blog post | marketing

The Future of User Tracking and Data Collection

Walt Irby Team Photo
Walt IrbyDirector of Development

In the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, data is the lifeblood of any business. Understanding your customers, their behaviors, and their needs is crucial for success. However, the traditional approach to data collection as a “set it and forget it” activity is fundamentally flawed.

At WebMechanix, we recognize that as businesses evolve, so do their data requirements. That’s why we’ve developed a dynamic and comprehensive approach to user tracking and data collection and management.

Collecting Data the Right Way Starts with Attention to Detail

WebMechanix utilizes Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, custom attribution scripts, and (at times) data warehouses to capture, store, and analyze data.

This comprehensive tracking methodology enables WebMechanix to measure marketing effectiveness accurately and provide valuable insights to our clients:

  1. Data collection should be abstracted – Data collection should be implemented via a tag management system such as Google Tag Manager to provide easy debugging, versioning, and data reuse.
  2. Naming and formatting matter – You should be able to look at an event name and understand its purpose without hours of institutional knowledge. Events and parameters should follow consistent casing, such as snake_case or PascalCase – don’t mix and match. We suggest following “The object-action framework” as outlined by Segment here.
  3. You don’t need to collect data for every interaction Sure, you can send click events when users click on navigation links or if they reach scroll percentage thresholds… but do you need to? How will that data help you make informed decisions? Implement your conversion events first and work your way backwards (up funnel). Put the focus on what truly matters for measuring a campaign’s success.
  4. Quantitative + qualitative data paints a better picture – Quantitative data is great for measuring aggregate metrics that are abstracted from a website, such as “how many leads from X source did we generate over Y timeframe.” On the other hand, qualitative data (such as heat maps and user session recordings) provide context that no quantitative tool can, but they can fall short on accurate metrics in cases. Both are crucial for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
  5. Strive for accuracy not precision – Regional digital privacy regulations and increased privacy settings in browsers make “precision” an impossibility. Marketing data should be accurate. We’re always working with some sample of a true number; what is most important is that the sample of the data can be explained and that the sample is predictable and consistent.
  6. Avoid false positives – There should be no way to trigger a conversion event without actually performing the action that should trigger it (e.g. a successful form submission). Biggest offender? URL-based conversions. The obvious problem being that URLs change over time. Events should be abstract for reuse over the course of a business’s time.
  7. Know your IoI’s and IoQ’s – Indicators of Intent (IoI) are actions like watching a product demo video that users perform that suggest intent to become a customer; while Indicators of Quality (IoQ) are traits of an action that suggest the user is a person who meets a business’s ideal customer profile – such as a demo request form with fields that identify a business with more than $10M in annual revenue in the Financial Industry, if that’s your ICP.
  8. Close the loop – persist and capture campaign and platform specific data with your lead data inside of CRM. From there, define your own model for how to attribute credit to various advertising channels for a better understanding of what is driving revenue and what isn’t. Sidenote – Attribution is an extremely complicated problem – there is no silver bullet/tool that will do this for you.

Adopting best practices in user data collection not only ensures compliance and accuracy but also enhances the strategic value of the data captured. By focusing on what truly matters, like conversion events and crucial data points, WebMechanix maximizes marketing effectiveness and delivers actionable insights.

Our Dynamic Solution: A Data Management Retainer

Traditional data collection methods often lead to convoluted configurations, with multiple parties adding their own inputs without a clear owner or strategy. This results in a messy, inefficient system that fails to deliver the insights businesses need.

Our solution to this problem is our Data Management Retainer service. We take ownership of the implementation, ensuring that it aligns with your business’s needs and evolves alongside them. This service covers everything from implementing new data points and maintaining documentation, to integrating new platforms and coordinating with other agencies or vendors. We believe that data management should be an ongoing, proactive process, not a static one.

Why Our Data Management Retainer Is Different and Insights to Empower You

In a digital world where data is king, having a nuanced, flexible approach to data management is crucial. Our Data Management Retainer service stands out by not just addressing current data needs but by anticipating future challenges and opportunities. Below, we delve into the key components of our service, each designed to optimize your data collection and analysis, ensuring your business not only keeps pace with digital evolution but leads the charge.

Harnessing the Power of Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a cornerstone in digital marketing when used correctly. At WebMechanix, we’ve refined the GTM process, transforming potential tag chaos into a streamlined, effective system with our “GTM Refactor” project.

