Analytics

After My Client’s Shopify Store Failed on Cyber-Monday, I Did This…

How to use alerts and dashboards to avoid disasters and grow store revenue.

Leon Yeh on February 28, 2017 • 7 minute read

My phone began beeping repeatedly, on a cold and foggy Monday afternoon during a visit with friends in Spain over the Thanksgiving holiday last year. In rapid-fire succession, I received a series of frantic text messages from a client back in the States. “No orders in the past 10 Hours” one message said. Murphy’s Law — no sales during the busiest online shopping day of the year; their Shopify e-commerce store had stopped accepting orders on Cyber Monday!

As an agency that specializes in ecommerce marketing, It wasn’t the first time an e-commerce platform failed me. A few, small issues sometimes happen all at once, preventing visitors from adding things to the cart or checking out. In this scenario, like most others, I quickly resolved the problem by adjusting a couple of settings.

But this situation put me over the edge. Frustrated, I began looking for a solution that would alert me when something was wrong with a client’s store. Things will undoubtedly fail in the future, I figured. But, I needed to prevent future issues from causing lost store revenue and I wanted to be the first to know when a client’s store was having issues.

After the cyber-Monday incident, we implemented a monitoring system using Databox. As part of the solution, Databox continuously monitors key metrics and alerts us when they are outside of the normal ranges. By setting up mobile and email alerts, we discover small problems before they become big ones.

The 8 Shopify Metrics We Track to Avoid Disaster and Grow Online Sales

The alerts have saved me a few times since that fateful Thanksgiving. I am forever thankful for the alert system.

I love Databox alerts. But, I really love the dashboards.

My clients and I love the powerful and beautiful reports we can access anytime, via the Databox mobile app and web dashboard.

For each client, I’ve created a high-level dashboard with 8 key metrics or Datablocks, as Databox calls them. Databox makes it easy to build dashboards by providing a set of out-of-the box widgets for Shopify store owners who also have a Google Analytics account. It also allows us to run custom queries to pull in more advanced views of the data from Google Analytics.

With the dashboard (shown below), my clients see exactly the store information they need, without wading through mountains of less-critical analytics data. It helps us spot problems quickly, and see what’s working well too.

In the past, I was the villain when sales blipped to zero. Now, I am a superhero with the Databox alert system and dashboards, as sales steadily climb.

Let’s dive into the 8 key datablocks in our dashboard and why each is important.

1. Channel Traffic Overview Report: Make sure every traffic source is up and to the right.

The Channel Overview datablock shows traffic by channel from Google Analytics data, as well as whether the traffic from each channel is up or down, in comparison to the month before. This gives us insight into the health of our traffic — the first key to any online store’s success. No traffic means no sales, and lower traffic means lower sales.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that store owners don’t usually understand what each channel source actually means, let alone how to grow traffic from all these different sources. Many store owners have Google analytics, but don’t know what to do with it and rarely even look at it. This datablock puts the right data front and center, so we can monitor how well our marketing activities are increasing traffic.

2. Organic Keyword Search Results: Know which keywords are bringing in visitors.

For e-commerce sites, organic search is critical. Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) increasingly have shown more and more ads, but users still prefer to click the pages that earned their rank on merit.

Even though Google has been encrypting most organic search traffic since 2013, Google Analytics still shows overall search traffic and a few of the most common keywords people use before visiting your site.

To get a more in-depth view of your search traffic, we use SEMRush, Moz and/or Google Search Console. But, no matter where you’re getting the data, knowing what keywords bring visitors is gold because it reveals the shopping interests of visitors and helps validate the content and keyword strategies we’ve employed for our sites and blogs.

3. Google Adwords Keywords: Find the paid ads that pull in sales.

After organic search traffic, paid search is probably the most important source of new visitors and new customers for my clients’ online stores.

This datablock allows us to view which keywords are producing clicks and how the volume of clicks compares to the previous month. In a separate dashboard, we track the conversion rate of these ads. But, this allows us to make sure we’re not being outbid on important keywords.

4. Sales Goals: Set and track progress to sales targets.

“You are 21% more likely to achieve your goals by writing them down and sharing them with a friend or colleague,” according to a study by Gail Matthews.

If that’s the case, Databox was born to help you achieve your goals. Not only does the Databox goal setting feature let you set a goal for any metric over any time period, it helps you share the goal and your progress towards it with everyone involved in helping you achieve it.

As we make changes to sites and marketing in order to improve results, we can all easily monitor how close we are to hitting targets. With always-on, any-device access to targets, we can adapt our plan to ensure we hit goals.

5. Abandoned Cart: Close more customers when it counts.

To combat abandoned-cart issues, you must understand why they are happening. There are a whole host of reasons people abandon carts that can only be alleviated by making improvements to your shopping site.

But, sometimes, it’s just distraction or comparison shopping that delays a purchase. Abandoned-cart email marketing combined with discount codes is one way we have increased the number of people who return to finish their purchase.

6. Email Campaign Reports: Get your visitors to come back to finish their purchase or to purchase again.

Email marketing is critical for driving ecommerce sales in three ways.

  1. There are a variety of ways to capture email addresses in your marketing. Once you have one, you can send educational and promotional content to them to get them back to your site.
  2. Once someone creates an account after browsing your store, you can use their email address to get them to complete a transaction.
  3. Once you get someone to purchase once, you can encourage repeat or additional purchases.

According to Shopify, “Email marketing is the key to ecommerce success.” So, it’s important to make sure your email marketing is working to drive traffic and sales. The datablock in our dashboard above shows the sessions (as recorded by Google Analytics) our different email campaigns produce.

7. Customer LifeTime Value: Increase purchases from repeat customers.

Sales is a numbers game. In ecommerce, the number you need to grow is Customer LifeTime Value (LTV). Using email marketing and paid re-marketing, you can drastically increase sales from existing customers.

We use this datablock to track sales from returning versus new customers. If sales from returning customers is growing, you can be sure your LTV is increasing.

8. Average Order Value: Increase how much each customer spends.

Another sure-fire way to grow revenue is to increase your average order value (AOV). Shopify enables a host of ways to do this including product recommendations, bundling of products into packages and launching a loyalty program.

We use the last datablock on the datawall above to track the AOV of new and returning visitors.

Stay On Top of Your Ecommerce Metrics Anywhere, All The Time

With the help of Databox, we are able to stay on top of our stores. And while I started using Databox to avoid ruining my future holidays, it’s now helping us track our performance so we can improve too.

Hopefully, this article helps you realize what you need to be tracking and doing to grow ecommerce sales too. If you think a dashboard like this could help you too, connect your Shopify account to get started.

About the author
Leon Yeh is an entrepreneur and software architect. Founder of YVerge.
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