How to craft a good tracking plan to optimize the user journey

Data & AnalyticsBy Mariana Bonanomi

Starting a journey on a new marketing platform is always exciting for many marketers, as it allows implementing ideas that have long been sitting in their backlogs. However, this moment also comes with vital implementation stages to ensure the new software works to its full potential.

Many platforms include analytics among their features — correctly configuring these components is essential for thoroughly understanding users and acquisition and retention funnels. Since these are fundamental aspects in users experience optimization, one of the onboarding stages typically includes setting up the event tracking.

Read on to learn about the types of event tracking and what it takes to create a good tracking plan and get the most out of your marketing tools.

Automated vs. custom tracking

The initial implementation of the new platform's tag or pixel in your site usually includes the automated collection of some data. However, this data may not be enough for you to know your users in depth and optimize their journey.

Many marketers optimize shopping journeys based on user interactions with marketing campaigns. You can, for instance:

  • Create contact lists of prospects reached by a previous campaign and send them remarketing content
  • Segment audiences to receive automated emails
  • Create dynamic content on your website to adapt your offers to each user's context.

Most platforms automatically collect such marketing campaign data. On the other hand, many e-commerce companies need to create filters to collect information regarding the pages each user visits.

Some users visit a product page but don't check out, while others get to the shopping cart several times during their journey. You can only know how often it happens through custom event tracking.

Besides e-commerce, some SaaS companies and other businesses can also benefit from the insights only custom tracking can provide, such as understanding user interests based on search terms or visited pages.

But how would you know what data to collect? The first step is understanding the exact purpose behind each collected data piece. Also, this is one of the main principles of data protection laws: only collect what you need to reach specific goals.

Next, we'll discuss the main goals that lead marketers to develop custom tracking plans and the steps to create a tracking plan to reach each goal. Also, we'll give you a list of event ideas you can add to your tracking plan.

Funnel analysis and the impact estimate of marketing actions

One of the main reasons why marketers create custom tracking plans is to analyze acquisition and retention funnels and estimate the impact that specific campaigns have on the business. If that is your goal, we recommend you follow the below steps.

First step: define the funnel stages you want to analyze

No matter how deeply you know your user's journey and for how long you've been identifying the most common purchase flows, some aspects are never clear enough. The good news is that any doubts regarding the path leading users to convert are a great starting point for defining what you must analyze within your funnel. An e-commerce funnel analysis, for instance, could start with the following questions:

  • Top-of-funnel: how many users visit the landing page?
  • Middle-of-funnel: how many pages do the user visit before getting to a product page?
  • Bottom-of-funnel: how often does the user add items to the cart?

Second step: define conversion events

You should be able to identify each step users take before conversion through specific events. Therefore, you must define which actions can be considered conversions, listing them so the team behind the tool implementation can configure the event tracking.

Clicking a button, visiting a specific webpage, or even submitting a form — in the case of a SaaS — could be considered conversions. However, we need to improve our definition: a website may have 10 forms, but only 3 of them may result in a demo request, for instance.

Back to the e-commerce context, clicking the "add to cart" button usually means a user has added a product to the shopping cart. However, these buttons may be spread across many pages on your website. In that case, mapping all the buttons can be a complex task. Therefore, we recommend defining the cart page upload as one of the conversion events.

User profile enrichment for more granular segmentations

Understanding the conversion funnel is the main driver for developing custom tracking plans. However, many professionals also consider event tracking an opportunity to collect data from enriching user profiles and better understand their particular preferences.

For example, some users fill out forms to receive a newsletter, while others do that to access rich content. Collecting data from form submissions allows you to have a fine-grained picture of your users at different funnel stages. You can use such data for granular segmentation and even for cohort analysis.

You can also identify interests by tracking page access events. Suppose you have an e-commerce with a varied mix of skin-care products. When, for example, a user visits your blog post about acne skin care, you get to know the kind of pain they have. That allows you to include them in a specific segmentation and personalize their journey with dynamic content. This post has a few useful tips on this subject.

If you want to know your users better, we recommend you first define which actions you want to track and which events correspond to each action, as explained earlier. This will ensure an objective and efficient workflow between marketing and technology teams.

18 types of events to add to your tracking plan

Before we wrap up, here is a list of events you can add to your tracking plan to map out each user's funnel and journey:

  • Blog post views
  • Rich content views
  • Form submissions to download rich content
  • Shopping cart updates
  • Shipping costs simulations
  • Shopping cart previews
  • Shopping cart page views
  • Checkout page views
  • Checkout completion
  • Product page views
  • Product category page views
  • Newsletter subscriptions
  • Demo requests
  • Social media sharing
  • On-site searches
  • CTA clicks
  • Banner clicks
  • Contact link clicks.

Conclusion

Automatically collected events aren't always consistent enough to know your users and create meaningful navigation experiences. You must also create a plan listing all the events you want to track. This can be done in visual collaboration platforms like Miro, spreadsheets, or even on paper.

What matters most here is that the tech person responsible for the implementation knows what actions should be considered as a goal completed (conversion), an interest shown, etc.

We hope this post has helped you create your tracking plan. If you still have questions, get in touch: we'll be glad to help!

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