In this guide, I want to go over some of the points we discussed, elaborating on the terms and the methodologies and hopefully, helping you to understand, integrate, and grow.
Web Analytics Vs Customer Analytics Vs Product Analytics
There is no all-encompassing, all-powerful analytics tool. Sure, some tools claim to cover all aspects of your analytics, but by trying to do too much, they stretch themselves thin and suffer as a consequence.
It’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” scenario, and it’s why you should avoid any tool that claims to cover all of your analytical needs, something that even Google Analytics won’t do.
To understand which tools are right for the job, you need to know what the job actually is.
E-commerce analytics can be boiled down to three main areas:
- Product Analytics
- Web Analytics
- Customer Analytics
For those of you who don’t know, “analytics” is defined as the systematic analysis of data. In layman’s terms, it is the information your business generates and the things you do with that information.
Now we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at how these individual analytics are defined.
The most popular analytics software in the world right now is Google Analytics.
It’s something I discussed in the first episode of This Week With Sabir, during an interview with the brilliant Isaac Rudansky, and it can help you to better understand your website visitors and products.
It’s a powerful tool, so much so that it’s actually employed by Google to track how people are using Google Analytics.
In other words, Google Analytics is used to track Google Analytics, and it can also help you with your products, services, or website.
Product analytics is used to track customer acquisition rates, referrals, product activations, and revenue. In simple terms, it tells you how successful your products are, how much revenue they are generating, and whether there are any issues with regards to abandoned carts and failed funnels.
Some of the best product analytics tools include:
- UXCam: The market-leading tool, UXCam is not cheap but the first 100,000 sessions are available free of charge through a trial period. It’s easy to integrate and provides information on the entire customer journey, offering valuable insights every step of the way.
- Adobe Analytics: Advanced analysis for an advanced price tag, with fees said to start at $100,000. You need to be processing a lot of customers and selling a lot of products to make this worthwhile.
- MixPanel: For less than $100 a month, MixPanel is a good option for budget-conscious users but may be lacking in the complexity required of larger projects.
Web analytics is all about customer acquisition and tracking.
It focuses on web page views and bounce rates; it tells you which pages your customers are visiting and how they’re getting to your checkout.
Web analytics is essential for e-commerce sites and content sites, and it’s the thing that many people picture when they think of analytics.
Google Analytics is by far the biggest web analytics tool and in its standard form, it’s also available free of charge. It will tell you how many hits you’re getting, where they’re coming from, and what their location is.
It even allows for real-time tracking.
It’s user-friendly, easy to incorporate, and can be integrated with Google Ads to improve your customer acquisition rates.
Other useful tools to consider include:
- SEMRush: Although it is best known for its SEO features (it was one of the many recommended SEO tools I discussed with Neil Patel) SEMRush also has good analytics features. It shows you how you match-up to your competitors, where you stand with regards to keywords and search engine traffic, and more.
- Kissmetrics: A useful program that allows for the integration of social media traffic, including Facebook and Instagram.
- Chartbeat: A decent tool for content-heavy websites, including blogs and news sites.
Once you have mastered your products, secured your customers, and determined the hows and wheres of your website traffic, you need to think about customer retention.
That’s where customer analytics comes in.
It’s about turning a single purchase into a loyal customer, thus increasing your revenue without significantly increasing your marketing spend.
Customer analytics is handled by Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, which incorporates elements such as ticketing systems, live chat, knowledge bases, and email marketing.
Some of the best CRM tools include:
- Freshsales CRM: A great option for small and medium-sized businesses with customizable and scalable options.
- HubSpot CRM: Comes with free and premium models and is aimed at small businesses.
- Zoho CRM: Can be used in combination with other Zoho products and is free for up to 10 users.
KPI Vs Metrics
One of the most common misunderstandings concerning analytics is that “KPI” and “Metrics” mean the same thing. It’s an annoyance for myself and Avinash and it’s something we encounter far too often.
The difference is important and it’s also quite simple.
