As a website / store builder, you know that tracking actionable customer interactions is key to increasing conversions. HubSpot is an industry leading suite of customer relationship tools designed to help merchants stay connected with customers during every part of the customer lifecycle. It’s no wonder then, that pairing the customer relationship superpowers of HubSpot with the technological and publishing superpowers of WordPress creates a powerful solution for staying in touch with, and marketing to future and current customers.
Let’s take a look at a few integrations between HubSpot and WooCommerce and see how they can improve your client’s online store.
So What’s HubSpot Anyway?
Think of HubSpot as a customer relationship swiss army knife that helps with marketing, sales, and service. Whether you’re tracking relationships with customers, creating landing pages, communicating with site visitors, or keeping tabs on customer service inquiries, HubSpot’s suite of tools can help.
Integrating with HubSpot
What’s even better than free expertly crafted tools? Tools that are easy to integrate. Here are two ways to integrate HubSpot directly into your client’s WordPress site.
1) The HubSpot WordPress Plugin
HubSpot’s WordPress integration is pretty awesome, and they’ve made it easy to get started. In-fact, the onboarding process is so good, all you have to do is download the plugin and follow the welcome wizard.
When you’re done you can select which tools you want to incorporate on the site.
2) Zapier Integration
The more information you have about your customer the better. When you connect WooCommerce to HubSpot via a Zapier integration, you’ll be able to add new customers to deals, add prospects to workflows based on their product interests, and more.
As data streams into HubSpot, you’ll be able to make manual and automated decisions on how to follow up with customers to close more sales.
The Zapier integration helps you get more data about your customers from WooCommerce into HubSpot so you can act on that data. But this integration doesn’t help you pull HubSpot features onto your site.
Incorporating HubSpot’s Free Tools
Once you have your website connected to HubSpot it’s time to pull in some of their great features.
Robust Form Builder
Building and integrating a form to generate leads should only take a few minutes with HubSpot. First, create a form in HubSpot using their drag & drop form builder. Then, embed the form on any page in your client’s WordPress site with a simple shortcode or Gutenberg block.
A great way to add additional value to a store is to give customers an easy way to communicate back and forth with the store owner. In fact, some studies indicate that conversion rate increases with the use of live chat. Hubspot’s Live Chat feature is a perfect way to quickly and easily integrate and test this valuable feature on your client’s website.
In your HubSpot account enable live chat, choose a theme, and away you go. The best part is that the chat functionality integrates directly with your client’s HubSpot account to keep track of visitor interactions as they move through the funnel and become customers.
In terms of extra setup there is none. The HubSpot for WordPress plugin takes care of the entire implementation for you.
Managing HubSpot Contacts
Finally, it’s nice to know that you can manage HubSpot contacts right within the WordPress dashboard. Keep track of online and offline interactions with contacts by using this simple yet powerful dashboard right inside the WordPress admin.
Hubspot is a well respected & incredibly powerful tool for any store or website owner. Their tools help store owners maintain great relationships with their customers to keep them coming back again and again.
In my previous two posts here on Liquid Web, I talked about technical SEO and keyword research for eCommerce companies. Both of these form the base of a great SEO strategy. Without a crawlable website or pages on your site targeting keywords with search volume that are relevant to your business, you will never rank.
But once you have that in place, or are working towards it with a combination of your SEO company and internal resources, then you need to take your organic traffic to the next level.
To take your organic traffic to the next level, you need to build links. Links are the currency of SEO, and without them, you will not rank well for the terms that can drive that sweet “free” organic traffic to your website.
So how do you think about this, and even more importantly, how do you do it?
Let’s dig in.
All Links Are Not Created Equal
If you’ve been building businesses online for a while, you’ve probably heard about SEO and probably heard about link building.
Your reaction may range from “I heard we weren’t supposed to do that” to “Where can I buy some of these?” There’s so much misunderstanding out there around link building that either of these reactions and any in the middle, are entirely understandable.
In SEO we always walk a tightrope when it comes to link building. If you are too aggressive with building new links back to your website (especially with commercial anchor text), then you can land in trouble with the search engines either through a manual penalty or an algorithm shift that renders those links at best ineffective and at worst with them negatively affecting your site.
On the other side, if you don’t have links pointing to your site you will almost certainly not rank for your target commercial keywords. There are different ways to get organic traffic, such as with editorial content meant to target those more informational searches, but that traffic has less conversion intent and thus will not directly turn into revenue as easily as traffic to your category or product pages.
Now that we’ve established that you need links, let’s talk about the links that will help you rank and are safe from negatively affecting your site in the future.
These links are:
Naturally given (eg not purchased or required by you for a service);
From relevant websites (such as partners and news sites);
Meant for users to click and come to your site, not just for search engines.
Links are meaningful to SEO because they are hard to acquire. The more authoritative the linking website is, and thus the more significant it is for SEO, the harder it will be to obtain.
There are many ways to acquire links back to your eCommerce website, but keep all of the above in mind as you build and execute on your link building (or as I prefer to refer to it, link acquisition) plan.
Hostdedi’ Managed WooCommerce Hosting helps optimize SEO with keyword indexing, so you can focus on building links to authoritative sources.
How Many Links Do I Need?
I get asked two questions quite frequently about link building:
How many links do I need to rank?
Where are my competitors getting their links?
Luckily both of these questions are answered by looking at the other ranking sites for the search terms you are targeting.
Let’s use the search term [iphone skins 7 plus], which according to Keywords Everywhere (a free Chrome extension) has 5,400 searches per month:
I like to use Moz’s Mozbar, which is another Chrome extension you can use to get information from their link index of the web about the specific pages that are ranking.
In this example, you can see the metrics for the top 4 sites below:
The ranking pages are category pages, not individual product pages or homepages;
Most have a domain authority above 50 (except for #4);
All four have at least a few, if not more, linking root domains and links pointing to the ranking page.
No rubric exists to know the tradeoff between Domain Authority and the number of links needed to rank, but from just the above we can understand that to rank for this term you will need:
A Domain Authority of at least 28, and likely much higher;
At least a few hundred if not a few thousand linking root domains pointing to your site overall;
A page dedicated to this term with perfect on-page SEO elements;
At minimum 2, but likely more than 15 linking root domains pointing to the page you want to rank for this term.
If you don’t have an authoritative site, then ranking for this term is a long-term goal that requires a long-term view of link acquisition.
How Are My Competitors Ranking?
The next question I get asked is “What is (competitor) doing to rank?”
To show you how you can find this data, let’s use the second example which is Dbrand. I have zero affiliation with this site and no connection to the industry at all, so it’s a great candidate for dissecting their link acquisition strategy.
To do this, I am going to use Moz’s Link Explorer as it is a standard tool used by SMBs and other companies to do link analysis. Other tools out there do a great job as well, such as SEMrush and Ahrefs, so if you have a subscription to one of those tools, then you should take the process outlined here and apply it to the tool of your choice.
We’re going to do two things:
Look at the specific ranking page to see how they are acquiring links;
Look at the domain overall to see if we can determine how they are acquiring links as a business.
To find the page’s specific links, input the full URL into Link Explorer and hit Enter, then navigate to the Inbound Links section in the left sidebar:
When we scroll down, we see these links:
According to this, they have acquired followed links (links that will help you rank) from a few authoritative sites and lists of gifts ideas. Technology sites have listed them as great gifts to buy, which are resulting in direct followed links back to their page. This is a big win!
Dbrand has also mostly stayed away from sites that have a high spam score. They’re doing it well and being rewarded with high rankings (though have some other opportunities they could leverage to improve to #1).
Overall Site Link Acquisition
After looking at the individual page, it is helpful to understand how the site became so authoritative in the first place. How did they get 3,500+ individual sites to link to them?
We go back to Link Explorer and look at their linking domains:
There’s nothing crazy here, and they have a lot of authoritative sites linking to them, though we know that links from specific sites like Youtube and Wikipedia are nofollowed (and officially don’t count towards rankings directly as a result).
They’re acquiring links at scale through:
Being listed in “cool gadget roundups,” which I must assume is either being produced by them, or Dbrand is doing outreach to be listed;
Reviews on gadget sites;
When new phones launch, having skins ready to go to ride the wave of the press;
Doing press effectively around new product launches.
If we review their link acquisition over the last few months, they are still acquiring links more quickly than they are losing them:
They’ve ridden the wave of a few big pieces of content (Galaxy 8 launch, Nintendo Switch controversy) and supplement that with more manual link building. Overall, they’re doing an excellent job.
Turn your research into actionable items. The next step is to create your link acquisition strategy based off of what you know works for your competitors as well as what they are not doing.
