How to remove mc_cid and mc_eid from Mailchimp in Google Analytics

While Klaviyo, Bronto, Cordial, and several other ESPs are rising in popularity, many companies still opt to use Mailchimp for the cost and ease of use. Mailchimp also integrates with Facebook to seamlessly create custom audiences. Similar to Facebook, there are some set up requirements in Google Analytics if using Mailchimp.

In the landing page performance in Google Analytics, you may notice hundreds if not thousands of entries with a string that contains mc_cid= and mc_eid. MC is from Mailchimp and it’s how Mailchimp is able to track users and campaigns. While this is great for the ESP, it muddles the landing page performance in Google Analytics as GA sees each session as a unique landing page. For GA to not read each click url as a new parameter, we have to strip and filter out the mc_cids and mc_eids.

What is mc_cid and mc_eid?

mc_cid is for campaign management and tracking

mc_eid is for user tracking and the info helps feed product recommendations to the unique user.

How to view the url tracking from Mailchimp

Under Behavior > Site Content > Landing pages. Type in mc in the Search box.

Example of mc_cid and mc_eid in the Landing Page performance report in Google Analytics

The above example is different user sessions going to the same collection page of /shop and has one to the /cart page. This dilutes the true performance of the page /shop and so we have to filter out the url parameters in order to get accurate data. The good news is that it’s extremely easy to do so. We would just have to follow the same process we had to do for Facebook url tracking. Read more about that here if you haven’t done this yet. What is fbclid and how to remove it from Google Analytics link. The bad news is that there is no way to adjust the previous data. The best thing to do is to create an annotation when the change is updated.

How to filter out mc_cid and mc_eid in Google Analytics

In the Admin > View > View Settings > Exclude URL Query Parameters

Google Analytics Admin View Settings

Enter in both mc_cid and mc_eid. Separate each url parameter with a comma and save. Be sure to add the annotation to denote the date that the filter was applied for ease of future reference.

What is fbclid for Facebook parameters and how to remove it from Google Analytics

Facebook set up unique parameters for shared posts in October of 2018 which made Google think that these were unique new pages. You can instantly recognize them as fbclid parameters. While it’s easily fixed in Google Analytics under settings, please keep in mind that the settings are case sensitive therefore both versions will need to be submitted. This is a common and often overlooked issue when setting up Google Analytics. Please also be sure to check out the post on how to Exclude Referral Traffic to learn how to keep your data clean.

What is fbclid in Facebook?

How you can recognize the parameters is by seeing the /?fbclid= for Facebook but what is it? Well, if you share a link to your site on Facebook and someone clicks that link, Facebook adds the parameter to the url in order to track it. Google doesn’t understand this well and thinks that this is a new page on your site. This could result in multiple tracking parameters for the exact same page. Every single time the page is either posted or shared, a new FBCLID parameter is issued by Facebook. In order to prevent the data corruption on Google Analytics, you will have to change some settings.

Another popular parameter comes from Pinterest with /?epik=. The good news is that there is an easy fix for these issues through disabling them. The bad news is that any data for pageviews prior to the change will not be changed. This is why it’s so important to have your data set up properly from the start. Be sure to email us on how to get your Google Analytics set up properly so that you can have good clean and actionable data.

Steps on how to remove fbclid in Google Analytics

  1. Head to the Admin Panel in Google Analytics
  2. Select the Google Analytics View that you would like to apply this to
  3. Click on “View Settings”
  4. Enter fbclid in the Exclude URL Query Parameters box

Path: Admin > View Settings > Exclude URL Query Parameters. Enter in each Parameter with a comma between them. Google Analytics marks this as optional but it’s definitely critical to keep your data clean.

Setting up the exclusion list for URL Query Parameters in Google Analytics

Please keep in mind that the data input is case sensitive so be sure to enter in both versions. You can simply exclude both versions of the URL query parameters. If you have other affiliates or referral traffic, be sure to include those too into the URL Query Parameters as needed.

Still have questions? You can contact us to resolve any questions or issues. We’re happy to help you navigate Google Analytics and can do the work for you!

The Importance of Search

Understanding onsite and offsite search is one of the most critical areas for a business as the customer is already engaged in intent. Offsite search requires an analysis of trending keywords and an audit of search queries to make PPC even more efficient. While the set up of keywords and negative keywords in Google Adwords is important, an area that is often overlooked is in Google Analytics to input the Branded Keywords. Google will try to allocate Branded versus Generic or Non-Branded but it’s important to set it up correctly and to include any trademark names.

