Ashley Agee

About Ashley Agee

Ashley has a BS in Business with a concentration in Marketing from UNCG. She considers herself a marketing maniac during the day and marvelous mom at night. When not working she enjoys spending time with her family and training horses. Connect with Ashley on Google+
19 06, 2017

19 Engagements on an eCommerce Site You Should be Tracking

By | 2017-08-07T16:07:54+00:00 June 19th, 2017|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , |

For our client Soffe, we completed a Google Analytics Migration from the old classic GA code to the new Universal set up through Tag Manager. With this upgrade Soffe went from having very little engagement data (event tracking, virtual pageviews, goals and ecommerce info) for their eCommerce site to now having lots of great information that they can use to continue to improve their site and learn about their customer behavior. Not only are they now able to use all the great features in GA that is offered with the Universal Code but they also have been upgraded to enhanced eCommerce.

I wanted to use them as the example of engagement areas on an eCommerce site that you should be tracking if you are not already. So here are some areas you should be tracking.

Engagements to Track on an eCommerce Site

  • Contact Interactions:

o   Phone calls

o   Chats

o   Contact form submissions

o   Email address clicks

  • Cart Page Interactions:

o   Deleting a product

o   Applying a coupon code

o   Getting a shipping a quote

o   Paypal checkout

o   Move to wishlist

o   Update Cart

  • Product Detail Page Interactions:

o   Add to cart

o   Add to wishlist

o   Social Sharing

o   Review submissions

o   Size Chart Views

  • Other Interactions:

o   Email Sign Up

o   Video Views

o   Outbound Links

o   Account Logins/Creations

As mentioned before, these are just a few engagements on that we tracked. If I shared the full list with you, it would be super long. With that said though, there are many areas of an eCommerce site that should be tracked and if your GA set up is missing areas of engagement on your site, then give us a call!  We can help set up your site to be fully tracked in Google Analytics.

Not sure if you’re site is set up well or is missing some areas of tracking? Request a FREE assessment.



12 06, 2017

New Variable Configuration in Tag Manager

By | 2017-06-06T12:05:15+00:00 June 12th, 2017|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , |

If you’ve been using Tag Manger, you probably know how easy it is to forget about setting certain fields in each of your Tags, such as Cookie domain, cross domain tracking, etc. We’ve run into a couple instances of companies that have set up Tag Manager Tags for their websites and forgot to set all the proper settings in their tags. For one company in particular this caused their GA to show a large amount of self-referrals because their subdomains were not tracking properly. Luckily, that shouldn’t be an issue anymore for anyone using Tag Manager. Why you might be asking? It’s because now you have the ability to set up a Variable Configuration which can be used across all of your tags and contain the settings that need to always be in place to keep your website tracking properly.

This new Variable Configuration is called Google Analytics Settings.

variable configuration settings for tag manager

Within this variable configuration you can set up things like – cookie domain, cross domain tracking, ecommerce tracking, content groups, etc. Before this new variable configuration, you had to manually set these up in every.single.tag. Now you can set it up here, then use it when you set up new tags.

tag settings

Of course, if for some reason you don’t want to use it or shouldn’t, then you can always select the box to override the settings. When you do that, you’ll have to manually set up whatever fields you need though.

So tell me, have you used this new variable configuration for tag manager yet? Do you think it makes it easier to make sure all the proper settings are in place for each of your tags?

6 06, 2017

Don’t Forget about Google Analytics when Redesigning Your Website

By | 2017-06-06T10:52:29+00:00 June 6th, 2017|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , |

Are you planning to redesign your website soon? Have you already laid out the changes you want to make and have a timeline in place for getting the redesigned completed and launched? Is Google Analytics tracking code migration a task that is on your redesign list? If you answered yes, then I can tell website tracking is important to you. If you answered no, then you could be making a HUGE mistake and causing your team undue stress!! So this post is for you and I highly recommend you read on.

