Using data to make decisions is critical if you want to run a successful eCommerce business.
Do you know what people do on your Magento webstore? Are they coming in and leaving immediately? Are they clicking around aimlessly? Can they find what they’re looking for?
Google Analytics gives you the tools you need to analyze how your site traffic behaves. And, it’s FREE! As a result, it has become the de facto web analytics platform.
If you haven’t already integrated Google Analytics with your Magento webstore, it’s time to do so. In this post, we’ll discuss three ways to make it happen.
(I’ll also include some expert implementation advice from our friends at Rand Marketing. They’re Magento Experts and Google Partners.)
Why integrate Google or Universal Analytics?
If you own a brick and mortar store, it’s easy to see how people behave. You just watch them!
You don’t have the same luxury online. The web is anonymous-ish. Without some kind of tracking mechanism, you have no idea if one or one million people visited your store. And, you have no idea how close they were to buying something.
Google Analytics solves that problem for you. It has a lot of features. But some of the features that will be particularly valuable for your Magento store are:
- Visitor acquisition analytics, used to assess the value of your digital marketing campaigns
- Combining purchase values with web data, to see things like “how much money, on average, does a customer from a Google AdWords campaign spend”
- Conversion funnel analytics to see where people drop out in your checkout process
- Site search analytics that tell you what people are searching for most (i.e. what you haven’t made easy enough to find)
Justin Cutroni is a recognized Google Analytics expert. He has a great post that links to all sorts of resources about using it for eCommerce. Check it out for all the nitty gritty details.
What’s the difference between Google and Universal Analytics?
Until last year, it had been in beta, and only those who opted in were actually using it. Since April, Google has be automatically upgrading Google Analytics users. You have been upgraded and didn’t even realize it.
Google provides a lot more detail about what Universal Analytics includes. For now, know that all the content in this post applies to both classic Google Analytics and Universal Analytics.
(I’ll just use the term “Google Analytics”.)
Integrate Google or Universal Analytics With Magento
Now that you’re convinced, it’s time to actually set up your integration. There’s a ton of information out there about how to set up Google Analytics with Magento. Some of it is great. Much of it is terrible.
There are a few approaches you can take. I’ll discuss three of them, and why you would or wouldn’t want to use that approach. The goal is to make this decision simple for you.
Note: This post will not go into how to sign up for Google Analytics or set up your account. Here’s a good resource for that.
Approach #1: Magento’s Native Integration
Magento actually has native integration to Google Analytics built right in. Though the configuration options are limited, this is going to be your most basic setup.
In your Magento configuration screen, navigate to:
System > Configuration > Sales > Google API
Then expand the “Google Analytics” section, where you’ll have your options for setting up the native integration.
For the majority of Magento users, all you’ll need to do is select your account type (it’s most likely “Universal Analytics”), and enter your web property ID.
In most cases, websites in the United States don’t have a need to use this feature, but it’s always an option. (More info from Google here.)
Should I use Magento’s native integration?
Magento expert Robert Rand, of Rand Marketing, says, “For most Magento webstores Magento’s native Google Analytics integration is an extremely effective solution.” It’s the approach Rand Marketing takes for most of their Magento clients–especially those that are new to E-commerce.
Native integration is by far the simplest solution. The fact that it’s a built-in Magento feature makes it relatively safe, too. For the novice Google Analytics user, someone with a non-technical background, or someone not heavily reliant on custom analytics reporting, it’s the way to go.
However, you sacrifice flexibility for simplicity. The advanced Google Analytics user will want more options. If that describes you, another approach is probably best.
For most Magento webstores Magento’s native Google Analytics integration is an extremely effective solution.
– Robert Rand, Rand Marketing
Approach #2: Magento Extensions
The Magento community has produced a number of extensions for integrating Google Analytics. Some of the top extensions (according to the ratings) include:
The Fooman Google Analytics+ extension has the highest popularity score (28,930) of the three listed here. It’s also the highest rated at 4.3/5 stars. It touts features like Universal Analytics support, the ability to add a secondary account, and built-in features for remarketing and AdWords tagging. It’s currently only recommended for Magento Community.
The Google Universal Analytics extension, by Aromicon, is less popular (2,407), but still rated well at 4.2/5 stars. It isn’t as full-featured as Fooman, but is a viable option if Fooman won’t work for you. It’s also currently only recommended for Magento Community.
The extension Google Enhanced eCommerce for Magento by Blue Acorn, another Google Partner, allows you to utilize Google’s enhanced eCommerce features. It comes with limited documentation, and is only recommended for Magento Community v1.9, and Enterprise 1.11 to 1.1. It’s comparatively new to market, but it’s definitely worth looking at.
Should I use a Magento extension?
According to Rand, some clients have issues when using extensions. Sometimes the extension isn’t compatible with certain themes, customizations, or other extension. This is always the risk with an open, extension-based architecture.
But, you do get more Google Analytics features, without having to write any code.
Overall, while extensions are a great benefit to Magento users, you want to try to limit yourself to extensions that you need, or really want. Excessive installation of extensions can bog down your website, and cause your headaches in the long run–just like loading up a PC with new software programs all the time.
If you definitely need to enhance your Google Analytics integration, and you’re willing to accept the potential risks of a using extension, this could be the approach for you. Just make sure to take normal precautions, such as backing up your site before installing the extension.
Approach #3: Google Tag Manager
Extensions do give you more flexibility than the native integration, but you are still limited to the features that the extension developer provides. With Google Tag Manager, you can do everything that Google Analytics supports and more.
You are supposed to add the Google Tag Manager script immediately after the opening <body> tag of every page. That means you must either have a Magento developer add it or you can use a extension: Google Tag Manager.
Yes, the same feature-based risk exists with using a GTM extension. But, the GTM script is so basic (and doesn’t change), that the risk is much lower.
You can also get away with placing the GTM script in the page header. Just use the configuration option that Magento natively provides in the administration screen.
Should I use Google Tag Manager?
Setting up Google Tag Manager to integrate Magento with Google Analytics is not for the faint of heart. It’s also not for the novice.
But, for advanced users, who want total control over their Google Analytics integration, this is the way to go. It’s scalable and powerful, if you know what you’re doing.
(For what it’s worth, our website uses Google Tag Manager quite heavily.)
What To Do Next
How you integrate Google Analytics with Magento is one of many decisions you’ll have to make. These kinds of decisions are what make or break your Magento webstore.
Check out some of our other posts about Magento. We’ll help you make some of those tough decisions:
- The 5 Best Magento Extensions of 2014
- Top 5 Magento Shopping Cart Abandonment Extensions
- How to Use Magento to Improve Customer Loyalty