Get in Touch

eCommerce Data Visualization Tools

Foundational Tools for eCommerce Data Collection

There is an astounding amount of data in the eCommerce world waiting to be collected. As an eCommerce merchant, it is necessary to use a variety of tools to capture all relevant information. Here are some of the core data collection tools a Shopify Plus merchant would use:

We will refer to these as foundational tools, used by merchants to collect information about products, marketing campaigns, sales, and customers. Foundational tools are the primary method of capturing data that have a very close proximity to an eCommerce transaction.

These foundational tools hold strategic insights into the overall health of your business. With Google Analytics you can segment your site visitors, see the average time on site, create goals to track conversions and much more. Shopify (and pretty much all eCommerce platforms) have integrated reporting and analytics that will convey your average order value, conversion rate, sessions by traffic source and details about your conversion funnel. Google and Facebook advertising platforms also have insightful data about your ad spend, conversions, ad effectiveness, cost per click and cost per customer acquisition.

How do Shopify Merchants Analyze their Data? 

Foundational tools collect much of the data that you need, but the sheer amount of data can be overwhelming. To find valuable information within the data, time must be regularly spent on each tool’s dashboard. However, your time is also valuable and your focus is likely needed in many other areas of your business. This can make it difficult to dedicate your limited resources towards data analyzation.

In addition to too much data, there are attribution issues that arise between these different foundational tools. For example, if your customer clicked on a Google ad, landed on your site, went away for 2 weeks and then clicked on a Facebook ad and made a purchase, which ad gets credit for the conversion? That is just one scenario among many that may arise where it’s necessary to use attribution modeling for Google and Facebook. While attribution modeling isn’t perfect, it’s still the best method for choosing where to allocate marketing dollars.

In this era of big data, how do eCommerce businesses draw logical and actionable conclusions? We reached out to our Shopify Plus merchants. Here are their answers:

  • Do very little digital marketing (surprising!)
  • In-house digital marketing team
  • Use an outside marketing agency

The first approach may seem a bit shocking but is not entirely uncommon. Some of the merchants we support were born in an analog world and grew through word-of-mouth, then transitioned to online, transferring their offline customers with them. This cohort of merchants already does well enough with an outdated strategy, image how much growth they could achieve with a digital marketing team.

Some of our more digitally-inclined clients have in-house marketing teams managing their ecommerce ad spend and looking at a variety of digital tools. They employ many of the foundational data tools discussed, such as Shopify, Google Ads, Analytics, and SEM Rush to find SEO and SEM opportunities and to monitor performance. Overall, these in-house teams agree on the effectiveness of the tools as well as the lamentation of resources (time and people) necessary to properly use them.

For some eCommerce merchants, the best solution to the resource strain of data analysis is in using an outside digital marketing agency. This approach allows a knowledgable agency to sort through the foundational data tools for the merchant and deliver comprehensive and actional reports based on key metrics. The success of using an outside agency is closely related to the strength of the relationship between both parties. You want your marketing agency to care about your success as much as you do. Simple.

Data Visualization Tools that Sit on top of Foundational Tools

Even simpler? Aggregating the data from foundational tools and displaying that information in a report or dashboard format. Currently, there are many of these data visualization tools. Here are some examples that target the corporate environment (Fortune 5,000 companies are the sweet spot):

These data visualization tools are predominantly geared for industries like health care, hospitality, manufacturing, education, and financial services. They will work for eCommerce, but they are not explicitly designed to accommodate eCommerce merchants. These visualization tools have a lot of functionality but are often overkill for SMB companies on Shopify Plus.

What is Missing in the Market? 

The next wave of digital tools will likely be data visualization software geared for eCommerce merchants on platforms like Shopify Plus. Leveraging foundational tools and providing real-time information and data visualization on the following metrics is the current gap in the market:

  • Average Order Amount
  • Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)
  • Order Frequency
  • Customer Churn
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • CLV with Margin

These metrics will make or break your store. It is amazing how many companies operate without really knowing their core numbers. Understanding your Customer Lifetime Value relative to your Customer Acquisition Costs is the holy grail for an eCommerce business. When you take that information and segment by customer cohort and, more importantly, by marketing source, you know whether your business is profitable and why it’s profitable.

It still feels like eCommerce is in “Day 1” and this could be the next big opportunity for companies that step in to fill this gap.