A metric is just a number, a measurement. Where your website is concerned, a metric can be your bounce rate, page views, session duration, unique visitors, and any other number for that matter.
KPI, which stands for Key Performance Indicator, is a metric that’s tied to your bottom line.
A KPI can be a metric but a metric isn’t always a KPI.
For instance, a page view is never a metric as you can generate masses of page views without seeing any increase in sales.
Conversion rate, on the other hand, is directly related to your bottom line; if it increases, it means you’ve sold more products and increased your revenue.
If you run a content website, one that focuses on banner ads, affiliates, and subscription services, a KPI could be your loyalty rate (who comes back) and recency (the time between visits).
If these things increase, your profits will follow.
Avinash recommends 3 KPIs and suggests that you never have more than 4. The type of business you run will dictate which KPIs work best for you.
If you’re new to e-commerce, analytics, and marketing, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of abbreviations that get thrown around.
What do they mean, are they important, and how can you use them to your advantage? Along with KPIs, analytics, and CRMs, Avinash discussed all of the following need-to-know metrics.
In analytics terms, “CPM” stands for Cost Per Thousand and refers to the cost of 1,000 advertising impressions. The “M” stands for “Mille”, which is Latin for “thousand”. Incidentally, it’s also where we get the word “Mile”, as it was said to be a distance of 1,000 paces.
According to Avinash, it’s one of the most useless metrics but it’s one that many advertisers use. They like to highlight the number of views that they get for your ad and your website, throwing big numbers around to justify the cost, but it never means anything.
To the uninitiated, a rate of $1.00 looks like a steal for 1,000 views and, in some cases, it is. But how many of those views were repeated, how many were from actual targeted customers?
When impressions fail, many advertisers throw the word “exposure” around.
It’s often just an excuse for a failed advertising campaign. It means, “We didn’t increase your sales, but at least we told a few people that you exist”.
There was a time when that meant something, but these days, the average consumer sees hundreds of brands and thousands of products every day. They see TV commercials, read magazines/newspapers, and are bombarded for every second they spend on social media, YouTube, and the internet in general.
Seeing your brand name for a split second during one of their many online explorations isn’t going to make a difference to you or them.
CPA or Cost Per Acquisition is much more important than CPM as it tells you how much you’re paying for every customer that you acquire.
Google Ads is a great example, as it shows you exactly how much you’re spending for every sale you generate. If you run a Google Ads campaign in combination with Google Analytics, it will tell you how many conversions you’ve had, how much you have spent, and what the cost of each conversion was.
It’s a useful metric to know and goes a long way to boosting your bottom line.
CAC or “Customer Acquisition Cost”, is basically the same as CPA, only it covers a wider scope of metrics.
It tends to be used by finance departments and it provides more details regarding how much each customer costs you.
If you’re generating $2 in sales for every $1 that you spend on advertising, it looks great on the surface. But what about packaging and shipping costs. What about staff, storage, and returns?
Are you still in the black at the end of all these calculations?
In business, as in everything else, it’s easy to focus on the positive. In many ways, you become like a lifelong gambler who only talks about their biggest wins.
If you ask a gambler how much they have made, they will regale you with stories of success and tell you that their life-time gambling has either left them all-square or in profit.
If you were to calculate their actual play, you’d discover a completely different story.
In this sense, CPA is the stories you’re told and the stories you want to tell.
CAC is the unabridged truth.
It’s not just about instant profit either. If you’re a supplement company selling a 30-day supply for $30, you can afford to spend $30 or more to acquire that customer, because they will come back, and when they do, they improve your acquisition costs.
The next month, when that customer re-orders and spends another $30, they’ve doubled their spend. At the end of the year, if they keep restocking, they will have spent $360 and you still only spent $30 to acquire them.
As noted by Avinash, CAC also incentivizes marketers to create good ads. It means they can’t rely on ROAS and have to look at the finer points, ensuring the sales are enough to cover shipping, packaging, and other costs, as well as advertising.
Lifetime Value (LTV) calculates the total revenue you can generate from a single customer. One sale is great, but what you want is a customer who keeps returning time and time again.