Make It A Priority

We have worked with many clients here at Beacon who have redesigned their sites. Some have worked with our development team and others have their own team. In house, Google analytics code migrations are always accounted for and known as a TOP PRIORITY before a site goes live. However, when we’ve worked with outside companies for development we’ve run into many instances where Google Analytics is a last thought. I’m actually working on site redesign right now where I get constant updates on when the site is planning to be launched live and yet the tag manager code hasn’t even been added to the site nor is eCommerce tracking in place. Despite sending numerous emails and having multiple phone calls, it just doesn’t seem Google Analytics tracking is a priority for the development team working on the site nor the PM managing all of the agencies. In all honesty, I’m very worried this site will be launched with no code in place or launched with the code in place but give me no time to get everything set up and tested before the site goes live. Either scenario is not good, which is why I wanted to write this post.

In a perfect world, all codes for GA (such as Tag manager container scripts, data layers, etc) would be added in the test environment so that GA can be fully set up and tested before the site goes live. Then when the site is ready to be pushed live, you switch out the UA ID variable, hit publish and you’re done.

What Can Go Wrong

In a not so perfect world, if the codes are added to the site after the site goes live it could potentially cause issues with codes conflicting, loss of tracking for a period of time and other problems. Let me share with you some examples of issues we’ve seen:

  • We’ve had GA codes conflict with other codes on a page which has caused pages to break.
  • We’ve seen checkout break due to codes conflicting. This is a BIG Problem for eCommerce site not just because people can’t check out and they are losing revenue now but they also could losing a lifetime customer.
  • We’ve seen websites go live with no tracking and therefore no visits were tracked for days which in turn messes up YOY data and keeps you from seeing if the site has any potential issues with SEO or usage.

While these might sound like easy fixes, they have not been. Which is why I would highly recommend making GA Code Migration an important step in your website redesign. Whether you’re in the midst of a redesign or just considering it, now is the perfect time to add Tag Manager to your site and move away from hard-coding GA. If you don’t have a large complicated site, then it takes no time for a developer to add the container code and any data layers needed for tracking. It’s much faster than adding hard-coded snippets to different elements on a site.

Start Planning Now

So with that said, don’t let GA tracking be an afterthought in your redesign process. Don’t let it fall through the cracks and miss out on tracking visits and engagements on your new site. Talk about it when you first start meeting to layout the redesign process. Make sure you have a GA specialist in your meetings who can tell you what codes to add, when to add them and get it tested before you push your new site live.

I promise you, making sure the code is in place and working correctly before a site goes live, keeps you and your development team sane and saves everyone from many headaches and the potential for lots of stress if it’s added afterwards.

19 10, 2016

Google Analytics Most Underused Report – Network Visits

By | 2020-01-29T16:14:17+00:00 October 19th, 2016|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: |

Assuming your familiar with Google Analytics, then you know that GA has many valuable reports and lots of great information related to your website. At the basic level you can get sessions, pageviews, bounce rates and more. With advanced tracking you can get engagement metrics, goal conversions, offline data and more. However, did you know that from a basic level you can also get information related to sessions from certain Networks which can then be used for prospecting new clients?

The Networks report has been around a long time, yet we don’t see clients use it very often. When we talk to them, we realize they don’t see the benefit in the report and therefore don’t look at it. Yet, this report has a huge benefit, especially for B2B companies who could benefit from knowing what other companies are viewing their site.

Let’s dive into this report so I can give you an example of how we use it here at Beacon. First, to view this report you’ll need to open analytics and then go to Audience > Technology > Network.

service provider path


Now that you have this report open, you should see data related to Service Providers.

service provider report


Before I show you how we use this report, I want to fill you in on a secret you might not know.

Larger companies and even some small ones, have their own service providers, so therefore you will see their company name listed as a Service Provider!

Did you know that? Are you able to start seeing how this report can be useful? Have I sparked your interest and got your idea wheel spinning? I hope so.

Moving on though, let me show you how we find this report helpful here at Beacon.

