A proper web analytics implementation is necessary to gather accurate insights from your visitors’ behavior and make data-based decisions that will help you improve your business.
But creating the right analytics configuration requires you to factor in many aspects, such as:
- Your business objectives
- The data you want to track
- Legal requirements you need to comply with when dealing with users’ personal information
There will be a lot of writing, testing, and double-checking. But we’ve got you covered!
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through all the stages of implementing analytics. We will provide useful tips for using web analytics to track your site’s performance and guidance on starting your journey with product analytics.
You’ll also find a spreadsheet that will help you create your own tracking plan. Let’s dive right in.
The first thing to do is define what you want to achieve using analytics.
What are your company’s business goals, and how do you want your website or app to help you meet those goals?
For example, if you work for a healthcare provider, your main goal might be to sell more medical packages via online channels. And if you’re a bank, you might be aiming to increase online mortgage sales.
After you have your goals in place, it’s time to assign your key performance indicators (KPIs).
Your KPIs should help you connect the dots between stages of the customer journey and between every touchpoint where your clients interact with your brand, like your app or website. The KPIs you set should reflect the complexity of this issue. In determining suitable KPIs, consider the industry you operate in and your business goals.
Here are some examples of KPIs:
- Conversion rate
- Cost of client acquisition (CPA / CPS)
- Customer retention rate
- Number of active users
- Revenue / revenue per user
- Percent of new / returning users
Choose both lagging and leading indicators. Lagging indicators are aspects such as revenue and cost that inform you about the results of past actions. Meanwhile, leading indicators tell you how likely it is that your product will meet a goal in the future.
Stay clear of vanity metrics that make the product or your company look good but provide little business value, such as the number of followers or newsletter subscribers. It’s also better to choose a few metrics rather than measure as much data as possible.
If you operate in the banking industry, learn about KPIs to track that we describe in our ebook on How web and product analytics improve the customer journey in banking
At the beginning of your analytics journey, your KPIs and goals might lack accuracy. You may overestimate them since you don’t have a lot of data that would allow you to develop more in-depth ideas. But you will be able to adjust them after collecting more data, and the conclusions you draw will be more precise and relevant to your business.
Next, it’s time to investigate the structure of your website, app, or product and list all its features.
Here is an example. A website for a medical provider could include the following features:
- Information about services offered and pricing
- An option for clients to log in to their accounts
- Contact form and chat to help clients reach out with questions
- Blog about medical topics
After you have listed the features, break them down into every action your users perform while using them.
Treat each feature as a separate funnel and list every action your user has to take in order to complete a particular task. This might be downloading a report, contacting your sales representative, logging in to their account, reading a specific article, learning about the offer, etc. Start from the essential features or sections of your website, then move to the ones you consider less important.
Also, when it comes to web analytics, you should use this step to analyze every section and diligently examine its environment. Seek out any potential hurdles like multi-domain structures, the usage of Ajax, frames, or any other technology that requires the creation of custom analytics scripts.
Write it all down – this list will come in handy in the next steps of the implementation.
Now it’s time to translate your business objectives and KPIs into things you can do and measure using analytics software.
In the case of product analytics, you’ll need to translate every user action (for instance, uploading a picture, playing a song, or completing a meditation session) into an event and decide what is going to trigger each of them.
Then you’ll have to choose which events are more important than others and designate them as your goals, which are the vital actions that define your macro conversions. Your goals could be getting new users to create an account, filling out a contact form or upgrading their subscription.
Your product or site can have several goals because different sections may have different objectives.
Every micro conversion will also be a valuable source of information. Micro conversions are actions taken by users that lead toward macro conversions or are highly correlated with them. A micro conversion could be signing up for a newsletter, writing a comment on an article or downloading an ebook.
- Happiness: measures attitude or satisfaction (typically through some sort of user survey)
- Engagement: measures the frequency, intensity, and depth of user interactions with a product
- Adoption: measures how easily, often, and quickly users adapt to the new features of the product
- Retention: measures how many existing users retain in a certain amount of time
- Task success: measures the effectiveness and efficiency of the tasks users complete within your application
With web analytics, you’ll have to decide which metrics best align with your business goals and KPIs.
There is no need to measure everything that happens on your website. Take another close look at your business objectives and ensure you’re going to track only things that are aligned with your goals and KPIs.
