Disclaimer – We have just released a new reporting plugin called Grow with WooCommerce and will explain some of the logic of why we built it and what the other WooCommerce reporting plugins provide (and how they are different)
Reporting tells you which way the wind blows. It’s important to get regular forecasts so you can keep track on how business is progressing.
Don’t drown in data. There is no point in collecting and organising tranches of data if you cannot feed this back into your operation. Our focus should always be to get intelligent and actionable data.
That’s why I suggest the place to start when building a report is a spreadsheet. Google Docs or Excel are fine. Add your key metrics and see how they calculate together to produce your revenue. If you’re not too sure which key metrics to use, then head over to our Grow getting started guide which outlines this.
Spreadsheets can be limited though. Mainly because they need to be updated regularly and that is a very manual process because you need to export and re-format the data from multiple data sources (usually WooCommerce backend and your analytics package). For this we need to use a reporting package.
WooCommerce has a built in Reports module (head to WooCommerce > Reports) and it offers great insight into the sales of your site. However for a more complete understanding of your store you also need to have the traffic data. You need to know how many potential customers you are attracting to your site and how many are converting into customers.
Which analytics service to use
Analytics tracks how visitors use your site. We use and recommend Google Analytics which is free and easy to setup. There are three plugins you can use to integrate Google Analytics (GA – for short) into WooCommerce:
- Official Google Analytics Integration plugin by WooThemes
- Enhanced GA plugin by Tatvic
- Google Analytics Premium by Yoast
The Tatvic and Yoast plugins track a bit more, but we suggest starting simple and building your way up. The official plugin is fit for purpose and gives you plenty of data to work with. Let’s pick the low hanging fruit first.
We suggest looking at this fantastic guide to setting up GA and WooCommerce for a more technical breakdown.
There are also other analytics services such as Kiss Metrics, Mixpanel and Metrilo who have more emphasis on customer intelligence and automated email campaigns. They are definitely worth a look at and all have WooCommerce integrations. They are paid but offer some free trials.
Reporting Plugins List
So now we need to use a reporting plugin to use the visitor data and the order data together. There are a LOT of plugins and services available. We’ve even just built our own solution called Grow. What solution you need will depend on what data you need to see and how you interpret it.
Reports are only as good as the decisions that they inform.
We suggest you choose a reporting plugin with that in mind. What actionable insights can it offer you? Often a reporting plugin shows you tables and tables of figures. Then it’s up to you to interpret. If you intimately understand how the numbers interlink and work together then these tools are for you.
I find they can distract you. It’s important to see the wood for the trees and by looking at the raw data you can get lost in the trees.
That’s why I suggest getting the spreadsheet out and manipulate the data to get actionable data. When we do this for clients we compare the data in three ways:
Month on Month Differences
– This provides us a good insight into our monthly growth
Year on Year Differences
– Month on Month can be deceptive as there may be seasonal influences to consider. Year on Year helps us to compare against seasonal influences.
– These targets be set by you with an understanding of the seasonal influences as well as incorporating your growth objectives.
Out of these three the target differences is the most important. Targets can be updated regularly and should be an amalgam of your insights into the market, seasonal influences and your month on month growth.
If you look at this across all your metrics (sessions, conversion rate, average order value, orders and revenue) then you can immediately see where you are performing and under performing. This can give you the actionable data.
For instance if we spot that sessions are below target then we can focus on growing traffic and investigating why this is not on target. Likewise if conversion rate is over target, then you can investigate as to why this is. The data won’t give you the golden answers, but it gives you insight into where to look and what to expect.
The problem with most reporting plugins is that these comparisons are not considered. They are left for you to determine on pad and paper. It’s one of the reasons we have created our plugin. You can log in and see straight away if you are on target or off target and by how much.
Reporting Plugins and Integrations
With our plugin we have focused on top line metrics. We consider this to be the foundations upon which an online business is built.
There are other plugins that explore more granular information such as which products are most viewed and purchased, which coupons are most successful, your sales funnel, top customers and such like. We suggest to look at these items once you have the key metrics understood and monitored.
There is no use in calculating your bounce rate if you haven’t yet built up your traffic.
WooCommerce Marketing 360
WooCommerce Putler Connector
Woocommerce Advanced Reports
Magneticone Ecommerce Dashboard
Infosoft WooCommerce Report plugin
What do you use and what do you like about it? If you have any feedback please let me know in the comments.