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4 Google Analytics Reports to Boost E-Commerce Affiliate Sales

Jessica on August 22, 2019

4 Google Analytics Reports to Boost E-Commerce Affiliate Sales

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Think back to the last time you went shopping.

Maybe you tried on a few items. Or asked an employee a few questions. Then, you made a purchase. All pretty normal shopping behavior we don’t think much about.

But to store owners, these behaviors represent much more. It’s their way of knowing who their customers are, how they interact with their store and the products they are interested in.

If most customers remain in the sweater section and few go to accessories, placing sweaters in the front could draw in more people. Or, store workers find that most of the items left behind in fitting rooms are more expensive, the owner might want to reconsider their price points.

Plenty of scenarios like this can help store owners improve the customer experience, which will consequently impact the store’s overall business.

But, for e-commerce this approach doesn’t quite work. With online shopping, business owners can’t explicitly see the customer’s behavior as they would in the scenario above, making it harder determine what’s working and what’s not.

Google Analytics can help solve that.

Setting up Google Analytics

Google Analytics has become the most effective way for collecting and analyzing site data. The platform is particularly useful for e-commerce - with Enhanced Ecommerce giving site owners specific features designed for store optimization.

Enhanced Ecommerce features include metrics for:
- Shopping Behavior: Detailed reports on customer behavior in every step of the sales funnel
- Product Performance: Analytics for revenue & conversion rates, average order value, cart abandonment rates
- Marketing Success Rates: Track internal & external marketing efforts, including affiliates and coupons
- Product Attribution: View the customer’s ‘Last Action’ attribution

Popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento have a built-in integration with Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce, so set up won’t be a hassle.

If you aren’t using an e-commerce platform, the set-up can be a bit more tricky so it’s recommended to partner with a web developer.

Google Analytics overview

What to Look For While Analyzing

As you begin analyzing site data, it’s best to be as detailed as possible and avoid a “general overview” approach. Break down the analytics to clearly see what is working, what isn’t working and how to improve.

Some things to consider in your analysis…

  • How new customers behave
  • How returning customers behave
  • Where customers come from (searches, ads, links)
  • How often customers come or return
  • How long customers stay
  • How many products are viewed, how many put in their cart
  • Where do customers abandon the site
  • What device do customers use (Mobile vs. Desktop vs. Tablet)

It’s important to see how the different metrics interact with one another, instead of making decisions on one report. And, always take into account how external factors may impact these metrics.

Using Google Analytics to Answer These Questions

As we said, there’s several data points to examine. This is where we recommend starting:

Traffic Sources

See the channels customers used to come to your site - direct, organic search, paid search, referrals, social, email, etc.

To find your traffic sources, click on Acquisition.

Some sections to focus on…

Channels: This section looks at groupings of several traffic sources with the same medium. This includes the traffic from channels like direct, referral, organic search, paid search, social media, etc.

Source/Medium: This section breaks down the channels into specific sources. By breaking down the channels, you can see what it working best (or worst) for you. For example, Facebook over Youtube for social media or Google over Bing for search engine.

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Use this data as part of your affiliate marketing strategy. Prioritize outreach efforts by partnering with affiliates in the channels that are proven effective for traffic and conversions.

For example…

  • A site has a high conversion rate for organic traffic. Seek out popular bloggers within the brand’s niche and collaborate on creating valuable content around your product. If strategically executed, this can work wonders for getting a higher SEO ranking and bringing in more organic traffic.

  • Social traffic is high but conversions are low. Start by breaking down the social channel data to the source, and see if there are better opportunities on different platforms. For example, placing content on Youtube instead of Facebook. Partner with affiliates who have experience and an audience on that platform.

Page Performance

Understand how customers are interacting with different pages on your site; see which pages are effective and which pages need improvement.

To see how each page performs, click on the tab Behavior.

A few key metrics to look at…

Pageviews: Shows the number of times a page is viewed, including the number of repeated and unique pageviews.