Recently, we’ve started to work with more and more Universities and are slowly becoming a leader in this industry for providing web development and digital marketing services. So this report is great for us to see what Universities are looking at on our website. To do this, I use the filter function and Include Only Service Providers matching “university|college|school”.

service provider filter

Once this filter is in place, then I’m only seeing sessions from service providers with one of those keywords in the name. An example is below.


google analytics service provider

Now that I can see what schools are interested in Beacon, I can then filter it further by adding a second dimension for Pages and see what pages on our website these schools looked at. From here, I can pass along this information to our sales team so they can begin the process of reaching out to these Universities to see if our services could be of help to them.

This same method could be beneficial to you as well. You can apply the same steps I used, just change out the information to match your customers better. As an added bonus, since I know your filtering might not be as easy as ours, here’s a list of service providers you can exclude so you can then see what companies are left.

Time warner|mci|Verizon|Comcast|charter|cox|telecom|at&t|north state|communications|embarq|sprint|service provider|centurytel|private

From there, you’ll be able to get an idea of how you can better filter your data to get the information that would be most helpful to your business.

Don’t wait any longer! Go Dig in!


1 09, 2016

Dig Deeper into your Data with Advanced Segments

By | 2017-06-16T13:13:56+00:00 September 1st, 2016|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , |

I love Google Analytics. I love that you’re able to easily dig deep into data to discover hidden secrets about your website that might not be obvious with the basic reports in GA. In order to do this deeper analysis, you’ve got to use advanced segments. It can be scary at first for the average GA user, but once you start using them you discover how powerful they can be and the greater insights you can get from your data.

Recently, we performed a deep dive (aka some advanced reporting) for a client to try to uncover some of these hidden secrets about their website. We wanted to find out if certain features available to users was helping or hurting the sites performance. We could see that people were using these features, but needed to dig deeper to see how that usage affected goal completions and behavior.

Let me set the scene:

This client sells B2B (offline) and B2C (online). The goal of the website is to provide information about their products and also generate sales. For our deep dive, we looked at many data points, but for this post I want to focus on only two:

  • If the blog was helping to drive goal completions and qualified traffic


  • How the retailer locator affected behavior on the site and goal completions

So to look at both of these, I had to set up advanced segments for visits including blog views and visits with no blog view.

Here’s a look at how those advanced segments looked:

Visits including Blog View

advanced segment set up

Visits with no blog view

advanced segment set up

Notice the only difference is one says “include” and the other “exclude”. Now let’s look at the data.

advanced segment in google analytics

Look at the parts I highlighted. We see from a high level that visits with NO blog view have much better behavior. Sessions have lower bounce rate, more pages per session and higher session duration. Not only that, these visits’ goal conversion rate was 2.5x better.

So now you’re probably asking yourself, “What does this mean?” Well, it means the blog isn’t helping provide value for this site and increase the likelihood of a goal completion. No, they shouldn’t kill the blog and remove it; instead they need to look at their current blog strategy and how it can be tweaked and improved to help increase behavior and goal completions. For our analysis, we stopped at this point due to time constraints but when the client is ready to look at the blog and come up with a new strategy, we’ll dig deeper into this data and look at their top blog posts over the past year and how each of those has affected behavior. Doing that will allow us to get info on which blog posts provide value and which do not. Then we can come up with a strategy to refresh those older posts and create new posts.

Now let’s look at the retailer locator and see how it affects behavior and conversions.

Here is how I set up these advanced segments:

Sessions excluding Retailer Page

advanced segment set up

Sessions including Retailer Page

advanced segment set up


Looking at this chart, we can see the retailer locator improves behavior on the site and results in higher session duration, more pages viewed and lower bounce rate. However, it does NOT help ecommerce.

advanced segment in google analytics

So what does this mean? Well it means, the retailer locator is a good feature to help improve session behavior but shouldn’t be as visible since it doesn’t increase online ecommerce conversions. Currently, the retailer locator was highly visible in the main navigation and the utility navigation. After looking at this data along with other data (not shown in this post) we determined it was best to leave this feature on the site but since selling online was the #1 goal of the website, we wanted to make it less visible and remove it from the navigations and move the link to the footer. This way the link is still accessible from all pages.