A caveat. Sometimes you will come across competitors doing things that are outside of search engine guidelines. At this point, you need to decide how much risk you are willing to take on. While doing things outside of search engine guidelines is not illegal, they do have their terms of service that they can use to remove or severely diminish the traffic coming to your site through their platform. If you have a company building links for you, then you should know what they are doing and what the risks are.
Founded 20 years ago, Hostdedi managed platforms have always provided agencies with the ability to deliver the site experiences their clients expect. Built on the four pillars of speed, security, scalability, and service, our solutions are designed to help your website realize its potential. Visit Hostdedi.net today and see how we can help.
WooCommerce 4.0 was recently released, and brings with it some huge improvements to the way store owners can keep track of their sales and manage their stores. We’ll give you the lowdown on these changes, and how they will improve the experience for you and your clients.
The WooCommerce 4.0 Back Story
In April 2019, the WooCommerce team released WooCommerce Admin. The plugin was originally developed as a feature plugin which allows users to test new functionality as it’s in development. The WooCommerce Admin feature plugin has over 1+ million active installs, so it provided engineers the opportunity to troubleshoot and test features, accept feedback, and iterate in order to create a solid release. After lots of testing with real stores WooCommerce admin has been merged into WooCommerce itself.
Why We Need These Changes
The old reporting interface in WooCommerce was very basic. This made it hard for store owners to understand where their customers were coming from, what products they were buying, and what they could do to get more sales.
On some large sites users experienced less-than-stellar performance processing orders and other analytics data. The new WooCommerce Admin experience is built on code in WordPress 5.3 to improve reporting within WooCommerce, and make it more efficient.
The New WooCommerce Analytics
The new WooCommerce Analytics includes advanced filters so that you can filter by order status or by products in the analytics results.
Advanced filtering which lets you filter all sorts of data as well as compare a range to previous ranges. So it’s very easy to see how you did Spring of 2020 against Spring 2019 or whatever date you want to look into.
Products reports you can compare products and then compare their sales on the site. This feature used to only be available through a plugin, but now store owners have more data at their fingertips. By having the option to compare products and sales, owners can make actionable marketing decisions to increase revenue.
Action Scheduler Improvements
The action scheduler is a background task runner which WooCommerce uses to execute background processes and database updates. WooCommerce 4.0 includes a new action scheduler with custom database tables for storage instead of using posts and comments. This new storage method greatly improves the performance making it faster & more reliable.
Fun fact: the scheduler is also used by plugins like WooCommerce Subscriptions, so this will not only improve WooCommerce but a few extensions as well.
For the technical reader the Action Scheduler uses the following custom database tables:
Before updating, remember that this is a major release, and not everything in the release is backwards compatible. We recommend taking the following actions when upgrading to WooCommerce 4.0.
Take a look at all currently active plugins that interact with WooCommerce. Make sure that all plugins have been tested with WooCommerce 4.0 and marked as compatible. The plugins that might have issues will be shown in the plugin list page on the site.
Create a staging environment, upgrade WooCommerce 4.0 and all plugins, and test purchase flows and backend management tools. It’s always a good idea to thoroughly test major updates.
If you already have the WooCommerce Admin feature plugin: uninstall it via WP-CLI or through your admin.
From the admin of your site you’ll see a prompt to update (above). You can start the process by clicking “Update WooCommerce Database”.
If you have a large number of customers and orders, the historical data import for the WooCommerce Admin might take some time.
You do not have to keep the setting page visible as the process will keep running in the background.
Note: To speed things up, select a shorter time frame to import (between 30 – 90 days).
If you have a larger site in terms of the database then the other option you can consider is using WP-CLI to update the site. Here’s the WP-CLI command:
wp wc update
Using the WP-CLI command to update the WooCommerce database will be a much faster way to update the database to the current version.
Either way – once you’re done you can browse your data in the new admin reports. 📊
New WooCommerce Database tables
For the technically minded you’ll notice that WooCommerce 4.0 adds a few new tables to support the new admin functionality:
Disabling WooCommerce Admin
For many store owners this WooCommerce admin will be incredibly helpful. However, if you already use an external solution for reporting such as Glew.io then you may want to disable the WooCommerce Admin which will speed up your admin load times.
The WooCommerce admin can be disabled using a code snippet on your site:
If that code snippet is active in a site specific plugin or in a code snippet plugin before WooCommerce is updated to version 4.0 then the WooCommerce Admin related database tables will not be created.
We’re here to help
Have questions about the update? Need help creating a staging environment? Just want to talk about WooCommerce? We’re here to help, 24/7. We have WooCommerce experts on staff ready to advise on new releases, backwards compatibility, and more. That’s the unique value and peace of mind you get by hosting your WooCommerce store with us. Give us a shout!
Mendel is the Agency / Developer Advocate for WooCommerce at Hostdedi and a WooCommerce & WordPress expert. He loves helping store builders solve complex problems for their clients.
Fundamentals and Implementation of WooCommerce Cache
Speed is paramount when it comes to eCommerce. Whether you’re chasing down better search rankings or attempting to curb cart abandonment, the speed at which a store loads can determine how many customers convert. Caching in WooCommerce is an essential performance tuning tool that can dramatically decrease page load time. In this article you’ll learn about two techniques to help you cache your WooCommerce store and how it can increase the performance & speed of your store.
A quick note before getting started: Underlying code and database performance issues should be addressed before implementing a caching layer.
What slows a website down?
On a web server, complex computer processes are most often triggered by code (ex. PHP for WordPress and WooCommerce) and database queries (ex. MySQL).Submitting commands (whether PHP, MySQL or another programming language) for a computer to process generally happens quickly.
What takes precious time is waiting for the computer to process the information and deliver the results to the potential customer waiting in front of their computer screen. When requests become complex or there are too many requests for a server to process then you’ll want to look into three methods to speed the interaction up: caching, concurrency (increasing PHP workers), and reducing complexity (making code more efficient).
What is caching?
When a user requests a web page (like a homepage) that isn’t cached, every time the page is requested, database queries are executed, PHP code runs, and the resulting page is displayed in the customer’s web browser. The entire process can happen pretty quickly.
If many database queries are required, the logic to draw a page is complex, or you have a high volume of traffic, the process of outputting the page to the visitor can slow considerably, which means longer than normal wait times.
Caching is the process of converting a piece of dynamic data into a static resource. Or put another way, caching is the process of saving the results of a request from a complex computer process and re-routing future identical requests directly to the result, skipping the computer processing.
Output caching, also called full page caching
When it comes to pages that don’t change very often (like content pages such as an About Us page), output caching is a great technique to create a fast experience for potential customers. Here’s how it works:
A web page (for instance a product category page) is requested by a potential customer.
When the page is requested, WooCommerce interacts with the database to determine which products to show along with the pricing, description, images etc.
This cached HTML is served every time someone visits the same page.
There are a ton of full page / output caching plugins on the market. My favorite is WP Rocket because it has a slick user interface that makes configuration a snap. A great free option is Cache Enabler, and it’s available in the WordPress.org repository.
Object caching, and speeding up database access
In some common eCommerce use cases, we might not want to cache the entire page of the website. For instance, we might not want to cache order status, shopping cart, or product pages with customer specific pricing as these pages might change more often than an output cache is refreshed.
So, if we can’t cache the entire page, and the database is the bottleneck, caching queries to the database is a great way to speed things up — that’s exactly what object caching is all about.
Consider for a moment that a customer might switch between a product page with customer specific pricing, shopping cart, and order status pages multiple times during their logged in session. On a site not integrated with an object cache, the database would receive a request to process a search every time a user switched between these dynamic pages.
Here’s how object caching works to make database interactions quicker:
A query is presented to the database server via PHP code.
When query results are requested, the database searches to find the result.
After the database finds the results, they’re saved in a cache on the database server.
This cached result is served every time a piece of code requests the same query.
When object caching is enabled, dynamic parts of a WooCommerce website will load quicker and put less strain on the database server leading to a better experience for the end user.
Setting Up Redis
Redis a popular object caching tool and can be difficult to set up depending on your skill level and the level of server access that’s provided by your host.
While implementing caching can lead to awesome performance gains, it can also make it more difficult to troubleshoot output issues. Remember to disable caching when trying to uncover an output issue.
Caching in WooCommerce is an essential tool for dramatically improving the performance of your store. Have caching questions? Feel free to give us a shout day or night. We’re here for you.
Founded 20 years ago, Hostdedi managed platforms have always provided agencies with the ability to deliver the site experiences their clients expect. Built on the four pillars of speed, security, scalability, and service, our solutions are designed to help your website realize its potential. Visit Hostdedi.net today and see how we can help.
There are over 2.3 million ecommerce stores hosted on the WooCommerce platform, and for good reason. WooCommerce makes creating your own store quick and easy. With Hostdedi, WooCommerce solutions combine great functionality, an intuitive interface, and a powerful managed hosting platform to provide merchants with an ecommerce foundation that drives growth.
