Using Google Analytics to measure Black Friday success


It’s that time again, the biggest shopping day of the year is happening soon and for many businesses, whether you are a retailer or not, it’s extremely important to your success.

Black Friday and also Cyber Monday (BFCM) is the day were many people will either go to stores or shop online looking for deals. As an online business owner, you want to have a successful BFCM event, but how do you know if this was the case?

This is where making sure you’re all set up with your measurement and tracking is very important, one would say crucial.

I’m going to walk you through seven elements you should think about and ensure are implemented before Black Friday/Cyber Monday to be able to answer the question

“How successful was our Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign this year?”

Blog - Using Google Analytics to measure black friday success.jpg

In this post I’ll cover the following:

  1. Measurement Plan

  2. Tracking

  3. Setting up Goals in Google Analytics

  4. eCommerce Tracking

  5. Campaign Tracking

  6. Testing

  7. Monitor Performance

1. Measurement Plan

Just like you create a Content Plan or a Marketing Plan, you also need to create a Measurement Plan. A Measurement Plan outlines all the marketing initiatives you will undertake to promote your business and how you will be measuring their respective success or failure.

The components of a Measurement Plan are as follows:

1. Business Objective

What is the objective of your Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotion? Is it to get more sales, or more registrations into a course, more people joining your group, etc.

You need to be very clear about this.

2. Strategy

What promotional methods will you be using to achieve your business objective? Will you run Google Ads, send out a newsletter, do social media promoted posts, and so on.

Outline all the ways that you will be promoting your offering during this time.

3. Key Performing Indicators (KPIs)

Once you have outlined all the strategies you will use to promote your offering, It’s important to take each one and determine what metrics you will use to measure their individual performance.

For example: Let’s say you are running Google Ads, an important metric would probably be the Click Through Rate (CTR) of the ads. It will also be important to understand how much it cost for a visitor to complete the objective that is outlined for this Campaign, this is called the Cost per Conversion.

If you need help with ideas of KPIs that you can use for your strategies, I have put together a Top 5 Metrics Successful Entrepreneurs track. The ones, I outline here will give you a starting point, but for some strategies, you may need to add additional ones to truly measure success. You can get a copy by signing up here.

You will need to document all the metrics that you will need to look at to determine the success or failure of your Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign as it will inform the tracking you put in place (more on this later).

4. Set Targets for your KPIs

This is something that can feel overwhelming at first, nevertheless, it’s important to do. You want to set targets for your key metrics to help you make decisions quicker should you be very far off and need to do some course correcting. It will also help you understand the performance of your campaign once it’s over and make changes for the next year or even other campaigns you run throughout the year.

With your completed Measurement Plan all ready, you can move on to the second element.

2. Tracking

Once you know what your objective is and what metrics you need to look at to understand performance, you then need to see if you are actually tracking them.

Here is where you take all the metrics you outlined and take a look at your Google Analytics, Content Management System, Google Adwords, etc. to see what is currently available.

If you find that there is a metrics that you currently don’t tracked, you have two either put tracking in place ASAP or if this is not a possibility you will have to be comfortable with not having a full understanding of the performance of the tactic whose key metrics you can’t report on. Only you know if this is a deal breaker.

In the end, you want to be able to confidently understand how the Campaign performed based on the objective that you outlined.

3. Setting Up Goals

Google Analytics has a great feature that enables you to set up Goals in your account.

Goals are used to track the desired actions performed by your customers on your site. You can use Goals to track things like email signups, add to shopping cart, downloads, video views, purchases, form submissions, and so much more.

I recommend that you set up goals for the actions on your site that lead to your desired objective.

Setting up Goals for these actions will give you the ability to segment your data in many different ways to help you do an in-depth analysis of the performance. You will be able to understand the pre and post performance of the Campaign.

The sooner you set up the Goals the better, so if you don’t have any setup, please set them up today. Click here to learn more about Goals in Google Analytics and how to set them up.

4. eCommerce Tracking

The Google Analytics eCommerce tracking is a must for all online stores. You need to make sure that you have this turned on ASAP and certainly before your Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns to gather important information on shopping behaviour.

These reports will give you information on what products shoppers looked at, what they added to their carts, the percentage that add to their carts, the percentage that completed a purchase and just as importantly the percentage that abandoned their carts.

