Well, that means that any of the traffic sources you see in Google Analytics could show how that person found the Etsy home page or an entirely different shop before they navigated to yours within Etsy. Half your so-called social media traffic could be from other people’s marketing! (And not in a good way…)
Even worse, Google Analytics doesn’t show you how people found your shop within Etsy, which makes up the bulk of your traffic. Etsy search, clicks from favorites or recently viewed, promoted listings: all hidden.
A long time ago, when I worked in retail, I envied the prim, organised merchandisers whose sole responsibility was (as far as I could tell from behind the counter) to fluff around with enticing displays of gifts and stationery.
I know I’m not the only one!
Now as Etsy sellers, we get to “merchandise” our own online shops every day.
Check how our listing thumbnails look all together in the catalogue.
Pour over a new product page to make sure every detail is perfect.
Go through our shop policies with a fine tooth comb to make sure we aren’t accidentally committing to replacing unwanted items with a lifetime supply of Starbucks…
And I know—because I’ve spent my fair share of time there—that we do a lot of this “fluffing around” in our public shop front. You know – the exact same view that our buyers see.
The pages of our shop where our Google Analytics code runs. Those pages.
If you’ve hung around here for a while, you’ll have heard a little about UTM Campaign Tags. They are the magic ingredient for making sure that visits from Instagram, Pinterest and anywhere else show up in your Google Analytics reports correctly.
Why doesn’t this happen right in the first place??
To know where a visitor came from, Google Analytics has to listen in to the conversation happening between the visitor’s browser and your website. Often this conversation includes information about the last page the visitor looked at (their traffic source).
This is called “referral” information.
But sometimes, for a whole bunch of technical reasons, it doesn’t have this information or it’s wrong. In many of these cases, the visit will be attributed as “direct” traffic (the catch-all black hole bucket of mystery visits!)and you’ll never know if your marketing actually worked.
Campaign tags let us control all the information about the source of the visit and leave nothing to chance.
Keep reading to find out how and where to use campaign tags for marketing your handmade shop!
This article has been updated for Google Analytics 4. (You don’t need to change your tagged links!)
IMPORTANT: These instructions are for Universal Analytics. Google Analytics 4 comes with a built-in method for testing filters without needing to maintain separate Views. (In fact, the concept of “Views” no longer exists!)
Before you start creating or testing things with Filters in Google Analytics, it’s important to take some steps to keep your data safe.
What’s the danger?
Whenever you make changes to your GA settings for things like Goals, Filters, Content Groupings etc. — all the things I describe in my articles — the changes to your data are permanent. You need a backup without any of these changes, just in case you get something wrong…
Like accidentally creating a filter that removes ALL your traffic and you don’t notice for a week… right during a big ad campaign!
A Testing area takes it one step further to let you test out these settings first, then apply them to your main set of data only when you’re sure they’re working correctly. It’s up to you to decide how risky you think a change is and whether you should test it out first.
How do we do this in Google Analytics?
In Analytics, you can have multiple ways of viewing the same data. These are called, appropriately, Views.
In this guide, we’ll create a backup “Raw Data” view to preserve everything with the default settings, and a “Test” view for trialing more complicated Filters before applying them to your main View (normally called “All Web Site Data”).
We’re used to asking people to sign up to newsletters and email lists. We might need to tweak how we do it and refine our “consent process”. But the basics stay the same:
People actively send us their details.
But personalized advertising and analytics happened in the background. No questions asked.