To collect data about your goals in web analytics, you should keep track of such data categories as:
- URLs – each time someone visits a particular URL, they trigger the goal. These are ideal for thank you pages, confirmation pages, and PDFs.
- Time (visit duration) – how long people stay on your site.
- Pages per visit – the number of pages each visitor sees before they leave.
- Events – event tracking lets you record clicks on both clickable and non-clickable elements of your website, usage of video and audio players, scrolling down, leaving the page, filling out a form without submitting it, downloads from your website and more. Even though these actions don’t generate changes in the website’s URL, they can still be recorded.
Now it’s time to write down everything you want to measure with your analytics and turn it into a tracking plan.
A tracking plan clarifies what events to track and why those events are necessary from a business perspective. Don’t skip this step – you can use this document whenever you want to refresh what your main goals are, what features you want to measure, or make any changes to your analytics plan.
The most convenient way is to maintain a tracking plan in a spreadsheet.
When creating a tracking plan, consistency is essential. Develop an intuitive naming convention and stick to it when drafting your document. How you organize your documentation will depend on what you want to measure.
For implementing product analytics, one of the best solutions would be to divide the spreadsheet into the following categories:
- Product section
- Funnel name
- Step in the funnel name
- Event name
- Event properties
- Event values
- Additional notes
In product analytics, it’s convenient to separate people’s activities in the onboarding phase from user actions taken at other stages. That way, you’ll be able to distinguish between the actions typical for new users and those performed by users who have been with you for a while.
As for web analytics, apart from events, you’ll also include every other analytics goal type you want to use to measure website performance, together with the properties and values attached.
When your analytics tracking plan is ready, it’s time to find a platform that will meet your expectations.
Of course, there are many factors you should consider, including:
- Compliance with data privacy regulations (like GDPR or HIPAA)
- Integration with other systems (like CRM, CDP or consent manager)
- The level of data ownership you’ll have
- Accuracy of data, including sampling and access to raw data
- Hosting and data location options
- Customization possibilities and available features
You may be skeptical about the quantity and quality of the data you gather once you employ mechanisms that protect user privacy, such as consent forms. Some users may consent to the processing of their personal data, but many of them will ignore or reject your consent banner.
But it’s still possible to draw insights without gathering personal data. Some platforms offer advanced anonymization options.
For instance, Piwik PRO Analytics Suite gives you a few options for utilizing anonymous data tracking:
- With cookies and session data
- Without cookies and with session data
- Without cookies or session data
One way to benefit from anonymous tracking is to display consent forms and enable data anonymization that will collect data about users that don’t give their consent. This way, you collect personal data in a compliant way while also being able to access anonymous data. For example, you can have a user who initially ignores the consent form, performs actions and grants consent to personalization after 10 minutes. In this scenario, the initially anonymous data can be used for personalization every time the user returns to your website.
You may want to investigate other features when deciding on the most suitable analytics software based on the functionalities of your site or app.
For example, you might benefit from analyzing user behavior in post-login areas of websites or apps. Such data is valuable yet contains sensitive details, so finding a secure platform is fundamental.
After choosing the right platform, it’s time to implement it for your website or product. This step involves installing the tracking code that collects data about visitors to your site or app.
Piwik PRO’S Migration tool (GA3 and GTM)
The migration tool lets you quickly transfer your settings from Google Analytics 3 (Universal Analytics) and Google Tag Manager. It enables you to import GA3 properties, settings, goals, custom dimensions, and Google Tag Manager containers, including tags, triggers, and variables.
You should also add any modifications necessary – for example, set up tags to gather more detailed data or connect third-party tools.
On top of that, you can combine your selected platform with other tools to complement your analytics stack.
You could choose from a range of integrations to combine with your platform. For example, when you use Piwik PRO Analytics, you can integrate it with other modules and external tools like:
- Tag manager, allowing you to create and publish tags
- Consent manager, helping you collect, store and manage users’ consents for different purposes of data processing
- Google products, like Google Ads, Google Search Console and Google Sheets
Don’t forget to create instances for all your sites you want to track, including subdomains or international versions.
Adding and tracking events lets you monitor what users do on your website. There are basically no limits to what you can track – clicks on specific buttons, how far people scroll on a page, and which fields users fill out in a form, to name a few.