However, the question remains: How can you set up your WooCommerce store to start selling quickly and effectively?
This WooCommerce walkthrough will take you from ordering your managed WooCommerce solution with Hostdedi to creating your first product and customizing your storefront’s look and feel. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a fully operational storefront that’s bringing in revenue and attracting customers.
What You Need:
A hosted WordPress or WooCommerce solution
An active internet connection (unless you’re going to be testing on a local account)
Around 20 minutes of your time
A fiery passion for ecommerce (optional)
Step 1: Ordering a Managed WooCommerce Solution
What’s a WooCommerce store without a hosting platform? To get started you’ll need a strong foundation to build your WooCommerce store on. This will help dictate the speed, security, and scalability of your store, and have a direct impact on the support you can receive.
There are a number of different hosting solutions available to merchants and freelancers. However, we recommend opting for a WooCommerce cloud solution. Start by visiting ourWooCommerce managed hosting page, and selecting the right size solution for your needs.
The right size solution depends on a number of factors. The most important of these is the number of users that visit your store at any one time. This is because we grade our cloud solutions based on the number of PHP workers they can support. This is the number of concurrent users who can be performing an action on your site at any one time. Learn more aboutwhat PHP workers are and how they affect your site’s performance.
Not sure what size is right for your store? Talk it over with a member of the Hostdedi team. We’ll provide advice on sizing, integrations, and anything else you need to know.
If this is your first storefront then we recommend opting for the smaller plans. These will help you to get started and once you start to see more traffic, they can instantly be upgraded in your Client Portal with a click.
Once you have completed this stage, you’ll be able to log into your Client Portal and access your WooCommerce admin panel. From there, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up your store’s main properties with the WooCommerce setup wizard.
Once you’ve installed and activated WooCommerce, you need to complete a short WooCommerce setup wizard. To do this, locate the left hand panel and find WooCommerce. Click it. If WooCommerce isn’t present then refresh the page and it should appear.
After you’ve navigated to the WooCommerce page, you’ll find a button under the page title called Run the Setup Wizard. Click this and prepare to let WooCommerce know everything you want your store to be (almost).
Remember, everything you set throughout this WooCommerce setup process can be changed at a later date. WooCommerce is an incredibly flexible solution for merchants and it’s almost impossible to get locked into any one particular solution.
Begin WooCommerce Store Setup
The first group of information we need to let WooCommerce know is where we are, who we are, what type of product we’re selling, and what primary currency we’re going to be charging in. If you have multiple currencies then don’t worry. We’ll cover this later. For now, opt for your local currency.
The information here doesn’t have to be entirely accurate, although it will prevent revisiting setup at a later date if it is. Once you’re finished, click Continue to be taken to the Payment page (for configuring how people will be paying you).
Set up Your WooCommerce Payments
WooCommerce offers some powerful and flexible payment gateway options by default. Both Stripe and Paypal allow you to accept credit cards and Paypal orders. They also sync well with your external accounts.
However, sometimes Stripe and Paypal aren’t the right solutions. Whether this is because you’re already used to an alternate payment gateway, or because you don’t like the transaction fees of the default, there are a number of alternatives available.
Cost is going to be an important consideration with regard to your payment gateway. Some SaaS platforms, which attract merchants with low monthly subscriptions, quickly become much more expensive once you add costly transaction fees to the mix.
WooCommerce does not, by default, charge transaction fees. From a WooCommerce pricing perspective, this often makes it more cost-effective than SaaS alternatives.
If you decide to change from the default payment gateways, ensure that you research transaction fees, security, and support. There are 100+ payment gateway optionsavailable as WooCommerce extensions and each has its own set of conditions and features.
If you’re unsure, then we recommend first-time store owners use Stripe and Paypal. Both are industry-leading businesses that offer no transaction fees and guarantee payment security for your customers.
Setting up Shipping
It’s now time to set up your shipping information. Here, you’re going to need to input your shipping zones to help calculate shipping rates. If you’re a beginner, we advise leaving these as their default options.
Remember, these options can all be edited at a later date or expanded upon with additional plugins if you need.
You’ll also need to input the weight and dimension units you’re using. We recommend going with the most frequently used unit in your primary geographic location. For instance, if you are running a store in the US, oz and inches are likely the best fit. If, however, you’re running a store in the UK, it’s better to opt for kg and cm. Metric or Imperial, you decide.
Once you’ve finished with this screen, again, click Continue.
A Few Extra Things
The final stage of the setup offers some optional plugins to install if you think they may fit your store. We’ll leave this up to your better judgment on whether you think they are suitable. If you’re unsure, we recommend getting in touch with a developer to see how these plugins will benefit you.
Once you’ve finished, you can then activate your WooCommerce install at the next screen and you’re ready to go.
Step 3: Creating Your First Product
What use is an ecommerce store without products?
This step will help you to create your first product so that it’s ready to go live on your WooCommerce site.
We’ll be covering the areas of:
Remember, WooCommerce has a lot of added functionality over just plain WordPress. This functionality has been designed specifically for the purposes of ecommerce. We’re going to want to use as much of this as possible.
Before you get started with this step, there are a few things you’re going to need:
Content and copy for product descriptions and names.
An idea of what SKUs you’re going to use (if you’re running a big store).
Now that you’ve gotten all of that sorted, head to WooCommerce down the left sidebar => Products =>New Product.
This top section of the page will be very familiar to WordPress users. That’s because it’s basically the WordPress WYSIWYG editor.
You can enter your product name at the top and a product description at the bottom. Note that the product description here will be the long product description located below the product — not the short description located next to the image. Once you’ve finished loading your content here, you’re ready to move onto some of WooCommerce’s finer product setup features. Advanced product data gives you a chance to select the price for your item, set inventory, organize its SKU, and more.
Along the top, you’ll notice two tick boxes for Virtual and Downloadable. If you are selling items that don’t require shipping, you can tick these and WooCommerce will ignore shipping rates. This is where you can set the short description as shown above. It’s advisable to keep this section short as it will act as one of the first things a prospective buyer will see. Keep it catchy and fun – product specifics belong in the long description below.
Step 4: Adding Images, Product Galleries, Categories, and Tags
The next step for adding your first WooCommerce product to your catalog is including images and categories. To do this, you just need to head to the right side of your WYSIWYG-like WooCommerce editor. Here you’ll find the category options. You can add new ones if you wish to. These are incredibly helpful for aiding customers in their conversion journey and making sure they enjoy an easy and intuitive user experience. Tags can also be used to help with this and, once again, we highly recommend you use them — especially if you are running a large store. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to input pictures. WooCommerce has put together a great guide on how to go about improving product photography for your ecommerce store. We highly recommend making sure your product photography is high quality. This is because it is one of the most significant page elements involved in effecting conversions.
To add your primary product image, scroll to where it says Product Image and upload and select your image. Below this, you can add additional images to be featured in the product gallery, this way you can exhibit different aspects of your item. In creating a page for the incredible Hostdedi swag notebook, we’ve shown what it looks like from the front in the product image, and then a look at the inside in the product gallery.
Step 5: Exploring WooCommerce Themes
It’s important to customize the look and feel of your site so it stands out before taking your WooCommerce store live. To do this, you’re going to want to see the range of different themes already available — or possibly customize your own.
This guide will not go into how to create your own WooCommerce themes – that’s for another article – but we will direct you to where you can change theme settings and choose from a selection of pre-built ones.
To do this, head to Appearance down the left side of your WooCommerce dashboard. From here, you can select Themes to look at a range of different pre-built WooCommerce themes, or you can select customize to change elements on your site easily. This includes repeat elements like site titles, logos, and more. You can also take a look at Plugins, below Appearance, for a list of extensions you can add to your WooCommerce store to expand functionality.
Complete Your WooCommerce Setup With the Right Hosting Foundation
When setting up your WooCommerce store, the last thing you want is to experience site slowdowns and configuration issues. Instead, make your WooCommerce experience as easy as possible with Hostdedi managed WooCommerce solutions. We help you take care of the management and configuration of your site and bundle up to $6,000 in integrations, so you can focus on creating the store and customer experience you want.
Choosing the right ecommerce CMS for your storefront is important. Not only does it influence what you’re able to do, but it also allows you to set expectations in terms of development costs and timeframes. But with your CMS choices now more diverse than ever before, picking the right solution out from the crowd can be difficult.
Two applications you’ll be introduced to early on are Magento and WooCommerce. Both are used by an impressive number of stores. WooCommerce is used by over 3 million stores, while Magento runs over 200,000. Both offer flexible feature sets that can be expanded easily with extensions, and both are backed by supportive communities.
So why should you choose one over the other?
