You can't fix what you don't track

  • October 14, 2016
  • Michael Whitaker
If you have a technical glitch in your checkout that prevents your customers from placing an order, would they tell you? Perhaps if you are lucky some visitors will tell you, but most likely they will just give up and leave your site, a classic case of “unknown unknowns”: You don’t even know that you have a problem so you can’t fix it. This is what happened to one of our clients recently where a glitchy implementation of a third-party script prevented some shoppers from placing orders, resulting in significant lost revenue. Read More

Item page segmentation

  • December 20, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
If you have an e-commerce site with section and item pages, you’ll want to be able to tell those page types apart in your web analytics. Unless you have a URL structure where you can tell directly what type of page it is (e.g. or /?section=abc), you must tell your web analytics tool what type of page it is by doing some manual page tagging. For Google Analytics I use custom variables to tag each page as ItemPage and SectionPage (along with some other types of pages). Read More

Product Conversion Rate

  • October 21, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
You already know that there are lots of conversion rates in your web analytics: Every PPC, keyword or email campaign has a specific conversion rate. But what about the stuff that really matters: the actual products you sell? Shouldn’t products have a conversion rate as well? When a transaction occurs you can (and should) send the order details to Google Analytics, such as product name, SKU, price, order number. You’ll get very rich data and be able to attribute revenue to your various campaigns. Read More

Using web analytics to optimize checkout forms

  • June 25, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
Although I tend to be skeptical of best practices – they might be a starting point, but I prefer doing testing to find out what works or not – there are some things that are always better than others. A fast-loading site always beats a slow-loading one, working links are always better than broken links, and reducing errors in general makes obvious sense. In the same vein I would say that a short checkout form is better than a longer one. Read More

Yahoo! Store trackable links and web analytics

  • May 10, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
(This post applies only to Yahoo! Store merchants). If you are using Trackable Links you can make a small change in the trackable link URL that allows you to track it directly in web analytics too. When you set up a trackable link it looks something like: When you click on a link like this one (which is a non-working sample link), you are redirected to the landing page – in this case the homepage. Read More

Repeat Customers

  • March 29, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
What’s the only thing better than customers? Repeat Customers. According to the book Flip the Funnel the conventional wisdom is that it is far more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones. Many companies now base their strategy on increasing purchases from repeat customers, which in the case of Zappos is 75% of their business (again from the book Flip the Funnel). You should be able to get repeat customer metrics directly in your e-commerce order system. Read More

Monitus Tools product update: single-use coupons for Yahoo! Stores

  • November 20, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
You can now usesingle-use coupons in our cart recovery service and our web personalization platform PersonaQuest. As the name suggests, single-use coupons can only be used once. One issue with generic coupons is that they could be disseminated far more widely than intended. This can not only result in lower margins, but it’s also hard to tell how effective coupons are if you don’t know how many people have been exposed to them. Read More

Coupon Analytics

  • November 9, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
The saying “If you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage it” definitely applies to web analytics as well. Take online coupons. If I can’t see any data about coupon usage in my web analytics reports then I won’t worry about it, let alone do any kind of optimization. But by all accounts, coupons play an important part in the marketing tactics for many online retailers. By being able to see coupon usage in web analytics we can at least start asking some interesting questions and perhaps start uncovering some interesting nuggets. Read More

Yahoo! Store webinar today

  • October 14, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
I will do a demo today of the cart recovery service as part of the Store Optimization Series organized by the Yahoo! Store small business team. I will also briefly touch upon the upcoming release of PersonaQuest, our web personalization and targeting platform. Plus there will of course be something about web analytics – you know me! Please consider joining me and other partners who will be showing off their cool tools: Read More

About site reviews

  • September 28, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Live site reviews are popular sessions in conferences and webinars, but are they actually all that useful? In a site review, an expert takes a quick look at a site and makes recommendations on the fly as to how he would improve the site. I am just doubtful that you can make any valid recommendations without knowing at least a little bit about the business behind the site. This is not a criticism of the site reviewer, but rather of the site review process itself. Read More

