December 27, 2012
  |   Ecommerce

Using Analytics to Determine Browser Support

All too often, the decision of which browsers to support is made by developers wanting to avoid a headache or companies looking to cut their costs, but if you have some sort of analytics installed on your site (and you should for many reasons), this decision can be made using actual data.

Actual data, as opposed to speculation, can help you discover high-converting traffic from unexpected browsers. It can also help you discover if a browser you are investing a large amount of money and energy in brings you very little traffic. Even if you don’t make any mind-blowing discoveries, actual data helps you know for sure whether or not you’re making the best decision.

In addition to these discoveries, continuously monitoring what browsers visitors are using allows you to make timely, agile eCommerce decisions. For example, if you change something on your site or a browser receives an update, one of these changes could impact how visitors interact with your site. Even worse, if one of the changes affects your cart or checkout, it could render either unusable for an entire visitor segment.

Discovering and responding to site issues quickly is imperative for eCommerce sites. After all, you want your visitors to be able to purchase your delightful eCommerce products!

Where to Find Browser Information in Google Analytics

Now that you understand the need for using browser data to make agile eCommerce decisions, you need to know how to collect such data, and we are happy to report that it is much easier than you might imagine, thanks to Google Analytics.

To begin, simply sign in to your Google Analytics account, navigate to “Audience”, “Technology”, then “Browser & OS”.  Finally click “eCommerce” and select “eCommerce conversion rate” from the dropdown menu.

Guide to finding conversion rates for browsers

You can drill down further by selecting one particular browser type and viewing “Browser Version” data.

How to Use Available Data

As discussed earlier, we want to use this data to help keep your eCommerce visitors happy. Looking at which browsers and browser versions have the greatest share of visits to your site is the first step in determining which ones should receive the most consideration.

In the image above, we see that IE8 and IE9 make up a large percentage of our site visitors, and – despite the fact that they are technically older browsers and despised by many developers – they should be supported. We can also see that some of our visitors are already using Internet Explorer 10, but it is a very low percentage of total visitors. However, we expect the percentage of IE10 visits to increase with time, so we need to be watchful and set a percentage of visits threshold to know when to begin full IE10 support. See this article on proactive monitoring for information on how to set an alert for knowing when such thresholds are reached.

In addition to the percentage of visits, other metrics to consider when determining browser support are transactions and conversion rate. If one browser has a significantly greater conversion rate or numbers of transactions than the site average (i.e. a tablet browser); you may want to consider supporting this browser despite a lower percentage of visits.

Any large movement up or down for eCommerce browser metrics – including Bounce Rate – may represent a problem on your site for visitors using a browser type. The following calculation should help you.

A more quantitative way to approach determining browser support is to use the following equation in order to determine how much you could be losing on a given browser. If you find the amount of revenue for a specific browser is far below the average and the amount you could be making well above the cost of support, the answer is easy! Invest money into making your site work better with that specific browser.

Make sure to use numbers from the same time period

A simple way to look at this in Google Analytics is to click on a specific browser like Chrome or Firefox while in the “Browser and OS” window, and compare the percentage of visits versus the percentage of transactions. If the browser’s share of transactions is significantly lower than its share of visits that may signify a problem.

While you’re looking at the transaction vs. visitor rate of a specific browser, you may want to look at the conversion rate versus the site wide conversion rate. If it’s lower, this may also signify a problem.

How Often to Monitor

You should monitor these metrics constantly! This is made easy by using Google’s free Custom Alerts tool, which is described in greater detail in the blog post I mentioned earlier that discusses proactive monitoring. Using a Custom Alert enables Google Analytics to do the work for you, and it will contact you when it finds a significant shift in metric values.

Remember, whatever decision you’re making, make it with data.

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