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There’s a lot that comes with running an online business. You’ve got to manage inventory, keep your site up and running, make sure your product descriptions are compelling and accurate, and of course, spread the word about your store. When you’re juggling a massive to-do list, it’s easy to put off anything that doesn’t necessarily need to be done right this instant, or anything that requires more technical know-how than you have right now. And, in many minds, website analytics usually fall into both those categories. But as this post series will show, skipping analytics is a big mistake to make, one that can cost your store further on down the line.
Why bother setting up website analytics?
Discover where your marketing works–and what needs fixing
If your store is doing well, you might think, “I don’t know why I need to set them up. My products are selling okay. I should just focus on marketing instead.” The problem with this line of thought is that using analytics will make your marketing work better and increase profits overall. When you’re tracking how many people are heading to your shop, and how they’re using your shop, you can figure out where you’re losing people in the purchasing process. This will, in turn, help you increase conversion. Once you fill those “holes”, your profits will increase afterwards.
Find where your customers are coming from
Analytics tools can also help you see exactly where your purchasers are coming from, which lets you make smarter decisions about where to invest your advertising and marketing dollars. For example, let’s say that in the same month, you advertise at Site A, but also get some press for your products on Site B. Your sales are much higher than average that month, but did those sales come from Site A or Site B? If you have a tracking tool installed, you can tell that the sales actually came from visitors who found your site through Site B, which means you may not need to continue paying for advertising at Site A.
What if I don’t have any visitors?
If your shop is still in the early stages, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the very thought of analytics. You might not be the most tech-savvy person out there (that’s okay!), or these tools might look confusing and unintuitive. Or maybe you feel they’re just too expensive, which is a common concern when you’re just getting your business started.
Take heart: you don’t have to actually learn how to read all of the analytics right now. Instead, the goal here is to set something up so that you can come back and look at the data in a few months (when there’s actually data to look at) and learn from it. And if money is an issue, there are also several fantastic free options, which are covered below.
What are the best apps to get started with?
When you google “analytics tools”, you get 227,000,000 results. An overwhelming amount, to say the least. It can be hard to know where to start, so we’ve narrowed it down to our top four options. Check them out.
4 apps to kick your analytics program into gear
- Google Analytics is considered the industry standard -but it’s also known for not being very intuitive. So if you don’t get the hang of it right away, don’t feel bad!
- Given that it’s free and gives you a lot of data, you should definitely install it, even if you don’t look at it again for six months. Especially because many other tools (see SumAll, below) pull in information from Google Analytics.
- Unlike most of the other options on this list, SumAll doesn’t only track just analytics. Rather, it pulls data from other places and puts it together on one dashboard so that you can see the patterns while setting and tracking goals.
- There are multiple platforms that can be integrated, including Google Analytics, Paypal Pro, and most e-commerce platforms (Bigcommerce included!).
- The free version has plenty of features to keep you busy, but the paid version is very reasonably priced.
- CrazyEgg is unlike most of the other tools on this list. Instead of giving you just numbers, it provides you with a colorful “heatmap” of your site.
- You can see where visitors are clicking on your pages, how far down they scroll, or you segment clicks by other factors.
- For example, you can choose to view how traffic from Facebook behaves, and then see from other sources like Twitter or Google.
- Lumiary is designed specifically for e-commerce platforms, including Bigcommerce.
- It’s also more of an overall marketing tool that includes analytics. Itpost and schedule social media posts show certain visitors distinct offer based on factors like location or whether they’ve purchased from you before.
- The Lumiary Academy keeps you on the right track and makes sure you’re using it to the fullest of its potential.
Where should I start?
If you’re just dipping your toe into analytics, you can’t go wrong with Google Analyticss mentioned, it’s the industry standard, and it’s better to set it up sooner rather than later. Using a free tool like SumAll to track data from multiple sources can also be helpful, as long as it doesn’t overwhelm you.
Past that, it’s up to your discretion as a business owner. In all honesty, a busy and profitable shop could have each of these tools in use on their site and still get useful data from each of them. They key is to make sure you’re actually using it once you’ve installed it, and that’s always the hard part!
This is post one in the “Crash Course on Business Analytics for Ecommerce” series. Next time, we’ll be talking about how to start figuring out your analytics once you get them up and running. Stay tuned!
Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel used under Creative Commons.
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