This is found under Admin > View Settings > Channel Settings > Manage Brand Terms

Manage Branded Terms in Google Analytics
Manage Google Analytics with Branded Key Terms

Surprisingly, a weakness of platforms whether it’s Magento, Shopify, or Big Commerce is the search functionality. Often times, if a search is for “Blue Jeans,” platforms will crawl and serve back results with anything that contains “Blue” or “Jeans.” Unlike Google Adwords where a digital marketer can input [exact,] “phrase match,” +broad +match, or just broad match, platforms need a third party vendor or app to help understand the data and catalog and fine tune the Search results.

Another issue is when the platform or a Search partner will crawl the product description, the chances of irrelevant searches will spike. There are several Onsite Search partners available out there.

Here are some popular ones: Searchanise aka Instant Search, Product Filter and Search from Boost Commerce, Algolia, Swiftype, and SearchSpring. Depending on your needs, these platforms can accommodate synonyms, plurals, and mis-spellings. The ones that work best should only need to crawl the product categories, tags, and titles. If the Search app also crawls the product description, the chances are that they will show irrelevant Search results.

Here is a SearchSpring example showing autocomplete as well as some visual recommendations. Keywords and Top Products are instantly served up within the Search. There is also the capability of adding in a Banner with linking. In this particular example, it has an “Umbrella Buying Guide. Learn More >.”

Suggested Autocomplete with SearchSpring.
Suggested search results with SearchSpring

Here is an example of Searchanise that also crawls the product description which causes irrelevant searches to appear. This example is for “Dining table” and a cocktail glass is served up in the results. It is pulling the words “dining, “table” or “dining table” from the product description. This can be a really frustrating experience for a User.

Irrelevant search results with Dining Table on Alchemy Fine Home due to the vendor crawling words outside of the Product title and the Product tags
Irrelevant search results

A good Search Vendor will also have the capability of showing In-Stock as well as Quick Ship items especially with Covid-19 where delivery times are greatly affected. Some Search vendors can also push items that are out of stock (OOS) to the bottom of the Search Results or not include them at all.

In-stock and out of stock items with Search Vendors.
Showing Quick Ship or In-Stock Items during Covid-19

Tip: Why would you ever want to show OOS items?

There are a few reasons on why you would want to show items that are out of stock.

  1. Create a sense of urgency by showing all of the sold out items. Vendors like Out of Stock Police will push items to the bottom of your collections.
  2. Many apps that HIDE out of stock items will hurt your SEO. Google will see OOS items and empty collections as crawling errors. You will have to re-validate these in Google Search Console. The SEO best practice is to either re-validate the errors or to re-direct them to the closest relevant pages. Ex. If a customer looks for location for an online only business, they will be re-directed to the About Us or Customer Service page.

Happy searching for your best search partner!

How to exclude Referral traffic in Google Analytics

Google Analytics can be a wonderful source of data for analysis but it’s only useful if the data is “clean” and that the channels are properly set up with UTMs. One mistake that is often made is within the Referral Traffic channel. Setting up the incoming traffic is just as important as excluding some of the traffic. You can find the Referrals data under Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals.

Here are three different scenarios on why excluding traffic is so important.

Scenario A is when a User is in the Shopify Checkout process

  • User selects a payment type such as Paypal
  • User will be directed to the Paypal site
  • User is redirected to the Shopify store after completing the transaction on Paypal

If the traffic from Paypal is not excluded, Google Analytics will then credit the session to Paypal as the referral.

If a store is on the Shopify platform, it will likely have multiple apps for Martech, catalog, sku management, and much, much more.

Scenario B includes a User who lands on a newsletter sign up form created with the popular landing page builder app called Shogun. Since Shogun is a third party app, the session takes the User from the Shopify platform to the app and then is “redirected” back to the Shopify platform. The same is true with form builder Unbounce.

Scenario C includes a User who logs into their account on the Shopify store through an app that allows for Social Logins. Even if the User came after clicking on an ad in Facebook, the Login app will get credit for the Session in Google Analytics.

In both Scenario B and C, these types of apps will be counted as referral traffic and will receive the credit for the conversions. In all scenarios, you will lose sight on which channel actually drove the revenue. Thankfully, there is an easy way to exclude the traffic sources so that the correct channel gets the attribution.

Google Analytics Settings in the Admin

Add in all the sources that need to be excluded under Settings > Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Referral Exclusion List

Be mindful on the set up of new vendors as the data can not be corrected retroactively. Check your Referrals List often and create annotations for any major changes in Google Analytics.