It’s one of the most important metrics for measuring the efficiency of your marketing campaigns and the success of your business.
Loyalty Schemes are a great way of tracking and improving LTV. Give your customers an incentive to return, subscribe, and make repeat purchases—a discount, a freebie, anything that works.
They’re not funneled through your ads and you won’t be paying money to complete a sale. As a result, you can afford to give a little something back.
Don’t Write Checks Your Website Can’t Cash
One of the most common mistakes that advertisers make is marketing a specific product or service and then directing all customers to a generic page.
Let’s use a supplement retailer as an example.
Whether you’re manufacturing or reselling, there’s a good chance you have a multitude of products in your store, including everything from protein powders to creatine, pre-workout supplements, and even testosterone boosters.
A customer sees an advert for a low-cost and great-tasting vegan protein powder. They click the link, and they expect to be greeted by that supplement.
Instead, they are directed to your homepage and tasked with finding the item themselves.
Many advertisers assume that customers are there for the brand, not the product, but that’s rarely the case. If someone clicks an ad for a vegan protein powder, they want to see vegan protein powder!
If they see a welcome page and host of promotional images, none of which relate to the product they’re looking for, they will click away, and you’ll lose a sale.
It’s like setting up a stall that sells only one product, and when someone approaches and expresses their interest, you point them to the nearest department store and tell them it’s sold there.
The Two Most Important Metrics For E-Commerce
Conversion rate is often considered to be the biggest and most important metric for measuring e-commerce success. But it’s not as helpful as you might think.
A conversion rate can tell you how many customers are converting, but it doesn’t tell you how successful your ads actually are, and it doesn’t tell you anything about your content, funnels, or products.
The two most important metrics for e-commerce success are Bounce Rate and Session Duration. Both of these metrics are used to determine the quality of your content and its ability to engage your audience.
If you have any experience with social media advertising, you’ll know how important engagement rates are, and these two metrics are pretty much the same thing.
A Bounce Rate measures how many readers visit your website and then leave without clicking a single link or visiting another page. Session Duration is the length of time that they spend on your website.
So, what makes these metrics so important?
The average customer needs to engage with multiple price points before they make a purchase. This can mean seeing an ad, clicking a link, reading an article, browsing your store, and eventually making a purchase.
The more content they see, the more likely they are to purchase and to become a loyal customer.
On the flip side, if the bulk of your traffic leaves after just a few seconds, it suggests there is something amiss with your content.
To reduce your Bounce Rate and improve Session Duration, consider the following:
- Improve your content. Focus on the areas that your customers see first.
- Avoid pop-ups. Don’t clutter your landing pages with needless graphics and notifications.
- Target the right users. Bring more targeted users to your website by improving your advertising demographics
- Create CTAs. Use multiple call-to-actions and switch them around to see which ones work.
- Create and link. Produce more articles and link them throughout your website. These links should be enticing and should encourage people to click.
- Help don’t sell. Sometimes, the best way to improve your sales is to stop selling! Customers don’t want to feel like they are constantly being berated by sales info. Create some helpful guides, start blogging, and make sure you have content that is there to help and not just sell.
Cart Abandonment Rate And Checkout Abandonment Rate
Some of the most overlooked metrics are the cart abandonment rate and the checkout abandonment rate.
Many business owners just assume that if someone leaves during the checkout, it’s because they never intended to buy anyway. But that’s preposterous!
They had their credit card in their hand, they had a shopping basket full of goods, and for some reason, they didn’t complete that process.
You need to know why.
If you use a platform like Shopify, you should have their email address. They have been through the checkout process, after all.
You need to chase them and encourage them to change their mind using email marketing.
Set up automatic emails to be sent whenever someone abandons the shopping cart or checkout.
At this point, you’ve done all of the hard work. You’ve convinced them to add your products to their cart, you’ve convinced them to go through the checkout. You just need to seal the deal.
Ask them questions, give them helpful pointers, and let them know they can message you if you have an issue.
