Have an ecommerce website? Here are 5 things you should be tracking!

Pageviews, bounce rates, time on website, and geographic location are great stats to track, in fact you probably already are tracking them. Most analytics solutions track these things and as well as a dozen more stats right out of the box. But if you want actionable data that will help you improve your ecommerce sales, here are 5 things that you have to track:

Learning Search

Unless you are only selling a handful of products, you have a search box on your ecommerce website. Users tend to use the search feature on a lot of websites because it helps them find what they are looking for, a lot faster. Right? In most cases yes, but if you aren’t tracking your search results, you will not know. Here are some things to track:

  • What queries people are searching for?
  • Are users clicking on the results or are they not finding what they are looking for?
  • Which results are the users clicking on? If they tend to not click on the first few results, then your results need to be reorganized.

Luckily you don’t have to build a solution to do this for you. There are already software programs like SLI Systems that do all of this so you don’t have to manually adjust your search results.

Funnels

Most middle tier or advanced analytics solutions, such as Omniture and Google Analytics, already have funnel tracking. Although they have them, the chances are you aren’t using them.

Here are some funnels you should be setting up:

  • Check out process – track all of the steps users are taking from your website, from adding a product to their cart, to checking out.
  • Registration process – if you tend to have repeat shoppers you probably have a registration process. Make sure you have a funnel in place on your registration process so you can maximize your new user registrations.

Form Fields

From registration pages to check out pages, the most important pages on your ecommerce website have form fields. You don’t want to track what users are inputting in them, such as credit card data, because that maybe breeching some privacy laws. But what you do want to do is track the drop out rates on your form fields. This will help you figure out how to layout your form fields on the page as well as figure out which fields you really need and which ones you don’t.

Similar to setting a funnel, tracking form fields is all about getting drop out rate information. Software services like Crazy Egg, Click Density, and Click Tale can help you track your form fields.

Repeat Customers

Most analytical solutions tell you how many repeat visitors you have, but they don’t tell you how many repeat customers you have. Make sure you know who is shopping on your website on a regular basis. This way you can analyze how those visitors first came to your website and what you can do to try and get more of those type of visitors.

One other thing that you can do, which has been very effective, is to survey those users. Find out what they like or dislike with your site and improve it based on their feedback. Once they are done with their survey make sure you give them some sort of coupon, such as 5% off their next purchase.

And for the customers that tend to never shop again, consider surveying them as well. Find out why they aren’t coming back to your website and what you can do to change that. Once they are done with the survey offer them a coupon to your website, which should also helps increase your repeat customers.

Groupings

If you have thousands of products on your website, it can get difficult to track which ones are doing well and which ones aren’t. One thing that you should do is group your products together on the backend of your website, so you can get and understanding of what type of products are selling and which ones aren’t.

For example, Zappos sells shoes. So if they want to figure out how to improve their sales they can group their products together based on similarities. If they wanted to compare their sales numbers, they could compare all of their Nike men’s running shoes to Nike men’s basketball shoes. If they see that their basketball shoes are under performing they can try and promote them harder by doing some sort of basketball shoe sale.

To get on a granular level, you can even group men’s shoes by sizes to figure out how different sizes stack up against each other. This will give you an idea of what people order the most and what under performing sizes you may want to run sales for. This way when you have sales, you wouldn’t offer your most popular sizes in them because they tend to sell by themselves.

Conclusion

When you are tracking different actions on your website, concentrate on the ones that can give you actionable data. Tracking time on website doesn’t do much for you because that number Omniture and Google Analytics won’t give you insight on how you can improve it.

For each ecommerce site, there are going to be different things that could be tracked. These are just 5 things that I feel all ecommerce sites should track. What do you think?

  1. Very good read – thanks for the detailed analysis and discussion.

  2. Thanks for providing the very good information.

  3. Here are some other things to be consider as well
    1 Consider the Search Volume
    2- Consider Advertiser Competition
    3- Consider Using Google Analytics
    4- Consider beeing informal and Informative
    5- Consider the Demographics
    6- Consider Understanding User Behavior

  4. Actionable data really is the key to e-comm profitability. Nice post. BTW I found this post through: http://www.whosbloggingwhat.com/issues/2009/06022009/useful?goback=.hom

  5. Hi there!

    Maybe there is one thing that you missed: what about A/B page split testing? This is important especially if you’re paying much for website design. Almost all web analytics software offers split testing nowadays.

    With Logaholic Web Analytics you can set up a URL based or PHP A/B split testing tool just in seconds and observe the results in a few days. I think this could be included under “User behavior”. ( see post above)

  6. great article. very useful.

    Just FYI for others out there, you can use Google Analytics to learn more about search results.I have found it very useful.

    To find out more info about GA internal site search: http://google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=75817

  7. really goot article. Analytics is a must!

  8. How you earn from an ecommerce business is totally depends on the traffic and conversion you get from internet, which will be in the form of direct, referrals and search engines. Tracking the resources, visitors and goals are the main tracking items for any ecommerce website.

  9. You missed visits and conversion rate. These are the two essential attributes that help to estimate the traffic of an ecommerce website.

  10. I agree with you and also the 5 points mentioned in the article. For e-Commerce websites to get success these are some important aspects unless proper tracking of every activity its quite hard to maintain the whole process and effectively higher ROI

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