Selling things online has never been both easier and harder.
On one hand, you have platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, all of which have lowered the barrier to entry for aspiring online merchants.
On the other hand, succeeding as an online store operator means having to track a lot of data, which is much easier said than done.
The most successful ecommerce businesses are the ones that can harness metrics to make informed decisions.
These metrics, in turn, tell you everything you need to know about your store’s performance, from the number of sales by day, week, and month, to the average value of all items purchased at any given time.
This, however, doesn’t mean that you should be tracking and optimizing every metric at your disposable. The key is to know the metrics that make the biggest impact on your ecommerce venture.
To point you in the right direction, here’s a list of the seven most important ecommerce metrics you should be tracking and optimizing today.
1. Sales Conversion Rate
Your ecommerce sales conversion rate is, simply put, the percentage of people who visit your online store or page who make a purchase.
To calculate your conversion rate, use the following formula:
So, if 1,000 people visited your store this week and only 10 people made a purchase, your conversion rate for the week would be 1%.
Obviously, you’d want as high a conversion rate as possible.
But the truth is that the average ecommerce conversion rate in the U.S. is much lower than you think – between 2% and 3%.
According to WordStream, however, you might fair better with Google Shopping Ads.
Now for the big question: How can I improve my conversion rate?
This is a huge topic in itself, but a few things you can try include:
Speeding up your product pages.
Upload high-quality images of your products
Optimize product listings using keywords
2. Website Traffic
Once you’ve tracked and optimized your conversion rate, you can then look at bringing more people to your ecommerce store.
This is where measuring website traffic comes in.
Let’s go back to your conversion rate of 1%, or 10 purchases for every 1,000 visits. After optimization, let’s suppose this rate increased to 5% – 50 sales for every 1,000 visitors.
We can then infer that if you were to get 10,000 people to visit your site, you would also multiple your sales tenfold.
This isn’t a guarantee, of course, but it’s nevertheless important to ensure that people know your online store or page exists to maximize your likelihood of generating more sales.
To grow your website traffic, you can:
Promote your offerings on social media.
Optimize your site/store for search engines.
Grow the number of people subscribing to your newsletter.
3. Email Opt-in Rate
Even in today’s social media age, email marketing continues to be one of the most important tools for ecommerce, particularly when it comes to remarketing and generating repeat business.
According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing delivered an ROI of 4400% in 2016 and their 2018 annual report revealed 59% of marketers believe email delivers the highest ROI of all marketing channels:
Similar to website traffic, the idea is to get as many people on your email list, even if they don’t necessarily purchase your products right away.
But unlike ordinary website/page visitors, people who sign up to your newsletter care enough about your brand to get updates on your products and services. This means they are also more likely to become paying customers in the near future.
One way to get people to subscribe to your emails is to offer something of value in exchange for your audience’s email addresses and contact information.
For example, you can offer an exclusive deal (e.g., a voucher or code) to first-time subscribers on their next purchase.
4. Customer Lifetime Value
Customer lifetime value (CLV) measures the total amount of what you earn from an average customer over their lifetime.
For example, if a typical customer makes six transactions, each one worth $30, throughout their life, your CLV would be $180. Note that you still have to deduct your acquisition costs from this number, which brings us to the next point.
Your CLV is important because it serves as a benchmark for how much you can spend to acquire customers and the lengths you should go to keep them.
To increase your online store’s CLV, you can work on improving your average order value (more on this later) and engendering loyalty among your existing customers so they become repeat buyers.
5. Average Order Value
Obviously, you want your customers to spend as much as possible on your online store.
As the name suggests, your average order value refers to the average value of each purchase made in your store.
To calculate yours, simply divide the sum value of all sales by the number of carts.
Tracking your average order value allows you to set benchmarks and figure out how to get people to spend more on every purchase they make.
Here are a few ways to drive this metric up:
Upsell your customers complementary items that improve the usability of their primary purchase.
Offer products as a package so customers get a small discount on each item as opposed to buying them separately.
Offer free shipping on purchases above a certain threshold to entice customers to maximize their spending.
6. Customer Acquisition Cost
While growing your customer base is obviously important, it’s also just half of the equation.
If you’re spending an average of $30 to acquire every customer but your average order value is only $25, that means your business is still operating at a loss.
This is where measuring your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) comes in.
Your CAC tracks the average cost of gaining one customer, including everything from marketing and sales costs to the cost of paying your staff and hosting your site.
