A checklist for website tracking

Are you interested in learning the basics of website tracking for your business? Do you have the feeling that you’re not taking advantage of  the full potential of your data? I’m happy you are asking yourself these questions already!

I’ve been working at a Digital Marketing Agency for over four years, and my biggest frustration is seeing the malfunctioning of our customers’ tracking or a poor setup of their trackers. (Yes, I’m kind of a data geek.) ‘Why is that?’, you may wonder. I have seen the potential of data (from a marketing perspective) slipping through businesses’ fingers. In this article, I’ll provide some key takeaways to improve your tracking! Please note that this advice is different for each specific business or sector. That’s why you should put your marketing plans and this article side by side and define your tracking game plan.  

Why you should track your data

Are you running some minor campaigns via Facebook or other social media channels? Amazing! Do you check the performance of your ads? Cool! Do you conclude based on a low cost per click and high click-through-rate? Nice, but wouldn’t you prefer paying more for a click if you knew you were directing a very relevant user or even a potential client to your website? If so, this means you should monitor these visitors on your website thoroughly! You could have 1,000 visitors on your website, but not get any conversion (like watching key pages, subscribing to the newsletter, buying a product…). With the right tools, you can actually follow these visitors, analyse their behaviour and take action! Next to this, having the right data allows you to get to know your customers. Consider it as a free way to analyse your market. You get to know your customer’s wishes, needs, actions and so on.  

The basic tools for your tracking

The possibilities of tools are endless. That’s why you should pick your battles based on your strategic plans. Below I’ll cover the trackers I would recommend installing on your website.

  1. Google Analytics (or other analytical tools)

Of course, this seems like a no-brainer, but many people are not aware of the many possibilities Google Analytics offers. You may currently be looking at the number of sessions, users, demographics, location, device… But have you thought about:

  • Implementing specific events or goals (clicks on a specific button, newsletter subscriptions, duration on a page, plays on a video, loading 5 pages in one session...)
  • Looking at the site speed
  • Looking at the assisted conversions for an e-commerce site
  • Analysing the checkout behaviour
  • Creating specific segments of visitors
  • Adding a new attribution model
  • Adapting or creating custom channel groupings

Many people are overwhelmed by all the menus, graphs and settings but that’s where custom reports come in handy. They make your life easier! You can combine all the data you need into one custom dashboard. This means that you don’t need to browse multiple pages to analyse your key data.

  1. Google Tag Manager

Implementing the right trackers may seem complex, but Google Tag Manager will help you to easily configure them. It will minimize the need for developers. It works on a basic principle where you have a tag, trigger and variables (optional). For one of our customers for example, we had to track when people opened their 3D simulator. For this, we selected the Google Analytics event tag (default in Tag Manager) and we selected a trigger (click on a specific “click class”). It was as simple as that; we added this new ‘click on the 3D simulator’ event. It is also useful to use Variables. (A variable is used for values that change, such as a product name, a price value, or a date…) These can be used to obtain and send specific data dynamically. For example, In this ‘3D simulator’ event, we could add a label to our event, which uses a variable to send the referrer page. Because of this, we can analyse this event better, not only seeing how many people completed an event, but also where they came from before completing it.

  1. Heatmap 

Another must-have within our trackers are heatmap tools. In a nutshell, those tools allow us to have a visual guide of our users’ habits and interactions. This allows us to generate a heatmap (visual image) and see if the webpage is performing well. (e.g. is the CTA appealing?) The most well-known heatmap tools are mouse flow, Hotjar, Crazyegg…

  1. Advertising trackers

All advertising platforms offer tracking tags. (Bing ad tags, Google Ad tags, Facebook Ad tags, Pinterest Ad tags…). It’s important to make sure you have all the tags you need in place. Not only does this provide you with insights on your website interactions, directly coming from your campaign, it also allows you to remarket those people. We can, for example, set specific events such as a ‘ViewContent’ (when someone views an important page for you) and segment those people in an audience to remarket them. There are plenty of events to track, but they should be aligned with your marketing objectives. For e-commerce players, it’s a must to have ‘ViewContent’, ‘add to cart’, ‘Initiated checkout’ and ‘purchase’ events. For one of our other customers we tracked all people that requested a free sample via the sampling tool on their website. Because we know that these are hot prospects, interested and likely to purchase, we can show them specific ads. We segmented the people that converted, the ‘leads’, in a custom audience and were able to remarket those people. We saw an immediate increase in engagement and sales.  

Easily analysing your data

After defining and implementing your trackers it’s often a maze to analyse this data. You could have data coming from multiple tools, preventing you from having a helicopter view. So what can you do to gather everything onto one single dashboard? The answer is simple! Google Data Studio is a free dashboard and reporting tool that allows you to integrate data coming from multiple sources in one dashboard. It’s easy to build, customize and share. You have several Google and open source connectors which are free. But if you wish to integrate other data sources, such as Facebook Ads data, you need to consult a third party connector. (e.g. Supermetrics, funnel.io…) Let me give you an example of a well-built Google Data Studio. We had one customer that was convinced that their Google Analytics dashboard was sufficient for analysis. We thought otherwise, so we proved how limited it was compared to a Google Data Studio dashboard! They were running cross-channel campaigns and did not have a complete view on the performance. That’s why we built a very comprehensive and dynamic dashboard for them. We showed both media buying metrics per channel and the impact it had on the website. It allowed them to analyse data more efficiently and optimize the campaigns faster, resulting in a more cost-efficient approach!  

In short…

As I  mentioned earlier, the possibilities are endless. That’s why you really need to list all your objectives and make sure you have the necessary trackers and tools in place in order to leverage or learn from your data. It’s not about what everyone else is doing, it’s about what works for your business!