Check the Impact of Covid-19 on Your Business Using Google Analytics

Not a fun topic, but essential right now. Every business needs to know how much they’re being affected by the current situation and find ways in which they can best cope.

We all want to get through this as unscathed as possible, so we have put together a selection of tips to help you check for issues and mine for opportunities within your web analytics data.


First off make sure that you are using annotations as extensively as possible to document external factors affecting your business, as well as activities and measures that you are putting in place to safeguard or promote your business.

Some examples of the kind of activities to document are:

  • Ran a promotional offer for 50% off of your product or service for essential workers 
  • A country that a significant proportion of your customers live announced a lockdown
  • Other internal or external factors affecting visitor numbers and behaviour


This will make identifying the impacts of these events much easier when looking at the time series graphs at the top of reports.

A previous post that we shared explains how to actually add annotations to your Google Analytics account.



Make Sure You Understand Key Date Ranges

Comparison of date ranges to immediately preceding the outbreak of Covid-19 and also the same period in the previous year is an essential tactic when analysing your reports.

So ensure you are aware of all the key dates on which factors affecting your business occurred.

Tableau have recently published some excellent Covid-19 data resources that map out the intensity of the epidemic geographically, which you can use to cross reference against your own data.

Behavioural and Demographic Segments

Perhaps a large portion of your audience resides in a city or country that is highly impacted by the virus. Create a segment in Google Analytics for that audience and compare it to all users. 

Build a segment of sessions from that location, for example London or Italy, and look into the changes in browsing and shopping behaviour over this period.


Look at your ecommerce reports and make note of the sort of stats you are seeing. 

Exploring date ranges and comparing data sets to the previous period (pre Covid-19) and to the same period in the previous year will help you gauge where you would be if the virus had not hit.

Other useful demographic and behavioural segments to look at are:

  • Demographics of those deemed vulnerable (e.g. aged 70+) 
  • New vs. Returning visitors
  • Customer Type
  • Content / Page viewed

Monitor Acquisition Channels

The channels report (Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels) is an incredibly insightful and useful report. It is properly the one that I use the most in Google Analytics. It is a great way to see how certain conditions and activities e.g. Covid-19, seasonality, holidays or promotions affect your traffic.

The acquisition metrics detail how the quantity of traffic for each source is driving to your website.


You can select channels that you want to see in the time series graph and then click plot selected rows to see how that particular traffic source performed over time.


Changing the metric displayed on the graph to something like transactions or revenue will give you an insight into ecommerce performance broken down by channel.

Make a note of the channels that contributed the most revenue and which ones have seen an uncharacteristic decrease in revenue or conversion rate.

This analysis can help you take stock of what is happening now and help you to make informed decisions as to where you should focus your efforts versus scaling back paid campaigns to reduce costs, for example turning off a Facebook or Google Ads paid campaign.

Adding secondary dimensions to this report allows you to break the data down for more granular analysis.

Ecommerce Overview

The Ecommerce Overview report (Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview) gives us a summary of revenue and order statistics. The key metrics to focus on are:

  • Ecommerce Conversion Rate: the percentage of Sessions (site visits) that result in purchases.
  • Transactions: total number of purchases made through the site
  • Revenue: total amount spent
  • Average order value: average amount of revenue earned for each order
  • Unique purchases: number of times any individual product (or group of products) was included in a transaction

The annotations that I mentioned earlier are particularly useful in identifying the causes behind fluctuations in trend lines here again.


Product Sales

Once you have an overall picture of site performance, review the individual products by selecting the Product Performance report (Conversions > Ecommerce > Product Performance). This report breaks out statistics by individual products.

By default, this table is sorted by the Quantity column, so you can see the biggest selling products on top. By clicking on the Product Revenue column, you can sort by revenue to see the top revenue-producing products on top.

Combine this with demographic and behavioural segments as well as narrowing down to key date ranges to get insights into how demand has changed for your products right now.

Use Custom Alerts

Custom Alerts can let you know if there is something that needs attention without having to manually check every day. If something significant, or at least slightly significant is happening this forms part of your early warning system to shut off your paid campaigns or whatever the appropriate response is. 

You can set your Custom Alerts to monitor large (or small) deviations from normal site performance.


To create a custom alert: Sign in to Google Analytics. Navigate to your view. Open Reports. Click CUSTOMIZATION > Custom Alerts.

Some useful ones to consider setting up on your account:

  • Visits
    all traffic -> Visits -> % decreases by more than -> 10% -> same day in the previous week
    all traffic -> Visits -> % increases by more than -> 10% -> same day in the previous week
  • Pageviews
    all traffic -> Pageviews -> % decreases by more than -> 10% -> same day in the previous week
    all traffic -> Pageviews -> % increases by more than -> 10% -> same day in the previous week
  • Revenue
    all traffic -> Revenue -> % decreases by more than -> 10% -> previous week
    all traffic -> Revenue -> % increases by more than -> 10% -> previous week
  • Transactions
    all traffic -> Transactions -> % decreases by more than -> 10% -> previous week
    all traffic -> Transactions -> % increases by more than -> 10% -> previous week
  • Ecommerce Conversion Rate
    all traffic -> Ecommerce Conversion Rate -> % decreases by more than -> 10% -> previous week
    all traffic -> Ecommerce Conversion Rate -> % increases by more than -> 10% -> previous week

In Summary

The current situation in the world has created testing times for many families, businesses and the economy as a whole. We are all responding to unprecedented living, learning (for those in education) and working conditions.

Online (as well as offline) shopping behaviours have drastically changed in many industries and the need to rapidly adapt to the changes in order to survive means that you need to make informed decisions now more than ever.

Hopefully these analysis tips will help you understand the impact of the pandemic on your business and find some ways to respond. If we can help you with data analysis during this time please reach out to us.