Some of the reasons people abandon orders at this stage include:
- No Money: A shopper may have second thoughts because money is tight. They might have acted on impulse and only began to doubt themselves when it came time to pay. To get them over the line, put them in your email marketing chain and offer them a discount after a couple of emails.
- Technical Issues: When you email them, make sure they know they can message you in the event they have an issue. Even if your site is running perfectly, there will be some minor glitches here and there and you’ll need to funnel them through your support team to fix these issues.
- Too Many Questions: If the customer has a lot of questions and uncertainty, they may stop just short of buying. The good news is that you’ve done the hard work getting them there. They clearly like your product, and by adding an FAQ to your product pages, you could increase acquisition rates.
- Surprises: Are your shipping rates displayed clearly on your website or does a customer need to go through the checkout to find them? If it’s the former, you may see a lot of drop-offs as customers realize their order is more expensive than they first thought. This is especially true for companies that ship internationally and charge more money to companies outside the US. If you display prices based on their location, they may not realize you’re based in the US until they’re quoted an astronomical shipping cost.
- Shipping Times: Unclear, vague, and non-existent shipping estimations often lead to an increase in abandoned carts. Most customers want their products quickly, especially if they’re buying a gift. If you can’t promise delivery in the necessary timeframe, they’ll back out.
- Window Shopping: Sometimes, shoppers add things to their cart just to simulate the shopping process. Maybe it’s aspirational, maybe they’re getting ready for payday, maybe they’re just really indecisive. Put them in your email chain, let them know their basket is waiting for them when they return, and you might catch them on a more decisive day.
Efficiency Vs Effective Metrics
Efficiency is great, but it’s often overvalued.
If you get one click and have one customer, that’s a 100% customer acquisition. You can stop there. Job done.
But that’s not going to get you anywhere.
By the same stretch, you can run time-consuming, highly-targeted ads that return a 50% conversion rate but only actually send 10 customers a week. If you’re selling luxury cars with a $50,000 margin, that’s great, but if you’re selling consumer items for $5 a pop, it’s terrible.
Effectiveness needs to play a role as well. It’s quantity and quality; lots of visitors and good customer acquisition rates.
You need to find a balance between the two. It’s okay to sacrifice efficiency if revenue increases, and you shouldn’t panic just because one of these metrics falls.
As an example, many years ago I worked with an entrepreneur who founded a small e-commerce business with his wife. He was the figures guy; she was the artistic director. He handled the finances and the marketing, she dealt with the design, copywriting, and branding.
It was a perfect balance, as they were both exceptional at their respective roles. The problem is, they often butted heads over those roles.
He couldn’t understand her artistic vision and would argue against her choices, only to change his mind when he saw her vision realized. She would complain about his marketing choices and the apparent frivolous attitude he had toward money.
He told me about one of their biggest arguments, which stemmed from some Facebook and Google marketing campaigns he ran.
In simple terms, he had found a way to generate a 10:1 ROAS, which means they were getting $10 in sales for every $1 they spent. However, their sales amounted to little more than $500 a week, and that wasn’t enough to sustain either of them.
To hasten their growth, he invested more, tried some different things, and increased sales to $3,000 a week, albeit at the expense of a 2:1 ROAS. He was over the moon, but when he told his wife, she wasn’t as impressed.
Apparently, they didn’t speak for weeks after that.
He took a big risk, and I personally think that there were better ways to go about it. But at the same time, he did the right thing, it just doesn’t always look like the smartest decision.
Sometimes, bigger margins look best and it’s scary to sacrifice them, but it’s often the right thing to do.
In such situations, your first move should be to increase your budget and see how far it goes. Maybe you can increase your revenue with the same ROAS. If not, start incorporating other marketing platforms and focus on improving your revenue while keeping a positive ROAS.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence were discussed toward the end of my interview with Avinash. It’s something that we only touched upon, but something that is worth mentioning, nonetheless.
Machine learning relies on analytics. It’s the next step; the natural evolution. It entails using artificial intelligence to collect, read, and process vast amounts of data and then use it to make human-like decisions.
