An Easy Guide to Enhanced Ecommerce Analytics with Google Tag Manager

Ah, analytics.

Beacons of light in the dark. Signals among the noise!

From online stores to startups, we all need them.

And we all say we've got them covered:

"Of course we're tracking metrics & KPIs!"

But are we, really?

See, the bittersweet beauty of analytics is that you can always dive deeper.

But the further you go, the more complex it gets. To not lose your way, you'll need the right tools.

In this post, we're going to explore two such tools. More specifically, we'll see how to leverage Google Analytics' Enhanced Ecommerce via Google Tag Manager (GTM).

This wouldn't have been possible without the help from our friend Nicolas at Deux Huit Huit—the agency responsible for one of the cleanest Snipcart customizations ever. He was kind enough to send over code snippets and details on how his team uses Snipcart + GTM + Google Analytics (GA) Enhanced Ecommerce to provide better analytics for their clients.

This short Google Tag Manager guide aims at extending Snipcart's analytics capabilities. But the integration logic you'll see here can easily be applied to any other application.

And hopefully, the resources we'll share will also help.

What's Google Tag Manager again?

intro-google-tag-manager-guide

Launched in 2012, Google Tag Manager is a free product catering to digital marketers' analytics needs. It allows webmasters to centralize tag management—often JavaScript tracking snippets—within a single interface. Of course, GTM plays well with other Google products, such as Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce, which we'll discuss in this post. It also supports 3rd-party vendor tags and custom tags.

The first important thing GTM does is to consolidate all of your tracking tags. PPC/display/social campaigns, re-targeting efforts, on-site behavior & events... they all end up in one Google Tag Manager container. Selective triggers and performance optimization are built-in to make sure firing all these tags won't mess with your site's UX.

The second, crucial thing GTM does is to allow non-technical, marketing-oriented folks to add, remove or modify tracking tags in an easy-to-use interface. And that's key. It extracts tracking analytics from the website's code, making it possible for marketing people to handle their business without messing with developers'. It's a smart separation we can appreciate, being fans of decoupling stuff at Snipcart.

Want to learn more about how Google Tag Manager works? Start here or here. And for all things GTM & digital analytics, we recommend Simo Ahava's blog. Kickass content.

And how does Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce fit in with GTM?

google-analytics-enhanced-ecommerce-example

The benefits we just listed are why an agency like Deux Huit Huit uses GTM as a messaging layer for all analytics-related systems. And since they chose Snipcart for many e-commerce projects, they decided to integrate it into GTM using our JavaScript API. In Nicolas' own words:

It's pretty easy to create a reusable mapping with Snipcart, using the JavaScript framework of your choice, or even with plain JS.

See, Snipcart, like many e-commerce solutions, offers an out-of-the-box integration with GA Ecommerce Tracking. But for developers & digital agencies, the metrics available through this simple module can be too high-level. That's where GA's Enhanced Ecommerce plugin comes into play.

Simply put, Google Analytics' Enhanced Ecommerce enables more granular tracking of the shopping experience. It allows merchants to fine-tune their e-commerce operation with more relevant, event-driven data.

So, in this case, it's what's used to pass data from GTM to Google Analytics.

Integrated with Snipcart, this could allow us to answer questions like:

  • When and where are items most added to cart during a visit?
  • Which pages generate the most completed cart checkouts?
  • What's the checkout step with the highest rate of cart drop off?
  • Which products are bought more often? Which are dropped more often?
  • Which of my domains is performing better?

You can then use these insights to experiment with discount scenarios, shipping fees, email promotions, site architecture, on-site messaging, etc.

Now, let's see how to set up this whole thing!

Google Tag Manager tutorial for Snipcart & Enhanced Ecommerce

google-tag-manager-tutorial-enhanced-ecommerce

1. Setting up appropriate events on your site

The boilerplate we're going to be using is fully available on GitHub.

The first thing we'll need to do here is to hook into Snipcart's events. To help you do so, here's basic boilerplate code:

//Making sure Snipcart is ready
document.addEventListener('snipcart.ready', function() {

    //Subscribing to different events
    Snipcart.subscribe('item.added', function(item) {
        itemAdded(item);
    });

    Snipcart.subscribe('item.removed', function(item) {
        itemRemoved(item);
    });

    Snipcart.subscribe('order.completed', function(order) {
        orderCompleted(order);
    });

    Snipcart.subscribe('cart.opened', function() {
        cartOpened();
    });

    Snipcart.subscribe('cart.closed', function() {
        cartClosed();
    });

    Snipcart.subscribe('page.change', function(page) {
        pageChanged(page);
    });
});

