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In the current time, everyone is dependent on the internet to search for information, services, tools, location, and so much more. According to the report of Statista, 5.18 billion people all over the world are using the internet to search for information, leading them to explore various websites and web apps. Considering such a high number of users, it is imperative for the organization to consider user experience optimisation to boost revenue. As improved user experience on website or web application leads to better user retention.
Web tracking helps businesses understand how their digital products are perceived and engaged with, allowing them to optimise their user journey end to end. Both product managers and marketing teams perform web tracking to collect and analyse user data. The objective is to evaluate the customer experience and carry out performance monitoring and behavioral analytics, to optimize the conversion funnel.
This article on web tracking is aimed to discuss this concept in great detail. We will even walk you through the importance and methods of web tracking. By reading this article, you will be able to navigate the web tracking landscape and figure out how to make the best of website tracking for your business.
Website tracking, also known as web tracking or internet tracking, involves gathering data, storing records, and analysing user actions performed across one or multiple web pages. This includes their online activities like search queries, click and interactions, form submission, navigation patterns, and others. Product managers and marketing professionals often spend time on web tracking.
In the process of web tracking, the organisation is able to analyse the user experience and optimize it to enhance engagement and minimize churn. In other words, web tracking can be understood as the technique or method where a website or web application identifies and collects the web tracking data about the users. Nearly all virtual businesses employ some variant of tracking on website, which involves the following:
Event tracking helps businesses understand users behaviour as a group, and behavioral tracking helps get an idea about the underlying issues. When combined they can be a powerful tool for optimising user behaviour, and retaining users.
Now that you know about what web tracking is, let us learn the significance of tracking on website.
Web tracking can be done at every stage of the user journey, to track both qualitative and quantitative data. The idea is to map users' needs across the funnel with their actions on your website and identify gaps. After all, the final objective of any web app is to convert these users step by step and turn them into paid customers or subscribers, depending on the nature of your business.
We have divided the user journey into three phases, to give you a high level idea about their journey and its linking with website tracking. Let’s dive in:
Phase 1: What brings users to your website
The business, while monitoring the behaviour of the users on their website or web applications, often takes into account their source and geo-location. This basically helps teams analyse what marketing channels are working and how they can increase conversion for different sources and locations.
When any business uses this data, it mainly helps them with marketing campaigns, SEO efforts, and website conversion. With such type of information, organisations can easily improve the structure of a website and its content to improve user experience.
Phase 2: How are users behaving on your website and web app
The significance of web tracking is noted in knowing how the users are actually interacting with the website. It helps to effectively monitor and keep an eye on user behaviour like pages they visited, scroll dept, links and buttons clicked, page navigation, and even their eye movements on the web pages.
To assess if user behaviour is aligned with the company’s goals, Product managers and marketing teams also track metrics like product adoption, conversion funnel, customer journey map and more. Web tracking even enables them to identify errors in the user journey.
Phase 3: What led the users to leave
Web tracking is not only useful in giving information on what users do on a website. In fact, web tracking even helps in figuring out why users are leaving your website or web applications. Let’s look at how it is done? Web tracking collects both quantitative and qualitative data and combines website metrics like page view, session duration, conversion rate, page load time, page views, etc. and user behaviour analysis to pinpoint frustration issues, rage clicks, and errors. This data gives insight to the product and marketing teams on user engagement and user’s reasons for leaving the web page.
Web tracking tools are one of the most important tools that organisations integrate with their web apps. Organisations make use of web tracking to collect different web tracking data about their visitors and users. This information is often used by both marketers and product managers.
We discussed the phases of user journey above and how it maps with web tracking, and identify the factors that help in moving the visitor further down the conversion funnel. The following points are the metrics that can be improved through the three phases mentioned above and are also the reasons that make web tracking so crucial:
As website tracking is related to analysing the user engagement on a website, a related concept to this is mobile app tracking. It focuses on understanding the user activities within the mobile application, like actions taken, time spent, buttons clicked, and more. You can use mobile app tracking tools to gather data on user interactions, usage patterns and in-app events.
