e-commerce measurement
September 22, 2022

e-Commerce Measurement: Are Your Numbers Up?

By Paul Laughlin

In my experience, e-Commerce Measurement is one of those topics where many data leaders assume others are doing it better than them. Everyone likes to talk a good game & highlight their favourite vanity metric (followers, likes etc). Yet, when you get into practical conversations with the leaders or their teams, there is as much confusion & doubt as there is clarity of commercial impact.

If we add to that equation the reality of so many small businesses & organisations who do not understand what they need to do & you can see the need for help. To date, I have seen many books on how to use different software or focused on marketing measurement for large organisations. There is a shortage of those grounded in simple practical steps that can be taken by any organisation now.

So, I was delighted to receive a new book from one of our guest bloggers. Ben Salmon, co-founder of the marketing agency We are Crank. Together with colleagues Peter Abraham, Tim Shaw & Jessica Hopkins, they have created a book to address this need. It is called “Your Numbers Up!” and I heartily recommend it for all those who want to get their head around digital measurement & take action.

What this book covers

First let me provide an overview of what to expect in this book. First, it feels like value for money. At 261 glossy pages, this book is larger than your regular softback A5 size & offers some encouraging weight. A quick flick will also highlight that there is good use made of visuals & large font messages to enable you to quickly get an overview. But there is also depth, real detail about the practical steps needed for different organisations at different stages.

The book is organised into a game of two halves. Part one provides an overview of the theory. Part two delivers advice on putting that into practice. These parts are supported by appendices which answer FAQs, offer more case studies & provide more detail on metrics. The latter part and most of this book is focussed on the use of Google Analytics. There is also an introduction by Avinash Kaushik of Google, which is not surprising since this is also a great book for helping you get the most out of that tool.

Within each part there are also plenty of use of examples, summary messages to remember, tables & primary colours. This helps with embedding the primary messages to be learnt. However, there is so much detail in this book it is much more of a reference guide that you will keep with you as you work rather than one you’ll read & remember. So, let’s get into a bit more detail…

What they say about e-Commerce Measurement theory

Part one starts with a helpful focus on what the authors call e-commerce measurement maturity. This enables readers to identify where they are on a four stage model:

  1. Traffic visibility (where only ready to track visitor volumes & page views)
  2. Transaction visibility (where focus moves to revenue & sales)
  3. Shopping visibility (with drilling into shopper behaviour online)
  4. Engagement visibility(most mature stage that includes non-transactional user behaviour)

Task lists are provided for organisations at each stage, as well as advice for different parts of the commercial value chain. This includes implications (both metrics needed & action to be taken) for customer, brand, business & evaluation teams. In fact the next chapter builds on this with detailed advice for setting the metrics that your business needs, with clear owners for actions.

This part of the book, focused on best practice theory, ends with a chapter on turning analysis into interpretation and action. I am fully in support of the aspiration & principles of this section. One of their quotes should be up on the walls of many an analytics team: “Analysis without action is a waste of time“. However, I disagree with their recommended resource allocation of interpretation of the analysis. The authors recommend moving this responsibility to business teams who are closer to the action to be identified/owned. Instead, I recommend improving the commercialism of analysts or business partners in analytics teams to achieve this translation into implications & actions needed.

What you can learn about taking action on those metrics

The rest of this book focuses, as promised, on translating the measurement of metrics into practical actions. The first chapter in this section covers the setting of relevant benchmarks. As well as explaining the need to understand trends, the authors explain why you need separate benchmarks. They provide practical examples of differential benchmarks for devices, channels & markets. To help analysts consider all those dimensions of different consumer behaviour.

Then the penultimate chapter addresses the main point of all the work previously, that is action. Through walkthroughs of three typical business scenarios (for the first 3 levels of maturity) they bring it all together. In scenario one we read how analysis of the right metrics reveal that improved content is needed to have more impact and where to focus. In scenario two the problem of how to generate more mobile sales is tackled. For scenario three it is the problem of improving digital profitability. For each scenario, we walk through observations, diagnosis & where action should be taken.

The final chapter of this immensely practical book zeros in on digital marketing. Specifically the art of measuring digital campaigns. The role of the UTM code is explained as well as best practices for measuring social media. Popular issues, like email campaign responses being missed in marketing impact attribution, are tackled. They also provide even more practical actions for improving digital marketing measurement across all media. Well done to all four authors for this very helpful book.

Is it time for you to get practical about your digital gaps?

I began this post by sharing my concern that more leaders talk a good game than actually know how to measure their diverse digital media. What about you? With so much investment going into Digital Transformation in today’s organisations, are you managing to keep up with the actions you need to take. If you are a smaller business or public sector organisation, the chance is that is a challenge. If so, I highly recommend this book to get you started & to act as a reference for the steps you need to take.

Meanwhile, let me also ask my other readers, have I missed a text that has helped you? In the past, Martin Squires recommended “Web Analytics an hour a day“. I’d also still recommend “Marketing Payback” as a foundation text for understanding marketing measurement. But more is still needed, as “Your Numbers Up!” has demonstrated well. What other books or resources have helped you improve your e-commerce measurement for your organisation?