When tracking online sales in the eCommerce world, it’s easy to get caught up in vanity metrics. These metrics are pretty, but they don’t tell you much about how your online sales are actually performing. Impressions, clicks, and all the other eCommerce KPIs look great on your Google Analytics report. However, they provide next to no depth as to how your online store is performing.
There are few better feelings than seeing 10,000 unique visitors per day on your Google Analytics dashboard. However, did they buy from you? How much did each visit cost? How much time did each customer spend on your site before forking over their cash? Sadly, many eCommerce KPIs are misleading. They provide a false sense of hope and success.
When it’s all said and done, only a few KPIs really matter when it comes to eCommerce success.
Are you ready to read about the four most important eCommerce KPIs? That’s what I thought – let’s go!
Top 4 Most Valuable eCommerce KPIs
KPI #1: Cost per Acquisition & Lifetime Value
Cost per acquisition (CPA) and lifetime value are without question the most important eCommerce KPIs. Yes, I realize that these are two separate KPIs, but I simply couldn’t decide which one was more meaningful.
So, why are these two the most important? Well, they essentially drive every marketing and selling decision you make and the associated actions you take.
Cost per Acquisition
First, let’s start with your cost per acquisition. Acquiring customers costs money. Whether you’re getting them via content marketing, lead magnets on social media, PPC advertising, on Snapchat, or every by sponsoring a podcast. Let’s be real, pretty much everything associated with your eCommerce KPIs costs money.
While PPC is a direct way of paying for traffic via clicks, you still rack up costs when creating content for social media or content marketing pieces to attract organic visits.
For example, the best blog posts for content marketing can take up to six hours for 1,000 words. This may sound absurd, but if you want to stand out today, anything less than excellent won’t cut it on the SERPs.
Data shows that 2,000-word blog posts perform better. This means that you’re looking at roughly 12+ hours of labor for a single piece of high-quality content. Furthermore, the labor associated with producing said content isn’t cheap when you’re hiring top-tier writers.
Everything requires labor, design, and development, which unfortunately factors into your cost per acquisition. If you’ve yet to catch on, your cost per acquisition is the average amount of money your eCommerce store spends to acquire a single customer.
Cost per acquisition is essential since it can dramatically impact your acquisition strategy. However, you need to consider lifetime value in order to fully understand the big picture.
Customer lifetime value is the average amount of money a single customer spends with you over their relationship with your eCommerce store.
The connection here is critical, as analyzing either of these eCommerce KPIs alone won’t make much sense.
Let’s say your CPA is $50. That’s $50 for a single customer to do business with you.
Okay…big deal. That figure is next to useless on its own.
Let’s factor in your lifetime value at $45.
Only now can you make sense of this pair of eCommerce KPIs. Based on the provided figures, your acquisition costs are too high since they surpass the amount the customer spends with you.
However, if your lifetime value were $500, then $50/customer is nothing.
When picking apart your eCommerce KPIs, you should always start from the top with cost per acquisition costs and lifetime value.
Two Different Scenarios
CPA is Higher Than Your Lifetime Value
If your CPA exceeds your lifetime value, then you’re paying too much per customer. This means that you’re not generating enough income per customer. You can go about fixing this problem in a number of ways. First, you can lower your advertising costs or find ways to produce less expensive lead magnets and content marketing. You can also focus your efforts on reducing your customer churn and upselling/cross-selling to your existing and loyal customers. Building your lifetime value will help you afford your lofty acquisition costs.
Lifetime Value is Higher Than Your CPA
Way to go – you’re doing great! Having a lifetime value higher than your CPA opens the door for tons of growth. If LTV is way higher than CPA, you are making a profit per customer and have room to spend even more on customer acquisition. LTV is often higher for eCommerce subscription businesses (e.g. online courses and digital subscriptions) since the monthly recurring revenue greatly increases LTV. With a return on ad spend (ROAS) over 3:1, you can really focus on reeling in new customers and developing sustainable growth.
KPI #2: Cart Abandonment Rate
Cart abandonment rate is the percentage of people who leave their cart after putting items into it on your eCommerce site.
This nasty little eCommerce KPI can tell you a ton about your current store and website. Cart abandonment tells you if your website is dominating or driving people away in masses. It’s one of the most annoying metrics to see on your dashboard, but it’s also one of the most telling and helpful metrics to analyze.
Per Statista data, cart abandonment averages around 88% for online retailers.
That’s high…I mean, that’s wicked high.
While not all eCommerce stores have such a high rate, the average eCommerce store does. What are the most common reasons? Almost all of them have to do with key purchasing pain points:
- Expensive ship9ping
- No free shipping
- Unaware of shipping costs
- Slow shipping
- Drawn out process
- Bad site UI
Thanks to Amazon, shipping has become a value point. No longer are people willing to wait 7-10 business days to receive their order. Again, this is all thanks to Amazon and their crazy fast two-day delivery.
Are your competitors selling similar products on Amazon with similar pricing? Do you have high cart abandonment rates?
