DBD Media (www.dbdmedia.co.uk), the search and social media agency for clients including De Vere Hotels, IPC Media and Lyle & Scott, has undertaken research across 50 online businesses into how effectively ecommerce businesses use Google Analytics (GA). The findings reveal that the vast majority of businesses (80%) are missing out on the true value of GA because they have not implemented the package correctly.

Key findings include the fact that:

• Only 50% of ecommerce businesses track main conversion points. This prevents marketers from measuring website performance against business objectives (such as purchases or leads) as well as end-to-end campaign effectiveness.
• 73% of businesses are inflating traffic in their analytics reports, through self referral issues. Self-referrals are the result of user sessions being split, often due to gaps and/or conflicts in data tracking. As a consequence, traffic data is inflated and the original traffic source is overwritten and not retrievable.
• No ecommerce businesses in the survey have implemented the necessary tracking code required for cross-domain or subdomain tracking. This allows cookie information to be passed from one subdomain/domain to another without losing a unique user’s session data. For instance, websites using 3rd party checkout services without cross-domain tracking lose conversion attribution data.

Axelle Ros, DBD Media’s conversion analytics consultant, said: “Google Analytics is today’s most popular web analytics package for ecommerce businesses. A wealth of companies and agencies rely on it to measure website performance. But GA’s ability to extract accurate and insightful data is deeply affected by its initial setup, both in terms of code and interface configuration. To help businesses understand GA better, and resolve the issues we have uncovered, we have developed a guide that will help brands set-up analytics correctly and obtain accurate and insightful data.”

In addition, the research also found that:

• 60% of GA accounts were not correctly synced with Google AdWords, meaning paid advertising data is not being passed-on and is hampering accurate ROI measurements for paid search.
• 67% of websites haven’t integrated social media tracking, thus affecting a site’s ability to identify how and where a piece of content was shared across social networks.
• 33% of websites with on-site search function do not track site search keywords, so that a third of businesses are missing out on invaluable insight about what content is easy to find and what the consumer would like to find.
• 82% of businesses do not backup data, making historical data impossible to retrieve. GA filters are applied before data is recorded, so any excluded or modified data cannot be retrieved. Because advanced filters can be difficult to configure, DBD Media recommend that businesses always maintain an unfiltered and non-configured profile for backup.
• 73% do not track micro conversion goals such as newsletter sign ups or account registrations. This affects insight into user behaviour patterns that can lead to conversions or exits.
• 30% of ecommerce websites have incorrect ecommerce tracking implementation. This minimises a brand’s ability to tie purchase information with marketing channel performance.
• 87% do not measure customer/visitor retention. Custom codes can tie information to a user from session to session, e.g. – tracking clicks on "Add to cart" buttons will show users who have added one or more item to their shopping cart but did not complete the purchase.
• Only 27% of businesses are using the asynchronous snippet to record their Google Analytics data. Asynchronous tracking takes advantage of browser support for JavaScript to enhance the tracking code loading speed. In addition, the traditional syntax is composed of 2 snippets placed in the <body> whereas the asynchronous syntax is a unique snippet placed in the <head> -- as such, if a user exits a page before it fully loads, the asynchronous snippet has a better chance of recording the pageview as it is quicker to fire.
• 66% of businesses using UTM parameters are using them incorrectly, eg: internal link tagging, unclear naming convention, confusion between different UTMs. UTM parameters overwrite traffic source and medium to identify specific marketing channels, which are not automatically recognized by Google (e.g. email, display...)
• 80% of ecommerce-tracked websites do not backup their ecommerce data with a funnelled goal. This restricts insight into the conversion funnel. Checkout processes should be backed up by a goal with funnel visualisation to better understand the user journey and shopping cart abandonment.
• 87% do not measure on-site interactions such as video plays or whitepaper downloads. Tracking calls to action allow better understand of user behaviour and expectations.

Nigel Muir, DBD Media’s Managing Director, said: “The study showed there is a significant hill to climb for most ecommerce businesses in terms of understanding their own websites, and the behaviour of their visitors. Often businesses are making important decisions regarding their marketing activity based on poor data. This can be relatively simple to resolve if the proper help is sought and I strongly recommend our guide to Google Analytics set-up”.

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For more information please contact Helen Down @ Treacle PR (helen@treaclepr.co.uk or 07986 117 277)

About DBD Media:
DBD Media (www.dbdmedia.co.uk) is an independent digital marketing agency, based in Covent Garden in London, that delivers an integrated search engine marketing and social media service to its clients. Founded in 2000, it specialises in helping clients drive visitors and revenue through SEO, PPC and Social Media. It also helps its clients get more from their online and mobile channels through its Web Analytics and Conversion Rate Optimisation services, as well as offering training and consultancy in SEO, PPC, Social Media and Web Analytics.

The company’s diverse client portfolio includes global brands, SMEs and charities across the travel, finance, recruitment, retail, publishing, entertainment and education sectors, including De Vere Hotels, The Conran Shop, Lyle & Scott, The Energy Saving Trust, Sofa.com, IPC Media and Capital One.

DBD Media is a member of the IPA, and sits on its Search Marketing Advisory Committee. For over five years, the agency has also been one of Econsultancy's featured SEO and PPC suppliers.

Published on: 10:12AM on 22nd October 2012