. Site speed problems are as much a user experience problem as they are a conversion killer.
A single second delay in load time can produce a 7% reduction in conversion.
To access this report, go to Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings then click on DOM Timings and select the appropriate data.
You can view data on the following:
- Avg. document interactive time which is the time it takes the system to pass control back to the site visitor so they can begin navigating again
- Avg. document content loading time is the metric it takes for all the scripts running a page to load
- Avg. page load time measures all activity on a page including all 3rd party apps, scripts, integrations, social buttons, etc. It’s not an ideal metric where conversion is concerned but it can tell you if everything you have plugged in is pushing your load times into the mud.
6. Funnel Visualization Report
Customers take a variety of steps before finally completing a purchase and converting. The process or path they usually take is the funnel, and because there are multiple steps there are multiple opportunities for your funnel to spring a leak.
The Funnel Visualization report gives you a step-by-step view of this conversion path and the data between each step.
To access this report go to Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization
This report doesn’t provide details on what caused them to exit, but you can see clearly at what point they disengaged from your store.
Use that information to determine what occurred right before the exit; check the language and copy that could be impacting their emotional behavior, look for bugs, check for technical issues that may create friction while shopping, etc.
Don’t start at the very first step where you lose a customer. Move through the funnel and focus on the steps with the lowest % of customers proceeding forward (or the highest number of exits)
In order to create a funnel you’ll need to first set up at least one goal in Google Analytics.
7. Goal Flow Report
The goal flow is similar to the Funnel Visualization report but there are some advantages to using this over Funnel Visualization.
The Goal Flow presents a more accurate visitor path, and it does that in several ways:
- It’s a bit more flexible with the format so it’s easier to understand flow into and out of pages
- You get pageview numbers in the nodes as well as visit numbers
- You can dig deeper into the data by clicking into nodes, highlighting segments, and even segmenting data.
To access this report navigate to Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow
Loops in the conversion path are incredibly important to identify. This is a customer going backward in the process (back button). A prime example of this is when a customer arrives at the summary step, just before confirmation, and decides to back up in order to correct shipping data, try to find and enter a coupon code, modify the order, etc.
If the Goal Flow shows recurring loops in high volume then find opportunities to improve the experience for customers.
For example: If the loop takes customers from summary to the shipping information then consider optimizing checkout funnel so shipping information can be updated from the summary page without requiring a step backward.
8. Time Lag + Path Length Reports
The Time Lag + Path Length reports let you determine how many times a user interacted with a channel prior to converting but also the amount of time that passed between the very first touch point with your brand and the final purchase/conversion.
To find this Google Analytics report navigate to Conversions > Multi-channel Funnels > and select the desired report.
Note: when running the report change the conversion from “all” to “transactions” so you’re not measuring all conversions.
For example, many people may purchase on your site after searching for your brand on Google. However, they may have been introduced to your brand via a blog or while searching for specific products and services. The Multi-Channel Funnels reports show how previous referrals and searches contributed to your sales.
With a better understanding of the length of time and steps involved in the conversion process (from the customer’s point of origin) you can begin testing methods to reduce time lag, improve conversions, and encourage customers to checkout faster.
Google Analytics is nothing short of a wealth of information, but the generic top-level data isn’t sufficient for uncovering the funnel leaks and opportunities to improve conversions.
While the reports mentioned here aren’t the only reports you should monitor, they provide significant insight and should be high on your list. These reports can help you dissect the customer conversion path to identify problem areas and make data-driven decisions that will provide that much-needed uplift in conversions.
PS. Funnel visualization and goal flow reports are probably the most useful but 9 times out 10, even with the largest companies I’ve worked with, they are either not configured at all, or configured poorly to a point that they don’t provide any useful information. With a little effort, you can have practically a map showing you where to go and what to do. Use it! 💰