How to Understand Your Online Store Analytics Data

Understanding KPI - MGR Blog

With just about all physical retail stores temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of our clients are turning their focus to eCommerce.  With this shift taking place, we’ve also received a lot of questions and comments regarding not just how to optimize their sales, but how to interpret their data to see what is working and what is not.  The following is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions.  The answers apply to all types on online stores, regardless of what type of product or service you’re selling online.

What are the main KPIs that I should check on a regular basis?

KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are the pieces of data that reflect the performance of your store over a set period of time.  Typically, the of most important KPI’s you should track on regular basis are: 

  1. Total sales/Profit
  2. Average Order Value
  3. No. of Orders
  4. Ordered items/Best Selling items
  5. Conversion Rate
  6. Visitors/Session

Having the right setup or Dashboard in place is a quick way to take a look at your KPIs fairly easily.  The frequency will depend on your eComm traffic and activity.  Whether you feel that’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, it’s important to know the time to have these KPI “sweeps” for maintenance.

How deeply should I look into each KPI?

Periodical KPI checks should be quick and easy, taking no more than 10-15 minutes a day at the most.  If your schedule is bi-weekly or monthly, you will need to spend a bit more time.  However, if your quick glance shows that you have some type of under-performing metric, a more in-depth analysis will be required.

After a while, you will become accustomed to seeing certain values for each KPI so it will not be too difficult to see right away if any of your KPIs is showing some unusual value.  It could be a decreased number of visitors, or a lower conversion rate than usual, higher bounce rate, etc.  Each of those, will require a deeper look to get to the root of the problem and solve it as soon as possible.

How much time should I spend with in-depth data analysis?

Most business owners don’t know how much time to spend on certain tasks, so they either:

  1. Waste lots of time collecting and analyzing useless data, or worse
  2. They feel overwhelmed and spend no time at all doing data analysis.

There are no fixed rules on how much time you should spend on doing data analysis.  Deep Analysis should be – as its name suggests – deep and thorough. It usually takes several hours, but can even take up to several days to discover new trends, results of ad campaigns variations, etc.

Because most businesses do not know this information, they end up spending too much time on vanity metrics and too little time digging into metrics that will actually move the needle. Spending only 1 hour a month with analyzing your data, and still being able to make data-driven decisions is only possible if you have the right data at the right moment available. But usually, there are a few problems with analytics information that make data-driven decision making an undesirable task for business owners.  Let’s have a look at these problems, and what to do with them.

How can I tell what actions I need to take based on my data?

There are 3 main problems that cause eCommerce businesses to fail in data-driven decision-making:

1) Data is complex

Sometimes looking at data feels like torture. It may feel like information overload. Too many numbers, too many graphs, too many options. You know you need data but if you don’t know what to do with it, what purpose does it serve?

Most business owners get overwhelmed by just looking at the menu structure of Google Analytics. They often come to the conclusion that they need to spend all their time untangling complex data or very little time on it. Both are very wrong and destructive decisions.

2) Data is fragmented

Even though Google Analytics is a great tool, it gives partial data concerning onsite behavior. There are no data in Google Analytics about what happens before and after the customer visits your store. Sure, you can get this information from other tools but finding a synergy between various tools can be equally frustrating and time-consuming.

3) Data is out of context

“Okay, here are a bunch of numbers and percentages. Now, what do I do with them?” If you’ve thought that before when looking at your dashboards, you’re not alone. Most data and numbers are worthless without context. Percentages and numbers are valuable but cannot be translated into actionable insights without context.

How can I compile data from different analytics programs into a single platform?

This is the key question.  Unfortunately, despite the many programs that offer data consolidation from multiple sources, we haven’t found one that is just “perfect” for all clients and situations.  The difficulty of consolidating data is primarily caused by how each analytics platform interprets its own data.  Facebook Analytics may show numbers that don’t exactly match Google Analytics.  Even Google Ads doesn’t always match Google Analytics when it comes to paid campaign performance.  Attribution windows, multi-channel attribution, and other factors may skew the data one way or another.

So how can you solve this data dilemma?  Here are the 3 steps you should follow to create a data-driven decision-making framework:

1) Focus on the most important KPIs

See the first point of this article. Less is more. You have to decrease complexity. You have to choose a finite (and manageable) number of metrics, and stick with them. Here is our recommendation for the most important

2) Make the important KPIs easily accessible

Have these metrics not only readily available on a whim but have them aggregated in a single – preferably visually pleasing – interface.   Some platforms will allow you to have the most critical numbers delivered to you via email on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis depending on your store traffic.

3) Put your numbers into context

There are so many ways to contextualize and understand data but most analytics tools don’t even have the option to do this. Most analytics tools are simply for reporting facts and figures but not much else. While there’s nothing wrong with that, these tools exclude those who aren’t as numbers-savvy from properly using the power of data or even understanding what actions to implement based on that data.  Like I mentioned above, data is useless if you have no idea what to do with it.

Our goal at MGR Agency is to provide monthly reports with clear, customized data and recommendations for each of our clients.

Here’s the MGR advantage:

  1. Simplifying: We handpicked the most important metrics for an e-commerce store owner, and deliver them to you just when you need them.
  2. Aggregating: We aggregate all your data sources into a simple platform, and make the necessary connections between these sources. We don’t collect more data, we feel you already have too much.
  3. Contextualizing: Whenever we present a number to you, we ask: is it actionable? Is it clear what to do with them? If not, we don’t show it to you.

Conclusion:

Data is critical.  Data is abundant.  And, yes, data can be overwhelming.  However, data-based decision making is what will take your business to the next level.

There’s nothing wrong with letting professionals analyze the data for you.  Just like you trust your doctor analyze your blood test results for you rather than you spending time researching a bunch of numbers to figure out what lifestyle changes you need to make, a professional eCommerce Agency can analyze your data and save you a lot of time.  Using your own time effectively, sometimes means letting other people doing the work for you, and that’s just fine too.

As always, if you need any assistance with your digital marketing, our MGR Team will be happy to chat with you one-on-one.  Use this link to contact us and set up your free consultation.

Thank you for reading.  Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR).

2020-04-11T13:56:24-07:00

About the Author:

Manuel Gil Del Real is the owner of MGR Consulting Group, an Interactive Marketing Agency providing marketing solutions to companies worldwide. He’s also an auto racing enthusiast and a blog author who enjoys sharing his thoughts and ideas on eCommerce, SEO, Social Media, Website Design, Video Marketing Internet Marketing, entrepreneurial advice, lifestyle and travel experiences among many others.