Our “GTM Refactor” project starts with a thorough audit of your GTM setup, identifying essential tags and cleaning up the rest. We prioritize data that aligns with your business goals, removing the clutter.

In the strategy phase, we craft a clear, actionable tracking plan that guides your data collection efforts. This plan is not just about organization—it’s about aligning with your long-term digital strategy.

During implementation, we refine your GTM configuration, ensuring accuracy and efficiency. Our approach doesn’t just fix current issues; it sets the stage for future adaptability, keeping your data strategy agile and responsive.

Why WebMechanix’s GTM Approach Stands Out

What sets our GTM approach apart is not just our technical expertise but our strategic foresight. We see GTM not as a standalone tool but as an integral part of your digital ecosystem. Our approach is holistic, considering not just the immediate needs but also the long-term vision of your business.

The Advantages of Server-Side Google Tag Manager (sGTM)

In recent years, server-side Google Tag Manager (sGTM) has emerged as a game-changer in the field of data collection. By moving data collection to the server, businesses gain greater control over what data is sent to what endpoint, improve data quality, enrich data, and can process data from offline systems.

At WebMechanix, we help businesses understand the potential of sGTM and how it fits into their strategy. We debunk common myths and misconceptions about sGTM, ensuring our clients are informed about what this technology can and can’t do for their business.

Enriching B2B Data with GA4 and Clearbit

Navigating the complexities of B2B targeting requires robust, insightful data. That’s where our integration of Clearbit and GA4 comes into play, proving a powerful yet cost-effective solution for firmographic enrichment.

Clearbit offers detailed insights into your prospects, revealing key information like company size, industry, and revenue. When integrated with GA4 via GTM, this data becomes a powerhouse for precision targeting. You gain a clearer picture of who your audience is, how they interact with your digital presence, and what drives their decisions.

This integration allows for:

  • Enhanced audience profiling
  • Data-driven strategy
  • An edge on the competition

By combining the analytical power of GA4 with the depth of Clearbit’s firmographic insights, WebMechanix empowers your business with the intelligence needed to craft more effective, targeted marketing strategies.

Streamlining Tracking with FormHQ

Tracking form submissions and conversions can be a tedious and time-consuming process. That’s why we developed FormHQ, a tool that standardizes and automates form submission data collection. With FormHQ, tracking becomes more efficient and accurate, freeing up valuable time and resources.

FormHQ connects to external form sources like WordPress or HubSpot, syncing form IDs and names into a centralized location. Users are provided with an embed code to install across all website pages. Once installed, FormHQ can detect when forms are loaded and submitted on a website, using this information to send data to Google Tag Manager. The service also periodically syncs connected data sources to ensure new forms are tracked. FormHQ does not collect data on its own, but acts as a missing dataLayer integration with Google Tag Manager for many popular form providers. Features include form grouping, sort rules for automatic form assignment, and the ability to adjust event data dynamically.

Closing the Loop with Attributor.js

Properly attributing leads to the channels and campaigns that generated them is a major challenge for many marketing teams. Users may arrive at your landing page with UTM parameters appended to the URL, but then they navigate between pages and lose those URL parameters before finally converting through a form. Our open-source library, Attributor.js, addresses this issue by simplifying how data like UTM parameters and other advertising client identifiers is collected and persisted across your website.

The script automatically stores and maps this data into corresponding hidden form fields. It integrates directly into CRM systems like Salesforce or HubSpot, allowing you to understand what channels drive revenue without the need for complex software. Additionally, it handles referrer parsing and can even extract click identifiers from 1st party cookies set by advertising technologies.

Pioneering Data Integrity and Strategic Insight

At WebMechanix, our deep understanding of tools like GTM, GA4, and other ad-tech like Meta and Google Ads sets us apart. We recognize that data collection is a highly technical process, hence our developers, with their advanced knowledge of website operations, are at the forefront of our user tracking strategy. We are meticulous in our approach, avoiding shortcuts and instead focusing on creating both open-source and proprietary software to address common needs and challenges.

Our commitment goes beyond mere data collection; we transform this data into actionable insights that drive decision-making. Upholding ethical data collection practices, we prioritize user privacy and consent, using data to enhance user experiences. We champion transparency, ensuring our clients are well-informed about the data we collect and why. WebMechanix is not just about collecting data, but about leveraging it responsibly and effectively for the benefit of our clients and their users.

About the writer
Walt Irby Team Photo
Walt Irby | Director of Development
Walt has a 15-year track record of completing website redesigns on time with pixel-perfection. He also leads our team of developers to Internet glory.

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