Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics for BigCommerce Stores

 

Configure Google Analytics the Right Way

 

Need help setting up Google Analytics for your BigCommerce store? This guide will walk you through all the ins and outs of proper configuration and will have you up and running in no time.

Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics for Bigcommerce Online Stores

CONTENTS

 

1. How to Setup & Properly Configure a Google Analytics Account for BigCommerce

The first phase is to properly create and integrate Google Analytics for your store. Even if you have already integrated Google Analytics you may want to read this section to ensure you have not missed critical settings.

1.1: Account Setup

  • Create your Google Analytics Account by visiting the Google Analytics website and clicking on the “create an account” link. Then sign in to your Google account.
  •  
    Google Analytics Create Account Splash Page

  • Now, set up your property. Use the name of your BigCommerce store for the “Website Name” field and, of course, the URL of your store for “Website URL”. When you have filled in the fields, click on “Get Tracking ID.”
  •  
    Create Property in Google Analytics

Generally, you will want one account and one property for each domain. This makes configuration and access control easier over time.

 

2. Integrating the Tracking Code into your BigCommerce Site

Once you have created your property and Tracking ID, you will want to integrate it into your BigCommerce store so that you can track visitors’ activity.

  • Login to your BigCommerce store dashboard.
  • In “Setup & Tools” select “Web Analytics.”
  • Check the checkbox next to Google Analytics and click “Save.”
  •  
    Create Property in Google Analytics

  • After the page refresh, click on the new “Google Analytics” tab. Paste the entire tracking code that Google Analytics just gave you into the text area and click “Save.”

 
Insert Google Analytics Tracking Code into Bigcommerce

At this point, you should verify that Analytics is tracking activity on your BigCommerce store.

  • Click on the Reporting tab in Google Analytics and then click on “Real-Time” in the left navigation. As you move around your website’s pages you should see Analytics tracking your movements.
  •  
    Real Time Analytics to Verify Settings

  • If Analytics is not tracking you or any visitors, check to make sure you have saved the tracking code in BigCommerce or repeat the steps above.

Note: If you are looking elsewhere (not in real time) you may not see data right away as there can be a bit of a lag for some of the other data.

 

3. Configuring Ecommerce Tracking in Analytics

In addition to tracking traffic activity on your store, you will want to track transaction information as well. This allows you to track revenue, page values, product popularity, ROI, and more. This provides you with invaluable data as you measure progress and make strategic decisions.

  • Inside of Analytics, go to “Admin.”
  • Now go to “Ecommerce Settings” underneath the appropriate view.
  • Change the Status to “On” and then select “Next step.”

Google Analytics View Ecommerce Settings

Note: Do not turn on Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting, as this is not currently supported by BigCommerce and will make your reports harder to read.

Enhanced Analytics Off for Bigcommerce

  • Finally, click on “Submit” to save the changes.

Once you have setup Analytics, you need to add the ecommerce conversion tracking code to BigCommerce.

  • Go to Setup & Tools; Web Analytics.
  • Click on the Google Analytics tab. There you will see the previous tracking code that you added in.
  • Add the following code right above the closing “script” tag and click “Save.”
 ga('require', 'ecommerce', 'ecommerce.js');

    function trackEcommerce() {
    this._addTrans = addTrans;
    this._addItem = addItems;
    this._trackTrans = trackTrans;
    }
    function addTrans(orderID,store,total,tax,shipping,city,state,country) {
    ga('ecommerce:addTransaction', {
        'id': orderID,
        'affiliation': store,
        'revenue': total,
        'tax': tax,
        'shipping': shipping,
        'city': city,
        'state': state,
        'country': country
    });
    }
    function addItems(orderID,sku,product,variation,price,qty) {
    ga('ecommerce:addItem', {
        'id': orderID,
        'sku': sku,
        'name': product,
        'category': variation,
        'price': price,
        'quantity': qty
    });
    }
    function trackTrans() {
        ga('ecommerce:send');
    }
    var pageTracker = new trackEcommerce();

When complete, the entire tracking code should now look like the following (with your specific code and domain in place of “UA-xxxxxxxx-x” and “mybigcommercestore.com”.

