Analytics in E-Commerce (3): Traffic Sources Which Deviate from Reality

In a previous post, we focused on traffic volume as an irrelevant metric, at least if not linked to the website’s conversion rate or global sales. When we work with our online store analytics, another metric that can be seen as a Vanity Metric, and which is also linked to traffic, is the traffic source, which we will talk about now.

Knowing the origin or source of visits is an important piece of information for any website, at least to begin with, as it allows us to a have an idea of which channels are being adequately dealt with. However, taking into account only the traffic volume generated by each source can lead us take to wrong or misinformed decisions. As we saw in the previous post, having more traffic doesn’t mean having more sales, so we should take one step further in this analysis.

Analytics in e-commerce?

But before going on, there are some aspects which should be clarified. First of all, you should be able to have clear goals linked to each channel, as, even though your ultimate goal is sales, sometimes some campaigns or channels can be used as parallel goals such as branding. If your goal is branding, or being able to stand out as a voice to be taken into account in certain topics, then the traffic volume from the sources related to those goals becomes more valuable, as it serves to measure your impact in this respect. This aspect, which is so important, is sometimes neglected, and there is a certain degree of non-coordination between the people in charge of creating the campaigns or generating contents and the person in charge of the e-commerce analytics.

Secondly, if you use a channel to generate sales or at least to strengthen them, then you should avoid measuring only the traffic volume from those sources and focus on the conversions generated by them.

If you use Google Analytics, you can easily measure the impact of your traffic sources. Access Conversions > Goal Flow, and you will see a funnel that shows the traffic sources leading to the start of the sale process and then to the sale goal.

Google Analytics view that enables you to see conversions by traffic source
Google Analytics view that enables you to see conversions by traffic source

Overall view of the Google Analytics Multi-Channel FunnelThis view provides more adequate information about how each traffic source is helping you to sell in your online store. You should dig a bit deeper, given that, as we will now see, some traffic channels don’t generate a high sale volume directly, but do contribute to the conversions which require several user visits. To do so, Google Analytics provides the MultiChannel Funnel view. Access Multi-Channel Funnels > Overview, and you can get an idea of what each channel contributes and how channels interact:


Another view which you should take into account is Multi-Channel Funnels > Conversion Paths, which offers greater details about how the different channels interact to generate sales:

Google Analytics view of the main conversion paths
                            Google Analytics view of the main conversion paths

This information will give you a more accurate view of what each of the channels that generate traffic for your website contributes, and thus you will have quality information about what each of your traffic sources contributes to your online store.

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