Most of your clients will likely request the integration of their preferred analytics tool to see how the website is performing! It's a good opportunity to learn what works over time and suggest improvements in the future.
This chapter will delve into the world of tracking and analytics, providing an understanding of the key concepts, tools, and the implications of recent data protection laws. I'll also provide a few notes for implementing tracking for European clients, in line with GDPR regulations.
As with SEO this is an important chapter for producers to get a solid understanding of.
Analytics refers to the systematic analysis of data. In the context of digital products, this typically involves the use of various tracking technologies to collect data about user behavior.
There are various tools available for tracking and analytics, including:
- Google Analytics
- Adobe Analytics
- Piwik Pro
- Piano Analytics
Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice will depend on various factors such as pricing, the size of the website (measured in terms of pageviews), and the specific needs of the client.
Analytics in Europe
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union. It's crucial to understand that under GDPR, there can be no personal data processing without explicit user consent.
When setting up tracking for European clients, we need to consider several factors:
1. Choosing the Right Consent Management Platform (CMP)
A CMP is a tool that enables websites to manage their user consents in line with GDPR regulations. The choice of CMP should be based on various factors including pricing, the ability to customize the consent process and the platform's compliance with GDPR. Examples of popular CMPs include Piano Analytics and Piwik Pro.
3. Pre-Launch Checks
Before launching the website, there are several checks to be carried out to ensure compliance, you can mention these to your developer to verify that the website is indeed within regulation.
- Network HTTP Hits: This involves inspecting the network hits in a browser's developer console to ensure that there are no unauthorised hits to external vendors.
- Cookie List: Similarly, inspect the list of cookies set by the website to ensure that no unauthorised cookies are being set.
- Cookie Scanner: Third-party tools like Cookie Scanner can be used to analyze the cookies used by a website.
- Cookie Database: If there are unidentified cookies, they can be cross-referenced with a cookie database to determine their purpose.
Once the tracking setup is complete, a final checklist should be reviewed:
- Choice of CMP design (banner, footer overlay…)
- Creation of the CMP notice and validation of its content (texts, categories, design…)
- Addition of a footer link for users to change consent choices
- Collaboration with the web analyst/dev team to configure the GTM container
- Addition of the GTM script (specific or generic)
- Final checks before website release
5. Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free tool that allows you to manage and deploy marketing tags (snippets of code or tracking pixels) on your website (or mobile app) without having to modify the code. This is helpful because it provides a centralized location to manage all of your tags.
GTM supports all tags and has easy-to-use turnkey templates for a wide range of Google and third-party tags — for web and mobile apps. You have the flexibility to create custom tags for custom analytics tracking.
GTM is especially important when you want to use multiple tracking tools, as you can manage all your tags from one place.
GTM also helps you speed up your website load times, as each tag will be loaded asynchronously, meaning they don't depend on each other to execute.
GTM is within GDPR regulation, so in short - GTM is awesome.
6. GDPR-Compliant Analytics: Piwik
While Google Analytics is an industry standard, it's important to note that if using it, the website owner is responsible for ensuring that the way they use Google Analytics complies with GDPR - it does not by default and is now illegal in certain European countries.
If you want a solution that is out-of-the-box compliant with GDPR, Piwik is often a recommended tracking tool. The data it collects is fully controlled by you, the owner, and isn't shared with anyone unless you choose to do so. It offers a variety of plugins to extend its functionalities, as well as options for tag management.
Piwik is an alternative that offers similar capabilities but with less concern around data privacy and GDPR compliance. It also includes a Consent Manager so that you can have everything in one place.
Piwik PRO Analytics Suite | On-premises & private cloud
An analytics suite with a focus on user privacy and data security – the perfect alternative to Google Analytics.
Almost every single time, this process takes longer than expected (much longer) so make sure you account for it in your project timeline.