Something to note, with the retailer locator, we can only go off the data we have. Unfortunately, for this client it’s not possible for us to get offline information that we could then import into GA to get a clearer understanding of whether the retailer locator helps to increase offline sales or not and should be left highly visible.

As with any website change, it’s very important to annotate the change in Google Analytics so you can easily see if your change has caused any fluctuations in your data. Now it’s your turn! Look at your website and see if there are things on it you would like to dig into deeper to see if it’s helping or hurting engagement. I bet you’ll be surprised and excited with the new data you’ll get!

And by the way, if you don’t feel comfortable digging into GA yourself, let Beacon help! :) We offer GA Training which can be customized to teach you how to set up Advanced segments and reporting or we can do the deep dive for you.

3 03, 2016

Two Reasons for Missing Transactions in Google Analytics

By | 2020-01-29T15:17:53+00:00 March 3rd, 2016|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , |

missing transaction data in analytics

How closely have you looked at your transaction data in Google Analytics? Have you seen where sometimes there are missing transactions in GA?

Here is an example of what I mean:


transaction data in analytics 2

Notice, in this example transaction numbers that are missing are: W000051, W000050, W000043.

Can you guess why they might be missing?

Alright don’t give yourself a headache trying to rack your brain for reason this happens. Let me give you a couple reasons I’ve found and just keep in mind this could be true for your CMS or there could be a totally different reason.


Reason #1 for Missing Transactions

Remember the data above, well the reason for the skipped transaction IDs there is because this particular CMS generates an order number for any user who gets past the billing/shipping screen in the checkout process but didn’t make it through and complete the order.

Basically, an order is created and a cookie set so that the user can come back to the site within a months’ time and complete their order should they decide too. If they don’t and the month has passed the order is deleted out of the system.


Reason #2 for Missing Transactions

Here is another example of missing orders from a separate GA account.

transaction data in analytics 2

Notice in this example missing order numbers are: 121098, 121097, 121092, 121091, 121089, 121088, 121085.

Quite a few, huh!

The reason for these missing orders is totally unrelated to the first reason. This particular CMS is Aspdotnetstorefront which is a popular ecommerce platform. Missing orders here are related to a user going through the checkout and putting in credit card information then clicking to submit the order and getting a payment error message. When they enter their info again and click submit a brand new order number is created.

Crazy! I know! It’s always so interesting to me how CMS’s function. I don’t understand the reasoning for this but we’ll just table that for another discussion.

So anyway, I’d love to hear if you’ve noticed this problem in your analytics account and if the same reasons apply to your data or if you have other reasoning’s for it! Leave me a comment below and let me know.

Make sure you check back often too. I’ll update this post if I find any other reasons this can happens.  :)

1 02, 2016

How to find Bot traffic and segment it out in Google Analytics

By | 2017-07-20T09:23:04+00:00 February 1st, 2016|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , |

Recently, I had a client come to me with this question (and mind you, we don’t manage Google Analytics for them. They were consulting with us on this problem):

“My traffic for Q1 has grown 86% YOY but they are not buying on my site. Is there something wrong?” 

My first thought: 86% – Whoa! – that’s some serious growth! My second thought: No way that can be real traffic growth (knowing this client doesn’t do much SEO for their site). So, I wondered if this issue is bot related. I jump into the data and start digging around…

Here are the steps I took to figure out the problem and fix it.

1st – Figure out where the increase in Traffic came from

To do this, I pulled session data by medium for Q1 YOY and right away I see a huge increase in traffic related to one medium….Direct. To be exact it was an increase of 376%, almost 134,000 visits! Now I’m definitely thinking my assumption about it being bot traffic is right.

google analytics


2nd – Find the Bot Traffic

Now that we know the increase is related to direct, I start looking at ways to figure out if its bot traffic. I move on to look at Browser traffic. Right away I see Chrome had a significant increase in sessions and new users.

