The Importance of Tracking for Defining Ecommerce Success

Tracking success is one of the most vital components of growing into an accomplished ecommerce business. The most common way of doing this is through some form of conversion tracking.

Kira Hawker

Your PPC efforts likely take a big chunk out of your marketing budget but if you’re not tracking how well your ads work in terms of your specific KPIs, you’re spitting in the proverbial wind.

However, you need to define what exactly a successful conversion is in terms of your ecommerce business, as this will inform your entire strategy.

But first, let’s get back to basics.

What is a conversion?

Simply put, a conversion is an action that ideally moves a website user from one part of the sales funnel to another, however it can be as simple as a click.

It can be as straightforward as the user clicking on the Contact Us button, filling out a form, downloading a whitepaper, signing up for a newsletter, or actually picking up the phone and calling you.

One of the interesting things about conversion marketing is that it utilises an amalgamation of many different conversion points. Let’s break down the nicknames and give some clarity:

  • Macro Conversion
    This is the primary conversion goal for your website. It will work in alignment with your business goals in that it should be a direct step towards turning a visitor into a customer – we’ll talk about this more later
  • Micro Conversion
    These are the small steps that make up the pathway to your macro conversion. Synonymous with your overall customer journey, each small step should take the user further through the funnel

Unfortunately, there are many business missing key opportunities by not looking deeply enough into their micro conversions. If you don’t report on these small key points in the customer journey, there’s no way they can be adequately optimised for moving your user on to the next area of the sales funnel.

In many people’s minds, a successful conversion is only reported on in terms of what the internet deems a success, rather than the actual business behind the website.

For example, your conversion report could easily show hundreds of users downloading your latest whitepaper – a success? Well, not really, unless they are then moving from reading the whitepaper to purchasing your services.


What is so important about tracking conversions?

If you don’t have tracking enabled on your Google Ads account, you can measure traffic to your website but nothing beyond that. There is no way to tell whether the traffic you are paying to send to your site is actually translating into sales (or whatever your business defines as ‘success’)

Making sure that any element on your website that you consider ‘success’ is being tracked so that you can measure the value of your paid activity – not to mention organic. If you are an ecommerce business, for example, or a conversion point is worth a monetary value to you, make sure you are tracking those values. ROAS and ROI are massively important, and one of the main advantages of digital marketing is that you can directly track those things and optimise for them.

Conversion rate report Make sure your reports actually mean something by aligning conversion goals with business KPIs

Tracking the right conversions

There are some Google Ads accounts that track every single action point on the website, giving equal weight and value to each. Similarly, your agency could be reporting on every conversions without you really knowing how the conversion is defined.

Websites may have multiple ‘success’ actions – signing up to a newsletter, watching a video, downloading a whitepaper, purchasing a product online, phoning a contact number, and filling out a contact form. These will not doubt be of different value to your business, but if they’re all gathered together in your report under one column titled ‘conversions’, how can anyone measure the true value of success? You may think you are achieving lots of product sales because you are achieving a lot of conversions – but when you look into things in more detail, you’ll discover all your conversions are actually downloads of your free brochure. Not ideal.

Equally, you might have conversion tracking set up on Google Ads whilst still importing Goals from Google Analytics. This would mean they are double counting the exact same conversion point. We have also seen accounts in which the same Goal has been set up in multiple GA views, and all instances of this Goal have been pulled into Google Ads – again overreporting success, and again not ideal.


Successful conversions are defined by you

There are some accounts that are successfully optimised towards a conversion points, therefore achieving ‘success’, but they aren’t considering that conversion point as their primary business objective.

Equally, some businesses have unrealistic KPI expectations, which leaves them too focused on the macro conversion point, putting little to no value on important micro conversions. A case example here at Gravytrain was an audit we did for a client account that appeared to be well-structured on the face of it. After discussing things with the client, we became aware that all landing pages and optimisation strategies were geared towards pushing a conversion point they actually considered a secondary conversion point.

The most important thing to understand is that success can only be measure accurately is you define ‘success’ before any activity starts. Ask the question, “what is the business objective we want to achieve?” Then, select the action point that will define this success, making sure you can track how many times that action point is achieved (and where the user that completed that action point originated from).

Person looking at online store on tablet Your macro conversion is likely a sale, but it must be clearly defined

‘Success’ is a constantly changing part of your business

‘Success’ does not have to be one global KPI, action, or metric. It can be defined differently depending on the channel, objective of the campaign, or even the time of year. The definition of success can also change over time. If you are a start-up, perhaps initial success is just traffic to your website. As your traffic starts to improve, you could add in a micro conversion – such as a newsletter signup, or pages viewed on your website – with the eventual aim of achieving a macro conversion like a sale.

Set up tracking for all these at the start but set your expectations accordingly. If you started by defining success as just the macro conversion, you may have undervalued the traffic that would eventually have turned into sales, therefore missing out on a huge opportunity.


What’s getting in the way of your conversion goals?

Some websites have very clear conversion points but don’t consider the actual tracking of them. Then, there are some websites that offer complicated paths to conversions, e.g., across multiple domains and/or third-party systems.

This stops businesses from being able to follow a user from the point they enter the website to the point the conversion is made.

To avoid having this huge gap in understanding of your user, tracking needs to be at the forefront of functionality. Whenever a website is built, you need to consider everything about your conversion process – if you have a button click, or a form within a popup, ho are you going to track that? If the checkout process if on a different domain or on a third-party tool, what do you need to put in place to ensure you know if the conversion has happened, and where that user originally came from.

When in discussions with third-party providers, always ask if there is an integration with your tracking tool or advertising platform of choice. If your web developer comes with a crazy new idea to make the website do really cool things, ask how it will impact your tracking.

You need to work with your agency so that all parties have a clear view of what success means to your business. It is not just down to your marketing team it’s a business decision that needs to be made before tracking begins,

At the end of the day, conversions are integral in turning visitors into tangible leads – however you define your success. Tracking not only gives you greater clarity of your successes, but it also helps you see where you’re falling down and missing opportunities. It’s vital to your business, its KPIs and your actual users, that you deliver the very best conversion pathway you can.