Explore Paid Advertising

When your site is looking good and you’re starting to get orders, then it’s time to pour gasoline on the fire to supercharge your sales. Many merchants want to jump into paid advertising right away, but you need to learn to walk before you run and that means you must spend time on the design and sales process of your site before you spend money on advertising. When your site is dialed in it’s time to set up paid advertising campaigns.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is easy to setup, but very complicated to fine tune to make sure you are spending your dollars effectively and efficiently. Google has many products, but the first one you want to test is a text based campaign, those are the ads you see when you do a search on Google also offers product search ads that are tied in to your Google Merchant Center account, check out this post to create your first product data feed from your Google Merchant Center account to Google AdWords. In addition, Google also offers a remarketing campaign where you can create ads that follow your potential customers around the internet. If you’ve shopped at a large eCommerce store like Amazon or Target you have probably seen ads for products that you have browsed show up on other sites, this is how remarketing works.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook advertising can be a home run for most merchants, but you must take time to set things up correctly. You will need a vibrant company page for your product, because the ads on Facebook are most effective when you land the visitor back on your Facebook page as opposed to sending them to your store. Once the potential customer is on your Facebook page they will see images and testimonials from your previous clients and then you need to work in a way for them to purchase from Facebook or link out from your Facebook page to your store.

Bing and Yahoo

After you achieve success on Google, it’s time to port your campaigns over to Bing Ads. Bing Ads will get you distribution on Bing and Yahoo and even though there is 1/10 to 1/15 the volume on Google, your cost per conversion can still do very well. Be very careful of the content network on Bing Ads, they syndicate your ads across other platforms and that traffic doesn’t convert so I would suggest blocking that to start. Stick with just the Bing and Yahoo search traffic as we have found that to convert the best.

Goal Tracking

If you are going to spend money on paid advertising it’s imperative that you setup tracking on your site. Google Analytics is a free product from Google that will track the visitors on your site and tell you where they came from, how long they stayed and what pages they visited. You can also create a goal in Google Analytics that will tell you if a purchase was made on your store and where that person came from.

What is Google AdWords Ad Rank and Why Does it Matter?

Ad rank is important to understand so you can get the most out of your Google Adwords advertising budget. If you properly understand the components of ad rank, you can get a lower cost per click which will result in a lower cost per conversion (lead, call or sale) which will give you a successful and long lasting AdWords Campaign.

What is Google Ad Rank?

Here is the definition directly from Google support:

“Ad position is the order in which your ad shows up on a page. For example, an ad position of “1” means that your ad is the first ad on a page. In general, it’s good to have your ad appear higher on a page because it’s likely that more customers will see your ad. Ads can appear on the top of a search results page, on the side of the page, or on the bottom of the page.”

Let’s explain how this works in plain English:

In  a vacuum, you want your ad to show up in the #1 position on Google. The number one spot on Google will receive a lion’s share of the clicks – you can assume that it will get between 20%-40% of all clicks on a page. That range can vary quite a bit depending on how many other ads are on the page (the fewer ads on the page the more clicks you will obviously get).  Keep in mind that the most important thing is for you to manage your budget cost effectively and still get a high volume of clicks. Showing up in the number 1 spot on the page isn’t necessarily always the right answer, but it is a key metric to monitor in your campaign.

Summary: It’s important to know your ad rank because it determines the position that your ad will show up on the Google search page. 

How is Google Ad Rank Calculated?

Here is a detailed breakdown of the ad rank calculation from Google:

“Ad position is determined by your Ad Rank in the auction. Your Ad Rank is a score that’s based on your bid, the components of Quality Score (expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience), and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.”

Let’s take a look at each of these metrics individually. Google uses a lot of jargon so let’s see if we can translate this so it’s easier to understand:

  • Bid – this is the maximum price you are willing to pay per click. You can set this amount per keyword to get a very granular amount of control over the keywords that are working better than others. Often it pays to start out a bit lower on long tail keyword and higher for generic keywords, but this is something to test as every account is different.
  • Quality Score – Your Google quality score is a combination of many different metrics (outlined above in that Google definition). A quality score is assigned to a keyword in a range of 1-10, with 10 being the best score and 1 being the lowest. If you get a quality score of 10, you can expect to pay less per click than a competitor that only received a quality score of 5 for the same keyword. Quality score is an important metric, but remember what you pay per conversion is still the end all number that will matter most for your business.
  • Expected clickthrough rate – Your ads expected cilckthrough rate is calculated based on the historical performance of both your ad, the URL you are using for advertising and your account. When Google makes this calculation it is using your expected clickthrough rate for a certain position relative to a competitor. For example if you are position 4, Google will not calculate your clickthrough rate and compare it to someone in position 1, it will use spot 4 to do the math.
  • Ad Relevance – It’s of paramount importance that your ad copy match up to what you are advertising for on your site. For example if you are selling natural fruit juice, make sure your ad copy talks about fruit juice. If you try and do a bait and switch and create ad copy for commercial insurance but then send a user to a page about natural fruit juices, Google will punish your ad relevance which will impact your quality score and then cause you to pay more per click relative to your competition.
  • Landing Page Experience – Using the natural fruit juice example, if your ad copy is about juices, then your landing page should have text about fruit juices, images, video and should be 100% relevant to someone looking to buy juice. The more relevant your landing page, the higher landing page score you get which will also help you get a sale (and that is the end goal).