Bonus Annotation Tip: Along with annotating changes in Google Analytics, I also like to use the Annotation tool for listing campaigns whether it’s big promotional events or even down to the more granular email campaigns. It gives a quick visual guide and reference to which events caused spikes in traffic or in revenue without adding in a secondary dimension.

Shopify Checkout

Shopify’s Checkout is known for its ease of use, so much so, that there is even a Woo Commerce app that mimics the look and feel of Shopify’s Checkout called CheckoutWC.

The out of the box solution however, is not the most optimized Checkout experience that a User can have. I’ve seen New Users not convert on brands who have switched from Magento’s clunky Checkout to Shopify’s seemingly User friendly Checkout. On mobile, Shopify’s Checkout has the promo code field as default to collapsed. It doesn’t take a lot of recordings on Hotjar to view that it’s not always a best practice to hide the promo code field. The last thing you want to do is hide the promo code field for anyone determined to use one whether it’s a first time sign up code or a promotional code. Unfortunately, if you don’t have Shopify Plus, the Checkout liquid is not available to make any type of customizations for branding nor for building Trust at Checkout.

For those on the non-plus Shopify plan, here is a conversion rate optimizing tactic to increase the AOV if you have a free shipping threshold. Adding a “Spend X dollars more to get Free Shipping” can easily be added through the help of any app as a persistent promo bar or one that slides out. Some of the Shopify apps have advanced customer targeting capabilities, have a count down timer or support festive emojis.

Free Shipping Promotional Banner
Free Shipping Messaging in the Super Banner Promo Bar

One app from Hulkapps.com called Free Shipping Bar with Timer has a few different feature options. Outside of the announcement bar, it also has an email collection option where Users can directly enter their emails in the Superbanner and the app integrates with popular Email Service Providers such as Mailchimp and Klaviyo.

If adding yet another app and especially a paid version is out of the question, there is an option to show the same experience at the Cart with a bit of coding. Black Belt Commerce has a helpful article that walks you through the easy steps including a bit on CSS styling. Full article link here. Please note that it will only show on the main Cart page – see example below but it will not show up in the mini cart aka the slide out or drawer cart. Read more on the Power of the Mini Cart.

Example of You're X away from Free Shipping Promo Bar.
Example of “You’re X away from Free Shipping”

John Smith Bot Traffic

July 24th, 2020 Update: The bot continues to be an issue despite unchecking the automatic updates. It will be interesting to see how Google will be more and more intrusive with Google Shopping being free to list and now commission free. This aggressive attempt to compete with Amazon is to the detriment of preserving their own analytics. Read more here.

The Bad News is that the conversion rate in Shopify will not be accurate with the bot. See an example store where John Smith started crawling in March, 2020. The conversion rate from Shopify is much lower than Google Analytics as it is unable to filter out the bot traffic for false abandoned carts.

Example Store comparing conversion rates from Shopify versus Google Analytics

The semi-Good News is that there is a way to clean up Google Analytics. Please note that GA won’t have information such as order cancellations and won’t have orders registered that is executed in the platform directly by Customer Service in cases ex. draft orders but it can filter out Bot Traffic.

Under View Settings in the admin, be sure to mark off “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders.” This will filter out John Smith.

Google Analytics View Settings “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders”

This action should take care of John Smith. For other bot traffic here are the instructions on how to filter them out from the Google Analytics team:

If you are sure that certain traffic that is not being filtered is coming from a bot and want to remove it from your reports, you may try the steps mentioned below:

  1. Along with every valid hit that is getting sent to GA, pass along a custom dimension that has a random, static value (for example, daskldjas).
  2. Create a custom view filter that Excludes hits (GA data) with the custom dimension equal to that static value (for example, daskldjas). Bots/spam won’t get into the account because they don’t proactively know/have that CD with the custom value. So this could be a potential workaround in the client getting ahead of spammers.

Note: we recommend testing these filters in a duplicate, sandbox or test view before applying it your main views. You also need to be very careful not to set overzealous filters, or you will end up excluding legitimate traffic as well.

July 15th, 2020 Update: After a call to Google Merchant Center, they confirmed that it is ok to remove John Smith. While they would not disclose what is John Smith, they did 100% confirm that John Smith is not connected to Google Ads. Removing John Smith will not affect the Ads performance including Shopping. I had initially raised the issues of inflated sessions, lowered conversion rates, and false abandoned carts that is corrupting Google Analytics and Google Merchant Center immediately confirmed the above statement. Their recommendation was to contact a developer to remove the bot traffic. The false sessions will have to be filtered out of GA.