Google Analytics Ecommerce menu

Google Analytics Ecommerce menu

They key to all this is that you will be able to segment all this data by the different traffic sources and this is crucial to understanding how your paid marketing campaigns or other promotional tactics performed (i.e. Newsletters vs Paid search)

You will find all your eCommerce reports under the ‘Conversions’ section in the Google Analytics interface.

To understand more about the Google Analytics eCommerce reports, click here.


5. Campaign Tracking

In order for you to easily track all your Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign initiatives, it will be important to put in tracking in the form of UTM campaign parameters to identify them.

UTM Campaign parameters are identifiers that you put in the URLs of your links that will have valuable information about the campaign, where this link is placed, and even the creative that was used.

The parameters you’re able to create are:

1. Campaign - here is where you would identify the campaign you are running. If you are running both a Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaign, you may want to differentiate them.

2. Source - this is the location of where you are placing these promotions. If it’s in magazines, it would be the name of the magazine. If it’s in your newsletter, you can say ‘newsletter’.

3. Medium - this is the source type. If it’s your newsletter, then the source type is ‘email’ as people receive your newsletter in their email. If it’s an ad on Facebook, the source type is ‘social’.

4. Content - here is where you can identify the messaging and/or the location of the link. You can say, it’s the top button vs the bottom button. You can say it’s the ‘signup-top-button’ vs ‘signup-bottom-button’.

Let me give you an example...

Perhaps one of your tactics is to buy some ad space in digital magazines, let’s say you have gone with 5 of them. You also have decided to test two different creatives as you want to test them out to see what message is more appealing to your target audience, but both lead customers to the same location.

If you don’t implement UTM parameters in your URL, it would require more work and in some cases, you may not be able to fully know, which creative people clicked on as they both land in the same location.

An example of what information the URLs would contain for the example given above is as follows:

Magazine 1, Creative A   

Magazine 1, Creative B

Magazine 2, Creative A   

Magazine 2, Creative B

You would repeat these for all 5 magazines.

Google has made it very easy for you to create URLs with UTM parameters. Just click here to start.

Note: It is very very important that you create a tracking document of all your promotional links and their corresponding URLs, design creatives, and any other relevant information. This will save you so much time when it comes to analyzing the performance of each in the future.

6. Testing

This should go without saying but you must test that you are or will be able to receive the information you need to truly know how the campaign performed before it’s launched.

This means that if you add any new tracking on your site, make sure you’re getting the correct information. If you create URLs with UTM parameters, test them to make sure the information is being reported correctly.

Test, Test, Test!

7. Monitor Performance

The day has come and your campaigns are out. This is not the time to just sit back and relax. It’s important that you monitor your Google Analytics account to see how your tactics are performing.

Here you would look at your traffic sources and with the aid of your UTM parameters you can isolate your Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns. You can look and see at your Goals and the % of your visitors from those campaigns completing the Goals (i.e. your conversion rate).

If there are any tracking errors that were not caught earlier, here is when you will catch them and can quickly get them fixed.

You’ll also be able to see how each campaign is performing and determine if you need to make any modifications. This is very important for campaigns that you’re spending a great deal of money on.

To monitor your website performance in real time, you would use the ‘Rear-Time’ reports in Google Analytics. It will give you information on traffic sources, content, location, events and conversions.

Google Analytics Real-Time Reports

Google Analytics Real-Time Reports

Woohoo! That’s it for the seven elements you need to have set up to confidently answer the question “How did our Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign perform?”.

To recap, they’re:

  1. Measurement Plan

  2. Tracking

  3. Setting up Goals

  4. eCommerce Tracking

  5. Campaign Tracking

  6. Testing

  7. Monitor Performance

Now for the fun to begin, there is not much time to make sure you’re covered in all of the above. Wishing you all the best in your campaigns and as always please feel free to reach out if you have any questions on any of what I have shared above.

Also, if you have some great tips to share around Black Friday/Cyber Monday marketing or analyzing, please leave a comment.

As always, happy analyzing!


Hi, I’m Karla

I’m here to help small business understand and use their website data to take the guess work out of growing their business.

I’ll love to help you start using your valuable website data to help you grow your business, book a FREE 30 minute discovery call with me and let’s get started.