As you seek to drive revenue and distinguish your store, it’s vital that you pay attention to the customer experience you’re able to provide. Now is the time to drive change within your organization and optimize the commerce experience for your customers. By selecting the right solution for your storefront, you’ll be able to optimize your speed to market and drive revenue quickly.
Let’s pit WooCommerce vs Magento and see which ecommerce platform is best for your store. If you’re a merchant that still needs to make a choice, keep reading to find out more.
Magento vs WooCommerce Summary
WooCommerce Pros and Cons
As a plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce comes armed with features that make it great for managing both content and ecommerce. Originally launched in 2011, it has grown to become the most used and versatile ecommerce platform available to merchants and agencies alike, with over 3 million active installs worldwide.
Now, with Managed WooCommerce hosting from Hostdedi, its versatility and ease of use have only improved, with up to $6,000 of integrations available for optimizing speed, security, scalability, and service.
Very easy to use and get started with
A huge range of templates and themes for merchants without any coding knowledge
Bundled integrations that provide advanced functionality for analytics, updates, site optimization, and ecommerce delivery
Doesn’t afford the same level of customization as Magento
Magento Pros and Cons
The first application we’re taking a look at, Magento, is a powerful ecommerce platform capable of empowering merchants to create storefronts unlike any other. Originally released March 2008, it has since grown and inspired the release of a new version, Magento 2, in 2015. This version has gone on to become the perfect ecommerce platform for storefronts with a global reach.
A powerful ecommerce platform capable of creating unique user experiences
Offers more customization options that WooCommerce
An incredible community that, despite being smaller than WooCommerce’s, manages to easily hold its own
True hosting optimization through an optimized Magento hosting provider
Requires a developer to create a fully functioning storefront
Questions about speed and power are usually some of the first merchants ask. Most of the time, merchants need to prioritize one. This especially holds when looking at Magento vs WooCommerce.
Speed and power are two different performance metrics and rarely go together.
While Magento may offer more in terms of power, it also requires more resources to deliver the same experience as WooCommerce. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a very lightweight and fast platform, but it lacks a lot of the functionality you’ll find with Magento.
WooCommerce Is Lightweight
We’ll say it again: WooCommerce is lightweight. This means the same hardware and resources can serve more customers with a WooCommerce store than with a Magento one. Take a look at our SIP and SIPWOO plans to see what this means in terms of real numbers.
*Based on a SIP 400 server build.
Although being lightweight means a higher customer capacity, WooCommerce has comparatively limited functionality out of the box. Without modification, WooCommerce lacks the ability to track activity through other channels and deliver a personalized experience. Magento offers these features by default, but they still require advanced configuration to get the most out of them.
Bear in mind, while WooCommerce requires additional plugins to add advanced functionality, it will almost always perform better in terms of speed. Add to this the capabilities of managed WooCommerce and you’ve got an ecommerce platform that provides the best of both worlds.
For Magento, it’s important to host with a provider that offers optimized infrastructure. While several providers state that they offer optimized hosting, the reality is that only a handful truly optimize their infrastructure for Magento. Hostdedi is known to offer a truly optimized Magento hosting foundation. Here are four reasons why.
In addition to finding the right hosting provider, the quality of the code used to create a Magento store can also have a significant impact. Poorly edited code and unoptimized extensions can cause any server-side optimizations to lose their significance. If you’ve implemented multiple speed optimizations and your store is still crawling, it may be a good idea to start a code audit.
Poorly edited Magento code and unoptimized extensions can easily cause any server-side optimizations to lose their significance.
Two Different Performance Bands
Like much of this comparison, Magento and WooCommerce fall into two different performance bands. WooCommerce is a lightweight contender, with comparatively less power behind it. However, being such a quick and nimble platform means that it requires a smaller hosting plan to support the same number of customers – even when you expand functionality with additional integrations. While Magento has much more power behind it – in terms of stock functionality – it can slow down significantly when too many customers are active on your site.
Despite the two applications falling into two different performance bands, WooCommerce is the winner here. Being lightweight means it’s capable of outperforming Magento, with fewer resources required to serve the same sized customer base.
Magento has long been known as the ecommerce king of functionality. Not only does it allow for the creation of unique and personalized user journeys, but its integration capabilities are second to none.
With that said, a savvy developer can still get a lot out of WooCommerce. Part of the reason for this is that both applications come with REST API. This means that both platforms are capable of supporting expanded functionality through development.
The WooCommerce REST API documentation (including hooks, endpoints, filters, and more) can be found here. Similar documentation for Magento can be found here.
WooCommerce Requires WordPress
A common myth is that WooCommerce only offers limited functionality. The truth is much more complex. When combined with plugins, WooCommerce’s capabilities expand significantly. There are over 50,000 unique plugins available for WordPress, offering functionality for both the ecommerce and content sides of your site.
Beyond plugins and integrations, the REST API means that WooCommerce is also capable of being expanded to suit more advanced functionality requirements through development. This means being able to create unique customer journeys that rival Magento and that scale as your store does.
Coffeebros.com, for example, has created a storefront that includes discounts, calls to action, and a clean, easy to understand buying experience. Weber.co.za, the grill provider, has also created an easy-to-use store that integrates both the ecommerce product and content recipe sections seamlessly.
The ability to integrate both commerce and content seamlessly is one of WooCommerce’s strengths.
This is one of the biggest pros for WooCommerce: WooCommerce lets merchants integrate the content and ecommerce sections of their site seamlessly. Magento does not offer this.
Magento Powers Global Commerce
Magento powers some of the biggest ecommerce stores in the world. There’s a reason for this: the functionality it offers global retailers.
Magento allows for Global storefronts with regional differences.
Magento powers some of the biggest ecommerce stores in the world. There’s a reason for this: the functionality it offers global retailers.
HP transformed their selling experience in the Asian Pacific through Magento. They launched five different stores on a single platform, with regional differences and global similarities. This allowed them to meet local requirements for payments, fulfillment, language, and order technicalities, while also optimizing site management with global consistency.
Rubik’s also managed to create a strong global online presence quickly, using Magento to expand worldwide. Magento’s functionality made it easy for them to spin up new regional storefronts and landing pages. Something which would have been a lot more complicated with other platforms.
Not only does Magento allow for easier access to international markets, but it also enables a more in-depth customization of the buyer’s experience. Just take a look at the difference between a typical Magento site and a typical WooCommerce site.
Still the King of Functionality: Magento
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this category goes to Magento. Its ability to customize the buyer’s experience and create unique, international storefronts is something you just can’t do in the same way with WooCommerce – unless you invest in development. Moreover, with Adobe’s integrations weaving themselves into the Magento ecosystem, its functionality is only going to improve.
WooCommerce, however, is a close second. In many cases, plugins and development work can lead to customer experiences that are just as unique and targeted as Magento’s. It’s just slightly easier to implement them with Magento.
With that being said, managed WooCommerce solutions bring with them some of the most important ecommerce functionality around, and they make them accessible out of the box. This makes WooCommerce the better option when it comes to balancing functionality and ease of use.
Security for an ecommerce store is vital. Not only does it help prevent loss of customer Personally Identifiable Information (PII), but it also ensures that merchants remain in compliance with the Payment Card Industry standards (PCI Compliance) needed to sell effectively online.
While both applications offer environments backed up by security teams and vigilant communities, WooCommerce suffers from one major disadvantage: WordPress. As a plugin, it is vulnerable to the same exploits as its parent application. In 2018, 57% of web application vulnerabilities identified were from WordPress.
This doesn’t mean Magento doesn’t have problems of its own. In research conducted by Securi, 40% of Magento stores have at least one security issue. That’s much lower than the 73% of WooCommerce stores reported by EnableSecurity, but it’s still a sizable portion of live storefronts. And these are not complex vulnerabilities. Most of them could easily be detected using free automated tools.
So why such large numbers? For many sites, it’s because they are out of date. Clunky update processes or simply forgetting are two of the biggest reasons for security vulnerabilities across modern CMS.
One of the most common reasons that storefronts are vulnerable is simply forgetting to update.
For this reason, one of the best security features offered is the ability to easily update. When compared with the WooCommerce update process, Magento security patches aren’t easy to apply. With a managed WoCommerce solution, not only do updates occur automatically, but they’re set to test any changes in case they break your site, before they go live. This makes maintaining and up-to-date site easy and effective.
Despite this, Magento does have a lot of positive security features going for it, including:
Enhanced password management
Cross-site scripting (XSS) attack prevention
Flexible file ownership and permissions
Non-default Magento Admin URL
The Magento 1 End of Life Impact on Security
Magento can be split into two versions: Magento 1 and Magento 2. Each is largely unique, in that moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2 requires replatforming. Currently, a large percentage of Magento stores are still on Magento 1.
