Getting started with website tracking

A quick checklist to get marketers started on their tracking journey.

Setting up website tracking is as essential as it is challenging. We’ve put together this quick checklist to get marketers started on their tracking journey.

Plan what you want to track

Begin by deciding what you would like to track. The most basic set up would involve a page view & your conversion action e.g. purchases. You can then fill in that journey with steps along the way e.g. add to cart, newsletter signup, viewing a specific page, clicking a specific button.

Choose platforms to send the data to

Decide which platforms you would like to receive the data you are tracking e.g. you would like Meta to know when a purchase happened. Google Analytics 4 or a similar analytics platform should be included, & also your advertising platforms e.g. Meta, Google Ads, Microsoft Ads.

Choose a setup method

Depending on your website provider (e.g. Shopify, Wordpress), there may be options to directly integrate with the analytics/advertising platforms. If yes, & you’re low on time or aren’t too keen on doing the technical setup, this is a good option. However, there will be fewer opportunities to customise what you’re tracking.

On the other end of the spectrum is tracking by directly adding code for each platform to your website. This gives you the most flexibility in tracking, but requires the most technical expertise, i.e. you will need to write Javascript code. Though there’s a greater barrier to entry here, there’s a wealth of documentation online, & tools like ChatGPT are great at assisting with deciphering & writing code, so if you’re up for the challenge, it’s not beyond a marketer’s reach!

Google Tag Manager sits in the middle, & is what we use most often. Some pre-written code needs to be added to the site initially, but then all setup can be done in the more user-friendly GTM interface. With GTM, you can customise your setup rather than being bound to a direct website integration, but may need to collaborate with a developer to get some changes made to your site, so that you’re feeding GTM the data it needs.

Ensure tracking is GDPR compliant

You’ll need to choose a cookie banner provider, add it to your website, & then make sure your tracking set up is listening & responding to people’s choices. 

With some providers, you can configure your tracking set up to listen to the cookie choices in the provider’s interface. Others are less sophisticated, & you will need to edit your tracking set up either in GTM or the website’s code to ensure you are only using cookies to track user behaviour if that user has consented.

Set up Advanced Consent Mode V2

Usually, when cookies are denied, you wouldn’t send any data on the user’s behaviour to your analytics/marketing platforms. Great for privacy, not so great for advertisers. 

Advanced Consent Mode V2 ensures that even if users deny cookies, ‘cookieless pings’ continue to send some data to Google platforms in a privacy compliant way. This enables improved modelling, and we have observed increases in tracked conversions from its implementation.

Some cookie banner providers will allow you to do this in their interface, while for others you’ll need to look into setting it up in GTM/in the website’s code. In GTM, there are “Consent Mode” templates to help you do this.

Send Enhanced Conversions/Advanced Matching

Enhanced Conversions/Advanced Matching refers to tracked events/conversions where you send first-party conversion data (e.g. user’s email or phone number) to your platforms when a conversion happens. The data is hashed & sent in a privacy-safe way.

Doing so improves the accuracy of conversion tracking as the platforms are better able to link up different steps of that user’s journey, & recognise them as the same person.

This is especially beneficial for platforms like Meta where a user might click on an ad, but then purchase on a different day, without interacting with an ad on Meta again. If Meta can identify that these actions were taken by the same user, then it can assign the conversion to that Meta ad.

In Google, it’s called ‘Enhanced Conversions’, while in Meta, it’s ‘Advanced Matching’.

Set up involves telling the platforms where on your website to find the first-party data, which can be done through adding code to the site, or through GTM. For the GTM set up, you may need to ask a developer to ensure the information is available for GTM to pick up & send to the platforms.

Do good, better

This should get you stared, but be prepared to do a lot of research to get to the exact setup you need. Everyone has different things they want to track, different platforms to send the data to, different methods of setup, different websites, so it’s unlikely there’ll be a guide for your exact situation. On top of that, everything keeps changing! 

If you’d like some help from some seasoned tracking problem solvers, get in touch!

Getting started with website tracking

Oxford educated, Gwenno’s expertise now spans Paid Search, Social & Display, working on a mix of ecommerce, charity, event, education & B2B clients. In addition to tackling creative strategy, she is also the agency's tracking expert and oversees data & reporting projects.