Universal Google Analytics, the tool you’ve probably been using for many years to track your website visits, has now been retired and replaced by Google Analytics 4. While frustrating to have to learn and use a completely new tool that has a steep learning curve, it’s also a huge opportunity. That’s because GA4 is much more powerful than its predecessor and can give you detailed insights into how visitors are interacting with your online store if you set it up properly with specific engagement and conversion events.
What’s the big deal about Google Analytics 4 for e-commerce businesses?
GA4 is the first major overhaul of Google’s web analytics tool since the introduction of Universal Analytics in 2012. Its tracking methodology is so different than Universal Analytics that Google had to completely do away with the old product. GA4 was built with the new privacy laws in mind so it doesn’t use session cookies at all. Instead, it’s built around tracking user engagement. With GA4 you can get detailed insights into user behavior, engagement, and conversions, and craft your offerings and campaigns around what makes users engage and buy.
GA4 also leverages advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to automatically spot trends, anomalies, and opportunities, and identify visitor demographics, interests, and likelihood of purchasing. It can help analyze customer journeys through the conversion funnel, identify dropoff points, and make recommendations for improvement.
Why is GA4’s data collection model better than Universal Analytics for e-commerce businesses?
GA4’s event-based data collection model can give us a much better understanding of user engagement and interest in your online store than Universal Analytics’ session-based tracking. Universal Analytics was useful for tabulating aggregate, general information like page views and sessions, but was very limited in tracking specific user engagement actions within each page and over multiple devices and platforms. GA4 lets you capture specific user actions that you determine to be important, without going afoul of privacy concerns and regulations.
How can an online store get the most out of GA4?
If you want to get the best results you’ll need to set up engagement and conversion events in GA4. Whether you attempt to set this up yourself or hire a specialist to do it (we offer a GA4 setup service), you’ll want to review your site and identify what actions you want users to perform.
Do you have product videos, reviews, the ability to add a product to a wish list, category pages, a variety of shipping options, promo codes, and different locations for add-to-cart buttons? All of these can be tracked as engagement or conversion actions to give you insight into how people are using your online store. What button styles get more engagement? What products or color variations are people engaging with more? What products get added to wish lists at a high rate but are lagging in sales? Each engagement point can help answer key questions that can drive your campaigns, offerings, or user experience improvements and help to maximize your sales.
You can also embed your key engagement and conversion metrics into an easy-to-understand dashboard that you can share with team members to help drive decision-making and improve conversion rates.
What e-commerce events can you track in GA4?
If a visitor can do it on your site, you can probably track it. Go through your website and think about what actions from a user will give you some insight into his/her interests or intentions. Here are some GA4 event tracking ideas for e-commerce businesses.
- Product page views and color or size variations. Determine user product preferences by tracking when they click to explore alternate colors or sizes.
- Scrolling through customer reviews. Gauge the importance of social proof in the decision-making process by measuring the depth of engagement with customer reviews.
- Product comparisons. Track when visitors compare products to understand their preferences and decision-making process.
- Add to wishlist. Use this clear indicator of interest to prioritize your promotions and drive remarketing campaigns.
- Upsells and cross-sells. Track engagement with upsell or cross-sell offers to optimize product recommendations and increase average order value.
- Add to cart. Monitoring add-to-cart clicks can help you test your button locations, evaluate the effects of price changes, and identify issues with your checkout process if your conversion rates fluctuate.
- Shipping costs and delivery times. Tracking when visitors calculate shipping costs and delivery times can help determine the effect of these aspects on your conversion rates.
- Entering promo codes. What effect are promo codes having on your conversion rate? What percentage of purchasers use them? Tracking this can alert you to shrinking margins and also measure the success of your affiliate campaigns.
- Abandoned carts. Monitor cart abandonment to optimize the checkout process and improve conversion rates. Do you need to capture so many client details during the checkout process? How can you make checking out easier?
- Purchase completion. “Successful transaction” events complete your sales funnel tracking and help determine how each change you make to the process affects revenue and conversion rates.
- Refunds and returns. Monitor when customers initiate refunds or returns to improve product satisfaction and customer support.
- Page interactions. Product video views, FAQ accordion clicks, external clicks to your social media profiles, and almost any other user action you can think of.
Capturing these events in GA4 can provide valuable insights for enhancing your e-commerce store and your marketing strategies.
There are also plenty of non-e-commerce events you can track. See our page on GA4 Event Tracking for Service Businesses.