*A GMC rep clarified his comments on July 16th that REMOVING John Smith was ok but not blocking. The above statement has been updated from blocking to removing.

For merchants who rely on Google Shopping as one of the main streams in their performance stack, it will be interesting to see the effects it will have on costs and ROI.

July 4th, 2020 Update to original article: Google finally admitted that they are running bot traffic to check for shipping costs on Brands who sign up for Google Shopping. Most email service providers will have a warning for phishing should there be multiple entries of emails in one session. To circumvent this, Google creates multiple versions of an email for ex. John Smith which can amount to hundreds of profiles. See an article where they finally admitted to the practice: link

While Google may want to check for shipping prices and valid promotion details, they are also skewing their very only analytics for abandoned cart and conversion rates.

Original article:

John Smith, Emily Boyd and Jack Black are known bot names triggering a slew of abandoned carts in several platforms including WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Shopify. Shopify’s help boards with their advisors are not too helpful in providing solutions for this thus far.

In one help thread, a Shopify expert advised on adding a free Fraud Alert App or adding a reCaptcha to the checkout. The problem with both of these solutions is that the order gets cancelled but Stores are stuck with fees or can’t block a User from initiating the Checkout and leaving. If a brand is not on the Plus platform, they also do not have access to the Checkout liquid.

Why this is important

  1. A large amount of abandoned carts will skew a brand’s data for the Shopping Funnel.
  2. Brands pay for the number of Users in an email list and these bot emails trigger the welcome series as well as the abandoned cart drip series

Who are these bots?

  1. Some say that it’s due to Google Shopping Actions checking the shipping rates of products although Google has denied this practice or it’s due to automatic updates in Shopping Actions.
  2. Some say that it’s price spiders crawling the site. One Reddit user had Emily Boyd follow them in multiple stores and adding products to the cart that were not even launched yet.

What can I do about this?

Suppressing emails in Klaviyo.
Suppressing bot emails from Jack Black and John Smith in Klaviyo
  1. Email suppression. Deleting the emails will only allow the bot to use the same email to sign up again. ESPs such as Klaviyo will not charge you for suppressed emails. Here is a link to on how to suppress emails. Read More. Emails can be added one by one or import a bulk upload with a txt or cvs file.
  2. Add a Captcha for email sign up or a double opt-in.
Recaptcha

Captcha: a program or system intended to distinguish human from machine input, typically as a way of thwarting spam and automated extraction of data from websites.

Adding ReCaptcha to a Shopify Plus Checkout Liquid link – test if this will interfere with any other pop ups or onsite vendors.

Links to Help boards discussing John Smith

https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-Discussion/shopping-cart-spammer/td-p/587418

https://support.bigcommerce.com/s/question/0D54O00006F86egSAB/false-abandoned-carts-from-bot

https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-Discussion/John-Smith-From-Google-UTM-Google-Shopper-Creating-false/td-p/538519

https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-Discussion/Fake-abandoned-checkouts-on-my-store/td-p/576809

https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-Discussion/John-Smith-From-Google-UTM-Google-Shopper-Creating-false/td-p/538519/page/2

https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-Discussion/John-Smith-From-Google-UTM-Google-Shopper-Creating-false/td-p/538519/page/3

https://support.google.com/google-ads/thread/23925965?hl=en

https://wordpress.org/support/topic/spam-carts/

ReCatpcha by Google

Examples of John Smith emails

  • john.smith.us1@gmail.com
  • john.smith.us51@gmail.com
  • johnsmithus87@gmail.com
  • john.smith.us73@gmail.com

The address used to be as follows

John Smith
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
mountain view CA 94043
United States
(650) 253-0000

There is an alternate new address at 1600 North Shoreline Boulevard which is also a part of Google.

More recently as of September 14th, 2020. John Smith is using the same address and phone number but different addresses. Here are some examples.

John Smith Google Bot Multiple Addresses

If your brand uses a service like Feedonomics that pulls the data feeds from Shopify directly, you do not need to opt into Google crawling your site for price nor availability. Turning this feature off should fix the Google bot issues.

Google Merchant Center and Google's requests for Enabling Automatic Item Updates for Price and Availability
Google Merchant Center for Automatic Item Updates for Price and Availability
Google Merchant Center and turning off Automatic Item Updates to avoid the dreaded Google price spider bot traffic.
Google Merchant Center and Turning Off Automatic Updates

Lost? Contact us to get you on the right track and preserve clean data. Google bots will alter your conversion rates, sessions, abandoned cart values, and add to your email service provider costs.