Cross sell works

  • September 22, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
…at least in a Yahoo! Store with the optional cross-sell feature. Average order values are consistently higher for this retailer:    Note that the cross-sell traffic segment includes only visitors who have clicked on a cross-sell link. It’s not an AB test, but I think it does show that Yahoo!’s cross-sell algorithm does a good job of displaying relevant cross-sell items that lead to larger order sizes. Also, as I mentioned earlier, this is only one example, but I don’t see how enabling cross-sells could hurt . Read More

Dead links to shopping cart page still on many Yahoo! Stores

  • May 27, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Don’t mean to sound alarmist, but according to Yahoo!’s very cool Site Explorer there are literally 1000s of Yahoo! Stores that still have a bad link to their shopping cart page. A while ago, Yahoo! made a change to their checkout URLs – going from to The actual add to cart functionality was automatically updated so no issues there, and visitors can still put items in the cart and then place an order. Read More

Great time to have a Yahoo! Store

  • May 4, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
This probably applies to small biz online retailers in general, but if you have a Yahoo! Store here are some of the things you can do at low or no cost today: Use advanced web analytics like Yahoo! Web Analytics or Google Analytics. Do multivariate and AB testing. Run segmented email campaigns. Develop multi-touch campaign attribution models. Personalize and target your content for different visitor segments. Tap into vast social media networks. Read More

Ad tracking for Yahoo! Store

  • October 30, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
Using  search marketing ROI data as the basis for making smart business decisions (as I recommend you should) obviously requires that your conversion tracking is done properly. If you don’t have the data you can’t make decisions. Sounds like common sense, but it is not common practice from what I see. If you run Yahoo! Search Marketing campaigns or Google Adwords campaigns, follow their respective instructions or wizards to grab the conversion tracking script and paste it in the Page Message field of the Order Confirmation tab of the checkout manager. Read More

IndexTools and Yahoo! Store

  • April 15, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
Exciting times in the world of web analytics after the announcement of Yahoo!’s purchase of Index Tools and the subsequent news that Index Tools would be offered for free. It remains to be seen what the Yahoo! version of Index Tools will look like, but I am amazed as the pace of innovation and consolidation going on. One group of people to benefit are Yahoo! Store merchants. As mentioned on the Yahoo! Read More

The importance of site search

  • July 18, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
How important is internal site search to an e-commerce site? Rather than using “quite important” as the conventional wisdom answer, I thought I’d drill down a little to get some practical information. As usual, the example here is a Yahoo! Store using our implementation of Google Analytics, but the general information applies to other platforms and tools as well. Lets see if we can ask some good questions and hopefully come up with some good answers. Read More

The importance of the cart page

  • July 2, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
It’s always a good idea to step back from our daily lives and the flood of information we are faced with to try and see the big picture. To all you Yahoo! Store merchants and other pure Internet-only e-tailers, remember the following: Visitors use the main search engines as their homepages. They will search for your products and land deep in your site, bypassing your homepage. They will even type in your domain name into the search box rather than type it directly into the browser. Read More

Yahoo! Store: taking care of the basics

  • July 2, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
Recently I spoke with someone who was considering leaving the Yahoo! Store platform because of the apparent lack of a “crucial” feature. Actually there is a pretty elegant solution to this merchant’s particular issue, but this is beside the point for this post. However it did get me thinking (!) and I thought I’d revisit some of the things I have taken for granted in the Yahoo! Store platform. (*Disclaimer) Read More

Rob’s latest guest post on the Official Yahoo! Store blog

  • September 29, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Great advice as usual, from a person who is very gracious in helping others – both inside and outside all things Yahoo! Store: (Of course,  I would only add that what Rob is describing is what our Keyword Monkey tool does automatically…) Read More


  • May 26, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
How many of you use the Clicktrails report in the Store Manager? For those who don’t know what clicktrails are can read the description on Yahoo!’s help files. It says there that “You will probably find the paths of the visitors who put something in the shopping basket the most informative.” I do wonder though how you can extract real actionable data from this tool. My guess is that there will be many many unique paths that shoppers have taken through your site. Read More

What’s the best text to use on your “Buy Now” buttons?

