Data, data, data.

You can barely move (or read any articles online — this site included) without hearing about the importance of data in ecommerce.

Are you collecting the right information? How are you using it? Are you getting actionable insights that you can use to improve your B2C marketing efforts? And are you doing this in an efficient and effective way, or are you spending all day staring at an Excel spreadsheet wishing you’d paid a bit more attention in math class?

You can’t track everything, but there are some crucial ecommerce metrics that you should be focusing on if you want to better understand your average customers’ preferences, improve your marketing efforts, and boost revenue. Here are our top ten ecommerce metrics that you must track to keep track of your B2C business growth.

1. Customer lifetime value

Keeping your existing customers happy so they come back and buy more of your products is WAY cheaper than constantly trying to attract new customers. In fact, it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

That’s why it only makes sense to keep track of whether your B2C business is driving second, third, and fourth purchases. In order to assess your customers over time, you should track customer lifetime value (CLTV). There are two types of CLTV:

  • Historical CLTV – a customer’s current value based on their past purchases
  • Predictive CLTV – a forecast of a customer’s future CLTV based on past behavior

To work out CLTV for the past year, here is the basic equation to use:

Average order value X Average number of purchases last year

CustomerLifetimeValue

The report above shows how you can drill down to an individual customer profile to see each customer’s lifetime value and compare it to your overall average CLTV. In this case, Denise has a CLTV of $501.20 with an AOV of $100.24, which is higher than your average buyer. This data can help you as you try to drive up your CLTV through new marketing tactics. 

2. Sales conversion rate

Imagine this scenario: you pore over reports each week and you’re getting really excited because traffic to your website is increasing week over week. It’s up 40% from last year, which means your marketing is clearly killing it. But then, you look at how many sales you’ve made in that same time period. Suddenly the picture isn’t quite so rosy.

That’s exactly why you have to measure your overall sales conversion rate, from the first click through to purchase. It doesn’t matter if your traffic is up if it’s not converting to actual revenue. 

To work out your sales conversion rate, here’s the equation to use:

Number of sales / Total number of users

 

3. Average order value

If you want to grow your business, you also want to get your customers to spend more money on your products over time. That may sound obvious, but how are you going to get your customers to spend more tomorrow if you don’t know what they are spending today? To better understand how much your customers are spending, you need to track the average order value (AOV).

AOV is a vital metric to track, especially over time. If you keep an eye on this metric and it moves up or down, you can see whether your marketing is effectively driving your buyers to purchase higher value products or if your business may be in trouble.

Here’s how to calculate average order size:

Total revenue / Total number of product sales

AverageOrderValue

This report goes into even more detail, showing you your AOV for customers at specific stages in the customer lifecycle. So at 1 purchase, your AOV is $139, while repeat purchasers have an AOV of $136. This may help you think about how you can drive up the AOV for your repeat and loyal customers so as to effectively improve your ROI on marketing efforts. 

4. Cart abandonment rate

Online shopping cart abandonment is a major issue for ecommerce and B2C brands, with cart abandonment rate as high as 82% in certain industries. There are many reasons why customers will abandon your site without making a purchase, ranging from technical issues to the cost of delivery to untrustworthy and not-so-secure payment options. Finding out how big a problem cart abandonment is for your site is the first step towards being able to solve some of these issues and improve your checkout process.

To work out your cart abandonment rate, use this equation:

Number of completed purchases / Number of shopping carts created

5. Email conversion to revenue

Designing a pretty email with some interesting content is only the first step in creating successful email marketing. Email marketing done right can drive real revenue — it generates 174% more conversions than social media marketing. But measuring email engagement is more than just looking at opens, click-throughs, bounce rates, and unsubscribes. Those are really just vanity metrics.

The key to great email marketing is tying email directly to revenue. To work out your email conversion to revenue, here’s the equation:

Number of sales from emails / number of total emails delivered

EmailConversiontoRevenue

The above chart shows this calculation in even more detail, tracking sends to your email list from open, click, to page view, to product purchase. This is a great way to fully understand your entire email marketing funnel from start to end and identify any weaknesses in the process.

