New e-commerce clients using PayPal basic editions, will sometimes say that not all PayPal conversions are being recorded in Google Analytics, Google Ads and Facebook Ads. The missing conversion data is the e-commerce sales revenue – or even just the confirmation of the sale. The more advanced editions of PayPal allow the transaction to be processed on your website domain which does not results in missing transactions.
However, the PayPal entry editions require the transactions to be processed on PayPal’s domain (third party domain). When this happens, the buyer does not always return to your website, therefore allowing the e-commerce tracking code on your website domain to record the completed sales event.
PayPal like other payment processors gives the buyer the option to return to the seller’s website (1st party domain)- or by default to remain on the third party domain (Payment processor). PayPal auto-return feature is when you update the settings to force the user to return to your website via redirection.
* NB – it is important that the buyer is redirected specifically back to the order receipt page- because this is the only place that contains the e-commerce tracking code.
What is PayPal AutoReturn
PayPal cover the steps for setting up auto-redirects back to the 1st party domain website. https://www.paypal.com/uk/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/mer/express_return_summary-outside
First you login to Paypal – and update the settings to include an auto-return. Not just back to your website- but specifically to the order receipt page on your website that contains the Google Analytics e-commerce code. (Or Google Ads revenue code, Facebook Ads revenue code etc). Only the order receipt page contains the e-commerce tracking code for Google Analytics, Google Adwords or Google Tag Manager. The same principle applies with Sage Pay, World Pay and other payment processors.
How to Configure PayPal Settings for tracking e-commerce transactions
Login to PayPal and follow this 3-Step process. Step 1 is click on the gear icon in the top right corner. This will bring you to the My Selling Preferences area. Step 2 is click on website preferences- and select the update link on the right.
Step 3 is select auto return as on, Then enter your website URL thank you page (receipt page). This page contains the e-commerce event code for Google Analytics, Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads and more.
Another common problem is that PayPal or another payment processor will show up in the reports in Google Analytics taking credit for the sale. The third party domain cookie overwrites the original cookie, because the default settings of Google Analytics is to give credit to the last source. To overcome this problem you need to exclude the domain (e.g. PayPal) from Google Analytics. This prevents the third party domain overwriting the original 1st party domain cookie – your marketing data.
Click the red button to add PayPal or other third party payment processors that complete the transaction on their own domain. (Just the domain name, without www. or https).
Tracking Sales as Goals
If revenue tracking and shopping cart functionality are not yet available on your website- the redirect needs to be to the destination URL page for a completed goal. See our article on how to setup How to Setup Goals in Google Analytics for more details. Setting up goals as a sales destination page is also useful if to compare the amount of completed e-commerce sales vs completed goals.
To learn more about Google Analytics check out, Google Analytics for Beginners.
Most PPC platforms have conversion tracking including Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Microsoft Bing Ads, Pinterest and more, as well as Google Analytics itself. So making sure Paypal transactions are recorded correctly will help you measure, report and improve marketing ROI of all of your campaigns. This is true if you are doing manual bidding or machine learning/automatic bidding.