[Google Analytics Mega-Tutorial] Learn to monitor the most important e-commerce metrics

Analytics are vital for e-commerce. There is not a single online shop that doesn’t know what is happening with their website, what their clients are like, what type of interaction their site visitors have, or which products are the most visited.
Wouldn’t you like to know all of that information for free? You only need to install Google Analytics in your online shop .
In this tutorial we will explain how to install it (for both Wordpress and non-Wordpress users), and which metrics you need to measure in order to monitor and analyse both your shop and your clients’ behaviour.
Are you ready to know everything about your online shop?

Welcome to Google Analytics!

What is Google Analytics?

It’s best if we start at the very beginning, right?

Google Analytics or simply Analytics, is the most well-known and most used web analytics tool to learn all the statistics about a website. It’s from Google, it’s free, and if you aren’t already using it, you should start now.

With Analytics you can measure everything that happens on your website, literally. This is summarizing quite a bit, but essentially it tells you how many visitors your site gets, where they come rom, how long they stay, and what they do during that time.

Furthermore, it offers e-commerce shops additional functions that we will see below.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get into it bit by bit.

How to install Google Analytics in your e-commerce shop

The process is quite easy, especially if your online shop was created with Wordpress. In any case, we will explain how to install it even if you do not use Wordpress.

If that’s not the case, have no fear, aun así, te explicaremos cómo hacerlo uses Wordpress o no.

1. Installing Google Analytics in Wordpress

Let’s start with the least technical option possible. This is as simple as installing a plugin and configuring it with just a few clicks.

If you look in the plugin repository, you’ll find infinite options. Here are the Analytics plugins that we recommend.

A. Google Analytics Dashboard for Wordpress

We recommend that you use the Google Analytics Dashboard for Wordpressplugin in the case that your theme does not allow you to directly embed the tracking code. Before installing the plugin, check your theme options to make sure you cannot do it manually.
Normally, most paid themes have an option that allows you to add the code to the theme’s header. If so, you just need to add the Analytics code to this section. If you do not have that option, you must follow the following steps:

  1. Install the Google Analytics Dashboard for Wordpress plugin: you can do look for it in the plugins section, installing it directly through the Wordpress Dashboard or uploading it via FTP.
  2. Connect the plugin with Google Analytics: look for the section “Google Analytics” in your Wordpress menu and click on “Authorize plugin”.
  3. Choose the appropriate view: select your website properties (from the dropdown menu) and click “Save Changes”.

Let’s check out the next option.

B. Monster Insights

This is the most downloaded Analytics plugin in the repository and, again, with just a few clicks you’ll have traffic statistics about your website without ever leaving the WordPress admin panel.

It has a paid version, but the free version is more than enough for projects that aren’t so demanding.

To get it up and running you’ll need the tracking ID that Analytics provides when you create a new website/property.

To download and learn how to install it, click here.

C. Simple Universal Google Analytics

Different from the previous two, this plugin doesn’t display data in the backend, WordPress’ admin panel.

As its name implies, it allows you to insert the tracking ID without actually having to touch a single line of code. It’s as simple as that.

It’s lighter than the previous two examples, but you’ll have to go the Google Analytics website to see the stats.

If you dread fiddling around with the inner workings of WordPress, any of these options will be quite helpful for you.

2. Installing Google Analytics manually

If your website isn’t built on WordPress or if you prefer to do it without plugins, you will have to add the code manually following these two steps:

  1. Copy the code from Google Analytics: go into your Google Analytics dashboard, click “Admin” and then click “Tracking Info” and copy the code that will show up as “Tracking Code”.
  2. Insert this code in your website head: you need to find the file named “header.php” using your FTP client or similar File Manager, provided that your website has it, and add the code between the tags <head> and </head>. If you do not have this file, you will have to add this code to each page between the same tags.

If you aren’t familiar with programming, it’s better to have somebody give you a hand. 😉

3. Installing Google Analytics in Prestashop and others CMS

If you want to install Google Analytics using a different CMS other than Wordpress (Drupal, Joomla, etc.), there are usually plugins that will allow you to do it in a similar way to what we mentioned before to avoid doing it manually.

The same is true for PrestaShop, but in this case it’s even easier. You just have to install the official Analytics module, which can be downloaded here.

This addon, besides being free, adds the Enhanced Ecommerce functionality, which we will talk about later and which is essential to any e-commerce shop nowadays.

4. Install Google Analytics from Google Tag Manager

Let’s move on to our last and most technical option. For those wishing to go the extra mile in terms of web analytics, we present Google Tag Manager.

For the time being, it’s not necessary for you to know much about the tool. Just remember that it allows you to insert the Analytics tracking script in addition to any other script without overloading your page.


A. Create an account

Visit https://tagmanager.google.com/ and create an account.

B. Add a new container

As you can see in the picture below, you add a new container to your account.

C. Insert into your website’s header

As we saw before, this is the code that will appear in the window that appears.

D. Add the tracking ID

Create a new property in Analytics and copy the tracking ID. Then, create a new tag and select “Universal Analytics”.

Click on “Select Settings Variable” and then “New Variable”. There is where you insert the Analytics tracking ID that you copied before.

E. Enhanced Ecommerce

Activate the Enhanced Ecommerce option.

Now it’s time to select the trigger.

This will be the action that triggers the tag. In this case, since we want to measure the visits to all the pages, we’re going to select “All Pages”.

F. Ready to roll

Now you just have to publish and you’ll have Analytics up and running.

If you’re only going to use Tag Manager to insert Analytics code, it’s not really worth it. However, you may want to track clicks on the purchase button or any other variables you can think of, and for that you need both Tag Manager and to create the events to watch in Analytics.

Now let’s take a look at the inner workings of this measurement monster.