Bigcommerce Complete Google Analytics Code Example

Test your ecommerce tracking by placing a test order on your BigCommerce store.

Note: This will often lag by several hours so give it some time.

 

Many BigCommerce stores will stop with the above setup. However, there is much more insight and accuracy to be gained if you follow the additional steps below.

 

4. Tracking Online Sales Goals in Analytics

While ecommerce transactions provide valuable insight, you can learn even more if you setup an online sales goal with a conversion funnel. This not only tracks the number of completions (aka sales) but allows you to see where potential customers drop out of the checkout process.

  • To configure your goal, click on the “Admin” tab inside of Google Analytics.
  • Under your View, click on “Goals.”
  •  
    Bigcommerce Complete Google Analytics Code Example

  • Click on “+ NEW GOAL” to add your online sales goal.
  •  
    Add New Goal in Analytics

  • Name your goal “Online Sale”, “BigCommerce Store Purchase”, or something similar.
  •  
    Online Sales Goal Name

  • Choose “Destination” for the goal type. Then click “Next Step.”
  •  
    Online Sales Goal Description Type

  • Choose “Begins with” from the dropdown and add “/finishorder.php” to the destination field.
  •  
    Bigcommerce Online Sales Goal Destination URL

  • Change the Funnel to “On” as this unlocks the greatest value in the Goals area.
  •  
    Analytics Sales Goal Funnel

  • Set the Step 1 name to “Cart” and the page to “/cart.php”.
  •  
    Online Sales Goal Conversion Funnel Step 1 (Cart)

  • Click on “Add another Step.” Then set the Step 2 name to “Checkout” and the page to “/checkout.php”.
  •  
    Online Sales Goal Conversion Funnel Step 2 (Checkout)

  • Once set, click “Verify this Goal” to validate your settings.

Verify Online Sales Goal

If you have had contact form submissions over the previous seven days (with Google Analytics tracking configured) you should see that there is a conversion rate over 0%.

  • Click “Create Goal” to finalize the goal settings.

Create Online Sales Goal Conversion Funnel

 

4.1: Tracking Other Goals

If you have a contact form that tracks leads or key interactions, you might want to configure additional goals such as lead generation or support requests.

4.1.1: Contact Form Goal

  • Click on “+ NEW GOAL” to add your contact form goal.
  •  
    Add New Goal in Analytics

  • Name your goal “Site Contact Form Completion” or something similar.
  •  
    Google Analytics Contact Form Completion Goal Name

  • Choose “Destination” for the goal type. Then click “Next Step.”
  •  
    Google Analytics Contact Form Goal Type Destination

  • Choose “Begins with” from the dropdown and add “/pages.php?action=sendContactForm” to the destination field.
  •  
    Google Analytics Contact Form Completion Goal Destination URL

  • Change the Funnel to “On” as this unlocks the greatest value in the Goals area.
  •  
    Google Analytics Contact Form Completion Goal Funnel Setting

  • Set the Step 1 name to “Contact Form” and the page to “/contact-us/” or whatever URL your form is on. Mark the step as required (assuming this is the only page that has this contact form).
  •  
    Google Analytics Contact Form Completion Goal Funnel Step One

  • Once set, click “Verify this goal” to validate your settings.
  •  
    Verify Google Analytics Contact Form Completion Goal

If you have had sales over the previous seven days (with Google Analytics tracking configured) you should see that there is a conversion rate over 0%.

  • Click “Create Goal” to finalize the goal settings.

Create Google Analytics Contact Form Completion Goal

 

5. Account Control & User Access

A key mistake that many online stores make is in their control and access of the analytics. It is important to “future proof” your account so that you never find yourself in the position of being locked out of your own account or having to start over, losing your data in the process.

