Google Analytics is a highly recommended analytics package. It’s free but also very powerful. There is much useful data to be gathered and analyzed but arguably the most useful, since we are talking about eCommerce Zen Carts here, is conversion data.  Conversions are defined as completed orders. We all engage in various forms of marketing to get people to our sites in order to buy our products.

This makes the source of those conversions a highly useful data point.  If you know where your customers, and not just your visitors, are coming from you can get better at attracting paying customers.

Google Analytics Referral RevenueIn the data to the left, taken from Google Analytics, you can see traffic from Yahoo Answers converts at a reasonable 1.04% while traffic from Dude I Want That does not convert at all.

This client had been spending time promoting their products on the Dude I Want That site.  This report let’s her know the time was not well spent.  Rather, time spent answering questions on Yahoo Answers has provided a return.  Factoring in the time spend answering those questions, this client will know exactly what the return was, in revenue and profit, for the investment in promoting on Yahoo Answers.

The referral data comes from clicks on links to your website from other sites that are *not* search engines or paid ads (that data is recorded elsewhere). Clicks from blogs and answers sites are some of the more common referral sources. You will also get data from various other sources many of which you will not have known about otherwise.  For example, a post on a blog that you did not solicit would show up here.  You could then reach out to that blogger for future opportunities to work together.  As a side note, the standard referral report will show traffic regardless of whether an order was placed or not.  Also a good source or potential partners.

For a little bit higher level report, Google Analytics Referral Revenuethe revenue report to the right breaks down all revenue based upon the Source and the Medium. When doing budgeting for marketing dollars and time, this report tells you what sources are bringing in the money.  Understanding this report will confirm what sources are working and which ones are not.

For those not generating the return needed, the next step is to then decide to change tactics or discontinue the program.

For those that are generating the returns needed, obviously continue but also look at either expanding or tweaking the program.  ABT, Always Be Testing, is often talked about with PPC ads but is true here too.  If you don’t test, you won’t know if you are leaving money on the table.

When it comes to analytics, the key is to kind a few key metrics that are both useful to your business and actionable. These will not be the same for all businesses but there will be many in common.  For an eCommerce site, conversion data is one of those.

If you become familiar with your revenue (and profit) generating traffic sources, you will know where to focus your resources to generate more of both.  Conversely, you’ll also know where to focus less of your resources.  The first will add to your sales and the second will reduce your costs.  Both will increase your profits.