Web tracking is used for several key reasons, like gathering insights about user behaviour, personalising user experience, optimising website conversion, and more. Let us now learn about those in detail from the below-given explanation.
Website analytics involves tracking, and reporting data related to your website. It includes website metrics like website visitors, traffic source, exit pages, and more. A prominent website tracking tool is Google Analytics, which is operational on over 29 million sites.
It is also a good idea to go for funnel analysis to enhance conversion rate.. A funnel comprises a sequence of stages a user progresses through to fulfil a specific action, such as registration, purchase, or subscription. Let look at some popular conversion funnels:
Website performance tracking is all about keeping a tab on your website performance and can be bifurcated into website core web vitals and API performance. Let’s see how these factors:
Keeping a tab on website visitors provides valuable insights to site owners. Especially when it comes to understanding user behaviour and figuring out how to optimise their site. You can track a website or web application, to capture the following aspects of user behaviour:
This information helps marketing and product teams enhance navigation flow, content, call-to-action placement, etc. on their web pages.
Being able to identify what channels are performing and how users are behaving on their website gives marketers great leverage when it comes to strategizing. With this information, they can pinpoint the channels, content, formats, and even personas. This web tracking for both organic and paid channels can mostly be done with tools like Google Analytics and Google AdSense.
User data collected through web tracking can include search history, location, interests, and the time of day when a website is accessed. Other data include authentication data, shopping cart contents, and cross-site tracking, which can be collected through cookies.
To leverage website tracking, it is important to look at the methods that collect web tracking data. This data could be either qualitative or quantitative, and you can get it by using website tracking tools. For qualitative data you can rely on web trackers and analytics tools. While for quantitative data you can go for session replay tools, heatmaps, or cookies. You can also use website monitoring tools.
One may ask what web trackers are. A web tracker, also known as a web tracking tool or web analytics tool, is software for tracking web activities. This tool collects and represents user data that helps understand how users are engaging with your web app. Web trackers record different information about users, like their IP address, geographic location, browser information, and device name.
They even track the website visitors, their traffic source, bounce rate, keyword tracking, event tracking. This information is highly useful in defining both marketing and product strategy. Some of the most popular web trackers are Google Analytics, Amplitude, Semrush, Mixpanel, and Adobe Analytics. Google Analytics is used by nearly 65% of the highest-ranking 10,000 websites. Similar to many other offerings within Google's arsenal, Google Analytics (GA) is available at no cost. However, for people like us, this means a large amount of data going to Google from the websites it monitors closely.
Session recording softwares captures user sessions. These sessions are a visual representation of the mouse movements, clicks, keyboard inputs, and screen interactions performed by users while they were on your web app. Looking at these sessions, you can understand how users are navigating through your web app, where they are spending time, and what actions they are interested in. You can also identify triggers that lead to their disengagement on a landing page. These recorded videos provide a comprehensive view of a customer journey map on your website, and take web tracking to the next level.
Benefits of session recording:
You can use a session replay tool, like Zipy to start recording user sessions for your digital products. With Zipy you can also perform real-time user monitoring, track and debug errors, and monitor your website’s API performance. It prioritises the user's privacy and is GDPR and SOC 2-compliant.
“5 Stars. In no time, Zipy has become our go-to place for watching user journeys and fixing the most important bugs or workflows that our users are experiencing.”
Sandeep Rangdal, Senior Staff Engineer, Mindtickle
Events denote user engagement or interaction with different elements of your website. All of which can be meticulously monitored by tools like Mixpanel, Heap, and other event tracking tools. For example, this may include filling out forms, clicking on CTA, viewing videos, downloads, and others. While session recordings give you an understanding of the qualitative data, event tracking helps you get the quantitative data to back your assertions. Event tracking allows you to track website metrics, conversion funnel, product adoption and much more.
Noting its significance now, you should understand how actually we can do event tracking. First, you need to identify any key event important for your website, say, for example, signing up for a newsletter.