The Google Analytics Control Panel

This is what you’ll see on the inside. The main navigation comes from the menu on left side of the screen and these are the sections.

1. Home

Here you have all the main stats of your website at a glance. You can see the progress of the last few days, the visits in real-time, and when your users access your site in a graph that displays both days and hours.

This is the view that you will have by default when you enter.

The second section that you find on the menu to the left corresponds to the reports options and customizations. You can ignore those for now.

2. Real-Time

Do you want to know how many people are visiting your site and from where all the time?

This is the place.

It’s normal for people to become hooked on this tool because of this feature. It’s nice to know the real-time traffic, but you don’t need to look at it every 20 minutes. 🙂

This is also where you can see the events created in Tag Manager if you have set them up.

3. Audience

The Overview tab offers you basic metrics about your website:

  • Users
  • Sessions
  • Pages Per Session
  • Bounce Rate
  • Session Duration

This should be enough to give you an idea of how your e-commerce shop is doing in terms of traffic, but you also have all kinds of statistics about your average audience:

  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • From which device they visit your site
  • And more

If you read our article about buyer personas and you have one defined, you can take advantage of this information to compare your profile with that of your visitors.

4. Acquisition

Spend some time in this section because there is really valuable information hiding here. What you’ll find here is detailed data about where your web traffic comes from.

In short, or in the overview, you’ll see something like this:

Each color on the pie chart represents a different source of traffic to your e-commerce shop.

  • Organic Search: These are the visitors that have arrived after doing a Google search.
  • Direct: This traffic consists of those that have directly inserted your domain name into their browser. Analytics, however, counts an additional source of traffic here.
  • Social: The percentage that arrives from social networks.
  • Referral: Other pages that have external links pointing to your page in order to bring you visitors.
  • Email: If you have implemented an email marketing strategy, here is where you’ll see the results.

This information alone would be worth it, but there is much more to it. If you click on All Traffic, then Source/Medium, you can see the same sources broken down.

Do you want to know what kind of performance you get out of your social networks?

As long as you have Enhanced Ecommerce, you’ll always find that information on this screen.

Check out this particular case in which Instagram is the social network that generates the most sales. That’s pretty valuable information regarding making decisions, don’t you think?

5. Behavior

Another key element of Analytics is the behavior analysis regarding your site users.

This tells you which pages are the most visited, which pages users spend the most time on, and from which page they abandon your site.

We can see their browsing behaviors by clicking on “Behavior Flow”. The graphic with arrows and colors tells us how users act on each page. Exits are in red while green shows them flowing to other URLs.

This section is indispensable for detecting leak points (the URLs that users typically exit from).

Once you know those pages, you can work on adding new calls to action, related content, or some other strategy that encourages more browsing.

6. Conversions and Goals

Whether you have an online shop or not, correctly setting up the goals of your page is essential.

The possibilities here are aplenty:

  • Funnel Visualization: After setting it up, you’ll be able to see at which point you are suffering from abandoned carts.
  • Attribution Models: To which source do you attribute a sale. It’s rare to get a conversion at first impact. In this panel we can see which combination of sources works best.
  • Product Performance: Which are the most sold, the average price, returns… all the information about your e-commerce shop at a glance.

In the image below you can see the attributions, the source of your conversions.

The best part is that the information is always presented in a very visual way so that just a quick look is enough.

Look at the example:

Imagine that you want to launch a campaign but have doubts about where to do it:

This is the screen that shows you a history of what has worked best up until now.

What should you measure in Google Analytics? Summary

Don’t be worried if the previous section overwhelmed you with too much information. Here we have a brief summary with the basics of the basics that you have to measure.

Remember that this analytics tool offers you hundreds of metrics and types of data, but not all of them are equally important.

We already talked about vanity metrics, which are those that “talk a lot without saying much”.

You should focus on those that will determine the success or failure of your business. Do you want to know what these metrics are?

  1. Goal conversions: conversions (which you can set up following this tutorial) are the most important metric. You must know how many sales you make and what percentage of people are buying. In addition, with Google Analytics you will be able to know the sales process and from which websites you are getting the most sales.
  2. Traffic sources: where do your sales come from? Do social networks work? Is the banner that you are paying for actually working? You can get the answers in this section. You will know how many visits you receive from each source (social networks, online ads, other websites, etc), and you will see just how many conversions you get from each of them. This is key to knowing the profitability of ads and social networks.
  3. Bounce rate: when an user visits your website and leaves without checking out any other section, it is a bad sign. This is what the bounce rate measures. Do you know how to keep this rate really low? By using an internal search engine, such as Doofinder.
  4. Geographical info: you can find out the exact location of your visitors and from which cities users buy more. You could use this information to find out a city in which a physical store would be worth opening in the future.
  5. Exit pages: inside the section “Behaviour reports” you will learn which pages lead your clients to leave your website and you will find out which sections you need to improve and any errors found in those sections.

Don’t try to measure everything at the start. As you’ve already seen, Analytics is immense and you could spend thousands of hours trying to wrap your head around all of it.

Concentrate on what’s important and you can add more metrics as they become necessary.

The keys of using Google analytics like a boss

Just like we talked about in this article on web analytics, the power of this tool isn’t the amount of data that it provides, but rather the information hidden within that data.

It’s a tool that offers us 100% objective data, but it doesn’t tell you what to do with the problems and opportunities it hides.

A good analyst is capable of taking that data and extracting its meaning, and that’s your job with Analytics. That indeed is the true knowledge that can lead an e-commerce shop to success, so use it wisely.

You can’t afford not to analyze your online shop, and even more so, if you can analyze it for free using Google Analytics. You would be losing customers, time, and money. You don’t want that to happen, do you?

Make good use of the tool and use it in moderation, but squeeze all the power that you can out of Analytics for your e-commerce shop!