Summary: Your bid price per click, your expected clickthrough rate, your ad copy relevance and your landing page are all important in determining how much you can expect to pay per click in Google AdWords. 

Why Does Google Ad Rank Matter?

Google AdWords is a competitive landscape and to get the most out of your AdWords campaign you need to make sure you understand all the finer points of how it works. As a company just getting into AdWords, there is a lot to learn and it’s not expected that you know all the intricate details right off the bat (that’s why we’re here to help if you need it!) Your bid price, your ad copy and your landing page all matter in making sure you get a good price per click, but most importantly these are the inputs that are going to get you more leads and sales!

Google AdWords is a dynamic marketplace and there are local and national companies jumping in to advertise daily on the keywords are you are bidding on. It’s a war out there and to be forewarned about how Google AdWords works is to be forearmed. If you want a free AdWords analysis, give us a call or send us an email, BTown Web can help!

The Hidden Gems of Google Analytics

Google Analytics has a wealth of information and is pretty overwhelming to new users. With a bit of patience you can dig in and harness the hidden gems of Analytics to really get under the hood of your website.

Top Landing Pages

With “not provided” dominating Google’s organic keyword data it’s very hard to find out which phrases are driving the majority of your organic traffic. Thankfully you can still find out the popular landing pages on your site, you just have to dig a little bit to find it. When you get into Google Analytics you want to look to the left nav bar and find “Behavior”. Then open up “Site Content” and then click on “Landing Pages”.  The pages you see are the pages that are attracting organic traffic from Google search. You can’t see the keywords that are driving the traffic, but with a little digging you can figure it out. 

When I see a landing page consistently receiving traffic over time I will open up the page and try to find out the phrases that are driving the most traffic. Start by highlighting the blog or page title and seeing if that result ranks #1 (there’s a good chance it will unless you have a very short title). Next I will take keyword derivatives of the title and see if any of those are ranking on page 1. I’m not overly concerned about the actual keywords, what I really like to know is the type of content to find out if I can write something similar or tangentially related that might also drive traffic.


Don’t be afraid of Goals in Analytics, they are your friend! Goals help you track events and when certain pages get loaded on your site. Here are my favorite things to setup with Goals:

  • Contact Form Submissions
  • Phone Calls
  • Sales
  • Credit Card Deposits
  • Usage of Key Sections of the Site

I often extract goal data from Analytics and put it into my own custom Excel report. For example for a PPC campaign I will aggregate the goal data with ad spend by platform (AdWords, Binghoo, Facebook, etc) and then add in call tracking data from Twilio. I have a couple great looking report templates, if you’d like to see one, send me an email!

Automatic Weekly Email Reports

Did you know you can set automated weekly reports via email in Analytics? These are very handy if you want to show clients their traffic and goals completed during a weekly or monthly time period.

Filtering Data in Advanced Reports

Does your site gets tons of bot traffic from URLS like:, and other useless sites? If so you need to start excluding that data from your reports. There’s an easy way to do that:

  1. When you are looking under the “Reporting” tab in Analytics, find the blue “advanced” button. It should be right under the graph and just to the right on a search input box. I often filter when I’m looking at the “Top Landing Pages” (under Behavior in the left nav).
  2. Click the advanced button and you will see an option come up that allows you to “include” or exclude” certain traffic from your reports. Toggle that to exclude certain sites and you can clean your data up immediately.
  3. Also keep in mind that you can exclude a variety of pages by just including the beginning of the data string. For example if you have a lot of query pages that start with: “/?” if you add /? to the exclude section all of those pages that begin with /? will be excluded from your results.
  4. Tired of logging in and creating these exclusions every time you want to view your data? If so then add the report to your own “My Dashboard” and you will save a snapshot of the that you can look at each time.