This will give you an overall figure, but you can also calculate your CAC by source (e.g. different traffic channels like search engines, social media, or email list).
To bring down your CAC, you can:
Improve your conversion rate.
Optimize your advertising to spend less for every acquired customer.
Invest in free/organic marketing like SEO and social media marketing.
Invest in referral marketing to encourage existing customers to bring in new customers.
7. Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
This metric refers to the percentage of shoppers who add products to their cart but ultimately leave your store without completing the purchase.
These are window shoppers who are considering a purchase but haven’t quite made up their mind just yet.
Shopping cart abandonment is more common than you think. According to Barilliance, around 78% of shoppers abandon their carts.
This figure, however, can vary between industries. General retail, for example, has an abandonment rate of 72.8%, while fashion has 68.3%.
But even if your abandonment rate is roughly equal to these benchmarks, it’s still a good idea to do everything you can to bring it down.
Simplify the shopping experience, particularly the checkout process, so customers can shop smoothly.
Use remarketing to bring undecided shoppers back to your store. This can include targeted ads and follow-up emails.
Although this list of ecommerce metrics is by no means exhaustive, it’s at least a good starting point for any online store.
If you have a smaller online enterprise, you can start with primary metrics like average order value, customer lifetime value, and conversion rate.
As your store grows and gets more orders, your data points will also increase in number, giving you more data to track, measure, and improve.
And when you work on improving one metric, you’ll find that this leads to ripple effects on other metrics – for example, improving AOV helps you outpace your CAC.
Ultimately, tracking these metrics will help you make the best decisions for your ecommerce site.
In-post Image #1: Screenshot taken by the author, September 2019 In-post Image #2: WordStream In-post Image #3: Campaign Monitor In-post Image #4: Red Rocket Blog In-post Image #5: Yotpo In-post Image #6: Barilliance
On Oct. 31, Google announced the launch of its Site Kit WordPress plugin that, “enables you to set up and configure key Google services, get insights on how people find and use your site, learn how to improve, and easily monetize your content.”
This plugin allows you to easily connect the following Google Services in a dashboard format within your WordPress backend:
It brings the convenience of accessing your site’s performance data while logged into the backend of the site. This is great for webmasters, developers and agencies who are often an admin for their own site or a client’s WordPress site. However, it does not offer the robust and dynamic capabilities of a Google Data Studio report or dashboard to sort data so it may not be ideal for a digital marketing manager or CMO.
With that said, it wouldn’t hurt to implement this plugin as it’s actually a nifty tool that can help you stay on top of your site’s performance metrics. It’s also another way to give Google more access to your site which can have some in-direct benefits organically.
Here is what the Google Site Kit plugin looks like within the WordPress plugin directory.
Installing and setting up Google Site Kit
To utilize the plugin, simply click install and activate as you would any other WordPress plugin. You will then be prompted to complete the set up.
Click on the “Start Setup” button.
You will be prompted to give access to your site’s Google Search Console profile, which means you need to sign in to the Gmail account that has access to your site’s Search Console profile.
Once logged in you need to grant permissions for Google to access the data in your Search Console profile.
Once you’ve granted all the respective permissions, you will get a completion notification and can then click on “Go to my Dashboard.”
Once you’re in the Dashboard you will see options to connect other services such as Analytics, AdSense and PageSpeed insights. You can now choose to connect these services if you like. If you go to the settings of the plugin you will see additional connection options for Optimize and Tag Manager.
Here is what the dashboard looks like with Search Console, analytics and PageSpeed Insights enabled. You can see a clear breakdown of the respective metrics.
The plugin allows you to dive into each reporting respectively with navigation options on the left to drill down into Search Console and analytics.
There is also an admin bar feature to see individual page stats.
In summary, this is a great plugin by Google but keep in mind it’s just version 1.0. I’m excited to see what features and integrations the later versions will have!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Tony Edward is a director of SEO at Tinuiti and an adjunct instructor of search marketing at NYU. Tony has been in the online marketing industry for over 10 years. His background stems from affiliate marketing and he has experience in paid search, social media and video marketing. Tony is also the founder of the Thinking Crypto YouTube channel.
Bing announced a new link penalties. These link penalties are focused on taking down private blog networks (PBNs), subdomain leasing and manipulative cross-site linking.
Inorganic Site Structure
An inorganic site structure is a linking pattern that uses internal site-level link signals (with subdomains) or cross-site linking patterns (with external domains) in order to manipulate search engine rankings.