Chrome - Google

So now I know I need to look deeper into Chrome and click to see the browser versions.

browser bot

Low and behold, the very first browser version 39.0.2171.95 shows an increase in session by 2,528% and new users by 3,690%. At this point I was totally getting all giddy and excited. You know that feeling you get on Christmas morning when you’ve just woke up and you can’t wait to see what presents you got but you have to wait just a little while longer on the rest of the family to wake up. Well that was me. I was so excited and anxious, knowing I was so close to getting the answer and fixing the problem but wasn’t there quite yet! (Insert childish grin here.)

Ok – so back on track now. We know the issue is coming from Chrome and specifically version 39.0.2171.95. And we know this is the issue because sessions drastically increase, bounce rate is 99.85%, time on site is 00:00:01 and there is no revenue. (I mean come on, I know the site needs improvements but it’s not that bad!) And remember this is for all traffic, no filter has been applied yet. Now I want to see if any of the traffic coming from this browser is good traffic or not. So I add a secondary dimension for medium. I can see that there is some good traffic tied to other mediums but majority of the bad traffic is direct.

So now I turn on an advanced segment for direct traffic and turn off all sessions. After doing that, I change the secondary dimension from medium to landing page to see if I can narrow down a page that is being hit.

browser bot chrome

As luck would have it (and as I had assumed), the homepage showed a huge increase in sessions. So given all the information, I now had I could safely make the assumption: It was a bot causing the increase in sessions to the site and the problem was coming from Chrome and the homepage was involved. Using all that info, I can now set up an advanced segment to filter out the bot traffic.

 3rd – Set up an Advanced Segment to Filter out Bot Traffic

To set up the advance segment, click the + sign then click on Conditions in the left navigation. Now fill in the field using this information:

advanced segment for bot traffic

But because I’m super nice, here is a direct link to open and save the advanced segment in your Google analytics account: (Keep in mind you’ll need to tweak some of the fields based on your sites data such as landing page.)

You’re welcome ;)

 4th – Review the Data

Now that the advance segment has been saved, I turn off the direct traffic advanced segment and add back the all sessions segment. Once that is done loading, I return to the all traffic>source medium report and switch the primary dimension to medium. I now can see that only direct traffic shows a change in sessions and the behavior stats look a lot better. I also double check no other mediums were affected by the advance segment and make sure sessions numbers match for exclude and all sessions…which they do. So we’re good to go.

As a disclaimer – looking at the browser report I could see it looked like some bot traffic might still be coming through by the number was so low that it wouldn’t be a problem so I decided to leave the advanced segment as is instead of adding anything to it.



20 01, 2016

How to Set up a Custom Report for eComm Conversion Rate per User

By | 2016-04-18T09:48:04+00:00 January 20th, 2016|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , |

I love analytics and all the information that can be extracted from the data. I happen to work with quite a few ecommerce clients and we are always looking for ways to improve online revenue. Each month we comb through the data and most of the time are always concentrating on revenue and eCommerce conversion rate. While this metric is great, I feel like it doesn’t provide enough insight into the users of the site.

As a reminder – eCommerce Conversion Rate = sessions / transactions

Sessions are generated by Users. 1 user can have multiple sessions. However you can’t have 1 session with multiple users. So I wanted to see what the ecommerce rate looked like based on Users of the site and not just sessions. In order to extract this information, I had to set up a few things in Google Analytics.


Steps for Setting up eCommerce Conversion Rate per User

1st Set up a Calculated Metric

  1. Go to the admin section of your account then open up your default view.
  2. Click on Calculated Metrics
    • Click to add a new calculated metric
    • Fill in the form:
        • Name = eComm Conv Rate Per User
        • Formatting Type = percent
        • Formula = {{Transactions}} / {{Users}}
        • Click Save

      calculated metric in GA

2nd Set up a New Custom Report

  1. Now go to the Customization Tab. (Top Navigation beside Admin)
  2. Click to add a New Custom Report.
  3. Now you need to fill in this form and choose your metrics.
    1. Title: eComm Rate per User
    2. Name: You can name this whatever you want to call the tab. I used the title over.
    3. Metric Groups: Choose Sessions, users, ecommerce conversion rate, and then ecomm conv rate per user (the metric you set up).
    4. Add a dimension: I choose to add medium, but you can choose any dimension you want to see Source/medium, campaign, source, etc.
    5. Next, choose the views you want this report to be available for and click Save.


custom report

Now your new custom report will generate and you can compared the metrics.

