One of the questions that I am most frequently asked is “where are my customers coming from?”. This is pretty key information, right?!
Now if you’re like the majority of Google Analytics users then you would try to find out this information by opening up Google Analytics, and then looking at one of the ‘All Traffic’ reports. This might show you that 20% of your visitors are coming from Facebook, or that 40% of your visitors are coming from Google Organic Search (yours will be different), but so what? What does this tell you about your customers?
If you want to find out where your customers are coming from, and what they’re getting up to on your website, you need to find a way to isolate them on Google Analytics.
Now your customers might be signing up to your email list, buying a product, making a donation, or doing something else entirely. As an example, let’s assume that your customers are buying a product directly on your website.
When your visitors buy a product from your website do they go to an order confirmation page? (If you’re not sure, try buying a product from your own website and you’ll soon find out!). If yes, then the following is an easy way to isolate your customers.
Take the URL of the order confirmation page and create a goal in your Google Analytics that triggers any time a person visits that page. If you are not sure how to do that then check out this blog post.
After you’ve done that, you then need to create a segment in your Google Analytics. If you are not sure how to do that, then check out this blog posts on how to create segments. With the segment, you want to select all visitors who achieved your goal.
There are two different ways that you can create this segment. You can either select all Users who achieved the Goal, or all Sessions that achieved the goal. I’ll explain this a little further as the difference is subtle.
If you choose all Users who achieved the Goal then you will see the marketing source of all visits to your website by these Users, not just the visit when they purchased your product. If your visitor visits your website more than once, this way of creating the segment can give you an overview of the marketing sources preferred by these customers in general, not just the specific one the time that they purchased.
The drawback is that if one person visited your website 100 times during the timeframe you selected, and all the other visitors only visited your website 1 time each, then the result Google Analytics gives you will be skewed by the effect of the user who visited so many times.
If you choose all Sessions in which the Goal was achieved, then you will see the marketing source for only the visitors who purchased from you, and also only the sessions in which they made a purchase. So if a visitor found your website 100 times via Google Organic Search, but then made a purchase after reading an email you sent them, the segment will show only the visit in which they purchased (which will show they came from email if you have your email links set up correctly).
So as you can see…it does matter whether you base your segment on Users who achieved the Goal or Sessions in which the Goal was achieved. But if you’re not sure which one of these that you want to pick then create a segment for each of them, and check both.
I usually go by the Users segment rather than the Sessions segment, because I like to compare Purchasers with Non-purchasers. And this is more accurate if you base your segment on all Users who purchased vs all Users who never purchased.
I usually create three segments to compare these different types of Users:
- Purchasers (the people who bought from you)
- Not Interested (these are the folk who only looked at one page and then left)
- Browsed But Did Not Buy (these are the folk who looked at more than one page and then left)
Apply these three segments within your timeframe and then go to the ‘All Traffic –> Source/Medium’ report. The column you want to look at here is Sessions, and more specifically the % of total which will be written in grey next to each source.
To really see this clearly you will need to export the data and turn it into a chart, with percentage on one axis and source on the other axis. Look out for any anomalies, like the chart in the feature image of this blog post that shows a higher percentage of visitors who purchased came from Bing compared to the visitors who didn’t purchase.
If you would like assistance with using Google Analytics to grow your leads and sales online then please send an email to Petra Manos ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). Web Data Analytics loves to help businesses grow their sales and leads online through showing them how to effectively use their Google Analytics.
I hope this has been a helpful introduction to identifying your marketing sources. It is certainly worthwhile to invest time in this if you want to understand your customers better, which will then enable you to grow your eCommerce store.