In June 2020, official security support for the Magento 1 platform will cease. This means security will become a pressing concern for merchants still on the platform. If you’re a Magento 1 merchant looking for alternatives, we recommend reviewing your options and downloading the After M1 guide.
Security is never simple. The nature of vulnerabilities means that every application’s community needs to remain vigilant. WooCommerce offers some great security features for automating the update process and keeping everything up to date. However, it also has a lot more vulnerabilities to begin with thanks to running on WordPress.
Magento has better security tools and features, despite patches being hard to implement and take full advantage of.
However, managed WooCommerce solutions have brought with them a curated selected of security tools and features. From automated updates to an entire security suite capable of managing advanced configurations, WooCommerce comes with all the security features of Magento and adds ease of use.
Design and Templates
Before a site can go live, a merchant needs to decide on a design. Without a design there is no site (at least, not an attractive one).
With WooCommerce, this is an easy process thanks to a large selection of templates and pre-designed themes. Taking these and tweaking them to individual requirements is a quick process, making the time from ideation to creation much faster than with Magento.
Magento does have a limited number of templates. However, these are relatively simple when compared with what Magento can actually do. They are also not particularly attractive. To take advantage of the platform, most merchants will need to hire a developer to design and code their site.
Design becomes a lot more complicated when headless implementations are considered. For Magento merchants, the application’s API makes implementation a relatively simple process. There are several headless Magento sites already using headless architecture to deliver unique user experiences.
Headless architecture allows for stores to utilize an optimized ecommerce API and flexible front-end design.
With WooCommerce already being a plugin, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use it in a headless implementation. Instead, it may make more sense for merchants looking towards headless WordPress to opt for something like BigCommerce instead.
WooCommerce vs Magento: Template vs Design
WooCommerce, with its huge library of themes, is much better in terms of templates. Yet the two platforms draw when it comes to design. Both offer an expansive API, both provide you with the ability to design a unique storefront, and both offer extensive feature sets capable of integrating with your designs.
If you getting started with your first store or looking for ease of use, we recommend using WooCommerce and taking advantage of its themes and templates. If you’re a medium-sized store though, deciding between Magento and WooCommerce isn’t going to be a decision made around design.
Extensions and Plugins
While an application needs to have great out of the box functionality, it’s also important to be able to expand and customize it with plugins or extensions. Today, almost all CMS offer plugins or extensions in one form or another; WooCommerce and Magento are no exception.
In terms of numbers, WooCommerce wins due to having access to the WordPress plugin library. Here, over 50,000 unique plugins are available to you. Chances are, with a selection that large, the functionality you’re looking for is already there.
However, bear in mind that WooCommerce and WordPress are different applications, and not all of these WordPress plugins will be optimized to run on your store.
Magento, on the other hand, has over 4,700 plugins optimized specifically for its ecommerce platform. Not only that, but Magento’s extensions provide a lot of in-depth customization.
Magento extensions allow for merchants to:
Upgrade internal search functionality
Build custom checkout experiences
Improve sorting and categorization functionality
Create up-sell and cross-sell campaigns
Customize shipping and fulfillment options
Dedicated WooCommerce extensions are relatively light. They provide some useful social and payment integrations, some basic enhancements, and a few useful shipping and fulfillment extensions. Overall though, the options are not as powerful or diverse as Magento, despite growing quickly.
Managed WooCommerce Bundles up to $6,000 of Plugins
With Hostdedi managed WooCommerce, you don’t have to worry about plugins and extensions. We’ve bundled up to $6,000 worth of integrations for free with all of our managed WooCommerce solutions. These cover everything from image optimization to page building and abandoned cart emails to business analytics.
With Hostdedi, getting started with a WooCommerce store is faster and easier. The ability to easily implement the right technology solutions for every store means taking the guesswork out of platform selection.
We recommend managed WooCommerce for merchants looking to expand their store. Not only is it more cost-effective, but you’ll also have access to a team of experts to help you keep your store performing at full capacity.
Managing an ecommerce store means managing products. That includes how, when, and where they are delivered to customers. Many ecommerce stores today deliver personalized buyer journeys, setting the bar high.
It’s Magento’s advanced functionality that shines here. In addition to offering merchants the ability to provide regional deviations in product delivery, it also allows for the creation of unique journeys within a specific area. This includes upsells and cross-sells. While this functionality can be added to with the use of extensions, the default feature is powerful in its own right.
WooCommerce doesn’t offer the same flexibility. But what it does provide by default are:
Magento vs WooCommerce: A Summary
Magento Is Great for Medium-Sized Stores Looking for Great Functionality
Magento does best when a merchant wants a custom implementation. It allows for an unequaled exploration of the buyer’s journey and creates personalized sales funnels tailored right down to the individual.
Unfortunately, this level of customization and functionality has meant that it requires a development team to support its full range of capabilities. Implementing its best features needs to be planned down to specifics. So while it will likely increase your bottom line and lead to a surge in sales, it also takes an investment to get you there.
As a result, we recommend Magento if you have a larger storefront and are looking to invest in growth. If you’re interested in getting started, take a look at ourMagento cloud hosting solutions and talk to a member of the Hostdedi team today.
WooCommerce Is Great for Smaller Stores Looking For Ease of Use
Alternatively, if you’re running a small or medium-sized storefront and still haven’t decided on which platform to use, we recommend WooCommerce. Not only does it offer much quicker speed to market than Magento, it also makes store management simple and allows for merchants to take advantage of WordPress’ content management tools.
However, it doesn’t provide the same level of store customization as Magento. For that reason, we recommend WooCommerce to smaller stores. If you think that means you, see ourWooCommerce cloud hosting solutions.
Running a WooCommerce store can be as exciting as it is frustrating. Besides identifying targeted sources of traffic, you also need to increase revenue across those traffic sources. Often, this requires implementing sales and marketing tactics to draw in more consumers and direct them to the products they need.
Another way to increase revenue, however, involves leveraging the customers you already have and increasing their average order value (AOV).
Average order value is the average value of a single order through your store. For example, if one customer purchases several products for $10 total, and another customer purchases a single product for $8, your average order value is $9.
Increasing AOV is a surefire way for you to move the needle quickly and effectively, allowing you to drive revenue growth without having to generate more traffic. While it still involves some careful planning, it’s often easier and quicker to cross-sell products than it is to find new customers.
Let’s take a look at the principles behind increasing average order value in WooCommerce, and explore the different tools available for doing so.
Bundle Products That Work Well Together
Bundling works well for physical and digital products and is a proven way to increase your average order value in WooCommerce. This is because it helps your customers understand which products play nicely together and which don’t.
For example, you could bundle an essential oil dispenser with a set of oils at a slightly discounted rate. Or, if you’re in the fashion industry, you could bundle a pair of trousers with a complimentary shirt. As a merchant, it is your job to find which products work well together, and market them as such.
You can also target specific consumers with suitable bundles. To do this, you will need access to a marketing analytics tool that allows you to segment your audience. According to Gartner, 32% of businesses prioritize marketing analytics in their budget, with 76% saying they use data to drive key decisions. That’s why we include an analytics and segmentation tool – Glew.io – as part of our Managed WooCommerce solution as standard.
Many online stores already implement this strategy in the form of a banner offering free shipping on orders over a certain value. Offering free shipping for orders that exceed your target AOV is a win-win situation. Firstly, you can use this technique to increase your bottom line. Secondly, customers feel good because you’re offering them a free shipping option.
But don’t rush to your WooCommerce admin area to set up that banner now, at least not if you don’t know what your free shipping threshold should be. Without knowing that threshold, you can easily find yourself in a situation where you’re losing money, due to the cost of shipping that now needs to be added into your price calculation.
When calculating your threshold, it should be a target AOV where your customers have to purchase multiple products or a bundle – it has little psychological value if it’s easy to attain. Conversely, If you set the free shipping threshold too high, you can turn off your customers and they won’t even try to reach it. You’ll need to balance your price to effectively increase your AOV.
You can take this strategy to the next level by not just having a static banner at the top of your shop (the WooCommerce notification bar works well for that banner), but by having a dynamic element on your Cart and Checkout pages that tells your customers how far away they are from reaching the free shipping threshold. You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to understand how close they are to getting free shipping.
Leverage One-Time Offers
One-time offers (OTO’s) are presented to your customer right after they purchased one (or multiple) products in your WooCommerce shop, and provide them the option to add another discounted product to their order with a single click. OTO’s can be super effective if you set them up correctly. Let’s go through a few of their key characteristics:
Relevancy: the offered product needs to add value to the products already purchased.
Pricing: The OTO needs to be at a discounted level and should be lower than the order value, so that the perceived added value is as high as possible.
Ease of use: Adding the OTO must work with a single click. If you make your customers enter their billing details again, they’ll likely cancel the order process for the OTO.