  • May 11, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
The folks at have some pretty valuable information that’s relevant for Yahoo! Store merchants. I listened in on a conference call yesterday about designing better landing pages, and the question came up about what the wording should be on the “Add to cart” button. And voila, just a day later, they post an answer on their blog. Check them out and if possible, listen in on their conference calls. Highly recommended. Read More

Yahoo! Store seminar LA

  • April 10, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Here are some pictures of our seminar in LA last week. Thanks to everyone who attended. We extended our second day from a half-day session to a full day session because we had so much material to cover. We still have space for our seminar in San Francisco at the end of April. You have to come – otherwise your competitor will. Link: Yahoo! Store seminar LA pictures.   Read More

Yahoo! Merchant Solutions Developer Directory

  • March 27, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Just launched:  new Yahoo! Merchant Solutions Developer Network Link: Yahoo! Merchant Solutions Developer Directory. Read More

Feature request for the new checkout

  • February 22, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
The new checkout manager, which is still in beta, is very powerful and I like it a lot. But what would really take the biscuit is if the merchant’s domain name could be persisted through to the confirmation page. Right now the shopping cart and checkout pages are on, distinct from the normal catalog pages. Separate domains makes tracking and other features so much more difficult to do. Read More

PayPal for payment processing

  • February 17, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Now you don’t have to have a traditional merchant account anymore in order to run a Yahoo Store, so that should open up the platform to more would-be merchants. I don’t know if Stores with traditional credit card processing convert better than those using PayPal, but it’s nevertheless good to have a choice. As an online shopper I actually like using PayPal whenever possible because I don’t have to send credit card details to an e-commerce site I may not trust 100%. Read More

Web Site Templates

  • February 1, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Should Yahoo Store merchants seeking a new (re)design buy an off-the-shelf web design template instead of hiring a designer to come up with a unique design? I always used to dismiss templates, but now I am not so sure. You do need a professional design for sure, but what if the templates are in fact professionally-designed? And then you would still add your own logo and tweak the design for your particular needs to differentiate yourself from other people using that same template. Read More

Technical review of “Starting a Yahoo!® Business For Dummies®”

  • January 6, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
I have just finished the technical review of Starting a Yahoo! Business for Dummiesby Rob Snell. So hopefully, this means it’s going to hit the bookshelves soon. Let me tell you, this is going to be a good one. Rob – did you really have to give away ALL the secrets??? Seriously, Rob has worked really hard to put together a very ambitious book with lots of useful and actionable advice for Yahoo Store merchants. Read More

Yahoo Store Tips and Tricks book

  • December 9, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
Well, our Yahoo Store Tips and Tricks book is finally a reality. It’s taken us ages to get this done. It has lots of (er) tips and tricks that we find useful; hopefully readers will find it useful too. Book has been sent to the printer and will ship out late December/ early January. Thanks to Rob Snell for writing the intro and for providing critical feedback. Details on Istvan’s site. Read More

Real Time Link

  • November 11, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
Chances are that you won’t see the real time link in your Store Manager, but if you have a legacy Yahoo Store or a new Merchant Enhanced or Premium account you can enable this feature for free. If you have a Merchant Intro account you cannot get this feature. To enable the real-time link you need to call Yahoo customer service. I wish there was a link in the Store Manager that would tell people about the real-time link and how to enable it. Read More

Recommended setup to keep search engines happy

  • October 6, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
I could think of enough tips and tricks for the Yahoo Store platform to fill a whole book (hint: it’s coming…), but there is one issue that keeps coming up over and over again when I work with new Yahoo Merchant Solutions customers. When you sign up for a new account several domains are established:, which by default links to your web hosting space., which by default links to your store editor pages. Read More

