The data you can get via online analytics forms a marketer’s paradise. You can determine which items are added most often to a customer’s cart, how often customers add items to the cart, track pageviews, customer logins, and all sorts of data.
While many merchants use external analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, or Mixpanel to track events and user behaviors on their sites, there are also tools that you can use to track this data from within WordPress.
WP Tao is a free plugin that helps eCommerce merchants using WordPress track site events and user behavior to gain insight into purchasing decisions and the browsing experience in their stores.
WP Tao will add analytics and event tracking into your WordPress eCommerce site. Both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads are supported, so you can track customer behavior and purchasing with either eCommerce platform.
This will give you insights into customer browsing and shopping behavior, as you can see events like page visits or adding an item to a cart, while also tracking these events on a per-user basis so you can see customer data and effectively sell to or support your customers.
You shouldn’t need to do much settings configuration once WP Tao is installed and activated, but you can make some tweaks under WP Tao > Settings. I’d recommend first preventing tracking for some of your users, such as administrators and shop managers, who you won’t be marketing to and thus probably don’t need to track.
Under the “Maintenance” settings tab, you can also determine which data is stored long term vs only temporarily. As WP Tao stores all data on your site, for some events that happen most frequently, you may want to keep them only for a set period of time. I’d recommend limiting events like “Visited page” and “User identified” to a set time period (e.g., 90 days, depending on your average visits).
These are all optional settings, however; if you want to use the plugin as-is for testing, you can certainly do so, and you’ll be up and running without any configuration needed.
The main purpose of WP Tao is event tracking. This will give you insights into user actions on your site so you can track most popular pages, add to cart events, comments, or other interactions with your site.
Once you’ve set up the plugin, you can begin to view all of your site events under WP Tao > Events. This will show you all tracked events, along with the event type and user information for the event.
Over time, you’ll see your tracked events grow, and both registered and guest users will be tracked. While a guest user can’t always be authenticated, WP Tao will do its best to track unique users based on either a cookie or a “fingerprint” (distinctive user details such as the IP address, browser, etc) so that your reporting is accurate, and guest users aren’t tracked as multiple distinctive users.
You’ll see this with guest users who are unidentified, as they’ll still have a “pseudo” ID assigned (note the
9 in my screenshot above). This means that, if that guest returns at a different time, their browsing data can still be associated with this pseudo ID rather than simply being tracked as “yet another guest”. While guest data can be typically unreliable, this pseudo-identifier ensures you come as close as possible to tracking unidentified guests as unique people.
When events are related to order or payment data, the order record will be linked to from the event message so you can quickly see what items were purchased. This will work for both WooCommerce order and EDD payment records so you can easily view order information.
All of the following events are tracked on your store so that you can gain insights into your sales funnel and customer browsing behavior:
- page visits
- user login
- user registration
- adding comments
- submitting a contact form
- item added to cart / removed from cart
- order placed
- payment submitted
As your tracked events build, you’ll get a really nice global view of all of your site occurrences for your guest and logged-in users. You can see where the traffic comes from, which pages are visited, which items are added to the cart, and who reaches out with contact requests. This gives you a detailed look at the lifecycle of each browsing session.
You can also view events on a per-user basis to examine a particular customer’s behavior further. If you either click on a user name in your event timeline, or go to WP Tao > Identified, you’ll be able to access more detailed information about site visitors.
By clicking on a user’s name (or the “Show Profile” quick action) from the event list or “Identified” list, you can see all events that have been tied to this user on your site.
If you want to get some additional information about registered users, or add details to the user profile, this is also possible.
While under WP Tao > Identified, you can edit users or take action for users.
If you click the “Edit” quick action, you’re able to add notes and phone numbers to customers, letting you save some details for future customer service or analytics usage.
You can also take actions for specific users: clear their event history, clear the user identification, or blacklist the user from tracking (in case you have test customer accounts you want to exclude from analytics).
This helps to ensure you’re only tracking the users you want to track — real, live customers — for the most accurate set of analytics data.
All of the data WP Tao tracks for your site can be seen in the summary under WP Tao > Dashboard. This allows you to get a quick overview of your site’s performance in one view.
From here, you can click on the “Report” icon in the bottom right to get a more detailed look into any of the metrics on your dashboard. This can let you see sales over time, pageviews per day, user registrations, and more.
While seeing all of this data for users or events is useful, the data is only as good as the actions you decide to take with it. Therefore, let’s see what you could do based on the insights gained from WP Tao.
While you don’t have the data needed to reach out to guest users, you can certainly check your reports for customers who have added items to their carts. You can then see if this customer completed an order with the site or not.
You’d want to go to your “Events” view, then filter out events for “add to cart” actions as well as “new orders”. You can also scope the events to the last 30 days so you’re not looking for reports over all time. From here, you can see if a cart has been abandoned.
If the customer has added an item to the cart, but not completed an order within a day or two, you could email that customer to check into whether or not they intend to complete the purchase, getting valuable feedback from the customer in the process (for example, were shipping costs too high? waiting for a sale? etc).
If you want to take abandoned cart analysis a bit further, you can also look into the “Recover Lost Sales” premium add-on to automate the process.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are often one of the most powerful motivators for a customer to purchase. It’s the reason so many of them read product reviews before deciding to buy from your store.
Knowing this, you can encourage reviews and solicit them from your most active reviewers and commenters on your site. You can search your site events for “Comments”, then review which customers have recently commented on your site.
You can then reach out to these active and engaged customers to solicit reviews, or send them previews of new products in exchange for initial reviews for the product in your store.
There are several official add-ons available for WP Tao, many of which are email marketing integrations. These integration plugins serve 2 purposes:
- You can identify guest users or non-logged-in users based on campaign clicks. Many times, email marketing tools use tracking links to track clicks from users on your list. WP Tao can use these same tracking IDs to identify customers when they get to your site by clicking an email campaign.
This lets you get some insight into how effective emails are for leading into a shopping experience or adding items to the cart.
You can also monitor purchasing performance for a campaign based on this user tracking. This allows you to see how much revenue has been generated from the campaign within your WP Tao dashboard.
WP Tao is a free plugin, so basic support is available via the WordPress.org forums. There’s also ample documentation available for help with set up and usage, which also provides a great overview for what kind of events are tracked. I was also impressed by the availability of developer documentation, which isn’t always commonly available or detailed.
The plugin itself is well-structured and code quality is good. WP Tao will add several custom tables to your site’s database; however, as it’s tracking events (which means there are tons of pieces of data logged), this is better served as part of its own table than a core WordPress table anyway. While this may make it more difficult to query or access information (since developers can’t use core WordPress functions), it does help with performance and structure overall, and the developer documentation should assist here as well.
I’m not typically a fan of storing massive amounts of data like site events within your database, as writing data often to your database has the potential to slow your site down. However, WP Tao is well-structured and should handle a large number of site events with no issues, so it’s a viable option for many SMB merchants.
For users who find off-site analytics tools like Google Analytics or other apps overwhelming or difficult to use, WP Tao is a great option that makes it very easy to get up and running, as little configuration is needed. More importantly, the data on events and reporting is easy to access and understand, helping merchants to learn more about customer shopping behaviors on their site.
As WP Tao is free (with a small selection of premium add-ons), this also gives any merchant a chance to try the plugin out to see if they’d like to incorporate analytics on-site within their WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads stores.
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