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Are you using PayPal as a payment processor on your website? (Or are you using any other payment processor that requires users to pay off your site?)

There are several issues that you can run into with your digital marketing and website when you process payment off your own website. Today I’ll describe what some of those issues are and how you can resolve them.

With PayPal the user will leave your website, go to the paypal.com website, complete the transaction and then…. hopefully go back to your website.

I put “hopefully” in italics there because it’s not always the way it happens.

Problem #1 – Your Advertising Platform Can’t Be 100% Sure The User Has Completed The Sale

Because the transaction takes place on PayPal.com your advertising platform can’t see the transaction take place. It’s relying on data being passed to it by Google Analytics. If you’re taking that data too soon then you might be including people as transactions when they haven’t actually bought yet.

Problem #2 – If You Don’t Set Referral Exclusion You Can Lose Your Attribution

If you don’t set PayPal as an excluded referrer then you might find that you have a whole lot of new sessions with PayPal as the referrer. If you have that it means that your settings are incorrect and it prevents you from working out which marketing campaigns and channels are bringing buyers to your website.

Problem #3 – If Your Users Take Too Long To Complete The Transaction You Can Lose Your Attribution

If you don’t have a long enough session timeout then you will also find sessions with PayPal as the referrer. This also prevents you from working out which marketing campaigns and channels are bringing buyers to your website.

Problem #4 – Unless The User Comes Back To Your Website You Can’t Track The Sale

OK, so here’s the first problem. You need to track the revenue from your website in order to determine which advertising is working and which is not. The biggest problem here is that if your users don’t make it back to your website then you can’t mark the transaction as completed. If you can’t get users to automatically return to your thankyou page (you should be able to – PayPal does have an option to do this) then your next best bet is to optimise based on conversions and to track users clicking on the pay by PayPal button rather than completed transactions. Otherwise, you’re optimising for people who bought AND returned to your website. This might only be 30-70% of your transacting users and so your revenue data becomes too infrequent to use.

Despite all these problems, PayPal is a good payment processor and these issues can all be fixed. Problems 1 and 4 are resolved by setting up PayPal to redirect to a ThankYou page (preferably one with Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce tracking on it) and problems 2 and 3 are resolved by setting up Google Analytics correctly.

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