Four Overlooked Web Analytics Tools and Metrics for E-Commerce

Industry Insight
Four Overlooked Web Analytics Tools and Metrics for E-Commerce

Most of the discussion about web analytics world concerns orders and conversions, which drive revenue.

Lead generation websites generate metrics similar to ecommerce (conversion rates etc). There is a perception, when analyzing web stats, to over-value “uniques”, that is, new visitors to the site (there is some controversy as to how “uniques” are calculated and if every hit counted as “unique” is, indeed, a new visitor, but for our purposes let’s assume most of them are.

But think about it, who is more likely to buy something from your site, a new visitor, or someone who visits, buys something and leaves, then comes back again and again? 100 repeat visitors are probably more valuable than a thousand new visitors who might just look and leave.

Unlike a technical support website or a news website or a blog, a “brand” site is not merely relying on hits, it relies on online outcomes, usually purchases. The aforementioned sites rely on pure visitor statistics because they want to prove traffic statistics because ad rates, the way “content” sites make their money is by selling ads based on the number of visitors their site generates.

You can measure the four metrics under the “Visitor Loyalty” button in Google Analytics (or in your favorite web analytics application).

The four metrics are: Loyalty, Recency, Length of Visit, Depth of Visit.

The goal is to use web analytics data to interpret success of a visit to your website.

Ecommerce Website Analytics: Loyalty Reports

Google Analytics shows distribution and not simply averages for each of the metrics we are discussing here.

Visitor Loyalty: During the reporting time period how often do “people” (“visitors”) visit my website? The number you are used to seeing is “average visits per visitor”. Using Visitor Loyalty you can view the “average” picture and you can see the front and back loading of the trend. It helps you understand what the median is, where are your outliers and if you were aiming for a particular number then what are the specific number (or percent) of people in that cohort.

As an example: say you update your website seven times a week. If you have 100% loyal visitor base then they should be visiting your website seven times each week. The important thing is to find out, are they? Is there something I can do to help entice them to do so? Is the loyalty rate going up over time? If not, you are not actually building an loyal audience, you are just accumulating “drive by” visitors. And, as we’ve discussed, someone who comes and buys is more likely to return and buy than a “unique” visitor.

To accomplish this, first identify a goal for your ecommerce website:
1. Calculate visits you expect from the traffic to your website in a report period (usually a month, but it can be any time period convenient to your sitation).
2. Measure reality using the Loyalty report.
3. Compare your performance over time to ensure you are making progress.

Consistency of Repeat Visits: Recency

How long has it been since a repeat viewer last visited your website?

Example: A big, high-volume ecommerce site like probably wants the visitor recency metric to be 1 day ago, which means every visitor comes to the website every single day to check out the new deals, read reviews, and hopefully shop.

Any website that wants lots of repeat visits, because again, as we discussed, repeat visitors are more likely to buy than new visitors. Using this simple report you can now see how you are doing when it comes to the distribution of visitors in terms of their propensity to visit your site. If your ecommerce site offers regular sales and specials, you want recency of visits so that repeat customers, our most valuable visitors, don’t miss any sales on merchandise or services they might be tempted to buy.

Say 67% of your audience is consistently new over months then should your site content / design / merchandizing be different? Should you “sell” harder the value of repeat visits to your audience? Is that number going up or down?

All questions that now you can answer and as you create incentives on your site for people to visit more frequently you can actually measure succuss.

Value of Viewer: Length of Visit

During the reporting period what is the quality of visit as represented by length of a visitor session in seconds. Average time of site is the most common web analytics metric, and an important one for gauging how well your site is engaging visitors and encouraging them to browse around and either check out many products or read about product features and services, updates, etc.

It’s hard to get away from the average and measure the distribution of the visits to check if the average time on site is 50 seconds because one person visited for one second and the other person for 100 seconds. The average is not necessarily a good metric with which to gauge viewer engagement. Some viewers are going to click away no matter what you do.

Google Analytics length of visit is a better way to gauge success in engaging viewers. If you can keep them on your site for one minute then they tend to stay for a long time. That gives you a better idea of how to interact with my visitors. The more interaction, the longer visitors will stay, and having invested that time, they might be more likely to invest money in your product.

1. Identify what the distribution is for your website for length of visits.
2. Think of creative ways to engage traffic – if you can keep a visitor engaged for one minute, it’s more likely they will continue to “drill down” into your site and ultimately purchase something.
3. Prominently place blurbs for specials or tutorials or something which will immediately engage the viewer and keep them onsite from the get-go – if you can keep them that crucial 60 seconds, they are shown to be more likely to stay even longer.
4. Your support section should have at least 20% of your audience was on the site for more than 5-10 minutes.

You can measure success for percent of visits that are long and percent that are short.

Drill-down: Depth of Visit

During a given time period what is the distribution of number of pages in each visit to the website.

Metric is related to the Length of Visit metric above.

Usuallly you see the average page views per visitors, but the Depth of Visit metric is a lot more helpful. You can get this exact metric from your indextools implementation.

Recommendations for the Metrics Discussed in this Post

Getting the data above is just the first step. Once you have the above distributions for your key metrics:

1. Socialize them to your key stake holders and decision makers to make the realize what is really happening on your website.

2. Work with your leadership to create goals and then measure against goals over time, especially as you make changes to your website.

3. Segment the data. Visitor Loyalty or Length of Visit are probably the most important acquisition sources? What are the keywords that drive valuable segments of traffic to the website? As you look at longer time periods what pieces of content do people with longer visits consume? Segmentation is key to insights that will drive action.

Competently using these metrics is an invaluable way to measure the success of your ecommerce website.

You can set clear goals and measure success of your website. Every single web analytics tool should provide one click access to a clear visualization of this data.

SalesWarp Storefront Management System has fantastic Analytics and Reporting features which can help you utilize the metrics found in your Web Analytics system. Click here to find out more about the SalesWarp Storefront Management System.