5.1: Account Setup

We recommend that each domain has its own “account”. This does not mean you need a separate login but a separate account from Google’s perspective. This will ensure that you can retain control of the data in the future.

For example, if your primary store is BobsWidgetStore.com that domain should have its own account. If you setup a WordPress blog on a subdomain (ie. blog.bobswidgetstore.com), that could be a separate property within the same account.

Now if you branch out and start JanesOnlineCandy.com, we recommend creating a separate account for it. This provides benefits in case you wind up creating a lot of properties underneath it and hit the limit in the future. It also protects you in case you choose to sell that domain in the future.

5.2: User Access

Instead of sharing a login, we recommend granting access to individual users. This will allow you to revoke access as necessary if you let an employee go or no longer work with a consultant.

To grant access to individual users, take the following steps:

  • Determine what the user needs access to (ie single view or entire property) and what access rights they need (ie ability to view or edit).
  • Go to the “Admin” section of Google Analytics
  • At the View, Property, or Account level, click on “User Management.”

Be sure that you have made the appropriate selection from the dropdown prior to clicking to ensure that you are giving access to the correct area.

User Management Settings in Analytics

Note: If you don’t know which to choose, limit a user’s access to a single view with only “Read & Analyze” access rights.

Add the user’s email address to the “Add permissions for” field and select the appropriate access rights in the dropdown box to the right.

Analytics View Add User Permissions

Once set, click on the “Add” button to save the changes.

Google Analytics Add User Button

In order to grant access to another user, the user making changes will need to have the access rights to “Manage Users”.

5.2.1: User Access Best Practices

  1. Use one login per account user
  2. Grant as little access as necessary to users
  3. Be sure to remember to revoke access when changing marketing companies and as part of your standard employee termination process.

 

6. Configuring Advanced Filters, Removing Spam, & Hiding Internal Traffic

While the above will offer the core ecommerce functionality of Google Analytics for your BigCommerce store, there are quite a few more advanced configurations that can help you get the most out of your analytic data. These configurations include: alternate views, filters, spam removal, and hiding internal traffic.

6.1: Multiple Profile Views

By default your Analytics Property will have a single View associated with it. We highly recommend that you add at least one additional view. These views can be used to display filtered data from the same website.

6.1.1: Raw, Unfiltered View

We first recommend having a view that retains the raw data that has not been modified in any way. This provides you with a baseline that can be used to compare your alternate views to. Also, since changes in Google Analytics do not apply retroactively, this gives you a historical record in case you have broken any configuration settings along the way.

You can create your unfiltered profile by renaming your original view, which by default would have been named “All Web Site Data”.

  • Click on “Admin” inside of Analytics. Underneath “View” click on “View Settings”. Note: if you already have more than one view, be sure to select the appropriate view from the dropdown first in order to modify the correct one.
  • In the “View Name” field, add the new name for your raw data. You might name it something like “Your BigCommerce Store (RAW DATA – DO NOT EDIT)”.
  • Aside from basic settings, most of these items – especially “Exclude URL Query Parameters” and “Bot Filtering” should not be filled out for this view.
  • Finally, click “Save” to save changes to the unfiltered profile.

Do not apply filters or otherwise modify the data in this view. This will be your backup.

6.1.2: Primary, Reporting View

Now that you have your baseline view setup, we are going to create at least one filtered view for tracking and reporting. This will be your primary view that you use to read your analytic data and is where you should setup your goals and filters.

  • To setup your reporting view, go to Admin and click the dropdown. Click the “Create new view” option.
  • In the “Reporting View Name” field, add the new name for your reporting profile. Consider naming it something like “You Bigcommerce Store (PRIMARY REPORTING VIEW)”.
  • Click the “Create View” button to create your reporting view.

After created, click on “View Settings” underneath the new reporting view in the dropdown to finish setting up your reporting profile.

