Buzzword after buzzword! We throw them around, use them left and right, and emphasize how important it is for you to engage with them. But it can be challenging - especially if you haven't fully grasped what the different tracking methods and strategies entail.
That's why you'll find descriptions of Server Side tracking and Client Side tracking below, all tied together with Google Tag Manager.
We live in a world where everything is gradually becoming more expensive, and nothing is truly free anymore. We all seek knowledge - knowledge about our customers, their behavior, and their needs. While this knowledge may not necessarily cost a fortune in the marketing budget, it can consume significant time, resources, and capacity.
That's precisely why it's crucial for you to have a handle on the collection of this information.
This is where data and tracking come into play. It is through proper and legal setup of tracking that you can gather all the data you need to strategically plan your marketing efforts. It is through this process that you can build an understanding of your target audience and adjust your strategies to meet their expectations.
All of this applies on multiple levels when you want to enter the market with both effective and lawful use of data.
In particular, you must focus on GDPR Compliance. If you operate in the EU or collect data from EU citizens, you must adhere to the applicable GDPR regulations. These include obtaining consent, informing users about how their data will be used, and ensuring their rights are respected, such as the right to access, rectify, or delete their personal data.
You should also have a grasp on your data collection and storage, which means being mindful of the data you gather from users and how long you retain it. Consider whether you truly need specific data and if it serves your company's purposes. Always be open and transparent with users regarding your data usage and tracking. Provide them with clear information on what you track, why it's necessary, and how you protect their data. Furthermore, ensure you have secure systems and procedures in place to safeguard the collected data from unauthorized access, loss, or misuse.
It's important to remember that data protection and tracking are complex subjects. If you are uncertain about how to handle data and tracking, it is recommended to seek professional legal advice and consultation from experts in data privacy and protection.
Note: MCB cannot provide legal advice.
Server Side tracking and Client Side tracking
Server Side tracking and Client Side tracking are two different ways of collecting data on user interactions on a website. They can be used together to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of user behavior and website performance, or they can be used separately.
The short version:
- Server-side tracking is the future. It can help reduce the load on the user's side, as the data logic is executed on the server. This results in a faster website. Additionally, with Server-side tracking, you can track up to 100% of your purchases, enrich your tracking with data from CRM systems, and avoid ad blockers and limitations from Apple's latest versions.
- Client-side tracking, in short, is the old way of doing it. The only real advantage of Client-side tracking is that you have access to third-party cookies on Google Chrome browsers.
In practice, you can use Server Side tracking to collect and process specific data on the server, such as personal information or transaction data, while using Client Side tracking to gather and analyze data on user behavior and page views in real-time.
Therefore, we recommend Server Side tracking over Client Side tracking
In a world where data collection is becoming increasingly challenging due to greater data protection, we cannot overlook Server Side Tracking. Once, you could rely on the data collected in Google Analytics, but GDPR regulations, ad-blockers, browsers not storing cookies, etc., have made it difficult to trust that data - and not all conversions are tracked.
More and more browsers block cookies after 7 days. This means that with Client Side tracking, it's impossible to track visitors/customers beyond 7 days after they have visited your website. With Server Side tracking, you can continue tracking beyond the 7 days, as the data is sent to the server instead of being stored in the browser, providing more accurate data about visitors and your campaigns.
Server Side tracking stores a user ID for each user. This ID can be recognized by the server across all channels and devices, allowing you to enrich data on your visitors and send information to them - a significant advantage for your marketing efforts.
With Server Side tracking, you have the opportunity to optimize your setup to track 100% of sales on your webshop, and it can be implemented across all your channels. Moreover, Server Side tracking can optimize your website's speed in a way that Client Side tracking cannot, as you don't need to load all the tracking scripts typically used in Client Side tracking. This is beneficial not only for Google but also for your users.
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager, commonly referred to as GTM, is indispensable when it comes to tracking.
Google Tag Manager functions as a centralized platform to manage and implement various tracking codes and scripts on your website. With GTM, you can add and update tags without directly editing the website code. Instead of inserting tracking scripts directly into your site, they are set up in Google Tag Manager, allowing for centralized control.
As a result, the solution can be used for both Server Side tracking, Client Side tracking, or a combination of both approaches. GTM can be configured to manage and implement the necessary tags and scripts, whether they need to be executed on the server or in the user's browser.
With the extensive tag management, you have the ability to quickly and easily update tracking codes and relate various code snippets, providing greater flexibility in terms of data insights and data enrichment on your website.
A tag is placed on events that are used to measure user behavior. This makes it easier for you to promote views and clicks, measure and monitor payment processes, and evaluate performance. For instance, a tag can be linked to a click on a specific CTA to track actual conversions and assess performance. Additionally, it can be used for product views, adding/removing products from the shopping cart, form submissions, PDF downloads, video views, and much more.
This knowledge allows you to evaluate and optimize your site's design, ultimately leading to more satisfying user experiences. You can investigate, for example, how long it takes a visitor to complete a form or a specific field to gain insights into whether your form is intuitive and user-friendly. If it takes longer than expected, you can optimize the fields and the overall experience a user has when interacting with your form.
All the data collected through Google Tag Manager is sent to Google Analytics, where it is further processed and analyzed.
Bonus buzzword - Google Consent mode
It is not uncommon for all revenue and traffic in Google Analytics and Google Ads to have dropped by up to 25% due to GDPR legislation and respect for cookies. As a result, it can be challenging to measure ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) accurately on your ad campaigns, as it does not account for the full sales data.
Let our tracking and data specialists assist you
It is crucial to have an efficient and legal management of data and tracking.
Google Tag Manager, Server Side tracking, and Client Side tracking are tools and approaches that can work together to create a comprehensive and well-organized solution for tracking and analysis.
Google Tag Manager allows you to centralize the administration of tracking codes and scripts, simplifying the implementation and updating of tags without having to edit the code directly. It is a useful platform that facilitates the integration of both Server Side tracking and Client Side tracking methods.
Server Side tracking is ideal for protecting sensitive data and offers a more controlled and secure approach to data management. It can be particularly valuable when dealing with personal information and other confidential data, as the logic is executed on the server and not exposed on the client's side.
On the other hand, Client Side tracking allows real-time analysis and quick implementation of tracking codes directly in the user's browser. It is a fast and flexible method that is widely used and easy to implement, making it ideal for collecting data on user behavior.
By combining Google Tag Manager with a balanced use of Server Side tracking and/or Client Side tracking, you can achieve a comprehensive tracking strategy that meets the requirements for data protection and provides valuable insights into user behavior and website performance.
Overall, a well-planned and careful implementation of these tracking methods is the key to efficient data collection, analysis, and data protection. It will ensure that you can make informed decisions and deliver an improved user experience without compromising the protection of users' data.
To ensure a successful implementation and use of Google Tag Manager, Server Side tracking, and/or Client Side tracking, you can seek advice and assistance from MCB's tracking and data specialists. They are well-versed in tracking technologies and can assist with the technical configuration of Google Tag Manager and the integration of relevant tags and scripts, allowing you to collect the necessary data in a structured and efficient manner.