Yahoo Store seminar

  • October 3, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
Thanks to everyone who attended our advanced Yahoo! Store RTML seminar in San Francisco. The template editor and the RTML language may look intimidating at first, but we hope our hands-on computer lab setting provided the right setting. Also, many thanks to Rob Snell for accepting our invititation to speak at the seminar and for providing folks with some invaluable tips and tricks, including details about his upcoming Dummies book. Read More

Time for a new Yahoo Store seminar

  • August 12, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
After a few months of inactivity on the seminar front, Istvan and I invite you to our upcoming RTML seminar in San Francisco. This seminar will teach you everything you need to start building your own custom Yahoo Stores using the template editor. This is not just theory, but hands-on hacking in a state-of-the-art computer lab. Aside from meeting some really interesting fellow Yahoo Store merchants, you can also expect to bump into some team members from the dev team at Yahoo. Read More

Yahoo Store Editor is upset – must be a person

  • May 24, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
Today, the Store Editor is upset with me for some reason. Judging by the tone, it clearly thinks that I made some kind of mistake and thus does not deem it necessary to offer any kind of additional help or customer support information. Nothing quite like a friendly error message… Read More

Yahoo Small Biz May 2005 newsletter

  • May 19, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
Following my criticism of their April 2005 newsletter, the marketing folks in Yahoo! small business have been weird again about describing their own product in this month’s edition. As was the case in the last newsletter the profiled business was clearly built with the Yahoo Store Editor, not Site Builder and Store tags. But why not say as much instead of the very vague “utilizing  the design tools provided by Yahoo! Read More

Store Editor or Site Builder?

  • April 29, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
As you probably know you can build your Yahoo! Merchant Solutions site in a couple of ways: The traditional way with the Store Editor online interface, or With an HTML editor such as Dreamweaver and Yahoo’s own Site Builder and Store Tags. Which way is better? I think the Store Editor is still the better choice for most merchants who have to manage upwards of 30 products. Using an HTML editor is probably o. Read More

Rob Snell’s blog

  • April 26, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
Rob Snell has written a great article on his blog about increasing sales. When he talks about conversion rate, pay attention! As an aside, tracking conversion rate in your Yahoo Store is easy despite a slight misnomer.  In the Store Manager, click on “Graphs”. Then select “Orders/Customer”.  To see this in action, check out the Yahoo Store test account. According to Yahoo’s own documentation *Customers *in this case means “the number of unique individuals visiting Store Editor pages, regardless of whether they makes purchases”. Read More

Yahoo Experts

  • April 26, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
I don’t know if all of you are familiar with Yahoo! Experts (, but I hope that my impressions of contributing to the Yahoo! Store expert section will be of interest to everyone. The Internet offers many exciting possibilities for creating an environment where people can connect with each other to share and exchange information. And what a great idea to create Yahoo Experts, a place where knowledge-seekers can connect with knowledge-givers in order to learn. Read More

Yahoo Merchant Solutions and RTML

  • April 26, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
Before the introduction of Yahoo Merchant Solutions – which combines Yahoo Store with Yahoo web hosting and email – the only way to create a custom site was to use the template editor and RTML. Since then Yahoo has introduced Store Tags and catalog manager, which are tools that allow designers to create custom sites with a regular HTML editor such as Dreamweaver. It is great to have a choice of technologies for building Yahoo storefronts, but I was under the impression that RTML would be grandfathered in and lose significance over time to Store Tags/catalog manager. Read More

Yahoo Store and CSS

  • April 26, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
In my opinion, CSS is the future of web design in general, but it may also hold much promise for Yahoo Stores.  One of the main reason for using CSS  is to separate content from display. Yahoo Store RTML templates generate HTML pages that combine layout elements with catalog data, which is not particularly elegant.  Catalog data should only contain actual product data and not visual elements, such as button color. Read More

Yahoo Store basics

  • April 26, 2005
  • Michael Whitaker
As important as having a professional-looking Yahoo Store is, it is only a part of your business.  What happens **after **your customer clicks on the “confirm order” button is just as important as getting the customer to place an order in the first place.  The key is to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations, in line with what you have promised on your website. I felt compelled to write this note because I just had a bad e-commerce experience. Read More