The web tracking data collected with website tracking tools can be used by product owners and marketing teams to get better insight into user behaviour and make informed decisions about customer experience.
You can also use your session replay tool to track events. For example, Zipy tracks events, including page navigation, user actions, and errors. You can also track specific events and see them in relation to user sessions for deeper insight. It combines behavioral analytics with product analytics to help you deliver a great digital experience.
For example, if you have an e-commerce website and your event data clearly indicates a drop at add-to-cart event, you can combine this information with session replays. Thus, with this information, you can analyse the checkout process, find any usability issues, and make required changes to your website. This will, in turn, improve conversion rate and revenue for your business. .
First-party cookies originate from the website you're actively engaged with, and their primary function is to retain your preferences and activities.
For instance, envision online shopping where you add an item to your cart; a session cookie prompts the e-commerce platform to retain this action. Without such a cookie, transitioning through distinct checkout stages, entering shipping particulars, payment information, etc., would become difficult, as the site would lose sight of your selections upon moving to the subsequent page.
On the other hand, a first-party cookie preserves your enduring preferences, like your time zone and login credentials. In most scenarios, these first-party cookies are pivotal for site functionality, or at the very least, they contribute to enhancing the user's overall browsing experience.
In contrast, third-party cookies are generated by entities other than the website you're directly engaging with. These are the tracking cookies that accompany your browsing journey as you traverse from one site to another. These cookies primarily find utility in website analytics and advertising. For example, they help the product and marketing team understand how users navigate their website and can also be used by advertisers to deliver more targeted ads to users based on their interests. Remarkably, a recent study disclosed that a staggering 99% of all cookies fall into the tracking and ad cookie category.
However, Cookie is one of the non-preferred aspects by the users. Here are the key reasons:
However you can address some of these user concerns. Here are some steps you can take to make the customer experience better when it comes to cookies:
Heatmaps simplify the understanding of complex website tracking data by using colors to represent values in a graphical format. In simpler terms, heatmaps visually represent user interactions across your web page for effortless analysis. For example, heatmaps show the following:
They empower you to have insights into visitor behaviour and their engagement. For example, the areas where more clicks and mouse movement are present appear to be a warm colour, like red. Likewise, the areas where the activity of the user is less appear cooler, like green or blue colour. This information can be used to improve your website to better align with visitor expectations. This helps increase the conversion rate, reduce the bounce rate, and amplify sales, among other objectives.
By compiling user actions, heatmaps facilitate quantitative data analysis and qualitative data analysis to provide a concise understanding of how your target audience engages with specific web pages or product pages. Heatmaps help with quantitative data analysis by providing a visual representation of numerical data that makes it easier to identify patterns, trends, and variations. For example, take any e-commerce website. If you see intense colour in the image of the product with higher discounts, it indicates that users are more engaged in that section. Similarly, if any area of the website has low intense colour, it will show that users are not interacting or are less engaged with those elements.
This tracking done by heatmap tools helps improve your web app to enhance user engagement, conversion rate, and sales. And if you combine website analytics tools with heat map tools, this can unlock even more insights.
A heatmap tool, you can ensure whether your website visitors are:
There can be different types of heatmaps, including scroll maps, click maps, and move maps that collect different information:
Heatmaps complement numerical hypotheses and present data in a comprehensible manner. Judging by the colour palette employed, you can effortlessly determine the high-performing segments of your webpage, areas with potential for enhancement, and sections that need complete redesign.
Fingerprinting, also known as browser fingerprinting, stands as a form of online tracking that is more invasive than regular cookie-based tracking.
A digital fingerprint comes into existence when a company forms a unique profile of users based on their computer hardware, software, add-ons, and even preferences. Configurations, like fonts installed, choice of web browser, even device screen size, can all be employed by the product manager to create a fingerprint of the user.
For users possessing commonly used laptops, PCs, or smartphones, it might be more challenging to uniquely pinpoint their device through fingerprinting. Nevertheless, the more unique add-ons, fonts, and settings they possess, the simpler it becomes to identify them. Companies can utilise this unique blend of information to establish a user's fingerprint.