  • In the “Default page” field, enter “index.php”.
  • Turn on the “Site Search Setting”.
  • In the Search Query Parameter field, add “search_query” to properly track BigCommerce site seach. Note: if you use a 3rd party search solution, you will likely need to change this for your specific tool.
  • Click “Save” to save these settings.

6.1.3: Test View

Create a test view to parallel you primary view and try out new modifications without the risk of making a mess of your reporting data. Make and save changes here first. Once you have reviewed the results and verified that they work properly, roll those changes in to your Primary View while protecting your data.

Repeat the steps taken to create your reporting view along with any other customizations to create your test view.

6.1.4: Blog or Subdomain View

Many BigCommerce store owners have a WordPress blog that sits on a subdomain (i.e., blog.yourbigcommercestore.com). Others host site content, wholesale stores, or other tools on a separate subdomain as well. If you want want to track them as an entirely different profile to easily filter out this information, you can do so via another View.

Note: Similar results can be achieved by creating a custom segment for this data subset. See the Segments section below for more information on this option.

  • To setup your reporting view, go to Admin and click the dropdown. Click the “Create new view” option.
  • In the “Reporting View Name” field, add the new name for your reporting profile. Consider naming it something like “Blog”.
  • Click the “Create View” button to create your reporting view.

After created, click on “View Settings” underneath the new reporting view in the dropdown to finish setting up your reporting profile.

  • Filter this data to only this subdomain by…..
  • Click “Save” to save these settings.

6.1.5: Traffic Channel Views

You might consider creating a separate view for each of your traffic channels. While you can generally get the same results by using advanced segments (see below), there are certain limitations to segments. For example: Online Sales Goal Funnel Visualization (along with all other goal funnels) cannot be segmented inside of Analytics. Creating a view unique to a particular traffic medium can allow you to see how that channel performs in the funnel.

 

6.2: Filters

Filters allow you to adjust or limit the data that is returned in your Google Analytics View. The purpose is generally to refine your data set and make it more useful. Key uses are removing internal traffic, eliminating spam activity, and properly counting traffic to pages.

The following filters should only be applied in secondary views, not in your Raw Data profile. You will likely want to try out your filters in the Test View you should have created earlier (see above).

6.2.1: Consolidating Page Traffic with Lowercase Filters

While capitalization does not impact page load (i.e., both YourStore.com and yourstore.com resolve to the same page), Google Analytics will track them separately. This means that if you have two visits to the same page but the capitalization is different, it will show up as one visit to each of two pages. This can make it much harder to analyze how pages are performing.

To consolidate these page variants into a single tracked page, you will need to setup a Lowercase filter.

To create your Lowercase Filter:

  • Go to the “Admin” section of Google Analytics
  • In the appropriate View, click on “Filters.”
  •  
    Profile View Filters

  • Click on the “+ NEW FILTER” button.

Add New Google Analytics Filter Button

Use the following settings for your lowercase filter:

  • Name: Lowercase Filter
  • Filter Type: Custom
  • Filter: Lowercase
  • Filter Field: Request URI

Feel free to click on the “Verify this Filter” link to check the impact.

When ready, click on the “Save” button to enable your new filter.

 

Result: Visits to www.YourBigcommerceStore.com/products and www.YourBigcommerceStore.com/Products will count as visits to the same page as opposed to separate pages.

Benefit: There is a clearer picture of how products, categories, and content pages are performing.

Google Analytics Lowercase Filter for Bigcommerce Store

6.2.2: Excluding Internal Company Traffic with IP Address Filter

Many store owners will want to exclude internal company traffic to avoid skewing the data when employees are looking up product data or web developers are testing the site. This can be achieved via an IP filter.

Collect all company user IP addresses for each employee from all company offices, warehouses, and home offices where they connect to your website. This can be done by Googling “What’s my IP address” and noting the resulting number string which will look something like (172.91.105.201).

