Google Analytics Troubleshooting: 5 Tips to Ensure You’re Not Missing User Transaction Data


January 6, 2015

Remember the good old days when you got Google certified and convinced the boss to pull the trigger on implementing GA?  You were so convinced that within a few short months you’d whip the company site into shape, business would boom, and the CEO would be throwing a company wide parade in your honor. The data started rolling in, but things started to look fishy. The numbers on user transactions were completely off.

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So you did your research. It couldn’t just be customers disallowing cookies, bad ISP connections, or disabled javascript, could it?

Fear not. Take a deep breath. We may get you that parade after all.

 

It’s Not a Lack of JavaScript Support

We’ve tested both script-based and no-script Google Analytics tags. The no-script tag gets bots and lots of “noise” but there’s not a huge difference in human visits.  The two methods will never line up because they rely on different visitor identification methods.  Also, pretty much every shopping cart on the planet requires that you have JavaScript enabled. It would make no sense that someone would be able to make a purchase but not have their transaction counted in GA because of disabled JavaScript.


It’s Likely Bad Coding

Lack of script support, or placement of e-commerce tags at the bottom of the page could potentially cause your mysterious missing data issue, and threatening the parade in your honor. What’s more likely is bad engineering of the e-commerce implementation.  If any of your product names, category names, affiliate field data, or location data have apostrophes or quotation marks that aren’t cleaned out of the code it will break the transaction tracking JavaScript. That means transactions and its products won’t be reported.

Watch out for an Internet “Exploder”

Another possible culprit is that some browsers implement JavaScript differently. Just because you write JavaScript doesn’t mean it’s going to work in all the major browsers.  Sometimes code that works fine in Firefox (because it was written by a developer using Firefox) does not work well in Internet Explorer. Or you could have script that works fine in IE and FF, but not in Safari and Chrome. If your numbers are off by 20 – 25%, it could be an indication of a problem that’s in-line with script not working for Safari or Chrome on a site with a high Mac demographic, or for a script that doesn’t work in Internet Explorer 7.

Check Browser Types

Simply check for this by going to the Browsers report and looking at the E-Commerce Conversion Rate for browser types. If it’s zero or way below average for a particular browser then you almost certainly have a browser compatibility problem. With this kind of issue the number of missing transactions can fluctuate based on the demographic visiting your site.

Use Debugging Tools

I’ll add links to top debugging tools – use these to view the “thankyou” page. View the page source and verify your e-commerce code is there.  View headers or tracking hits log from these tools to see if e-commerce tracking hits went through.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I recommend reading my book or Brian Clifton’s book, or both.

Here are links to the debugging tools.

Look into each of these solutions, and the boss will be singing for he’s a jolly good fellow in no time. What debugging tools do you use for these kinds of problems? Share your thoughts in the comments.