6. Social media conversion rate

Having 10,000 followers on Instagram doesn’t mean a thing if none of them ever buy from your brand. Tracking social media engagement is similar to tracking email engagement metrics in that it’s easy to get distracted by vanity metrics that don’t indicate actual success. For example, if you just focus on retweets or likes, you won’t be getting a true picture.

You need to measure more meaningful metrics such as average click per posts, which you calculate by dividing the number of social media posts over a specific period by the number of published social media posts. It’s important to do this for each social media channel individually so you know which works better for your brand.

But most importantly, you should work out your social media conversion rate, which you can calculate with this equation:

Number of sales from social media / Number of total posts

SocialMediaConversionRate

This report shows conversion rates in even more detail, looking at specific campaigns by each social media platform, showing you exactly how much revenue each of your campaigns has driven. This information is incredibly valuable as you look to continue to improve your ecommerce marketing campaigns. 

7. Revenue by traffic source

If you want to know where to spend your marketing budget, you’ve got to know which channel your revenue is coming from. You may already know by tracking clicks and visitors to your website by traffic source, or even number of transactions, but you’re likely getting half the story.

To do this, you need to be looking at sales conversion rate (see metric number two in this list) per traffic source, so you know which channels to double down on, and where you can cut your spend.

SalesConversionRate

In this report you can see not only how your site traffic is converting to revenue overall, but also which specific traffic sources are performing best. Here, you can see that your cost-per-click marketing has driven the most revenue, with nearly $720,000. Even better, you can keep an eye on the conversion rates for each traffic source, showing you that some campaigns are more efficient than others at driving revenue. 

8. Customer acquisition cost

Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is key in working out the profitability of your business and understanding the return on your marketing investments. If it costs less to acquire customers in certain channels or through certain types of campaigns, then you can focus more of your spending there to maximize profits. You also know which channels and campaigns you need to optimize to get even more return on investment.

To calculate your customer acquisition cost, you can use this equation:

Total amount spent on customer acquisition / Total customers acquired

9. Percentage of returning customers

As we’ve already mentioned, it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. According to Adobe, in the US just 40% of revenue comes from returning or repeat customers, who represent only 8% of all visitors. This means, if you want to run a successful ecommerce business, you have to ensure you’re keeping your existing customers happy enough to buy from you again and again.

To make sure your marketing is doing this effectively, you need to track your percentage of returning customers. Here’s the equation to calculate this:

Number of return customers / Total number of customers

10. Website engagement metrics

It’s easy to get caught up in measuring external factors like emails and social media and forget about your on-site website metrics. If you track these metrics, it’ll also give you insight into other aspects of your marketing strategy such as the effectiveness of your CTAs and your payment pages. Within the website, there are many metrics you can track, including:

  • Unique sessions
  • Average session duration
  • Bounce rate
  • Returning visitors vs. new users
  • Pages per session
  • Time on page

WebsiteEngagementMetrics

If you focus on tracking these ten topline metrics then you’ll be able to see which pages are weaknesses for your brand with a low time on page and a high bounce rate. However, you also have to track the conversion funnel and buyers move through your site. The metrics could tell you, for example, that the product pages in your ecommerce store are not driving buyers to the checkout at high enough rates, causing you to reevaluate your product pages entirely. Maybe you need new photos or better reviews from your customers. You have to use the data to inform your experimentation and drive improvement in your conversion rates and your overall acquisition funnel.

These are really just the very top line metrics that you must track as an ecommerce marketer. There are many more ecommerce metrics that may help you understand your specific industry or space better. You know your business best, but as long as you keep an eye on the right metrics, you’ll know even more about your business than ever before and constantly drive yourself to improve.

Karen McCandless

Karen McCandless is a content strategist, digital analyst, and researcher, specializing in business communications, and technology. Her work has appeared on The Next Web, Softonic, Business2Community, GetApp.com, Business.com, and Microsoft Europe.