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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.

Nadia Rossi

It has been an absolute pleasure working with Petra over the last year and a half. 1834 Hotels centralises marketing for over 20 hotels around Australia, all with different branding and websites. On an analytics level Petra’s skills have allowed us to monitor and track our marketing efforts in the digital space. Bringing Petra onboard to manage our Google Ads was one of the best marketing decisions we have made. Her thoroughness and attention to detail is incredible, her insights have helped develop better marketing strategies and demonstrate to shareholders return on investment. I would highly recommend working with Petra.

Nadia Rossi Digital Marketing at 1834 Hotels Ecommerce / Hotel Google Ads April 23, 2020

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Here at 1834 Hotels we centralise the marketing for many different hotels. It can be an enormous undertaking to monitor and track the performance of each one, especially when they are all on separate webpages.

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Sophie Abnett Digital Marketing Project Manager at 1834 Hotels Ecommerce / Hotel Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager & Google Data Studio Integration April 23, 2020

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Petra's detailed reports and her personal assistance has been helping us to know where to concentrate our efforts and even showed us technical issues we needed to fix. Our Audience Engagement Report identified several key interests of our buying audience. We tried targeting one of those interests and it brought in two sales almost immediately! I highly recommend working with Petra and accessing her brilliance to scale your business.

Michelle Bridger Michelle Bridger, Facebook Advertising Specialist Ecommerce Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics & Google Data Studio Configuration April 23, 2020