WooCommerce developers recognize the importance of one-time offers and have created many powerful plugins to support this functionality. These plugins often get used in funnels built with WooCommerce.
Gift cards can be a powerful tool to increase the Average Order Value in your WooCommerce shop. But also need to be used with caution in certain situations. Let’s see how you can use them to not just increase your AOV but also potentially reduce future ad spend for recurring purchases.
Begin by determining average product value. It may be that your typical product has a price tag of $25 or higher. In this case, you could send every customer a free $5 gift card for them to use on their next purchase. You can send them the gift card electronically or, better yet, have a batch of them printed and added to each package you send out.
Having that gift card at hand increases the likelihood with which the customer will order again from your shop, to spend that $5. This helps you reduce the retargeting ad spend to get this customer to buy again from you.
Keep in mind, the prices for your products need to be high enough to leverage this strategy. “High enough” means that the gift card should not result in a free order, causing a loss for you. Additionally, if you’re running “Free Shipping” campaigns, ensure that the gift card cannot be used on shipping costs.
Even if you’re not giving away a gift card with each order, you can sell them directly in your shop. There are plenty of plugins for WooCommerce that allow you to do that. Take a look at Gift Cards for WooCommerce (see screenshot for an example) or YITH Gift Cards. If you want to dive deeper into the ways to create gift cards in WooCommerce, read this article on Business Bloomer.
Incentivize First-Time Buyers with Deals
Offering discounts to first-time buyers is a common method of incentivizing visitors to become a customer. You could use hooks like a percentage discount, free priority shipping, a free gift card (see above) or a free product to encourage customers to buy from you. When you’re coming to almost any web shop, you’ll see an offer to save X% on your first order when subscribing to their email list. That’s an example of this strategy put into action.
A second incentivization strategy involves adding these opportunities to the Cart or Checkout page, and to not advertise them as aggressively. Similar to the “do you want chips with that” question you are asked when ordering a fast food burger, you can add special offers your customers can put into their carts with a single click.
Price anchoring is a psychological principle that controls how your visitors perceive the prices in your WooCommerce shop, without actually selling anything.
To efficiently use price anchoring, you need to understand what your target Average Order Value is – as that’s the base price. You’ll then position a product with that AOV (could be a bundle if you don’t have a single product at that price) between one product that provides much lower value at a much lower cost (e.g. one piece of the bundle) and another product with a higher perceived value at a much higher price.
This strategy helps to make the product with the target AOV look like the most reasonable and well-priced choice. The other product options are designed to not look valuable or to have such a high price-tag that they feel unattainable to most of your customers. Using this strategy, you’ll find that you’re enticing most of your web shop’s visitors to click on the Average Order Value product. That’s the goal of the strategy.
Implementing price anchoring in your WooCommerce store is fairly straight-forward. You have to create multiple products that match the pricing categories outlined above. One type of product goes into the “low-value” category, then you’ll have another category for the target AOV products and one category for the “high-value” products.
Keep in mind that the term “category” is used here as an abstract way to categorize the products for yourself. You should not create customer-facing WooCommerce categories that only contain one type of product.
After creating those products, you need to place them side-by-side, so that your customers can compare them directly. To do that, you can use a plugin like Rearrange Woocommerce Products, or use your page builder of choice.
As you can see, there are many ways to increase the average order value in your WooCommerce shop. You can get quite creative in your approach and find ways that work perfectly for your brand and setup.
This article is really just the foundation of strategies available to merchants and agencies for increasing AOV on their stores. As you begin exploring these strategies yourself, you’ll likely discover more techniques available.
Beyond the techniques outlined in this article, try exploring the opportunities available to you with managed WooCommerce. All managed WooCommerce solutions come with up to $6,000 worth of integrations, including bundling and product attribute plugins. Learn more about the options available to you now.
Historically, consumer use of ecommerce stores has been a mystery to merchants. Traffic sources, bounce rates, and others were the metrics of educated guesses and opinions. Today, however, powerful tracking tools like Google Tag Manager for WordPress have brought data to that mystery, answering questions with a level of certainty never seen before.
These tools now allow you to build a clearer picture of the customer experience. Instead of guessing a consumer’s journey, you’re able to understand their path to purchase. Not only does this help you discover crucial touchpoints, more importantly, it also helps you drive your store’s growth by identifying conversion bottlenecks and finding new opportunities.
If you’re not sure you’re hitting the mark with Google Tag Manager, now is the right time to revisit your implementation and make sure everything is running smoothly. Here, we’ll walk through what Google Tag Manager is, how you can add it to your WordPress site, and how you can start measuring store performance where it matters.
Google Tag Manager is a free, widely-used tool that lets you create and manage the tags (more on this later) published on a website. Though it can be used on virtually any site, it’s commonly used by ecommerce business owners in conjunction with other marketing analytics platforms to manage their online stores. For example, Google Tag Manager is almost always used alongside Google Analytics for the purpose of tracking marketing campaigns, conversions, and site performance.
What Is a Tag?
When you inspect the source of a site, you see tags like <html>, <img>, <p>, <a href>, and many others. Functionally, the tags you manage with Google Tag Manager are similar to the HTML tags found in the raw code of a website. But where HTML, CSS, PHP, and other coding languages use tags as building materials for website construction, the tags in Google Tag Manager track conversions, traffic, user behavior, and a number of other important metrics.
Tags track and relay important user engagement data to another analytics platform. When a tag runs, or picks up an instance of the intended interaction, it’s called “firing” – i.e., “The tag has fired.”
Besides connecting to other platforms, tags can be created so you can track specific events — (like abandoned carts and video views) on your website. While Google Analytics can track many types of events, creating tags for certain events in Google Tag Manager can make tracking more specific, and situational events more effective.
Google Tag Manager vs. Google Analytics
Since Google Tag Manager and Analytics are used in tandem, it can be confusing as to what role each platform plays when it comes to marketing analytics.
Google Tag Manager can be used to manage many third-party tags, including the Facebook and Adobe Analytics tracking pixels. You can even customize and calibrate your tags, and decide when and why they fire. But Google Tag Manager just manages these tracking code snippets; there’s no actual analytics or in-depth reporting in Google Tag Manager.
Google Analytics doesn’t have the granular tag controls of Google Tag Manager, but it plays the very crucial role of collecting data from those tags. In other words, it collects, analyzes, and reports data from your tags. Thus, the two platforms have a symbiotic relationship.
How to Add Google Tag Manager to WordPress
If you’re one of the many ecommerce business owners using a managed hosting platform to run your online store, you need to know how to add Google Tag Manager to your WordPress site. Let’s go over the steps for setting up Google Tag Manager with WordPress.
Step 1: Create a Google Tag Manager Account
The first thing you need is a Google Tag Manager account.
Head over to Google Tag Manager. If you already have an account, then select the account you want to use to connect to your WooCommerce store. Otherwise, click “Create Account” to begin setting up a new Google Tag Manager account. This is how you get Google Tag Manager code.
After clicking “Create Account,” you’ll see some account setup options.
Name the account, name the container — basically just a folder for your tags to be kept separate from other Tag Manager accounts you may have — and select “Web” as the target platform. Then click “Create” to immediately be taken into your new Google Tag Manager account.
Once you’ve finished with the setup options, you’ll need to install the code snippets for Tag Manager to begin working with your ecommerce store on WordPress.
The first snippet needs to be added to the header of your WordPress site. This will ensure that the code appears on every single page of your site — which is important for Tag Manager to work with WordPress.
There are a couple of ways to add it to the appropriate file of your WordPress theme. However, the easiest way is to use a plugin like Yoast. Instead of editing the raw code of your site, just copy and paste the code into Yoast which will automatically add the code to every page of your site.
Then there’s the second snippet of code which must be added just after the opening <body> tag on your site. Again, Yoast and other plugins can help.
If you need additional help, Google Tag Manager offers a useful Quick Start Guide that you can use as a reference. When these code snippets are installed, you’re ready to begin setting up Google Tag Manager with WordPress.
Step 2: Install Google Analytics
Once you’ve created and set up a Google Tag Manager account, you’ll need to do the same for Google Analytics. After all, you won’t get much benefit from using Tag Manager unless Analytics is receiving data from your tags. If you’ve already installed Google Analytics, you can skip this step.
These steps might seem a bit odd as you’re completing them, but don’t worry. You can, in fact, install Google Analytics from within Tag Manager.
From your new Google Tag Manager account, click “Tags” from the left-hand sidebar, then click “New” in the upper right-hand corner of the window.
Name the tag “Google Analytics” and click “Tag Configuration” and select “Google Analytics: Universal Analytic” for tag type.
Set the track type to “Page View” then click “New Variable” under the Google Analytics Settings. Finally, name this new variable and install your Google Analytics tracking code on your WordPress site as prompted.
