Measuring your ecommerce website performance and why you shouldn’t trust Google Analytics

When commissioning a specialist ecommerce agency to build an ecommerce website, you’ll want to understand how your website is performing currently and set some objectives so everyone knows where you want to get to.

While your overarching goal may be to have a better design or a more usable CMS platform, you’ll always want to put specific performance indication metrics in place at the start of the project.

If you can’t see in your data whether the agency’s ecommerce website redesign is making any difference to your bottom line, what’s the point of doing it?

Typical objectives for an ecommerce website redesign might include increasing the conversion rates for specific browsers or devices, generating more email newsletter sign ups, or increasing the average basket value.


ecommerce website metrics

Inaccurate Ecommerce Website Performance Metrics


To put specific measurable objectives in place, you’ll need to know exactly where you’re starting from. The logical place to find this information is Google Analytics, but how do you know if your analytics data is accurate?

When we assess a Google Analytics set up at the beginning of a project, we often discover a portion of the data being collected is inaccurate. Problems such as missing steps in goals, pages being tracked twice or not at all, no filtering set up to ignore internal or agency traffic, and the list goes on.

All of these issues impact the story your analytics data is telling you and your ability to assess your current performance. This means that we always have to undertake a Google Analytics set up check to see if it’s collecting the data we need and the numbers being shown in the reports reflect reality, before we start to plan our objectives.


The Result of Accurate Data


Once your analytics set up is delivering data you can believe in, you’ll be able to use it in your conversion research. When data analysis is combined with other more qualitative research techniques, you’ll be able to form hypothesises about what will improve your website’s performance and then test each hypothesis to see if you were right.

You’ll be able to make the case for the changes you’re proposing based on data and real world evidence. You can then track the impact of the changes you’ve made and feel confident the work you’re doing is having the impact you wanted.

Sure it’s nice to get compliments about your new website like ‘wow, it looks so much better’ and ‘I love your new design’, but if the improvements aren’t being reflected in the bottom line because of data inaccuracies, you can waste a lot of time and money heading in the wrong direction.


Data-driven Decisions For Ecommerce Websites


Extensive data analysis and qualitative research will uncover the points of friction on your website. You can then work with your ecommerce website agency to solve those problems in a methodical way, whether that’s by undertaking a conversion rate optimisation programme where the website is gradually improved each month, or by commissioning a radical redesign.

By understanding what your analytics data is telling you, you can start to solve the issues users are having, rather than making a site that is simply appealing to your own taste.

You’re removing the potential for arguments about the way your website should look because your goal is no longer to have the prettiest website, it’s to have the website that makes the most money. The work you do to accomplish that goal is based on what you found out when you removed your own preferences from the equation and focused on the user.

This means you’re already light years ahead of many of your competitors who are still making their design decisions based on their own preferences and gut instinct. You can accurately track the impact of anything you change and objectively judge the success of the work you’re doing with your ecommerce agency.




Nina Mack

2nd April 2015

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