To create your IP Address Filter:

  • Go to the “Admin” section of Google Analytics
  • In the appropriate View, click on “Filters.”
  •  
    Profile View Filters

  • Click on the “+ NEW FILTER” button.

Add New Google Analytics Filter Button

Use the following settings for your lowercase filter:

  • Name: Excluding Company Traffic
  • Filter Type: Custom
  • Filter: Exclude
  • Filter Field: IP Address
  • Filter Pattern: IP Address(es) using Regular Expressions (see below)

It is imperative that you use regular expressions to add your various IP Addresses. If you are unfamiliar with regular expressions, take a look at the basic example’s below

Examples:

Single IP Address – 172.91.105.201 should be entered as 172\.91\.105\.201

Multiple IP Addresses – 172.91.105.201 & 172.91.105.203 should be entered as 172\.91\.105\.201|172\.91\.105\.203 (note the | that separates the two)

If you need more examples, the Regular Expressions for Google Analytics Ebook by LunaMetrics offers some great information.

Feel free to click on the “Verify this Filter” link to check the impact.

When ready, click on the “Save” button to enable your new filter.

Note: We recommend performing this step after you have fully validated that Analytics is properly tracking activity as this will ignore your traffic preventing you from validating your own activity.

Result: Visits to www.YourBigcommerceStore.com from computers whose IP Addresses have been added will not be tracked in this view.

Benefit: Understand how site visitors are interacting with your BigCommerce store without the mess of internal users.

Store Employee & Contractor IP Address Filter

 

6.3: Referral Exclusions

Sometimes you need to modify your data in a way that is not handled by Filters …

6.3.1: Prevent PayPal as Referral Source with Referral Exclusion List

Many BigCommerce stores that use PayPal as a payment gateway, will find that they have many referrals from PayPal. While you might love to have PayPal as a strong source of referral traffic, usually what is happening is that when customers are redirected to PayPal as part of the checkout process, their return is tracked as a new session in Google Analytics. As a new session, Analytics tracks the linking domain as the source of the referral. Although this is generally helpful, it is misleading at this point as this is neither a new session nor a “referral.”

To eliminate visitors who were redirected to PayPal for payment from showing up as referrals from PayPal, we need to utilize the Referral Exclusion List.

  • Inside of Analytics, go to “Admin.”
  • Click on “Tracking Info” underneath the appropriate Property (note that this occurs at the Property level instead of the View level)
  • Click on “Referral Exclusion List” in the options that appear below Tracking Info
  •  
    Referral Exclusion List

  • Click on the “Add Referral Exclusion” button
  •  
    Add Referral Exclusion Domain

  • Enter “paypal.com” as the domain to exclude. Then click “Create.”

Exclude PayPal.com Domain Referrals

6.3.2: Subdomain Self-Referrals

To remove self-referrals from your traffic sources …

6.4: Segments

Coming soon …

6.5: Eliminating Spam Referrals

Coming soon …

 

7. Frequently Asked Questions

I saved my Tracking Code in the BigCommerce Web Analytics section but my site is not tracking activity. What can I do?

First, confirm that your tracking code has indeed saved properly. Navigate to this section to ensure it is there. Now check to see if the entire code snippet is found in there. It will be wrapped with opening and closing script tags and will look like this:

Google Analytics Tracking Code Snippet

Second, try to verify that the tracking code is outputting onto your template. You can do this by pulling up a page on your website and searching through your source code. While it sounds complicated, the process is simple.

  • Open your BigCommerce website.
  • Right click and choose “View Source” or similar (depending on your browser).
  • Now search through the code (using Ctrl + F or Cmd + F) for “UA-”.

If you do not find your account number in the source code, it is possible that template customization has removed the shortcode that inserts the tracking code. You may want to manually add the tracking code into the HTMLHead Panel of your theme right above the closing head tag.