The SOS on SMS

Promotional text example from ShopStyle

Attentive is the shiny new kid from New York City when it comes to SMS or MMS marketing with a client list that includes Jack in the Box, Coach and Sephora. They recently received over $160 Million in investor funding from Sequoia, IVP, Bain capital entures, and Coatue which includes a $110 Million in Series C funding earlier this year. There are a slew of options out in the market including Postscript, TextMagic, SimpleTesting, ClickSend and Twilio just to name a few. Even ESPs like Klaviyo are jumping on the SMS bandwagon and offering it at an additional cost.

While each one will have fancy decks with impressive ROI numbers and case studies, what they won’t show is that most of the campaigns outside of automation do not yield great results. Costs are usually pennies or fractions of one however, it’s still more expensive than email. So why are brands even considering adding it into their Martech stack? Well, here are some of the benefits:

MMS using Postscript
  1. Promotional minded customers can’t sign up multiple times for the Welcome offer unless they have multiple phone numbers like they can with email.
  2. The texts won’t be landing into Spam or Junk folders or the dreaded Promotions Inbox for GMAIL.
  3. Texts will grab a User’s attention and feels more intimate than an email.
  4. If the platform has Chat capability, Users often use it to inquire about an order status as they do not separate Customer Service from Marketing. Postscript has an integration with Gorgias and Zendesk. If you don’t use either tool, they integrate with the popular workflow app Zapier and the chats can easily be forwarded to any preferred email address.
  5. The triggered automations do in fact work even if they cannibalize email automations.

Some additional points to consider are if the platform has enough customization to meet the brand’s needs for fonts, segmentations, a unique number, and integrations. Finally, with any usage of customer information, always be clear that message and data rates may apply, include a link to a privacy policy, verbiage on how a customer’s data will be utilized and how they can opt out of the list to avoid any violations of the TCPA act.

Tip: Consider adding a double opt-in journey for extra assurance.

One tactic to make promotional campaigns more successful is to use it sparingly and in times that Users are more likely to be on their phones. Leverage Google Analytics to figure out the best days and times for mobile traffic and revenue. Launch secret sales or send a reminder late morning on a Saturday or mid afternoon on a hump day. Analyze the Time to Purchase Lag Time to review the best day to send the ending soon reminder whether it should be two days, one day or same day.

When you sign up for Postscript with this link, enjoy unlimited text messages your first month. Any unused text messages roll over for one month!

The Power of Mini Carts

Cart or bag. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the little icon sitting in the top right hand corner. On Desktop, a mini cart also known as a drawer that slides out, features your selection for a brief moment as you decide on whether to keep on shopping or to head on out to Checkout.

If you have a third party app such as BorderFree for international sales, you’ll run into this common issue due to their code requirements. All international Users must head to view their cart instead of going directly to the Checkout otherwise, the cart will not reflect the international currency. Having just the View Cart button in the mini cart seems rather redundant. This would mean that a User adds an item to the cart, views mini cart, sees the View Cart CTA, selects View Cart, is taken to the bigger Cart view and then has to select the Checkout CTA button before actually beginning the Checkout process. Sounds exhausting!

What if only 3% of your sales are International orders? What about the other 97% who must suffer the same fate? Thankfully, there is a simple UX fix for this in the mini cart.

  1. International IPs will only be able to see the View Cart button (the Checkout button is hidden)
  2. Domestic IPs will be able to view both the View Cart and the Checkout buttons.
The mini Cart aka the drawer that slides out.
The Cart

Now you are thinking, why do we even bother at all with a mini cart? Although it’s small, it’s not useless. Having a mini cart allows for the following flow of actions.

  1. Reassures the User that the selected item is successfully added to the Cart.
  2. Reveals the Order Sub-Total (pre-discounts, shipping and taxes)
  3. Allows a User to edit their Cart
  4. Gives a User the option to Checkout out or view the Cart if the CTAs are visible.

Now, what if you only sell domestically and just want to lead people into purchasing right away? Wouldn’t it be easier if Users just head to Checkout from the mini cart?

Well, that depends on your core customer base. In viewing several hundreds of User recordings across different brands, my experience has been that female customers prefer to load up their carts, view them in their carts and it’s not within the mini cart with tiny thumbnails. Females will review, edit, add, edit, and then perhaps purchase or ponder and come back at a later date. Savvy shoppers may leave to see if there is a better promo code to use, check if there is a better price out there or was just browsing in between commercials while watching their favorite show.

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