Average Time On Page: Shows the average time a user spends on a page. Generally speaking, users stay on a page longer if the content is useful or interesting to them. But as we mentioned, no metric should be analyzed alone - be sure to check bounce rate with this.

Bounce Rate: The amount of people that leave the site having only viewed one page. This indicates the user was unsatisfied with the page for various reasons, such as it wasn’t what they were looking for, poor page design, lack of information/descriptions, low quality images, slow load times, etc.

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For your affiliate program, page analytics offer valuable insight for customer acquisition. Landing pages are the first impression of your store and a critical factor in users becoming paying customers. Use these metrics to determine which page is best for affiliate links.

For example…

  • The landing page for an affiliate link has a high bounce rate in comparison to other pages on the site. This page needs to be improved or replaced with a landing page that is more fitting for the affiliate’s audience.

  • The site has really excellent content in the blog section and readers tend to stay longer on this part of the site than any other, including the homepage. Try A/B testing blog posts as landing pages for affiliate links to see if it results in more users staying on the site, and potentially for more conversions.

Product Features

Gain insight about what customers are really interested in. Use these insights to focus marketing strategies around certain products in order to increase sales.

To determine which products to focus on, click on Product Performance in the tab Conversions.

Here are some things to consider…

Highest revenue: Products making the most money for your site. Consider highlighting these items on the homepage or in ads as they are the most popular.

Unique Purchases: Products that are bought the most. Popular low cost items are an opportunity to upsell, so think about marketing these items with more lucrative products.

Highest return rate: The rate that products are being sent back. Check if ads are correctly communicating the product or if it’s a deeper product flaw.

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Using this data for your affiliate program, you can strategize ways that affiliates can bring traffic to these specific products.

For example…

  • Certain products generate a high unique purchase rate. Capitalize on this by creating marketing assets for these products specifically. Use banners, images and videos to highlight the product, and direct affiliate links to where the product can be purchased.

  • A store features seasonal products for a holiday. These products need to be sold before the holiday or the inventory will become useless. Incentive affiliates to focus their marketing efforts here by setting higher commission rates for these specific products.

Shopping Patterns

Track the customer’s journey through the store. Having a detailed step-by-step of their movement from landing page to completed purchase allows store owners to see the exact point a customer abandons the cart, checkout or site all together.

To understand the customer experience, click on Shopping Behavior Analysis in the Conversions tab.

These are the customer steps you’ll see…

  • All sessions: All users that came to the site
  • Sessions with Product Views: Users that started shopping
  • Sessions with Add to Cart: Users that added products to the cart
  • Sessions with Checkout: Users that start checking out
  • Sessions with Transactions: Users that complete checkout with payment

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With the help of an affiliate program, you can offer special deals to encourage customers to complete their journey. Create affiliate coupons specific to abandonment points.

For example…

  • A lot of users are coming to the site and viewing products, but the ‘add to the cart’ metric shows there’s low shopping activity. Offering a discount, such as an affiliate code that gives 15% off, could help increase cart additions and prompt more users to consider buying. Plus, two-thirds of consumers say they have “made a purchase they weren’t originally planning to make solely based on finding a coupon or discount”.

  • There’s a high checkout abandonment rate, meaning there was something in this process that customers weren’t satisfied with. You’ll need to investigate, but one known cause for checkout abandonment is unexpected high shipping fees. Affiliates can promote free shipping codes to see if this pushes more customers to buy. If it works you’ll not only get an increase in sales, but also proven feedback that you need to approach shipping costs differently. (This is also where you can factor in different metrics, such as product quantity and offer free shipping for a certain purchasing amount).

Wrap Up

With Google Analytics, you have more tangible figures to explain how customers are experiencing your store and ways to enhance your marketing efforts.

But when it comes to optimizing your affiliate program, this is just the start. As we mentioned no data point should be analyzed alone - there are several other factors that impact affiliate sales, and ultimately your store’s success.

Be sure to check out the Tapfiliate blog for more tips and strategies for running an affiliate program.