If Google Analytics is still not tracking your store properly, then you may have a more complicated issue such as a JavaScript conflict. We recommend engaging an experienced BigCommerce web developer to help you in this scenario.

What if I have a blog, site content, or other assets on a subdomain?

If you have a subdomain, you should definitely track that activity within your same Google Analytics account. Add your tracking code and validate it is working.

For setup, we recommend using the same Google Analytics property and tracking code. We recommend using a segment to filter the data within your view if desired.

You can create a new subdomain segment by…

It may also be helpful to create additional Views that are specific to your store, blog and any other subdomains.

Can I configure Enhance Ecommerce Analytics on my BigCommerce Store

Not easily …

An order just came through on BigCommerce but I do not see it in the Ecommerce section of Google Analytics. Where is it?

There is generally a lag but the time an order is placed and the detailed ecommerce tracking data appears in Google Analytics. Check back a little later. If orders are not appearing after 24 hours, there is likely an issue with your ecommerce tracking or configuration.

Some Order IDs are missing in Analytics and in BigCommerce as well. Where are these missing orders?

This is a common occurence in BigCommerce and is not actually the result of missing orders. BigCommerce provisions an order ID once a site visitor enters the purchase process. If the visitor abandons the conversion funnel and does not complete a purchase, the Order ID is retained for Abandoned Cart tracking and marketing purposes. If the purchase is later completed as part of your efforts to capture abandoned carts, the original, now-out-of-sequence Order ID is retained.

So, while it may appear that the order is missing, if it also does not exist inside of BigCommerce, it is most likely an abandoned order.

My revenue totals in Google Analytics ecommerce do not match those found in BigCommerce. What’s wrong?

It is not uncommon to find minor discrepancies when comparing BigCommerce sales data to Google Analytics ecommerce transaction data. These discrepancies can be the result of order cancelations and returns (not passed into Analytics), differing time zones, or phone orders tracked in BigCommerce but not Analytics.

If your revenue totals are drastically different and cannot be explained by the above possibilities, you should re-check your configuration and try to diagnose what is causing the issue.

I see traffic from my own site or my subdomain as a source of Referral traffic. Why is that?

Many sites that have a subdomain (such as a blog) will find that they see themselves as their own source of referral traffic when looking at referral traffic. This is called a self-referral. Refer to the Self-Referrals section above for the solution.

I see PayPal as a source of referral traffic. How can I get rid of it?

Because several PayPal payment options take the customer off-site, the returning visit is naturally seen as a referral. While this does not accurately describe what is happening relationally, it is accurate from a technical perspective as the visitor has left your website (ending the existing session) and have been referred back via PayPal.

This data can be modified via the Referral Exclusion List. See the above PayPal Referrals section for instructions.

I made changes to my goals but the historical data is wrong.

This change does not work retroactively. Monitor the data after the time you made the change to ensure correct setup.

I have two versions of my homepage (mystore.com/ and mystore.com/index.html). Help!

This alternate homepage URL needs to be configure in the View Settings. Add this alternate version to the “Default Page” field in the View settings.

Google Analytics View Default Page

How can I give a company temporary access to view my data?

Many stores will want to share access with a marketing, SEO or other company from time to time to allow them to view traffic details. However, you may want to set this up so that you can revoke the access at your convenience. To do so we recommend granting the user reader access at the View or Property level. See User Access above.

Sites I’ve never heard of like [i.e., semalt.semalt.com] are referring significant amounts of traffic to my store. It is not legitimate activity. How can I get rid of it?

Many of these sites are pinging your site to appear as if they are referring traffic to you. The theory is that they do so in order that you will follow the referring link back and visit their spam site. As this traffic is false, worthless, and merely distorts the picture of what is really happening on your website, you will likely want to remove this from your data. See the Remove Spam Referrals section above for details on how to remove this from your Analytics data.

 

8. Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources to help you along the way:

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Take the Guesswork Out of It

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