Machine learning is particularly effective in areas that are usually impacted by bias, such as the legal or employment sectors, where someone’s name, race, gender, religion, or even their sexual preference could see them being set an unreasonable bail or being refused for a suitable job.
In fact, if you use AI to hire and vet new candidates, you’re always guaranteed a fair and skill-based assessment. There’s no nepotism or bigotry.
You could argue that it’s just as effective to hire someone who is tolerant and less prone to such things, but they will still be more likely to hire someone they know, someone from the same town, someone who supports the same football team.
The highly-qualified shy guy who sits through a painfully awkward interview doesn’t stand a chance against a lesser-qualified applicant who was able to riff about college football teams and reminisce about shared interests.
Whether the interviewer puts their choice down to perceived suitability or a general hunch, they’re being influenced by things that rarely impact a person’s ability to do their job.
We’ve all worked (or know people who have worked) in jobs where useless and underqualified individuals are expedited through the ranks while harder working, more talented individuals are left behind.
Often, it’s because they know the right people and spend more time kissing ass than actually working. When you advance the careers of individuals like that, while leaving the actual talent behind, your business suffers.
Google has been utilizing the benefits of machine learning for years. If you’ve ever used Google Ads or Google Analytics, you will have seen this for yourself.
All it needs is your website address, some basic product pages, and a few days to gather data, and your Google Ads account can practically run itself.
When you have machine learning on your side, the only thing you need is time, because the longer it has to gather and exploit that data, the more efficient it will become.
Consider ways you can use machine learning for the benefit of your business. It’s the future, and it’s getting more powerful and accessible with every passing year.
Personal Branding Tips From Avinash Kaushik
Before we get to the big question, the one you’ve all been waiting for, I want to discuss some of the quotes and tips that Avinash mentioned at the beginning of our discussion.
Many of these concerned personal branding, something that Avinash is very familiar with. After all, his blog has been going strong for over 15 years, and he is one of the biggest names in his sector.
Eat Like A Bird And Poop Like An Elephant
The above is a quote from Guy Kawasaki, someone who inspired Avinash to create his blog all those years ago.
It has been applied to many aspects of business and personal branding, and generally means that you should always take less than you give.
If you’re building a business, take out very little time and resources and put more back in. If you’re promoting your personal brand, take little from customers, and give them more in return.
Throughout much of Avinash’s blogging career, he didn’t advertise his services as a consultant. He didn’t even have a section for it on his website. His goal was to help, to teach, and to enrich the lives and careers of his readers in any way he could.
It worked for him, and it can work for you as well.
Think Book Not Diary
A couple of months ago, I interviewed Joe Yoon, who has established an Instagram following of over 1.3 million.
He achieved that following by constantly providing value for his followers. He spent his days teaching them and helping them.
His content was advisory, aspirational, and at no point did he simply revert to telling everyone what he thought about the presidency, what he had for lunch, and what his hobbies were.
When you’re building a brand, either for yourself or your business, you need to think like you’re writing a book and not a diary.
Sure, Kim Kardashian will get a lot of attention if she announces what she’s eating and what her favorite recreational activity is. She could even do an hour-long video on it if she wanted.
But she’s a celebrity, you’re not, and until you reach that point, no one cares what you think, what you eat, or what you like.
Far too many wannabee Instagrammers and YouTubes get things backward. They begin by emulating their stars and telling people things that no one cares about. Only when that fails to get a response do they realize their mistake and revert to providing useful content.
Or they quit…
Either way, you need to write a book to guide and not a diary to preach.
You Can’t Boil The Ocean
Keep it simple.
Those words can take you far in life.
Don’t overcomplicate things. As the saying goes, don’t try to boil the ocean.
Focus on the thing you do best, stick with that, and build from there.
If you’re a marketer, do the marketing. If you’re a writer, stick with the website copy and SEO. You wouldn’t ask a writer to illustrate your book; you wouldn’t ask an electrician to fix your plumbing.
You’re forcing square pegs into round holes, and not only does it mean you’re giving yourself less time to do what you’re actually good at, but it also means your business could be suffering in many key areas.
