Tracking Product Conversion/Abandonment with Google Analytics

As more large enterprises are adopting Google Analytics, there’s a growing demand for enterprise-level features from the solution. Google has made some tremendous progress over the last year by introducing some advanced functionalities such as Advanced Segments, Custom Reports and API access, which has created an impressive ecosystem of add-on tools. There are still, however, some functionalities that are highly desired by the more advanced user base. One such functionality is reporting on product conversion or abandonment.

The Ecommerce functionality inside Google Analytics already provides a great deal of insight, including transactions and identifying your top revenue sources such as keywords, campaigns and affiliates. However, for those companies interested in optimizing their site merchandizing, a useful report is that of product conversion or abandonment. In other words, companies would like to understand the effectiveness of individual products at generating a view, a cart-add, checkout progress and finally a purchase.

Although this is not a standard report in Google Analytics, you can use the new Event Tracking feature in Google Analytics in order to generate this insight. This post outlines the instructions for those that want to generate such reporting inside Google Analytics.

The Event Tracking feature was originally designed by Google to help track visitor interactions within the web site. Examples include link clicks, downloads or interactions within a video or a Flash application. A typical syntax for sending an event to Google Analytics is the following:

pageTracker._trackEvent(category, action, optional_label, optional_value);

Where category is the name you supply to the elements you want to track, action is the name of the user action, label is the name or label associate with the event and an optional value, such as an amount associated with the event.

For this solution, we’re going to use the following syntax:

  • Category: the value passed into Category will be “product”. This lets us differentiate between other events if this feature is also used for other purposes.
  • Action: the values passed into this variables will be “view”, “cart”, “checkout” and “order”, depending on the stage at which the visitor is.
  • Label: this variable will be used to capture the name of the product.
  • Value: not needed in this case.

The next step is to code your ecommerce pages accordingly in order to pass the product name and the event into Google Analytics. Below are some instructions.

For the product pages, the following line should be added to the Google Analytics page code. The PRODUCT_NAME should be inserted dynamically from your content management solution.

pageTracker._trackEvent(“product”, “view”, “PRODUCT_NAME”);
For the cart page, you should be adding the following line(s). The PRODUCT_NAME should be inserted dynamically using your content management provider. Also, you’ll need to make this call for each product in the cart. For example, if there are two items in the cart, then this line should be called twice – one for each item.

pageTracker._trackEvent(“product”, “cart”, “PRODUCT_NAME”);

For the checkout start page, you should be adding the following line(s). The PRODUCT_NAME should be inserted dynamically using your content management provider. Again, you’ll need to make this call for each product in the cart. For example, if there are two items in the cart, then this line should be called twice – one for each item.

pageTracker._trackEvent(“product”, “checkout”, “PRODUCT_NAME”);

Finally, on the order confirmation page, you should add the following code. The PRODUCT_NAME should be inserted dynamically using your content management provider. Once again, you’ll need to make this call for each product in the cart.

pageTracker._trackEvent(“product”, “order”, “PRODUCT_NAME”);

Viewing Reports

The reports will be available within the Event Tracking section inside Google Analytics. If you want to see the overall progress at different stages, you can start with the “Categories” report and from there, click the “product” category. An example of the resulting view is shown below.

However, this merely gives you the progress at different stages without visibility into specific products. In order to see the progress within a specific product, you can go to the “Labels” report as shown below, which provides a list of individual products and select a specific item. The ensuing screen is also shown below and provides a view of the progress at each stage for the specific item selected. Here, you’ll be able to see how many times an individual item was viewed, added to cart, checked out and purchased.

Obviously, Event Tracking was not originally built for tracking product conversions, so it’s important to note the implications of such methodology. One of the main items to consider is that Event Tracking generates extra views in your account. As a result this methodology will have an impact on your overall account pageviews, pages per visit and bounce rates. For example, if a visitor hits a product page and bounces, because you’re using Event Tracking to track the page view event, you won’t be able to see the bounce event take place. However, for those who absolutely need to track product conversion/abandonment, this provides a reasonable solution.

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