Analytics and e-commerce: Cover your bases

  • As your business grows, data becomes more relevant
  • Prevent data gaps by laying out the proper tagging groundwork now

Analytics and e-commerce: Cover your basesTHE e-commerce sector in Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, with the value of expected to grow to about RM72 billion by the end of this year from RM53 billion last year.
What role does analytics play in contributing to this burgeoning sector? How do you go about utilising analytics in your daily operations?
Tracking the key to success
If you run an e-commerce site, your key aim is to sell.
And selling online is simple, right? Just provide the right product at the right price, and ta-da … you hit it rich and become the next Alibaba, eBay or Amazon.
This may have been the case 10 years ago, but today, more e-commerce sites are popping up than daisies in spring! So how can you stand out from the crowd, provide a great user experience, make your customers yearn for more and become your brand advocates?
To tag, or not to tag …
Clients new to the digital analytics arena always ask me, “What should we tag to provide the best reporting outcomes?” They then explain they only want to report on the basics, and if this provides value, they will tag more assets.
Understandably, they are hesitant about diving in and investing in tagging and tracking every last part of their site.
Additionally, in my experience, most tagging decisions are dependent on three aspects:

  1. Management reporting requirements based on current needs or previous experience to deliver business-critical KPIs (key performance indicators).
  2. Analysts’ abilities and the type of information they can provide management.
  3. Inhouse capabilities of the technical department to deploy the solution.

Despite these common constraints, my philosophy for reporting success remains simple: Tag everything, even if you don’t know why you should be tagging it!
In doing so, you ensure a complete view of your site’s performance – not just a small sliver.
Standalone data is not enough – each analysis will be more meaningful when studied in context against a more comprehensive data backdrop.
You’ll thank yourself later for having laid the proper foundations for accurate data that delivers real insights.
The Top 10

Analytics and e-commerce: Cover your bases

As you set out to cover your tagging bases, keep in mind these 10 essential areas to track:

  • The tree structure of all website pages and associated sites that are not on the same domain: Understand the customer journey throughout your site and across domains.
  • On-site search, not just on the homepage, but on all pages with a search box or a faceted search function, and search result pages: Learn what your customers are looking for, the quantity of search results returned, the kinds of search terms being used that provide no results.
  • Content pages not associated with a product such as Contact Us, FAQs, Terms and Conditions, and Store Locator pages: When your customers visit your site, what information are they trying to find before purchase?
  • Intra-page activities or content such as videos, documents for download, whitepapers, consumer reviews, and feedback: Is the content provided actually being utilised by your customers? Is it helping to build customer value over time, even if they haven’t yet purchased?
  • Signup information provided in registration forms, reward programmes, newsletter subscriptions, survey responses, etc.: Learn more about your customers via the information they explicitly give you.
  • Social sharing: See what and where users are sharing the most on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.
  • Product categories, subcategories and product pages: Understand how customers are finding your products when not using search.
  • Products and product attributes like size, colour, quantity, version, model number, accessories, description, video, images, reviews, ratings, and more (this list will depend on the type of products you sell): Help buyers stock the most relevant products, and help define sales items.
  • Shopping cart and all associated aspects of the cart, such as quantity of products in the cart, products purchased or abandoned, payment type, payment details, shipping and handling, delivery address: This will help you understand your best-selling or most-abandoned products, and will also give deeper insight into your customers’ preferences: how they like their goods to be shipped, their preferred payment options.
  • Marketing channels like Email, SEO, SEM, banner ads on third-party sites, banner ads and self-promotion on your own site, social media: Understand how visitors are finding your site, and attribute market effort and spend appropriately.

As your business grows, data becomes more relevant and a greater number of business units will want a piece of the data pie.
So bear in mind you will always have to deliver more KPIs and greater insights as time goes on. You’ll need to dig deeper into the data than expected, but you won’t be able to achieve this on historical data if you did not tag everything in the first place.
Save yourself the future frustration of data gaps by planning ahead and laying out the proper tagging groundwork now.
Gerrard Te Brake is the South-East Asia business manager at digital analytics company AT Internet.
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