This is true for personal branding as well as your business.
Take Nick Aldis as an example. He began his career as an athlete on a major TV show and eventually transitioned into wrestling—a natural transition if ever there was one.
After building a following over many years, he began to sow the seeds for other careers and then moved slowly into supplements, fitness programs, and books.
All of these things happened naturally. He didn’t force it, he didn’t try to keep too many plates spinning, and as a result, he’s now massively successful.
Find your niche, own it, and use your knowledge and your audience to explore other areas in time.
Don’t try to do everything at once.
The $100,000 Question: Top 5 Mistakes People Make With Google Analytics
Avinash provided some valuable insights during our 70-minute discussion, but there’s more.
At the end of the interview, I asked him the question that I ask everyone—what is the one piece of advice you would give business owners seeking profitable growth?
This advice is designed to add $100,000 worth of value to your business and it works whether you’re building a personal brand or growing your small business.
I told him to highlight the five biggest mistakes that marketers make, expanding on an idea he has previously discussed in his blog.
These are the common mistakes he told me about:
- They Consider Metrics to be KPIs: As noted above, KPIs and metrics are completely different and need to be treated in unique ways. Refer to the earlier section on KPIs and metrics for more info.
- An Over-Reliance on Paid Media: You don’t have to pay for every customer you acquire. You should also think about organic search, reviews, and email marketing. These are your owned and earned marketing streams.
- Focus too Much on Acquisition: By focusing too much on customer acquisition, you’re neglecting retention rates, ignoring engagement, and overlooking LTV. You have multiple KPIs, not one, and if you want to succeed, you need to use them.
- Over Emphasize Last Click Attribution: Many analytics tools emphasize the last click attribution, and this is often the only thing that business owners think about. In doing so, they are thinking only about the destination and ignoring the journey. Instead, pay attention to assisted conversions, a seriously undervalued and incredibly important metric for measuring success.
- Don’t Think Revenue is Profit: Your revenue is not your profit and should not be treated as such. This touches on what I said earlier about CPA vs CPC, stressing the importance of calculating peripheral costs.
About Our Guest: Avinash Kaushik
Meet Avinash Kaushik. Avinash helps executive teams, marketers, and data analysts leverage innovative digital strategies and emerging technologies to outsmart their competitors.
He’s the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, and a passionate teacher who shares his perspective frequently via multiple channels: a weekly newsletter (The Marketing Analytics Intersect), a bi-monthly blog (Occam’s Razor), and two best-selling books that have been translated into over a dozen languages (Web Analytics: An Hour A Day and Web Analytics 2.0).
* Visit Avinash on the Web at https://kaushik.net
Currently, he is delving into all the ways artificial intelligence can speed up the generation of insights to inform strategy and automate day-to-day decision-making. Over the last couple of years, he has lead and contributed to the application of machine learning algorithms, both inside Google and for external developers.
As always, Avinash passionately advocates for a smarter balance between faith and data. In service of that goal, he has pushed the industry to use a broader set of data – own, competitive, qualitative, quantitative – along with new applications of classic statistical models that form the foundation of data science.
Avinash has received rave reviews for bringing his energetic, inspiring, and actionable insights to companies like Unilever, Chase, Hyatt, Porsche, IBM, Naspers, and Chanel. He has delivered keynotes at conferences in every corner of the world, including the Monaco Media Forum, The Art of Marketing, Synergy Digital, Travel Alberta, Resultados Digitais Summit, and Healthcare Strategy Summit.
He is on the Advisory Boards of the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management, the University of California at Irvine’s program on Web Intelligence, USC’s Annenberg School’s Media Impact Project, Udacity, and the charity Health4theWorld. Additionally, he is a frequent guest lecturer at universities such as Stanford, the University of Virginia, UCLA, and the University of Utah.
Avinash has received industry honors including the Statistical Advocate of the Year award from the American Statistical Association, Rising Star award from the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation, and Most Influential Industry Contributor from the Digital Analytics Association.