When you have an online store, the analysis of the statistics is essential to building a sustained strategy and driving the business forward. There are two ways you can see the numbers of an online store: your ecommerce platform and traffic monitoring services like Google Analytics. So far, so good. But if you compare the two sets of figures you will see that the data is not the same and that services like Analytics generally give lower figures that the ones from your server. How come? That’s what we’re going to explain in this post.
The main reason is that monitoring services like Analytics have a stricter definition of a visitor, since they have to do everything possible not to record the same visitor twice and to count only human clicks.
You also have to think that traffic monitoring services are external, so they are not on the same infrastructure as your platform. That allows room for the occasional failure of data communication between external services and a given platform, leading them to have different data sets.
With those two basic reasons for the difference between the two sets of figures out of the way, it’s time to look at other factors that might lead to discrepancies. Read on.
Ad blockers and crawler bots
The first thing is those well-known extensions, AdBlock Plus, NoScript, Ghostery, etc. that block monitoring services. Some Internet users, especially hardened desktoppers, don’t accept massive online advertising. That means a significant number of people use ad blockers and you lose a part of the visitors that you might have been able to reach.
Apart from blocking ads, some people also use other ways to make sure that websites they visit and use can’t track them or their online activity. This is done with a header field (DNT) that a user can activate in their browser. It is available in the most popular, up to date browsers but has to be activated manually.
Finally, something else that means we might not have the correct figures on our monitoring server are cookies, or rather, not having cookies. Cookies are important because they are used to label a visitor and aggregate their behaviour over the course of multiple visits. For trackers to track a visitor, they have to accept a cookie. If they do accept a cookie and don’t block or delete them, the tally of visitors will stay relatively low. If not and a person is constantly deleting cookies, they will be counted as a “unique” visitor on each subsequent visit, despite being the same person.
Bots and non-human activity
A very notable difference between tracking services and your own platform is that trackers may filter out non-human traffic like crawlers and bots in different ways to your own system.
Crawlers and bots are devices sent by search engines to search for and document all pages on the Internet, that means that platforms like LogiCommerce might record more visits relative to trackers. Search engines also crawl sites in function of their popularity, so that the more popular your website is and the bigger your catalogue (SKUs), the more often the site will be visited by search engine bots.
Something that affects data collection is the tracking code of your external service, such as Google Analytics. The things we are going to mention now are human error that can be corrected to produce more realistic figures.
The first mistake that can be made is in adding the tracking code, such as not adding the tracking code to each page of a website. In that case, a user’s activity on pages without the code will not be in Analytics’ data.
Another common mistake is the positioning of the Google Analytics tracking code. Website owners worry about the speed of loading of the pages of their sites – and they should be, given the importance it has under Google’s SEO ranking algorithm. As a result, many SEO teams put the tracking code just above </body> so that the parts of the site a user sees can load before the code is run. However, when you put the tracking code after <body>, you will lose visitors who click fast through the pages of your website before the Google Analytics tracking code runs. This is an error to avoid, since the Google Analytics tracking code loads asynchronously and so doesn’t make a page load more slowly.
Finally, you shouldn’t put more than one Google Analytics tracking code on any page. Having two GA tracking codes on one page makes for disordered GA data.
Now you know what causes discrepancies between traffic monitoring services and ecommerce platforms and how to make sure the tracker collects the most accurate data possible. However, the ecommerce platform LogiCommerce will give you completely reliable data, since it counts the data from the most trustworthy source and uses a powerful blocker for unwanted traffic.