Ever wondered how businesses gather valuable insights into user behavior, measure website performance, and optimize their marketing strategies?
It all starts with an inconspicuous piece of code quietly embedded within websites and applications: the tracking code.
Join us on a short trip behind the scenes as we explore how tracking codes transform data into actionable intelligence.
What Is a Tracking Code?
The code is generated automatically, is different for each website, and has to be installed on each page you want to track.
Functions of a Tracking Code
This code is most commonly used as a tracking tool, its main function being data collection about user behavior and interactions.
Yet, the tracking code can be used in multiple ways across your digital marketing efforts, including:
You can use analytics tracking codes, such as the Google Analytics tracking code, to collect data and generate reports regarding website traffic, user engagement, and conversion rates.
These tracking codes serve as vital tools for obtaining valuable insights into visitor numbers, demographic information, popular pages, duration of site visits, and other relevant metrics.
Tracking apps leverage these tracking codes to enable businesses to gather comprehensive data and gain a deeper understanding of their website’s performance and user behavior.
- Conversion tracking
Another use of tracking codes comes from in tracking and improving the Conversion Rates.
You can leverage a tracking code to monitor specific actions taken by users (such as purchasing a product, filling out a contact form, or even subscribing to a newsletter.)
The tracking code attributes conversions to specific traffic sources or marketing channels, allowing you to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and improve future efforts by focusing your resources on mediums generating the best results.
- Remarketing and retargeting
With a traffic code, you can create customized audiences based on users’ behaviors in the past.
For instance, a tracking code will track which pages a user has visited or which items he viewed.
The tracking code will send this data to tracking apps or platforms, enabling you to display targeted ads to those users across different websites or platforms, encouraging them to return and purchase your products.
- Email tracking
Tracking codes can be embedded in emails to track various actions, such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
When a recipient opens an email, the tracking code triggers and sends data back to the tracking app. The same happens when the recipient clicks on a button (or link) inside the email or hits the reply button – depending on which action you want to track, according to your goals.
This information helps you evaluate the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns, track user engagement with the email content, and measure the impact of specific call-to-action links within the email.
With this level of granular testing, you can then upgrade your emails and earn more revenue from email marketing.
- A/B testing
You can also use tracking codes to compare the performance of different versions of a webpage or email.
By tracking user behavior on each version, you can determine which design, layout, or content variation performs better and make data-driven decisions.
For instance, let’s say you’re a fitness retailer, and you want to test two variants of a landing page promoting weight-loss supplements. One of them is populated with professional images from photoshoots, while the other uses pictures of people who used your products.
In this case, you would upload the tracking code on the landing pages and analyze the metrics for each version.
After allowing the test to run enough to get statistically relevant results, you analyze how each page performed, as the tracking code recorded prospects’ behaviors.
You then pick the winning variant and incorporate it into your website, using it for future campaigns.
With a tracking code, you can collect data on user preferences, interests, and behaviors.
By analyzing this data, tracking apps can deliver insights that you’re leveraging to create personalized customer experiences.
For example, the tracking code can track previous purchases, enabling you to send relevant recommendations to your customers.
Personalization based on tracking code data improves the customer experience by offering tailored content, products, or even discounts or rewards.
In short, the tracking code collects and sends data to tracking apps or platforms, enabling you to generate analytics reports, track conversions, create targeted campaigns, and optimize marketing or CRO efforts.
How to Use a Tracking Code
You can use tracking codes not only for specific website pages but also for social media platforms (in this case, they’re referred to as pixels) and for tracking the source, medium, or campaign via a custom URL.
In the latter situation, you have to use a UTM tracking code. By implementing this code, you’ll be able to see in Analytics where your website traffic and searches came from.
Tracking in Single-Page Applications
Tracking in Single-Page Applications (SPAs) is the process of monitoring and capturing user interactions and behavior within a web application that operates as a single page without full-page reloads.
Unlike traditional websites where each page corresponds to a separate HTML document, SPAs dynamically update content within a single HTML page, providing a seamless and interactive user experience.
In SPAs, tracking involves capturing events such as page views, button clicks, form submissions, and other user interactions.
To track user interactions within SPAs, developers integrate tracking codes or libraries that are compatible with the chosen framework. These tracking codes are responsible for capturing and sending data about user actions to analytics platforms or tracking apps.
Since SPAs update content dynamically without triggering full-page reloads, tracking in SPAs may require additional considerations.
For instance, instead of relying on traditional page loads, virtual pageviews can be used to track different views or sections within the SPA. Event listeners are often employed to capture user interactions, and route changes within the SPA are tracked to monitor user navigation paths.
Tracking Custom Behavioral Events
Tracking custom behavioral events is the practice of capturing and monitoring specific user actions or behaviors.
As opposed to standard predefined events (such as page views or button clicks), custom behavioral events are relevant and customized to your unique needs and goals, enabling more targeted analysis and decision-making.
These behavioral events can refer to a wide range of user actions, such as:
- Form submissions
- Scroll depth (how far users scroll down a webpage)
- Video interactions (tracking when users play, pause, stop, or complete watching a video)
- Social Media interactions
- File downloads
- Specific Clicks
- Custom conversion actions (actions that indicate specific conversion goals relevant to a business, such as product purchases, account sign-ups, or newsletter subscriptions.)
Tracking custom behavioral events will deliver in-depth insights into prospects’ behavior, preferences, and engagement patterns.
You should leverage this data to upgrade marketing campaigns, improve your website, and deliver meaningful user experiences. All these actions combined will drive more conversions, placing you on a steady growth path.
However tempting using a tracking code might be, it’s crucial you’re aware of the privacy policies and concerns associated with using tracking codes.
When implementing them, you must consider the following privacy-related aspects:
Data collection and usage
Your website’s visitors should be informed about the purposes of data collection, such as analytics, personalized experiences, or targeted advertising.
Besides being transparent about how you’re using visitors’ data, it’s also required you obtain their consent before implementing tracking codes.
You must provide clear information about the tracking activities and give users the option to accept or decline tracking.
Anonymization and data protection
Your privacy policies should also address how user data is anonymized and protected.
Personal identifying information should be handled securely, and steps should be taken to ensure and guarantee data privacy and compliance with relevant data protection laws.
Your users should be informed about the parties involved and their respective privacy practices.
Privacy policies should outline how users can exercise their rights to opt out of tracking activities.
This may include providing information on browser settings and cookie preferences or offering specific opt-out mechanisms.
Compliance with regulations
Your organization must comply with applicable data protection and privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States.
Privacy policies should reflect these compliance requirements.
Transparency and updates
Privacy policies should be transparent, easily accessible, and regularly updated to reflect any changes in tracking practices or data handling procedures.
Note: if you’re still confused about privacy concerns related to implementing tracking codes, consider consulting with legal professionals or privacy experts. Better safe than sorry!
Frequently Asked Questions about the Tracking Code
The tracking code is typically used to collect data, generate analytics reports, or inform marketing and CRO professionals about the effectiveness of their efforts.
In the case of a website or application tracking, you can typically acquire a tracking code by integrating tracking tools or analytics platforms into your website or application.
For package tracking, the tracking code is usually provided by the shipping or logistics company when you initiate a shipment. It is then shared with you, allowing you to track the progress of your package.
A parcel with a tracking code refers to a package or shipment that has been assigned a unique tracking code.
This tracking code enables the sender, recipient, and shipping company to track and monitor the movement and delivery status of the parcel.
A mail tracking code, also known as a tracking number or tracking ID, is a unique code assigned to a specific piece of mail or postal item.
It allows the sender, recipient, and postal service to track the progress of the mail item throughout its journey.