What Can I Do With Google Tag Manager?
Now that you have completed the installation and setup process, you need to know how to use Google Tag Manager. And, perhaps most importantly, how is Google Tag Manager used?
Google Tag Manager helps you gain insight into how people are using your ecommerce store. By setting up tags and events, you can gain valuable insights on key areas. That includes tracking form submissions, file downloads, and the effectiveness of interactions in your conversion funnel.
While there are many things you can do with Google Tag Manager, let’s go over a few of the most important (and most useful) for ecommerce businesses.
Track Goals and Events in Google Analytics
Although pageviews and referrals are important metrics, tracking how your customers and leads are using your ecommerce store provides the most accurate picture of your store’s performance. Without Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, you’d have very little insight into how customers and leads are interacting with your store. In turn, you wouldn’t be able to identify and address variables that might, for instance, contribute to high cart abandonment.
Although we’re not going to spend too much time covering it in this Google Tag Manager overview, we’re going to give you examples of a goal and an event you can track with Tag Manager.
With Google Tag Manager, you can set up a tracking goal for each and every time a product gets added to the shopping cart. Once you’ve completed the steps to set up an added-to-cart tracking goal, these interactions will be reported in Google Analytics. It’s important to note that this isn’t a goal that you’d be able to track in Google Analytics without using Tag Manager to create the event.
Event: Video Views
Video content is the most popular form of digital content today. So it follows that ecommerce sites that feature product reviews, launch videos, instructional videos, and other video content should be tracking how customers and leads are engaging with those videos, and most importantly, how those engagement rates affect conversion. Using Google Tag Manager, you can set up tracking events for videos and compare those events to cart abandonment, checkout abandonment, or any number of other metrics.
Install Tracking Pixels for Google Pay-per-Click Ads
One of the key uses for Google Tag Managers is to install and manage the Google Ads Remarketing and Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixels. The steps to install these tracking pixels are largely the same for both.
Google Ads Remarketing Pixel
From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new tag. Name it “Google Remarketing” and select “Google Ads Remarketing” as the tag type.
In the tag configuration settings, locate your Google Ads Conversion ID. Create a label if you’d like, then set “All Pages” for triggering.
Google Ads Conversion Tracking Pixel
For the Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixel, the steps are much the same. From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new tag. Name it “Google Ads Conversion” and select “Google Ads Conversion” as the tag type.
The main difference with the Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixel is the option to set a value for the tag. In the screenshot above, the value is set at 100 USD, meaning that each conversion the tag tracks is worth $100 to the business. Use an amount makes the most sense for your business. Many ecommerce business owners set the value of a conversion as the average transaction value.
Install Third-Party Tracking Pixels
Similar to the Google Ads tracking pixels, Tag Manager is often used to install tracking codes for third-party platforms. In particular, the Facebook Pixel is often installed on a WordPress site using this method.
The important thing to note is that when Google Tag Manager doesn’t provide a template for the tracking code you want to install, you’ll need to use the custom HTML option. To illustrate this process, here are the steps for installing the Facebook Pixel in Google Tag Manager.
From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new pixel. Name it “Facebook Pixel” and select “Custom HTML” as the tag type.
After selecting “Custom HTML” as the tag type, you’ll be given a place where you can paste the Facebook Pixel tracking code.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the trigger is set to “All Pages” — but there are other options available, and Facebook provides some tips to help you choose the right option for your case.
Do You Need Google Tag Manager?
We’ve gone over the ins and outs of Google Tag Manager. As we bring this overview to a close, let’s tackle one last question: Should you be using it?
For the owner of an ecommerce business, there’s arguably nothing more important than learning about customer behavior. Because if you don’t know how your customers are interacting with your online store, you have no way to optimize to increase conversion. In other words, any effort made to improve the customer experience and the buying journey is just a shot in the dark.
Google Tag Manager gives you a window into your customer experience. By using Tag Manager to publish and manage tags for your ecommerce store, you can boost conversion and generate more revenue for your business.
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Tracking interactions between customers and your ecommerce store is essential if you want to gauge the performance of your business. However, it’s not always obvious which interactions you should be tracking. If you track too little, you’re not getting the most representative picture, and if you track too much, the important data gets buried.
In order to drive revenue effectively, it’s vital you understand the performance of each of your site’s touchpoints. By identifying key goals and events through Google Analytics, and standardizing their reporting structure, you’ll be able to leverage that data to create campaigns that promote engagement and growth.
To help, we’ve created the ecommerce business owner’s guide to Google Analytics event tracking. With this guide, you’ll know which tracking events are most important and how to create tracking goals for your ecommerce store.
Google Analytics Event Tracking vs. Goal Tracking
Google Analytics event tracking can illuminate patterns in user behaviour that you can use to make more informed decisions.
Finding out how customers and leads are interacting with your online store is crucial for optimizing your customer experience. As it happens, you can learn a lot about how customers are engaging with your store by tracking goals and events in Google Analytics.
As Google defines them, events are “interactions with content that can be measured independently from a webpage or screen load.” This includes things like:
Products added to the shopping cart
In a more technical sense, events are interactions between users and your ecommerce store. This includes:
In Google Analytics, event tracking can illuminate patterns in user behavior that you can use to make more informed decisions and further refine your customer experience. While certain events — like abandoned carts, for instance — are often tracked by default, you can track many different customer interactions with Google Analytics custom events.
Google Analytics has four conditions for events: category, action, label, value, and non-interaction. Each type of event condition has its own application, whether it’s for organization in Google Analytics or for assigning monetary value to a trackable event.
An event category is a name assigned to a group of events. They’re used primarily for organizational purposes. For example, you might assign events like pageviews and clicks to an event category called “engagement.” Or you create an event category called “downloads” for events related to the downloading of files from your website.
An event action is a certain type of event that you want to track for a specific page element. For example, when users click play, pause, or rewind, or scrub through a video to a particular location, you can track those interactions as event actions.
An event label is an optional name assigned to a certain element on a webpage. Similar to event categories, event labels are largely for organizational purposes. For example, if there are multiple PDF files that can be downloaded from your website, you could use event labels to distinguish downloads of one PDF file from others.
An event value is an optional numerical value assigned to a trackable event. Although value is often a monetary value, meaning how much (in dollars) an event brings to your business, there are cases where value could be a length of time or raw quantity. For instance, you could make the value for a confirmation page event equal to your average transaction value since you know (on average) how much your business makes from each conversion.
The non-interaction condition is applied when an event is non-interactive. When the value for this condition is “true,” the event isconsidered non-interactive. Typically, you only classify an event as non-interactive when you don’t want it to affect your bounce rate or other metrics in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics goals are essentially events that have value and that you want to boost in order to generate more revenue. When you set a tracking goal, Google Analytics begins counting instances of that goal as a conversion. For instance, if you set a duration goal of five minutes, and then a visitor spends 5 minutes or more on your site, Google Analytics will consider that a successful conversion.
In Google Analytics, there are duration goals, destination goals, pages/views goals, and event goals. As you’d expect, a duration goal is a minimum amount of time that you want users to spend engaging with your website. Destination goals refer to when users visit a specific page on your site like a thank-you page or an order confirmation page. With pages/views goals, you want users to click onto a minimum number of pages on your site. Finally, event goals are more specific interactions including form fills, click-to-call link clicks, and file downloads.
5 Google Analytics Goals and Events You Should Track
Tracking goals and events is an effective way to gauge or boost the performance of your ecommerce business. So let’s go over some specific Google Analytics goals and events that you should be tracking.
Google Analytics makes it very easy to access and create goals. Once you’re logged into your Google Analytics account, go into the Admin menu and in the View column, then click Goals.
Goal: Confirmation Pages
A confirmation page can be used to confirm an order that’s been placed or to thank a lead for joining a mailing list. But in any context, a confirmation page is what someone sees after an interaction with your brand or company. In other words, it’s a conversion follow-up that makes confirmation pages an important goal to track.
How to Set up a Confirmation Page Goal
From the Goals menu in Google Analytics, click the “+ New Goal” button to open the new goal template.
At the top of the goal template, you’re given a list of template options. For this tutorial, we chose to set up a completed purchase confirmation page — the second option on the list.
Next, create a name for your confirmation page goal. For the tracking goal type, choose “Destination” since a confirmation page is the URL destination that marks the completion of a conversion.
In the third section of the goal template, you’ll need to provide a destination and value, and then outline the conversion funnel for the tracking goal.
The destination is similar to a label and how the goal will be shown in Google Analytics. Think of it as a URL suffix and choose something simple that’s representative of the confirmation page you’re tracking.
The value is, quite simply, a monetary value assigned to the goal you’re tracking.