How is browser fingerprinting used?
Browser fingerprinting is chiefly employed for web tracking. It represents a more hidden means of tracking users compared to solely utilising tracking cookies, which necessitate consent. These are some ways in which companies use browser fingerprinting:
Detecting fraud: Fingerprinting techniques prove beneficial for recognising visitors displaying a pattern of fraudulent behaviour. Moreover, fraudsters frequently employ identity-concealing techniques like disabling cookies, browsing via a VPN, or using incognito mode. These are all areas where fingerprinting excels, as it rapidly identifies users without relying on IP addresses and site cookies.
Web tracking, while legal, is undergoing increasing regulation. Notably, directives such as the GDPR in Europe and the CCPA in California are providing website operators with clear guidelines for handling customer data.
Starting in May 2018, the European Union (EU) began enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which empowers internet users to have more control over the collection and sharing of their data.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
Under the GDPR, websites that interact with visitors based in the EU are required to transparently disclose their web tracking practices.
Thus, websites can utilise such tracking technologies, but only with prior user approval, unless the technology is vital for the site's core functionality, as seen with cookies maintaining user sessions.
CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act)
With website tracking, product managers and marketers can collect qualitative and quantitative data about user action on their digital products. By tracking websites, they can enhance their marketing and product strategy. This web tracking data allows teams to identify the most effective channels and campaigns that generate leads, enabling them to concentrate on high-impact tactics. Insights gained from tracking visitors can help you fine-tune your approach towards product adoption and better conversion.
For instance, you may discover that advertisements on Google search engine results pages (SERPs) attract more visitors compared to ads shown on websites. This revelation could prompt a shift towards prioritising search ads over display ads. They can then combine this insight with user behaviour on the landing page and optimise the page elements to optimize conversion.
Translate these digital behaviours and profiles into actionable plans for your product, marketing and sales teams.
Now let's look at areas that web tracking is helping teams with:
Product adoption is much needed for getting paid users. Web tracking tools are capable of tracking events, recording sessions, and helping you look at overall data related to users on the web. By analysing this data, you gain insights that not only enhance digital and customer experiences but also shed light on what truly resonates with your website's visitors and users. These insights allow teams to:
In this article, we have discussed in detail about web tracking, its use, and different methods of tracking websites and web applications. Let us summarise the key learning. Web tracking is one of the approaches used by product managers and marketers to have a better understanding of the user's engagement, behaviour, and interaction with the website or web app. It, in turn, helps them to improve the product adoption, customer experience, and even bug tracking.
By reading this article, you will be able to understand different ways or methods of web tracking, associated privacy concerns. It will also help you choose the right approach to web tracking that best aligns with your requirements and resources. If you are looking to start understanding your users, you can go for more than one website tracking tool, including an event tracking tool, session replay tool, or heat map tool.
If you have any more questions feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should be monitoring website for user demographic details, events they perform, and their behaviour on your website. The idea here is to understand who is visiting you, and how they are experiencing your web app. This can include metrics such as, user location, age, traffic source, buttons clicked, pages navigated, exit pages, and even actions that the user could not take. For this you can use website tracking tools.
It can impact page load speed specially if tracking scripts use too many requests and code that requires loading on the browsers. This in turn, increases the page load time, thus leading to slow loading of the page for visitors. One smart thing you can do while selecting your web tracking tool, is make sure it is lightweight, like Zipy.
No, website tracking typically doesn't directly impact SEO. However, excessive tracking codes and slow-loading trackers can negatively impact website performance, potentially leading to lower search engine rankings.
Allowing cross-site tracking enables websites to collect and share your browsing behaviour across various domains for targeted ads and content.
When you turn off cross-site tracking, your online activity becomes less traceable across different websites. When you prevent cross-site tracking, third-party companies won't be able to trace your personal information.
Zipy provides you with full customer visibility without multiple back and forths between Customers, Customer Support and your Engineering teams.