Here’s an example:

ecomm_conv_rate_metric Pretty cool huh?! Now try setting it up yourself.


14 09, 2015

How to Track Adwords Sitelink Extensions

By | 2018-09-14T15:36:55+00:00 September 14th, 2015|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , |

Sitelinks Google

Do you use sitelink extensions in your Google Adwords Account? If so, how do you track how they are doing in Google Analytics? Did you know they are not automatically tagged like ads are and therefore in order to see their performance in GA, you have to do a couple things different with them?

Here are the steps that I take in order to track site extensions.

How To Set Up Tracking

After speaking to a Google rep, I learned that the only way to track sitelink extension visits to your website is to send the visitor to unique landing pages. When I say unique, I mean landing pages that are not used in text ads or display ads. Users only get to these pages from sitelinks.

Here is an example of one way to set it up:

Text ad – Final URL: /home

Display Ad – Final URL: /womens

Sitelink – Final URL: /pro-weight/

How To View Results in Google Analytics

Alright – so now your sitelink has a unique URL so it’s time to find visit information from that URL in GA. In order to do that, you’re going to need to pull up the Campaigns report under Acquisition. In the left hand menu in GA, go to Acquisition>Campaigns>All Campaigns.

Once in that screen, you’ll want to use an advanced segment so click on +Add Segment at the top of the page and then search for “paid”.

Paid Traffic Segment

Now you should only be seeing campaign results for paid traffic. Now click on “Secondary Dimension” and add Landing Page. Now your chart should show Campaign in the first column then Landing Page in the next. In order to see your sitelink landing page sessions, you’re going to need to use an advanced filter.

To do this, click on “edit” next to the search bar and then choose, Include>Landing Page>Containing>PageURL. (In our case this would be /pro-weight) Then click Apply. 

Advanced Filter

Now that the filter has been applied. You should only see your PPC Campaigns and the sitelink landing page as shown below.


As a reminder – If your sitelinks use the same URL as any other ad in your Adword campaigns, this filtering method will NOT work. The sitelink must have a unique URL in order for this to work.

So Tell Me..

Is this the same method you use to see Sitelink performance in Google Analytics or have you found a different way to track performance from sitelinks?

12 02, 2015

Mobile Usability Fix for WordPress Sites

By | 2017-08-08T08:37:30+00:00 February 12th, 2015|Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , , |

Have you gotten the dreaded message in Webmaster Tools that you need to fix the mobile usability issues affecting your site? You have blah blah pages with errors.

You know, this one..


mobile usability issues

Yea, me too. Since we all know Google cares if our sites are mobile friendly (i.e look good and easy to use on a cell phone) or not, enough to put a report in Webmaster Tools about it; Then it probably is time to make sure your Wordpress site does work well on a mobile phone. We always recommend to our clients to upgrade your site to a responsive theme. Which is something we can do and are able to create beautiful custom responsive designs.

However, if you really like your current theme and can’t afford/don’t want to pay for a new responsive theme, then this plugin will help solve your mobile usability errors. After doing a little research on all the mobile plugins available, I found one that had great reviews and works really well.

mobile plugin for wordpress

WPtouch is that plugin. This plugin is not only great because it is FREE but if you want to be able to make more advanced changes, then you can buy the paid version. What I’ve loved about it is how easy it was to set up and how it makes wordpress sites much easier to use on a touch phone. Instead of having to constantly use my fingers to make a page bigger so I could read it and click on links. Now I can see everything clearly and the page fits perfectly on the phone screen.  Another perk I like is that the user is able to choose if they want to see a site in mobile or desktop view. So if that person is someone who likes seeing the entire site, then they still can.

The only downfall I’ve found with this plugin is that advertisements don’t show on the mobile version. So if you prefer them to show you might want to look into that a little further. Since I have used the free version it’s possible there is a setting to show them in the paid version.

So tell me..

Have you tried this plugin yet? What did you think about it?









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