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How GA4 Exposes Your Major eCommerce Weaknesses

Using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to expose dark spots in your checkout flow

Your guide to getting more out of GA4

Are you maximising the potential that GA4 brings to understanding your customer journey?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is no longer the ‘new kid on the block’ in the world of analytics. First introduced in October 2020, GA4 is now the standard for online analytics, replacing the somewhat tired Universal Analytics (UA) system and introducing a more comprehensive and forensic way to review your eCommerce data and pull out the key insights.

But now that your business is bedded down with GA4, are you really maximising the potential that GA4 brings to understanding your customer journey? And do you truly understand where the potential pitfalls are in your eCommerce sales funnel?

Let’s kick off by understanding a little more about what can hold back the success of your eCommerce site – and how flexible analytics like GA4 can be such a revealing tool.

Why an eCommerce site with friction pushes customers away

Friction in your customer journey needs immediate attention. If your eCommerce site doesn’t promote a smooth, seamless customer journey, that’s referred to as ‘friction’. This friction in the funnel can drive prospects and customers away, and can even reduce average order value.

Your goal, as an eCommerce business, is to convert web visits into sales. One of the best ways to increase conversions is to make the customer’s online experience as seamless and frictionless as possible.

Take checkout optimisation for instance. Checkout is a type of form, and forms are a notorious friction point because they require user effort. However, you can reduce that friction by reducing the quantity and complexity of form fields. This creates an easier conversion experience.

Ask yourself:

Are customers engaging with your site and accessing the online shop from multiple channels?

Is the site easy to navigate and does your user interface (UI) help customers find the right products?

Are customers progressing to the checkout without any hitches, or are most carts being abandoned?

Can customers complete the checkout process intuitively and with just a few steps?

Is the payment process fast, trustworthy and straightforward, or is your payment gateway causing a loss in sales?

In other words, can a potential customer buy from your online shop, without stumbling over any unnecessary hurdles and blockers?

You want the answer to this question to be:

“Yes, our online experience is as frictionless as we can make it.”

But without detailed analytics and insights into the customer journey, how do you know if this is what your eCommerce site is delivering?

The answer is to dig deeper into your sales funnel, so you can grasp exactly how customers are flowing through the funnel, and where they are (and are not) converting into sales.

The value of drilling down into your sales funnel

Being in control of your eCommerce sales funnel is all about understanding your customers’ journey. Analytics help you identify the dark spots that are causing problems and optimise your sales process to remove as much of the friction in the funnel as possible. 

Drilling down into the finer details of the customer journey helps you:

  1. Identify the bottlenecks in the sales funnel
  2. Improve your conversion rates to drive sales
  3. Maximise revenue to improve your profitability

Tracking the most valuable sales funnel metrics

Understanding your customers’ journey through the sales funnel is far easier when you’re tracking the most meaningful and insightful eCommerce metrics.

Basic metrics that Universal Analytics (UA) tracked included:

These metrics illuminate the customer journey in more detail, and help you begin to see where improvements can be made to boost conversions and drive sales revenue.

But UA didn’t reveal the full picture – and this is where Google Analytics 4 (GA4) really does help to shine a light on the intricacies and detail behind your sales funnel.

The key benefits of GA4’s funnel visualisations

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has transformed your ability to dive down into the sales funnel. Funnel exploration allows you to build ‘visualisations’ of your sales funnel, helping you see the customer journey from the initial interaction with your website to the point of conversion.

Funnel visualisations are the easiest way to spot any drop-off in a funnel. You can easily add dimensions (such as a channel or device) to a funnel, to elaborate on the details of the customer’s journey through the funnel, from start to finish.

This helps you understand:

  1. Where there’s drop-off in the sales funnel
  2. How potential friction is causing the drop-off
  3. Where to start with addressing the issue

How GA4 demystifies your sales funnel

Custom funnels were only available in Universal Analytics (UA) for users who used Google Analytics 360, a premium version which is out of budget for most marketing teams. Because of this, most users only had access to funnel visualisations that end in a goal and were based on URLs – giving you an incomplete overview of most customer journeys. 