The funnel refers to your conversion or sales funnel. A confirmation page will likely take the final position in the funnel. The screenshot above shows how the funnel section will look when set up properly.
Finally, click “Verify This Goal” at the bottom.
Verifying your goal will manually filter your Google Analytics data from the past seven days through your new tracking goal to tell you how many hits you would’ve gotten during that period. When you see numerical values for every step of the funnel, your confirmation page tracking goal is functional.
Goal: Form Submissions
There are a number of different uses for forms on an ecommerce site. For instance, many sites use forms for newsletter signups and as a convenient way for users to contact the company. You can also set up a form so leads can request a quote for made-to-order products and services.
Just as there are multiple uses for forms for your ecommerce site, there is more than one way to set up form submission goals in Google Analytics. First, if you use a confirmation page as a follow-up to a form submission, you would set up a form submission goal in much the same way as a confirmation page goal (outlined above). Alternatively, you can set up form submissions as Google Analytics events, and then use a form submission event as a tracking goal.
Once you have completed that setup in Google Tag Manager, return to Google Analytics, open the Admin menu, click “Goals” in the View column, and click the “+ New Goal” button.
In the screenshot above, you can see the options we chose while setting up a tracking goal for a contact form. In the first section, we chose the “Contact us” template. In the second section, we named the goal “Contact us” and selected “Event” as the goal type. Finally, we completed the details for the goal by filling in the category, action, and label. Since a form submission doesn’t equate to a sale, no value was assigned. However, you may choose to assign a value to an inquiry. It’s simply a matter of preference.
Goal: Products Added to Cart
Adding products to the shopping cart is another important goal to track and is a prerequisite for a purchase. The idea is to see how many people are adding products to the shopping cart so you can compare that to how many of those added products end with transactions. Doing this gives you an idea of how often users are abandoning their shopping carts.
There are two ways to set up Added-to-Cart goal tracking in Google Analytics, depending on how your ecommerce site is setup. If there’s some sort of confirmation page when a product is added to the shopping cart, then you’d follow the same steps as you would for a confirmation page. But if adding a product to the shopping cart isn’t followed by a confirmation, you’ll need to set it up as a triggered event with Google Tag Manager.
How to Set up an Added-to-Cart Goal
As you configure the trigger for the event in Google Tag Manager, you’ll want to select “Click – All Elements” as the trigger type. This ensures that mouse clicks will trigger the event. Next, select “Some Clicks” for what initiates the trigger and input the class and conditions for the event trigger. Use the + and – buttons to the right to add or remove triggers as needed.
You can see how these settings are reflected in the underlying code on your site by right-clicking on your “Add to Cart” button and selecting “Inspect element.”
After configuring the tracking event trigger, your Added-to-Cart goal is ready to start tracking.
Event: Abandoned Carts
When a cart is abandoned, it means the person who added the product to the shopping cart has changed his or her mind. On average, 69.57% of shopping carts are abandoned before purchases are made. With so many sales falling through the cracks, cart abandonment is a very important metric for ecommerce business owners to track.
It’s worth noting, though, that a tool like Jilt that can act on cart abandonment data can be especially useful. In addition, Glew.io can actually show which products are being left abandoned in the shopping cart most frequently and makes it easier to identify potential roadblocks in the buyer’s journey. Both Jilt and Glew.io are tools that are included with Managed WooCommerce at Hostdedi.
How to Set up an Abandoned Cart Event
Abandoned cart event tracking is most commonly done automatically when you have ecommerce enabled in Google Analytics.
To access your abandoned cart events, navigate to ecommerce > Cart Behavior. Not only does this show instances of cart abandonment, but you get to see instances of no products being added to the cart and instances of check-out abandonment. The idea is to get a concise visual representation of how many sales are lost at different points in the buyer’s journey.
Event: Video Views
Videos are the most popular, high-converting form of digital content today which is why setting up tracking for video views is important for ecommerce businesses. With Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, you can set up video tracking for instructional/information videos, video reviews, and product launch videos that are available on your website.
Tracking video view events on your site is particularly useful when combined with an ecommerce analytics tool like Glew.io for more insightful customer analytics. When you track video views, you can compare that figure to metrics like your pageviews, unique visitors, and conversions for a clearer picture of how users are engaging with your online store.
How to Set up a Video View Event
The most effective (and easiest) way to set up video view events is to use Google Tag Manager. And if your videos are hosted on YouTube, then Google Tag Manager takes just moments to set up.
In the screenshot above, you can see a pretty standard trigger configuration for a video view event. For the trigger configuration, all four capture options are selected including progress percentages in 25-percent intervals, but you can set it to track as much or as little as is helpful for you.
Once you have finished with trigger configuration, the tag configuration for your video view event should look similar to the screenshot above.
After you’ve finished setting up your video view event in Google Tag Manager, those events will be reported in Google Analytics. You can monitor instances of video view events in Behavior Event Reporting.
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Unfortunately, the rush of the holiday season is often followed by a sales slump that comes at the beginning of January. During this slump, sales are slow and returns are high as the excitement of the holiday rush fades away. As a result, retailers often find worry setting in as revenue drops.
Luckily, the new year sales slump doesn’t have to be a reality for your store. There are strategies for scaling sales and driving revenue during this period. Minimize the post-holiday dip in ecommerce sales and keep new sales coming in with the following strategic ecommerce marketing tactics.
Leverage New Year Resolutions
The new year brings with it driven, motivated people who are excited to fulfill their new year resolutions. Whether their goals are weight loss or improved health, organization, and productivity, personal development, career advancement, or home improvement, they’re on a mission and they need tools and supplies.
Leverage the power of social media by creating campaigns that tie your post-holiday ecommerce sales to new year resolutions. Run integrated email campaigns that target segments that have bought from you before.
A post shared by STA Travel (@statravel) on Jan 1, 2017 at 2:45am PST
Travel brands promote post-holiday sales by aligning content with consumers’ resolutions concerning discovery. As individuals begin to look towards their 2020 goals, it’s your job to make sure you get out in front of them, staying top of mind and bottom of funnel.
The opportunities are limitless and allow you to connect with your consumers in a way you can’t during other times of the year. Once you’ve connected with them, it’s much easier to drive sales.
Release A New Product
There’s no better way to bring back customers for more, than by releasing a brand new product that wasn’t available during the holiday season. This strategy not only helps drive sales, but it also brings with it increased engagement and brand reach.
LEGO is brilliant at this strategy. Every year, LEGO cleans house with their holiday sales. Then, in the new year, they release a new modular building (priced in the hundreds of dollars) and brand new LEGO sets that weren’t available before. Naturally, along with the new product release, comes another flood of sales from LEGO fans and collectors.
New products are also an excellent way of repositioning your brand during the new year. Tying those products into New Year resolutions and New Year themes allows your store to show distinction in your market.
Launch A New Sale
Discounts, sales, special offers, promotions, and coupons motivate people to buy no matter what the time of year. Usually, regardless of how much they have already bought. This means that just as the holiday sales are ending, new sales need to be launched to keep the momentum going.
Post-holiday sales not only entice those making returns to make new purchases, but bring back past customers and tempt new ones. This can include products that consumers saved for later during the holiday spending frenzy.
Not sure what type of post-holiday ecommerce sale to offer? Consider offering a free gift with purchase or hosting a clearance blow-out sale.
Market To Your Email List
While social media may be the hottest marketing tool available, email is showing no signs of going away. Not only is email the first place 58% of individuals check every day, but it also has a conversion rate of 6.05% versus just 1.9% for social media.
Email marketing, which your customers and prospective customers have opted in for, can boost post-holiday ecommerce sales and stabilize ecommerce income. Roughly one in three US retail email list subscribers have purchased something from a brand whose emails they receive. And that’s not all, consumers, on average, spend 138% more when marketed to through email, as compared to those who do not receive email offers.
By marketing to core email segments during this holiday period, you’re able to secure low-hanging business. Email marketing, when done effectively, keeps your business top of mind and ensures that as soon as consumers start looking to make purchases, you’ll be there.
Bottom Line: Show Up
After the holiday rush is over, you may be exhausted and tempted to take a break and enjoy the slow-down that happens in January. Don’t give in. One of the biggest mistakes ecommerce stores can make is to go dark in January because it is difficult to get revenue back to where it needs after it has dropped for too long.
Instead, show up, show off, been seen, and speak up. When other retailers take a break, launch a new product, kick off a new marketing campaign, and host a new sale. When other retailers focus on restocking inventory, host a clearance sale to clear out the rest of yours.
If you can do that, you’ll kick off the new year ahead of the competition and set the stage to have your best year ever. And, if you want an ecommerce partner whose got your back no matter what, Hostdedi is here to help. Hostdedi managed ecommerce solutions come with bundled plugins and optimizations to ensure your business is targeting the right consumers with the right experience.