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This week’s Internet Retailer webinar, Analytics for Ecommerce: Using Data to Drive Online Retail Sales, featured three real-world cases to show how retailers used key Google Analytics techniques to increase sales, acquire key insights about their customers’ behavior on their digital properties, and gain accountability for digital marketing activities.

Justin Cutroni, Analytics Advocate, Google, and I talked about the groundwork needed for a robust digital framework, and the analytics techniques that can have big and immediate impact for online retail.

You can view the webinar here.

Analytics for Ecommerce

From which metrics you need to look at every single day to attribution modelling and the old classic, How do we know if we can trust our data?, our audience had some great questions, which we’ve answered and compiled below:

Q: Do you have any recommendations for “compliance auditing” in an agency setting? How can you be sure everyone is using the attribution model of choice.  Most email/digital services provide direct or last click revenue attribution.How do you make people understand the easy way isn’t the best way?

A: Consider asking agencies to provide campaign reporting using both last-touch attribution and first-touch attribution. This is really easy if your data is coming from Google Analytics. Remember, no single attribution model is the correct model – rather, it’s in comparing performance using different models that you’ll really get insights about how your different marketing channels work together.

Attribution models
Attribution models


Q: Do you have any thoughts on how to look at the effects of online marketing to brick & mortar retail sales? (I’m from a company that has both e-commerce and physical stores.)

A: In order to bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds, you’ll need to be able to get your data silos to start talking to each other. For example, you’ll likely need to integrate your web analytics data with your store’s point-of-sale (POS) data. Completing these integrations allows you to start detecting patterns that you can’t see when this data is siloed.

(Check out Cardinal Path’s founding partner David Booth talking about Research Online, Purchase Offline.)

Q: How can we know whether to trust our data or not?

A: If you’re not sure whether you can trust in the quality of your data, consider bringing in an objective third party to audit your data collection tools and ensure they’re producing the data you need to make important decisions. Often you’ll find that even if your tools are working correctly, they make not be working completely – what holes do you have in your tracking? An analytics audit can help you discover and remove those blind spots.

Q: How do you integrate an offline call center into multi attribution?

A: There are tools out there (CallTrackingMetrics is one example) that help you integrate call center data with web analytics. For example, every time someone calls a toll-free number, you can push an “event” into Google Analytics. Then, if that call closes into a sale, you can push another, different event into GA. This integration gives you the ability to see not only how your marketing channels work together to drive a visitor to purchase online, but also what the impact is on your call center’s performance.

Q: What are the top 3 metrics we should look at on a daily basis in Ecommerce.  We do weekly and monthly reports, but with all the data, it can get overwhelming.  It would be good to know what we should monitor daily?

A: Monitoring data you can’t take action on is a “time suck.” In other words, if you can’t react to data on a daily basis, there’s little to be gained from monitoring it on a daily basis in the first place. On the other hand, if you can react to data on an hourly basis, it’s worth having your KPIs at your fingertips on an hour-by-hour basis.

That said, there are a few metrics I think any Ecommerce organization needs to focus on regularly. First, and probably most obviously, revenue. Second, your conversion rate. You don’t want to focus solely on “counting” stats. Rates give you a sense for how efficient you are, not just how much you’re selling. Last – and this is the one that I see fewer people monitoring closely – margin. There are all kinds of things you can do to improve sales on a short-term basis, but when that comes at the expense of margins, you’re expending a lot of effort without taking profit home at the end of the day.

Submit your own question to the Cardinal Path Digital Intelligence team.

View the on-demand webinar Analytics for Ecommerce: Using Data to Drive Online Retail Sales.