GA4’s funnel visualisations allow you to build funnels that fill in the ‘missing gaps’ in the customer journey, allowing you to see where the customer came from, what they did on your eCommerce site, where they converted (or where they dropped off).

With a funnel visualisation in GA4, you can:

  1. Include events (not just end goals) in your funnel, allowing for a more granular analysis of the customer journey from start to finish.
  2. Add a breakdown dimension, such as device or channel, to compare drop-off between groups of different users and track any variances.
  3. See where drop-offs are leading to a loss of revenue, so you can look for ways to refine and optimise your eCommerce site to drive conversions.

With GA4’s funnel tools, you can now track a customer not just from site to checkout, but from the very start of their interactions with your marketing, digital channels and online shop.

With more of a holistic view of their journey, you can see the points where sales are dropping off, where messaging is not converting and where products are not selling. 

That’s gold dust when it comes to refining your eCommerce site and upping sales.

Why attribution models and comparisons tell the real story of your conversion journey

GA4 helps you follow the customer’s breadcrumb trail back to the channels, devices and interactions from earlier in the conversion journey. And attribution models are a key part of this forensic analysis of the customer journey through your sales funnel.

Attribution models provide a set of rules that determines how credit for conversions is assigned to different touchpoints along your customer’s journey through the sales funnel. So, you can now track how your marketing channels, digital advertising and other customer touchpoints are driving conversions – giving you the data you need to make informed marketing decisions. 

There are a range of attribution models in GA4, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Some of the most common attribution models:

Last Click Attribution
Assigns all credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint the customer interacted with before converting.

First Click Attribution
Assigns all credit for a conversion to the first touchpoint the customer interacted with.

Linear Attribution
Assigns equal credit for a conversion to all touchpoints along the customer’s journey, giving a more balanced view of each contribution.

Time Decay Attribution
Assigns more credit to touchpoints that occur closer to the conversion, assuming that recent interactions have a greater influence.


Data-Driven Attribution
Uses machine learning to analyse historical data and assign credit to touchpoints based on their actual impact on conversions.

Revealing the true customer journey

Attribution models are an essential tool, revealing more about interactions throughout the funnel, from the very first click to the last conversion at your eCommerce checkout.

You’ll be able to tell:

Conversion paths and why they demystify which channels are converting

Conversion paths are another powerful tool that GA4 brings to the table, helping you understand the sequence of steps customers take before making a purchase.

By digging deep into the conversion path, you can quickly see which channels, pages and interactions are most influential in driving conversions. This can be incredibly revealing, supplying you with the data, trends and patterns needed to refine your sales funnel.

Conversion paths help you:

  1. Identify key touchpoints
    Conversion paths show you which channels, pages and interactions are most frequently used by customers before converting. This helps you identify the most effective touchpoints and focus your marketing efforts where you’re likely to get the most conversions.
  2. Optimise the customer journey
    By analysing conversion paths, you can quickly see where customers are dropping off or experiencing friction in the sales process. You’re then primed to optimise your customer journey, make it easier for customers to convert and reduce cart abandonment.
  3. Personalise the customer experience
    Conversion paths can be used to create personalised customer experiences, based on the individual customer’s journey. For example, you could send product recommendations to customers based on the specific pages they’ve visited on your site.
  4. Improve cross-platform performance
    Conversion paths can track user journeys across different platforms, such as websites, apps and social media. This gives you insights into how customers are interacting with your brand across multiple platforms, making it easier to optimise your marketing.
  5. Measure the effectiveness of your marketing
    You can use conversion paths to track the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns. By comparing the paths taken by converting customers, you can identify which campaigns are driving the most conversions and where to invest your promotional time.

The power of predictive metrics in your analytics toolbox

Being able to predict the future might sound like a tall order, even for Google Analytics 4 (GA4). But with the predictive metrics tools in GA4 you have the ability to run future projections of specific customer interactions, touchpoints and journeys through your funnel.

Predictive metrics uses machine-learning to predict the future behaviour of your site users, based on data sets taken from your eCommerce analytics. These aren’t random guesses; they’re forecasts based on hard data collected from your customer interactions. 

