touchscreen ecommerce
PHOTO: Timothy Muza

Every marketer understands that maintaining product and service quality is paramount because it reassures customers that features and performance will remain consistent, both across users and over time. Maintaining high levels of quality is challenging but necessary. 

Getting a handle on the quality of website traffic presents no less of a challenge. And to do that, marketers want to gain a sense of how many visitors are visiting a given site, and the quality of those visits as well. 

Google Session Reports Provide Granular Data

One way to track website visit quality is to use the Session Quality Reports in Google Analytics. They are specifically tailored for ecommerce needs because they are designed to identify the likelihood of conversions from site visits. 

Google defines high quality sessions by tracking whether your site visitors are more likely to take various actions that you have pre-specified as goals in Google Analytics. For instance, you can set session goals such as spending, benchmark times on your site, navigating along certain paths or to certain pages — and perhaps most interesting, tracking purchases. 

Does Your Site Meet Google’s Ecommerce Specs?

Session Quality Reports come with some caveats. Google Analytics must have ecommerce tracking implemented, and ecommerce transactions must meet a minimum threshold of 1,000 per month. What’s more, even once that threshold is reached, 30 days of data must be collected to model the report.

Session Quality Report results are based on machine learning protocols similar to Google’s longstanding and successful Smart Goals, which I previously wrote about here

How to Navigate Session Quality Reports

Once on Google Analytics, the report can be found in the Audience section. Navigate to ‘Behavior,’ where Session Quality Report appears as part of the dropdown. 

Once there, you will see what initially looks like a referral traffic report, which is due in part to channel grouping as a default setting. 

At the top of the report is a series of bar graphs, with visits shown in three buckets: session, session with transaction, and session without transactions. The bar graphs show Session Quality and Average Session Quality metrics to estimate the user’s proximity to a conversion action. 

Google calculates the proximity to conversion action, expressed as a score between 1 and 100 for each session within the date range, with 1 representing the farthest from, and 100 being the closest to, a transaction. Each score range is represented by a bar chart to make assessing conversion likelihood easier.  

To focus on a either a particular channel or a desired view, channel groupings can be adjusted via the Admin feature under Channel Settings.   

Getting a Handle on Session Quality

Session quality reflects visit quality. Visit quality, gauged through various metrics, is of particular interest to online retailers, particularly as customer migration to mobile devices has contributed to sales upheaval among traditional retailers. 

As customers gravitate toward seamless online purchasing experiences, that shift is hitting bricks and mortar retailer sales pretty hard. Numerous retailers have filed for bankruptcy or are facing potential elimination from the marketplace, perhaps because they didn’t have robust measurement strategies in place to address website quality. 

Site Quality Isn’t Just for Retail Giants Anymore

The best retailers know they must keep tabs on site quality to remain competitive. For example, back in 2009 as retailers like Sears and Macy’s began experiencing declining sales, The Gap, which also owns Banana Republic and Old Navy, became the first to achieve $1 billion in online revenue in a single fiscal quarter. 

The retailer used analytics to streamline its site features so that customers could easily cross-shop across brands, fostering better customer retention and translating that into sales. 

Nor is the expectation of quality limited to large enterprises. eMarketer recently reported that customers expect small business websites to have the same quality as their enterprise counterparts. When disappointed by the site experience, customers don’t make allowances for company size, they simple leave a site without purchasing.  

So no matter the scale of your business, the need for maintaining customer experience has become paramount. Tracking your website traffic using analytic reports like Session Quality is one way to keep your site — and your business — optimized and competitive.