Gross Revenue in Google Analytics vs Reality – A Wake Up Call

Amy Tomasello, project manager extraordinaire, and I were reviewing revenue data for a client the other day.  We wanted to compare what Google Analytics is reporting vs. what the client actually deposited “in the bank” for January.

The reality was pretty interesting.

According to Google Analytics, this VRM in Florida received about $85,000 in online bookings in January 2011.  When we asked the client to “match it up” with what she received, it was pretty interesting.  Photo Courtesty: Treehugger on Flickr

Here’s what we found out:

  1. Google Analytics doesn’t report cancellations, or those that call and move to another unit, be it less or more expensive.
  2. Some guests call and decline trip insurance, further reducing the gross revenue of the booking.
  3. Credit card fees and other “costs of collecting money” aren’t revenue, so even though they’re included in the gross revenue numbers, they need to be pulled out to get a true picture of revenue.
  4. Google Analytics DOES remove taxes from gross revenue numbers, so that math is already done.

So what did we find out?  In reality the actual revenue deposited “in the bank” for January 2011 was down around $57,000 – which basically slices about 34% off the top – WOW!  It was definitely eye opening.

I started to think, how can we track this better in Google Analytics?  I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the only way is to have the actual transaction “thank you” page divide out the fees and report those to Google Analytics as separate line items.

For example:

  • Grand Total = $500
  • Credit Card Processing Fee = $15
  • Tax = $65
  • Trip Insurance = $95
  • Online Booking cost = $5
  • Net Revenue = $335  (34%)

Then in the revenue tracking setup, we can pull these amounts out into separate revenue-type tracks.  I’m not exactly sure if this would work, and it seems like some of this information we really wouldn’t want to show a guest.  So what am I trying to get at?  Here are some unanswered questions in my mind:

  • How do you measure revenue?  Do you look at your Google Analytics account and just mentally take 20, 30, or 40% off the top?
  • Is a 34% cut off the top pretty typical? Is it “high” or “low” for your area?
  • Would you be interested in having more granular eCommerce/revenue reporting in Google Analytics?

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand there is a cost to do business, it just surprised me that that cost was 34%!

For marketers who always have a client’s ROI in mind, this is definitely something we might need to think about factoring into our Return on Investment calculations.

2 replies
  1. Nick
    Nick says:

    I think that just being able to track traffic is a major plus, and accurate figures help with forecasting, especially if managing a hospitality business reliant on foot traffic.

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