How to Use Google Analytics Reports in Your eCommerce Store

Don't you want to know where your most profitable customers came from? And why?  

Google Analytics doesn’t just stop at collecting data. Understanding how to use Google Analytics reports for eCommerce and Shopify stores also means reporting and analyzing what you’ve collected.

Like many of Google’s offerings, Google Analytics is an entirely free program! Not only is this valuable program free, but it also integrates with other Google programs such as AdWords and AdSense. All of which, easily make it one of the most powerful tools available for Shopify store owners and marketers everywhere.

NOTE: Shopify Google Analytics is an amazing free tool, and if you read our last article, you know just how much it can collect. Get caught up with the basics of Shopify Google Analytics here.

Understanding Google Analytics Basics

Google Analytics is powerful and has tons of reports, which can be a bit overwhelming at first. But, if you’re just getting started understanding Google Analytics reports, here’s a basic ​ Google Analytics guide with plenty of valuable insight to get you start.

On the left side menu in the Google Analytics Dashboard, the Google report categories are listed. Clicking on each drops down a variety of choices but starting with  "Overview" is always a good choice. Here ​is how to get started with ​each of the five ​Analytics reports​:

Real-Time Google Analytics Reports

real time google analytics reports

Shows you in real time what’s happening on your site. These reports can be a bit of a ‘novelty’, but there are a few ways to use this data to improve your site:

  • Observe whether your promotion is driving traffic to your store, and which page visitors are viewing.
  • Watching the immediate effects of a blog/email/social media post driving traffic to your site.

Audience Google Analytics Reports

audience google analytics reports

Tells you everything you need to know about who is on your site. One of the most valuable Google Analytics report is this one which offers key insights to your customers which will help you make more sales in the future. With these reports you can:

  • Better understand interest from countries that you may not currently ship to.
  • Key information about which cities your visitors are visiting from which will better help you optimize shipping logistics.
  • Browser/Operating System and Screen Resolution will help you learn how to optimize your site so it works correctly for the majority of your visitors.

Acquisition Google Analytics Reports

acquisition google analytics reports

Tells you how visitors are finding and arriving to your website. These reports will help you understand what is (and isn’t) driving visitors to your site and how you can send more. Using this data will help you reach more people by:

  • Identifying which channels are driving traffic and sales so you can focus on what’s most effective for your business.
  • Seeing what other websites link to you and the volume of traffic they’re driving so you can see where other opportunities exist.

Behavior Google Analytics Reports

behavior google analytics reports

Discover tons of important information on how visitors interact with you website with behavior reports. If you’re looking to optimize your Shopify store, Behavior reports are the best place to start.  This data will help you :

  • How visitors are reacting to your site.
  • Understand what areas of your store need improvement.
  • How to create a better experience for your visitors, which in turn means more conversions!

Conversions Google Analytics Reports

Conversions google analytics reports

Details more about your store’s sales and conversions. These reports are also the reason you need to turn on eCommerce Tracking in Google Analytics. Shopify will share data about your products, sales, and conversion with Google for further analyzing. eCommerce Tracking will help you learn what visitors are buying and how to sell more with information on:

  • The average revenue per transaction along with the number of products per transaction will help you create better discounts or eliminating shipping costs for certain orders.
  • You can understand which products sell best and identify which ones deserve to be supported by your marketing campaigns.

Keep in mind that for all reports in Google Analytics reports (except Real-Time reports) show the default time period of the past 30 days. To change this time period at any point, use the date selector in the top right-hand corner.

​"eCommerce Tracking will help you learn what ​visitors are buying and how to sell more."

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Important Marketing Metrics to Watch in Google Analytics Reports

Bounce Rate

If someone comes into your site and leaves without going anywhere else, or is inactive on that page for more than 30 minutes, it’s considered a bounce.  A bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on a page on your site and leave without clicking on anything, or navigating to another page.

google analytics guide

"Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. A bounced session has a duration of 0 seconds."

A high bounce rate would indicate visitors aren’t finding the page your sending them to useful or the page itself has issues. On the other hand a low bounce rate indicates visitors are coming to your page, and staying.

  • ​To view the difference in bounce rates​: Audience > Behavior > New Versus Returning
  • ​Checking bounce rates for individual pages is easy: Content > Site content > All Pages

​​There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at your bounce rate :

1. Knowing the bounce rate for first-time visitors has more meaning than returning visitors. If people are coming back to your site again and again, then it doesn’t matter as much if they bounce to other pages.

To reduce a high bounce rate you could include related items along with very clear CTAs that will get first-time visitors to further engage with your store.  

2. Having a high bounce rate could also be a result of not optimizing your store’s pages correctly. When you create a page, you create a ‘title tag’ which is used by Google to figure out what your content is all about.

If you get traffic that’s not relevant to what your eCommerce store is about, then you need to update your content. Check your that ‘title tags’ truly represent what the content is about.

NOTE: Besides bad content, long load times, poor mobile optimization, poor user experience, or no visual appeal can contribute to a high bounce rate.

Time on Page

If you’ve ever wondered how much time people are spending on your site, understanding how Google Analytics’ “average time on page” metric is measured will be crucial.  The “average time on page” metric helps you understand which pages your visitors spend time interacting with, and which pages aren’t performing well.

understanding google analytics

To navigate to the Time on Page data: Behavior > Overview> then click on small Avg. Time on Page graph for a more detailed view.

Time on page is slightly more complicated than regular awareness metrics such as page views or visitors. Time spent on a page is essentially a measure of duration book-ended by two actions:

  1. A page gets loaded.
  2. The page eventually gets closed or replaced by another (or the session times out).

It’s important to understand the difference between these two, apparently similar metrics:

  • Time on Page: The average amount of time a user spends on the page on your website.
  • Session Duration: How long a user spent on your site in total.

The time people spend on your website is a clear indication of how they feel about it. If users are abandoning your site without spending enough time to look at it, then something is wrong that needs to be fixed.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at your time on page:

  1. ​A big issue to poor time on page can most often be blamed on poor readability and design. Keeping your store design simple and clutter free makes it easier for users to look at it. If there are fewer distractions, then users are able to focus and more likely stay longer.
  2. Fixing poor time on page could also be as easy as creating more interactive content that encourages engagement from visitors. If visitors are engaging with your content, they are less likely to bounce.           

​The time people spend on your website is a clear indication of how they feel about it. If users are abandoning your site without spending enough time to look at it, then something is wrong that needs to be fixed.

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Report and Analyze, How to Review the Results

If you’ve followed all the steps mentioned above, you should have a great understanding of Google Analytics and how to create basic Reports for your Shopify store. Now all that’s left to do is use the data from those powerful reports Google Analytics to improve and grow your eCommerce business.

Let's keep the conversation going! ​What have you learned by looking at Analytics reports? Please let us know in the comments below if you had any problems with creating or understanding Google Analytics reports.


Caitlin is an Austin-based digital marketer and writer with a passion for content. She is the newest member of the Performance Marketer team and brings years of marketing experience, as well as the best recommendations for where to go for lunch.


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