Tracking is merely a tool, a means to an end, specifically the exploitation of data to fulfill marketing needs. It is crucial to never lose sight of this objective: tracking must serve your needs, not the other way around.
Tracking is a complex subject, and before delving into cookies, tags, ad-centric data, site-centric metrics, and other technical aspects, it is essential to take a moment to reflect on what you want to track as indicators or what types of data you wish to analyze. Once you have determined this, you can move up the value chain—from the organized and comprehensive data to the implementation of a tracking device that serves your final objective.
Start by assessing your own business activities. Do you operate solely online, or do your customers embark on in-store journeys? Do you have a mobile app? Is your marketing strategy concentrated on a single player with a large budget, or do you distribute investments among different players? The answers to these questions will shape your entire tracking device.
The objective of this article is not to make you a tracking expert but to raise awareness about the subject, empowering you to ask the right questions and locate the necessary information.
Post-Click Tracking: How to Track Visits, Conversions, and Page Views?
You have to start somewhere…
Consider the example of Jeanne: she works in a small company, single-handedly managing the marketing team with a limited budget for campaigns. Jeanne decides to focus her efforts on a single lever—Search. After conducting the exercise mentioned in our introduction, she determines that the performance indicator for her campaigns will be the number of conversions. Consequently, she will evaluate the success of her campaigns based on the following table.
Jeanne’s approach may not be perfect, but she is doing her best…
Now, let’s delve into how the number of conversions per campaign finds its way into Jeanne’s analytics tool. The process begins with placing a tag (a few lines of code that exchange information with an analytics tool) on Jeanne’s company website. Most analytics tools offer configurable tags for passing any desired information. In Jeanne’s case, she wants to pass two pieces of information: the campaign’s name and the associated number of conversions.
Typically, the campaign’s name is retrieved through UTMs when visitors arrive at the site. UTMs are parameters found at the end of the landing page URL, allowing analytics tools to classify incoming traffic. Properly filling in these UTMs is crucial, and the nomenclature should align with your objectives to ensure best practices. The tag retrieves the number of conversions at the time of purchase.
Post-View Tracking: And the Impressions in All This?
You see me, you see me a little, you see me more…
Let’s now meet Marc. Marc’s situation differs—he works in a large company with greater resources. With his team, Marc decides to launch Display campaigns to enhance his company’s visibility. Marc determines that the performance of his Display campaigns will be evaluated based on their click-through rate. To calculate this rate, he needs to track two pieces of information: impressions and visits for each campaign.
Tracking visits is straightforward; it follows a similar process to post-click tracking (installing and configuring a tag on his site). For post-view tracking, the idea is to integrate a tracker directly into the banners. There are different types of trackers, with the main ones being impression pixels and tags. When an internet user sees a banner, the embedded tracker is triggered and sends the contained information to the analytics tool. Just as the post-click tag captures UTM parameters in the landing page URL, post-view trackers contain UTMs, which are transmitted to various tools.
Cost Integration and Tracking: Linking to Media Buying Platforms
With great power comes great responsibilities…
Let’s revisit Jeanne and Marc a few months after implementing their respective tracking devices. Both have monitored the evolution of their performance indicators, but their needs have changed. Jeanne now wishes to manage her campaigns based on CPA, while Marc prefers CPM. Incorporating cost data tracking into their analytics tools is necessary to accommodate these new indicators.
In this case, it’s not about tags or pixels, but rather about interfacing between different media buying platforms (e.g., Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager, Campaign Manager) and analytics tools. In most cases, media buying platforms offer means to share data, either through APIs or automated file transfers. You can find a list of existing connectors in the Wizaly platform [link here].
Once again, to correlate the performance of a campaign in terms of impressions, visits, and costs, adopting a common nomenclature across your tracking devices is imperative. Unlike post-click and post-view tracking, campaigns are often identified by their names in the shopping platform, rather than UTMs.
Before diving into the time-consuming task of setting up a tracking device, take the time to ask yourself the right questions in advance. Identify what is important to you and how to achieve the desired results while minimizing effort. Spending time upfront to define your needs will greatly facilitate the deployment of your tracking device.
Warning: Tracking is dynamic and should never be considered finished or frozen. The quality of good tracking is measured by its relevance over time. If your needs change, your tracking device must adapt accordingly.