While these spam techniques already existed, Bing introduced the concept of calling them “inorganic site structure” in order to describe them.
Bing noted that sites legitimately create subdomains to keep different parts of the site separate, such as support.example.com. These are treated as belonging to the main domain, passing site-level signals to the subdomains.
Bing also said sites like WordPress create standalone sites under subdomains, in which case no site level signals are passed to the subdomains.
Examples of Inorganic Site Structure
An inorganic site structure is when a company leases a subdomain in order to take advantage of site-level signals to rank better. There have been
Private blog networks were also included as inorganic site structure
Bing also introduced the idea of domain boundaries. The idea is that there are boundaries to a domain. Sometimes, as in the case of legitimate subdomains (ex. support.example.com), those boundaries extend out to the subdomain. In other cases like WordPress.com subdomains the boundaries do not extend to the subdomains.
Private Blog Networks (PBNs) Bing called out PBNs as a form of spam that abuse website boundaries.
“While not all link networks misrepresent website boundaries, there are many cases where a single website is artificially split across many different domains, all cross-linking to one another, for the obvious purpose of rank boosting. This is particularly true of PBNs (private blog networks).”
Subdomain Leasing Penalties
Bing explained why they consider subdomain leasing a spammy activity:
“…we heard concerns from the SEO community around the growing practice of hosting third-party content or letting a third party operate a designated subdomain or subfolder, generally in exchange for compensation.
…the practice equates to buying ranking signals, which is not much different from buying links.”
At the time of this article, I still see a news site subdomain ranking in Bing (and Google). This page belongs to another company. All the links are redirected affiliate type links with parameters meant for tracking the referrals.
According to Archive.org the subdomain page was credited to an anonymous news staffer. Sometime in the summer the author was switched to someone with a name who is labeled as an expert, although the content is still the same.
So if Bing is already handing out penalties that means Bing (and Google who also ranks this page) still have some catching up to do.
Bing mentioned sites that are essentially one site that are broken up into multiple interlinking sites. Curiously Bing said that these kinds of sites already in violation of other link spam rules but that additional penalties will apply.
Here’s the kind of link structure that Bing used as an example:
All these sites are interlinking to each other. All the sites have related content and according to Bing are essentially the same site. This kind of linking practice goes back many years. They are traditionally known as interlinked websites. They are generally topically related to each other.
Bing used the above example to illustrate interlinked sites that are really just one site.
That link structure resembles the structure of interlinked websites that belong to the same company. If you’re planning a new web venture, it’s generally a good idea to create a site that’s comprehensive than to create a multitude of sites that are focused on just a small part of the niche.
Curiously, in reference to the above illustration, Bing said that kind of link structure was already in violation of link guidelines and that more penalties would be piled on top of those:
“Fig. 3 – All these domains are effectively the same website. This kind of behavior is already in violation of our link policy.
Going forward, it will be also in violation of our “inorganic site structure” policy and may receive additional penalties.“
It’s good news to hear Bing is improving. Competition between search engines encourage innovation and as Bing improves perhaps search traffic may become more diversified as more people switch to Bing as well as other engines like DuckDuckGo.
Read Bing’s announcement: Some Thoughts on Website Boundaries
Google has released version 1.0 of its Site Kit plugin for WordPress, which means its officially out of beta after 6 months.
In the time since the developer preview of Site Kit was released, Google says it drastically simplified the setup, fixed bugs, and polished the main user flows.
Site Kit allows WordPress users to access data from Google products right from their site’s dashboard. The plugin aggregates data from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, PageSpeed Insights, and AdSense.
With Site Kit there’s no additional code editing required, which makes it easy to set up products like Google Analytics for those without any developer experience.
Anyone can install Site Kit, but Google emphasizes that it’s especially useful for professionals who work on sites for clients. The reasons why include:
Clients and other teams can easily access data from Google products by logging into the WordPress dashboard.
Clients will see performance states and improvement recommendations directly from Google
Site Kit allows you to set roles and permissions and make sure only relevant people can see the data.
To get the most out of Site Kit, Google recommends reviewing the main dashboard on at least a weekly basis. You can also check the stats of individual pages by navigating to the page and clicking on Site Kit in the admin bar.
With this data, Google recommends comparing the top performing pages and seeing how people found them. This can help you discover trends, such as which topics get the most engagement on Twitter, which get the most engagement on Facebook, and so on.
To get started with Site Kit, simply install it from your WordPress dashboard.