The only things missing in this boilerplate are the event handlers that will communicate with GTM. It will look something like this:

function itemAdded(item){
    dataLayer.push({
        event: 'snipcartEvent',
        eventCategory: 'Cart Update',
        eventAction: 'New Item Added To Cart',
        eventLabel: item.name,
        eventValue: item.price,
        ecommerce: {
            currencyCode: 'CAD',
            add: {
                products: createProductsFromItems([item])
            }
        }
    });
}

function itemRemoved(item){
    dataLayer.push({
        event: 'snipcartEvent',
        eventCategory: 'Cart Update',
        eventAction: 'Item Removed From Cart',
        eventLabel: item.name,
        eventValue: item.price,
        ecommerce: {
            currencyCode: 'CAD',
            remove: {
                products: createProductsFromItems([item])
            }
        }
    });
}

function orderCompleted(order){
    dataLayer.push({
        event: 'snipcartEvent',
        eventCategory: 'Order Update',
        eventAction: 'New Order Completed',
        ecommerce: {
            currencyCode: order.currency,
            purchase: {
                actionField: {
                    id: order.token,
                    affiliation: 'Website',
                    revenue: order.total,
                    tax: order.taxesTotal,
                    shipping: order.shippingInformation.fees,
                    invoiceNumber: order.invoiceNumber
                },
                products: createProductsFromItems(order.items),
                userId: order.user.id
            }
        }
    });
}

function cartOpened(){
    dataLayer.push({
        event: 'snipcartEvent',
        eventCategory: 'Cart Action',
        eventAction: 'Cart Opened',
        ecommerce: {
            cartopen: {
                products: createProductsFromItems(Snipcart.api.items.all())
            }
        }
    });
}

function cartClosed(){
    dataLayer.push({
        event: 'snipcartEvent',
        eventCategory: 'Cart Action',
        eventAction: 'Cart Closed',
        ecommerce: {
            cartclose: {
                products: createProductsFromItems(Snipcart.api.items.all())
            }
        }
    });
}

function pageChanged(page){
    dataLayer.push({
        event: 'snipcartEvent',
        eventCategory: 'Page Change',
        eventAction: page,
        ecommerce: {
            checkout: {
                products: createProductsFromItems(Snipcart.api.items.all())
            }
        }
    });
}

2. Implementing Enhanced Ecommerce with the Google Tag Manager Data Layer (dataLayer.push())

Now that we are listening to Snipcart's events and that we've got listeners set up, the only thing left to do is to implement the handlers that will communicate with GTM.

2.1 Adding a function transforming Snipcart's object into GA product data

Product data is the Enhanced Ecommerce schema provided by Google Analytics in our case. So if we want to send events to GA, we'll have to use this format. Luckily, it's just a matter of selecting a few Snipcart item properties:

function createProductsFromItems (items) {
    return items.map(function (item) {
        return {
            name: item.name,
            description: item.description,
            id: item.id,
            price: item.price,
            quantity: item.quantity
        };
    });
}

2.2 Creating the trigger and the tag in GTM

For our integration to work, we'll need to create a Custom Event trigger for all events named 'snipcartEvent'.

google-tag-manager-custom-event-trigger

Create variables for each values in the objects we push and link the trigger up to the tag:

google-tag-manager-enhanced-ecommerce-event-tracking

Now we can sit back and watch the metrics roll in directly in Google Analytics!

Conclusion & Enhanced Ecommerce notes

With GTM & Enhanced Ecommerce, extracting deeper shopping experience analytics from Snipcart and pushing them into Google Analytics is relatively easy. Same thing goes for any other e-commerce solution that offers a decent API.

Three things to note about Enhanced Ecommerce that weren't discussed in the guide:

  1. Make sure "page changes" are counted only once
  2. The "product impressions" would need to be tracked on your side, since Snipcart doesn't generate on-site product pages, only product HTML markup.
  3. You shouldn't be using the traditional GA Ecommerce Tracking (ecommerce.js) with Enhanced Ecommerce (details).

For Snipcart users, coupling the method in this post with the e-commerce insights in your merchant dashboard will give you a detailed portrait of your online store's performance. And as our product keeps evolving, we'll add more relevant, out of the box behavioral analytics too.

Again, we'd like to thank Nicolas from Deux Huit Huit for his big input on this post. This short Enhanced Ecommerce + Google Tag Manager guide wouldn't have been valuable without it.

We hope this helps you step your shopping analytics game up, be it with Snipcart or any other e-commerce application!


*If you found this post interesting, please take a second to share it on Twitter. Got any questions regarding Snipcart, GTM, or Enhanced Ecommerce? Hit the comments!*emphasized text

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