Predictive metrics can:

Identify sales funnel friction

Predict purchase probability

Identify churn risk

Optimise product recommendations

Forecast revenue potential

Here are just a few ways that predictive metrics help you see the potential future path of your customer journeys and conversions over the coming weeks and months.

  1. Identify sales funnel friction
    By delving into your predictive metrics, you can pinpoint areas where your customers are likely to drop off or experience friction in the sales process. This helps you improve the user experience, boost engagement and reduce cart abandonment.
  2. Predict purchase probability
    Amazingly, predictive metrics can estimate the likelihood of individual customers making a purchase. This gives you the data needed to prioritise your marketing efforts, targeting high-potential customers with personalised campaigns.
  3. Identify churn risk
    You can also use predictive metrics to predict the risk of customers churning or becoming inactive. Armed with this information, you can identify at-risk customers and proactively engage them with targeted retention strategies.
  4. Optimise product recommendations
    With predictive metrics, you can personalise your product recommendations based on individual customer behaviour and preferences. This leads to increased customer engagement and higher conversion rates (helping you drive better sales revenues).
  5. Forecast revenue potential
    By analysing your predictive metrics, you can forecast your potential sales revenue, using customer behaviour and conversion trends as a base. This leads to better financial planning, resource allocation and sales targets.

Instead of guessing what customers may do, predictive metrics give you a solid, data-driven methodology for predicting customer behaviour.

This is a massively useful tool, helping you supercharge your customer engagement, convert more sales and invest in the most profitable marketing channels for the business.

Case study: Using GA4 to transform the sales funnel

With the increased flexibility and forensic detail of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you have the tools to start tracking, reviewing and revitalising your eCommerce sales funnel. 

And this analysis isn’t just a theoretical exercise; it’s a way to completely transform the real-world success of your customer journey. Oxygen Freejumping discovered this when working with Atomic Smash to hit their key strategic targets as a business.

How GA4 breathed life into Oxygen Freejumping’s analytics

Oxygen Freejumping is an active play business that operates an online booking platform for taking customer bookings. Atomic Smash has been working with Oxygen since 2015, in which time the business has expanded to seven indoor activity parks around the UK (soon to be eight).

Their strategic objective was to increase revenue in line with some ambitious growth targets. But limitations with their previous booking platform technology caused a black hole of data in their sales funnel. This prevented them from implementing a conversion rate optimisation (CRO) strategy to drive incremental improvements.

We worked through a series of initiatives, including:

Improved visibility of their key eCommerce data, using GA4’s deeper analytics and funnel visualisations: This gave Oxygen the best possible oversight of the friction in their sales funnel and where improvements were needed.

An enhanced user experience (UX) for site users and an improved conversion funnel: The UX work resulted in an easy-to-navigate site that showcases the company’s various activities and allows seamless conversions.

Results: An 11.6% improvement in conversion rates.

Always Evolving®: our continuous development methodology

Always Evolving® is one of our core methodologies at Atomic Smash. The reality of being an online business is that your website or online store is never actually ‘finished’. Rather, it’s actually in a process of continual development, always moving towards a better version. 

By reviewing and refining every element of your site, your eCommerce business can:

Combining the Always Evolving ethos with the upgraded power of GA4 puts you back in control of your customer journey. With enhanced analytics and deeper insights, you can understand your customer funnel, find the potential friction and drive the best possible conversions.

For example, your GA4 data may show that new site users are more likely to drop at the payment page than returning users. This reveals an opportunity to include more trust indicators, increasing the likelihood that someone new to the brand will trust the business enough to handle their transaction securely. That’s key to driving customer loyalty and stable conversions.

Read more on the benefits of an Always Evolving website.

GA4 as the conduit to your key funnel insights

The more data you can pull from your eCommerce sales funnel, the bigger and more pertinent the customer journey insights will be.

At Atomic Smash, we’ll work with you to unlock the insights you’ve been craving:

Want to keep your eCommerce site evolving? Keen to embrace the deeper analytics of GA4?

We’d love to talk to you about exposing the dark spots in your sales funnel.

Get in touch and let’s transform your eCommerce business.