If so, you can bet that people are abandoning your cart, looking to Amazon, finding something comparable, and ordering from Amazon due to their fast shipping.
So…how do you fix this problem?
Well, you attack it at the source:
- Showcase pain points during the cart process
- Improve speed
First, you need to tackle pain points during the checkout process. The major pain points revolve around shipping:
- TIme to ship
- Estimated delivery dates
Amazon wins the shipping game not just because of their speed, but also because they’re so clear about shipping expectations before you place an order.
Amazon customers know exactly when to expect their order instead of seeing “7-10 business days after order processing.” This means next to nothing to most consumers. How are consumers supposed to know what your order processing looks like? Is that one day? Week? Month?
These all cause frustration and lead to high cart abandonment rates. ON your checkout page, make sure shipping is crystal clear, just like Amazon.
Another key reason for high cart abandonment rates is poor user experience. How fast is your site? Is it easy to navigate? Chose a top-tier web host with uptime history monitoring that won’t impact your site speed. Google data shows that most websites are way too slow. Slow site speed typically results in high bounce and cart abandonment rates.
Are your customers waiting seconds between each step of the checkout process due to site speed? If so, you might as well kiss them goodbye.
You can tackle a slow site with any one of a number of available plugins.
Simplify the checkout process, improve your site speed, and address shipping pain points right in the checkout process with detailed information. Doing so will result in a far lower cart abandonment rate and improved sales.
KPI #3: Branded Online Search Impressions
Alright, you’re likely thinking – didn’t he just say that vanity metrics are useless?
Yup – I sure did!
However, online search impressions aren’t a vanity metric when you are concerned with brand awareness. For most eCommerce stores during the growth phase, this is a vanity metric. However, once you have a steady stream of organic sales, it’s a crucial eCommerce KPI.
Here’s why. Most new eCommerce stores make the mistake of focusing on branded online search impressions too early. This leads to a distorted view of what KPIs really matter. You should only monitor your branded online search impressions once you have a steady flow of organic sales.
When it comes to your eCommerce marketing strategies, you need to view it as a funnel just like any business:
Your eCommerce KPIs can change in the blink of an eye depending on where you are in the sales funnel.
Branded Online Search Impressions and Business Growth
In terms of developing a growth strategy with key metrics, you need to start at the top. You need to list metrics that you can track years in advance and ones that also matter more in the short term, such as brand awareness.
Branded online search impressions is an eCommerce KPI that tells you how many people are organically searching for you brand via different channels.
An easy way to track online branded search impressions is with a keyword tool, whether that be directly through Google Ads, or through a third-party tool such as WOrdStream, Moz, SEMRush, or Ahrefs.
If you wanted to track the branded online search impressions for me – Andrew Roche – I would plug variations of “Andrew Roche” into the keyword tool to see how many monthly search impressions it yielded.
You can then track impressions over time, as they hopefully increase month-over-month and year-over-year.
Organic branded search impressions tell you how well your marketing efforts are paying off for building brand awareness, even in your local markets.
If more people are starting to search for your store via branded searches, you are definitely doing something right.
Another awesome way to manage online impression building is through customer reviews. This can help you learn about customer complaints, trends of how your reviews look, and where you have room for improvement.
Furthermore, it’s far easier to sell to brand-aware searchers than people who have never heard of you before.
KPI #4: Average Order Value
The average order value, or AOV, is an eCommerce KPI that shows you how much an average order runs on your website.
This is the average figure for all the orders made through your website during a specified period of time. This number tells you how many people genuinely want to buy from you and in what quantity.
In simple terms, AOV is total revenue divided by the number of orders you have.
AOV can tell you a lot about your current sales strategy.
It’s one thing to have 1,000 new orders for $5 each compared to 500 orders worth $100 each. The revenue difference is huge. Most people get caught up in the number of orders. However, more often than not, the fastest way to increase total revenue isn’t to acquire more customers.
You pay to acquire more customers, and they aren’t going to be your biggest spenders.
Repeat customers often provide the most value to your business. In this case, you don’t need more orders, you need to increase the average value of each order. As an eCommerce owner or digital marketing professional, you should aim to maximize the AOV before your total order volume.
The other interesting aspect of AOV is that knowing this number will help you define the threshold for free shipping. You can even use this tactic to increase average order values over time.
Focus on eCommerce KPIs that Matter
ECommerce KPIs are almost infinite. However, I’ve come to find that CPA, AOV, branded search impressions, CLTV, and cart abandonment are among the more important ones that you need to take into consideration.
If your reporting focuses on vanity metrics like clicks and impressions, it’s time to shift your perspective. While these fluff metrics are great for measuring brand awareness, they’re less than ideal for measuring direct revenue gains. Getting too caught up in these pretty metrics will have you draining your budget faster than you can ever imagine.
Focus your eCommerce data strategy on the KPIs we covered in this post and you will be a better leader in your space and set yourself up for future success.