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How to Track Activity on Your Website in 2021

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Digital Marketing / June 29, 2021

To measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing campaigns and get an inside look into their consumer journey, businesses rely on website tracking. Long story short, brands add code snippets on their site to send signals to third parties and understand how users navigate their site.

What you should know: 

Pixel: Small snippets of code added to a website to gather information about visitors.

Cookies: Piece of code placed in a user’s browser by a web server to collect and store data about them. 

Third-Party Cookies: Third-party cookies track information about a website visitor and send it to the third-party who created the cookie, such as advertising platforms.

Phasing Out of Third-Party Cookie: Browsers such as Safari and Firefox are automatically blocking third-party cookies. Google will do the same on Chrome in 2023.

Web Server: Software that delivers content (ie. a website) to users on the Internet

iOS14: Apple’s privacy-first update launched in 2021 that requires users to opt-in tracking.

Understanding your website traffic may be one of the most important needs for an online business but it can sometimes be a challenge. 

You may find it intimidating to figure out all the different scripts, tags, and pixels you might need to add to your site’s code. And, if you thought website tracking was challenging a few years ago, be aware because it reached a whole new level in 2021. 

With the phasing out of third-party cookies in the works and added regulations around tracking (cue: iOS 14), tracking actions and conversions can be quite the headache for marketers. 

Here’s a list of tools you might want to consider to track conversions and actions as accurately as possible in this new digital era.

First things first, start with Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager or GTM should be the first thing you add to your website because everything you set up after that can be organized in this tool, making your life, or your developer’s life, a lot easier.

Instead of adding each individual tag on your website (probably needing a developper to do so), GTM lets you easily add tags without needing advanced coding abilities.

Google Tag Manager Server-Side Tracking

In mid-2020, Google introduced Server-Side Tracking through Google Tag Manager. 

The standard tagging set up relies on a container to send measurement data to multiple servers (Google Analytics, Google Ads and other 3rd Parties). When using server-side tracking, the container doesn’t run on the user’s browser, but on a server that you have full control over. The server acts as the middleman between browsers and apps and third-party tools where actions are collected.

Why does server-side tracking matter to marketers? Because your data collection strategy doesn’t rely on a third-party code on your users’ browser. Knowing that the phasing out of third-party cookies has already started for some browsers, server-side tracking is one of the many solutions available to businesses.

Bonus: server-side tracking also helps reduce load times as it reduces the amount of Javascript loading on your site.

Then, Google Analytics 

Google Analytics is a free data analytics tool every business should have (if they aren’t using alternatives like Adobe Analytics). Google Analytics enables marketers to access a wide range of metrics and dimensions to understand how visitors are interacting with their site. 

Note that Google is currently rolling out Google Analytics 4. This new version is quite different from Universal Analytics (the previous version), we explained the differences in this article

Google Analytics 4 is already the new default version when adding Google Analytics to a site. If you are still running on the previous version, make sure to install Google Analytics 4 in parallel to start collecting data in the new version. 

Next, set up your platform Analytics Trackers:

If your brand uses multiple channels in its digital marketing strategy, the number of platform analytics trackers may vary. 

Facebook : Track Conversions from your Facebook Campaigns

Not so long ago, adding only the Facebook pixel to your website was enough to accurately track conversions associated with your Facebook and Instagram campaigns.

With the phasing out of third-party cookies and privacy-first updates like iOS 14, tracking conversions from Facebook now requires additional steps.

Facebook Pixel 

The Facebook Pixel helps:

  • Measure the effectiveness of your ads: The Facebook Pixel makes it easy to track actions associated with your ads. 
  • Build engaging audiences: Using the Facebook Pixel, you can build lookalike audiences, advertise to past purchasers, or target website visitors.

That said, since the release of Apple’s iOS14 update (Google’s also planning on launching a similar update on Android at the end of the year), iPhone/iPad users need to opt-in Facebook tracking. This “impacts how Facebook receives and processes events from tools like the Facebook pixel.” Businesses need to take additional actions in order to track website events and send signals to Facebook.

Aggregated Event Measurement

Aggregated event measurement is a fairly new protocol that allows advertisers to track website events from iOS14 users. 

The main limitation is that brands can only create up to 8 events (conversions, add-to-carts, newsletter signups, etc.) to track. Also, Facebook only records the last event touchpoint, based on priority. For example, if a customer sign ups for the newsletter and makes a purchase, only the purchase will be counted. 

Conversion API

Another option for advertisers is setting up the Facebook Conversion API. When used in addition to the Facebook pixel, the Conversion API helps improve tracking accuracy.

Unlike the Facebook Pixel, the Conversion API doesn’t rely on third-party cookies from web browsers. With the API, you send your first-party data from your own server to Facebook. Therefore:

  1. You have more control over the data you share
  2. It fills in the gap left by the Facebook Pixel

Again, Facebook best practices is to use both the Conversion API and the Facebook Pixel.

Facebook’s Conversion API can also be integrated through GTM’s server-side tracking.

Google Ads Conversion Linker

With Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics already on the site, you would not need extra tags for audience tracking on Google Ads. If you use Google Analytics Goals as your Google Ads conversions, you would not need the conversion linker, but at Bloom, our best practice is to track conversions directly in the platform, so in that case, a Conversion Linker should also be added to your website.

Bing Universal Event Tracking Tag

The Universal Event Tracking Tags is Microsoft Ads’ version of the Google Ads Conversion Linker. If you are advertising on Bing, this tag is needed to build audiences and track conversions for Microsoft Ads.

LinkedIn Insight Tags

Just like Google and Facebook,  LinkedIn also has its own tracking pixel to help attribute conversion and build custom audiences.

But, on LinkedIn, the free tag will also provide professional details about your website traffic such as job functions and company industries of your visitors. The data from the LinkedIn Insight Tag can play a role in your sales and marketing strategy. Learn more about the LinkedIn Insight Tag here.

Tracking Pixel From Other Advertising Platforms

Depending on your marketing strategy you might be advertising on various platforms like Snapchat, Pinterest, StackAdapt, etc. Make sure to always add their tracking code on your site. 

Set Yourself Up For Success With Accurate Website Tracking

Do not underestimate the importance of accurate website tracking. Once you start capturing the correct data about your visitors, you’ll be able to make more strategic decisions when it comes to performance and user experience.

Also, make sure to comply with the different legislations in effect regarding consent, tracking and data collection.

If you need help, contact us, our team will be happy to provide training, review or set up your site tracking.

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