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Ecommerce Tracking Tips – Getting the most out of Google Analytics

At Further we have a fair few ecommerce clients spanning a wide range of product types. Having spent the last six months on secondment to our Marketing Strategy team, I’ve seen a lot of sub-optimal tracking setups, so I thought I’d add a post about some of the things I’ve spotted along the way and also some tips on ecommerce tracking capabilities. [Side note: As of today I’m re-joining the agency’s search marketing team as a Senior SEO Consultant. I’m looking forward to utilising all I’ve learnt about the wider online marketing world to bring even more strategic thinking and technical expertise to our client SEO campaigns!]

Adding ecommerce tracking:

  1. Switch on ecommerce tracking in your Google Analytics account
  2. Add ecommerce tracking code to the order confirmation page

So here are some of the issues that I’ve seen that have caused data inaccuracies:

Not cycling multiple purchases

One of the prerequisites of the ecommerce tracking script is telling Google about every individual item in a transaction. I’ve seen setups whereby the script is pulling in total basket value data but not cycling individual items (and therefore not providing data on individual item purchases).

Various order values

It’s all too easy to pass incorrect values into each of the variables. Take care to pass through total order value without VAT as tax should be listed as a separate value later in the code.

3rd party payment providers

This gets trickier as the visitor is taken off-site. When this happens, it’s important to add extra code to pass data correctly through a third party payment provider using Cross Domain Tracking.

These posts have proved useful in implementing tracking for WorldPay and PayPal.

The default ecommerce conversion tracking script:


What else can be done with the ecommerce tracking script?

More often than not I’ll see the ‘category or variation’ variable being loosely used. As most retailers sort their products into multiple categories it’s not always easy to identify this value unless products have been specified a master category. As per Google’s example above they’ve added the product variation which includes colour and size. But this got me thinking that you could pass anything of interest into here.

Sale items – You could pass through whether the product that has been purchased was reduced or part of an offer. It may be that some items on the site are discounted while others remain full price. This will allow you to quickly filter in Product Performance items in sale. Although this may be indicated in the product price it’s unlikely you’ll know the reduced price for every item on your site.

Featured item – The product may be promoted throughout the site in featured banners. You could pass a value through which will identify it as a featured item to see if it performed better as a result.

Example: header, sidebar, featured

Payment provider – Although there are a number of ways of tracking which payment provider has been used it could also be passed into this variable also.

Example: Paypal, Google Checkout, Sagepay, WorldPay

New/Used – Specify when the item sold is new or used. (Although this may be referenced in product titles or the product code).

The potential for adding extra tracking granularity is as limitless as your creativity and your developer’s skills. You could even combine the various variables above into one value and then you can filter by all the variables and set up Custom Reports based on the category attributes!

Never mind the money

You don’t need to sell monetary items in order to use ecommerce tracking either. Google’s official Analytics Blog recently posted how Nissan uses Ecommerce Tracking without selling.


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