In the ever-evolving world of eCommerce, tracking and analyzing data is crucial for businesses to optimize their marketing strategies and improve overall performance. One effective way to track data on Shopify and other eCommerce platforms is through server-side tracking. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of setting up server-side tracking on Shopify, discuss its benefits, and provide step-by-step instructions to get started.
What is Server-Side Tracking?
Server-side tracking is a method of collecting and processing data directly on the server, rather than relying solely on client-side scripts. With server-side tracking, event data like add to cart and purchases are routed to your server, allowing you to have complete control over what data is collected. This method is particularly useful for Shopify, as it differs from self-hosted eCommerce websites like Magento or WordPress due to Shopify being a hosted SaaS application.
Benefits of Server-Side Tracking
Before diving into the setup process, it’s important to understand the benefits of server-side tracking for your Shopify store. Here are some key advantages:
Enhanced Privacy and Security
With increasing concerns about data privacy, server-side tracking provides a more secure method of collecting and processing data. By routing data directly from the server to third-party destinations like Facebook or Google Analytics, you minimize the risk of data interception or manipulation.
Improved Accuracy and Reliability
Server-side tracking reduces the impact of ad blockers and ensures more accurate data collection. Unlike client-side scripts that can be blocked by ad blockers, server-side tracking operates on your own subdomain, making it less susceptible to being blocked.
Faster Page Load Times
Greater Control over Data
Server-side tracking allows you to have more control over the data you collect and send to analytics and marketing destinations. You can choose to collect additional information such as IP addresses, user-agent details, customer information, and attribution data, enabling you to tailor your marketing strategies based on specific customer segments.
Setting Up Server Side Tracking on Shopify
Now that we understand the benefits of server-side tracking, let’s delve into the step-by-step process of setting it up on your Shopify store.
Step 1: Connect Facebook Account
The first step is to connect your Facebook account to Shopify. Follow these instructions:
- Click on ‘Facebook’ in the Shopify dashboard.
- Click on ‘Start Setup’ and select ‘Connect Account’.
- Ensure that you are the admin of the Facebook page associated with your Shopify store.
Step 2: Install the Facebook Channel
If you haven’t already, install the Facebook channel app from the Shopify app store. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to ‘Apps’ in the Shopify dashboard.
- Click on ‘View More Apps’.
- Search for the Facebook channel and click on ‘Add App’.
Step 3: Enable Server-Side Tracking
To enable server-side tracking on Shopify, follow these steps:
- In the Shopify dashboard, go to ‘Settings’ and select ‘Checkout’.
- Scroll down to the ‘Customer privacy’ section and click on ‘Manage customer privacy settings’.
- Enable customer data sharing by ticking the checkbox.
- Select ‘Maximum’ to allow server-side integration.
Step 4: Configure Data Requirements
Server-side tracking requires you to define the data you want to send to your analytics and marketing destinations. Here’s how to configure your data requirements:
- Determine the specific information you need to collect, such as revenue, order ID, customer details, attribution data, and more.
- Consider the unique data requirements of each destination, such as Facebook Conversion API or Google Analytics.
- Ensure you comply with privacy regulations by integrating consent tools like One Trust or Cookie bot to collect user consent choices.
Step 5: Choose a Server-Side Solution
You have several options for implementing server-side tracking on Shopify. Here are two popular solutions:
- GTM Server-Side Container: If you prefer a DIY approach, you can use Google Tag Manager (GTM) with a server-side container. Configure your events and tags within GTM to route the data to your server container.
- Third-Party Solutions: Alternatively, you can opt for pre-configured solutions like Elevar or Segment, which offer fully managed end-to-end server-side tracking.
Step 6: Set up Sources and Destinations
In your server-side solution (GTM or third-party), you need to configure Sources and Destinations. Follow these steps:
- Set up Sources to route event data from your Shopify website to your server. This can include onsite data layers, webhooks, or Shopify notifications.
- Configure Destinations to specify where you want the data to be sent. For example, you can route events and conversions to the Facebook Conversion API or Google Analytics.
Step 7: Test and Validate the Setup
Before going live with server-side tracking, it is crucial to thoroughly test and validate your setup. Here are some steps to ensure everything is working correctly:
- Send test conversion events from your website or Shopify admin to verify that they are being routed to the configured destinations.
- Monitor the responses received from the destination APIs, checking for success or failure messages and error codes.
- Test the implementation across various channels, such as Facebook, Google Analytics, and other marketing destinations, to confirm the data is being accurately captured.
Step 8: Monitor and Optimize
Once server-side tracking is live on your Shopify store, it’s essential to continuously monitor and optimize your setup. Regularly review your data requirements, check for any updates or changes in destination APIs, and make adjustments as needed to ensure accurate and relevant data collection.
Setting up server-side tracking on Shopify is a valuable strategy for eCommerce businesses to enhance data privacy, improve accuracy, and gain greater control over their analytics and marketing efforts. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can seamlessly implement server-side tracking on your Shopify store and unlock the benefits of enhanced data tracking and analysis. Remember to regularly monitor and optimize your setup to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. Take the necessary steps to stay ahead in the ever-changing landscape of eCommerce tracking and analytics.