Changes In Visitor Traffic Volumes & Conversion Rates

Following the cookie change on 8th September to maintain GDPR compliance in line with ICO guidelines (see this article), some sites have seen a noticeable drop in recorded visitor volumes in Google Analytics. This does not mean your site is receiving less traffic, it means some visitors are not being tracked until after they click to accept cookies. Previously we tracked every initial visit (unless Do Not Track was enabled on the user's device) but then stopped tracking if they didn't click to accept or turned off non-essential cookies.

So in practice, the drop in volumes is mostly going to be from visitors who would visit a single page and then bounce off straightaway and this traffic is of negligible value.

The upside from this is the conversion rate recorded in Google Analytics is likely to increase as the ratio of orders to tracked visitors will be higher. 

How Do I Record Most Visitors & Still Comply With GDPR?

Google is moving its analytics and ad tracking to a consent model and also using aggregated tracking for non-consenting visitors which is in beta mode for a limited number of advertisers. Read more about this on Google

There are other cookieless analytical tracking tools that can collect visitor data and still comply with GDPR,  which are typically chargeable such as fathom. They will also differ in how they classify genuine traffic, real people versus bots and crawlers, so their visitor numbers may not be a direct tally with the way Google works.

Could This Impact my Ad Tracking?

People who purposefully choose to Reject cookies will be excluded from ad tracking data and so there could be an increase in this as the cookie banner has a more visible 'Reject' button than before, again in line with ICO guidance (previously people had to navigate via cookie settings). It is still possible to place an order without clicking 'Accept' first and those orders would not be tracked in that case. The cookie banner has also been made slightly larger to encourage more people to choose their preferred consent.

Will This Affect My Order Levels?

No. Genuine visitors to the site will still continue to place orders, this is just a question of whether they are tracked in Google Analytics and Ads. What it does mean is that some order data is no longer tracked in their tools making order levels look lower if you use these tools for order revenue analysis. However, it has long been the case that Google has had discrepancies tracking this data even between its own tools, and neither does it exclude returns and cancellations. The correct and accurate place to get your order data is from REC+ > Reports > Order Information Report or Report Builder where you can build your own custom management reports.

In Summary

Changes were enacted to make sure we closely follow ICO the latest guidelines on cookie tracking. Do not be alarmed if your visitor numbers have reduced since 8th September 2021, your conversion rates will likely have increased as a counter-balance to this and it will not impact your ability to take orders. For accurate order revenue data use the tools available within REC+.

GDPR Compliance & Warranties

We recommend all website owners regularly check their GDPR compliance as it remains your responsibility to be compliant. This means ensuring you regularly scan your site for cookies, especially after adding or removing any 3rd party scripts, and provide a means for visitors to enact their preferences. Our cookie manager tool is provided free to help you record and display your cookies but is not in itself a warranty for GDPR compliance. You must also ensure your cookie and privacy policies reflect your current GDPR compliance practices. We can provide cookie scans and updates to cookie manager for a charge of £295+VAT.


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