Use meta setup in Tag Manager
Tag Manager’s meta setups allow you to create setups for groups of sites or apps. It is also a way to apply it to all of them simultaneously. Variables, tags, and triggers are all part of it. You can use this tool if you want to run an advertising campaign across multiple websites or apps at once.
You need a meta site/app to use a meta setup. If you want to create a setup for a group of sites, you first need to create a meta site.
Let’s look at use cases for meta setup in Tag Manager:
- Meta setup allows displaying a popup (or another form of promotion) across multiple sites based on one meta site (with the ability to customize it per site via variables).
- You can easily install marketing tools for all sites that are a part of the meta site.
- You can quickly create one shareable setup for multiple SharePoint sites (in many cases, most of the setup is identical).
By using a meta setup for your meta sites, you can simplify tag management. Tag management can be streamlined by importing and using configurations across multiple sites.
At this stage, you need to design and structure the goals and funnels outlined in the tracking plan.
Setting up goals will help you track the most important events and measure conversions.
Funnels should consist of the individual actions people take on your site or app to complete a given journey, for example, download an ebook or view a specific page with your offer. They let you examine how users navigate through pages and at which point they drop off. Using funnel reports will help you determine how to improve pages in the user journeys, leading to more of your goals being met.
In this step, you can enrich your analytics interface with supplementary information about user behavior.
Dashboards consist of widgets that visualize data so you can quickly glance at key aspects of your site’s performance and share them with appropriate people. When making a new dashboard, work out the specifics first – who is going to view it, what is the context of the presented data and what insights can be drawn from it.
Only depict relevant metrics and make sure the dashboard is easy to read and visually coherent. For example, you might want to have a dashboard dedicated to marketing metrics, displaying the performance of various marketing campaigns, channels and other related initiatives.
Custom reports give you an opportunity to customize the data by using your selected metrics and dimensions. They give you flexibility in displaying specifically the information you need.
At this stage, it’s also good to manage other settings for your analytics platform, deciding what data you want to collect and how it appears in reports.
For example, in Piwik PRO Analytics Suite, you can select the conditions for collecting users’ consent, decide if you want to remove URL parameters and see page URLs with anchors in reports. You can also specify IPs that should be excluded from tracking – like internal IPs, so you don’t track your employees’ behaviors and actions – and turn off collecting data from crawlers.
Next, you can create segments to filter relevant information and break down the data into smaller chunks. You can group data in a segment to see groups of people that match specified conditions, for example, users from a specific country or returning visitors.
From our experience, it’s essential to create segments for the following data:
- Mobile users
- Desktop users
- Paid campaigns
Lastly, be sure to maintain a test segment to monitor the results of your new ideas without losing existing data.
That way, you’ll have all the relevant data at your fingertips.
Think about what other segments will help you clearly see the most important data that determines how well your website or product goals are being met. For example, if you aim to get users to create their accounts, consider monitoring how many users reached a certain stage of signing up. You could solve this by setting up a few segments: for people who visited different pages with your offer, started the signup process and finished it.
In this step, you assign permissions to your stakeholders so they can view specific reports and dashboards.
The choice of who has access to particular information should be dictated by several factors, including security considerations and what data is needed in the day-to-day work of a given employee. For instance, marketers will likely need a completely different data set than people in the UX department or customer success team.
Pay attention to who is able to make important decisions, such as giving permissions to others or editing and publishing changes.
It may be a better call to apply restrictive rules when deciding on employees’ permissions. Many employees might get all the information they need by just viewing the data.
Your analytics strategy should never be static. Instead, it’s a constantly evolving process that changes with every new insight, business goal, website or product feature, or new idea produced by experiments and tests.
It is worth reviewing your strategy every once in a while, refreshing goals, metrics, or reports if necessary. This way, you will always be sure that your analytics system delivers only fresh and valuable data relevant to your business objectives.
We hope the above steps will make the analytics implementation process much easier for you.
Remember to download our tracking plan to keep the data on your events, goals and funnels organized and easy to follow!
We can also recommend further reading, so you can expand your analytics skills:
- Customer journey analytics 101: what it is and why it’s important for your business
- Mobile analytics: A complete guide to optimizing the user journey inside your app
- 10 things to consider for improving user experience with web analytics
Even with all the tips and tricks presented above, you might still have some unanswered questions. Our team will be happy to resolve any of your doubts: