How to Successfully Run Event Tracking on Your Marketplace?

in Business, Marketplace by Sandra on December 2nd, 2019

Would you like to know how your users behave on your marketplace and interact with specific elements on your website? Looking for an efficient way to analyze your customer’s journey? Then setting up event tracking is your answer. It’s the key to decipher the entire process and discover how your users navigate through your site.

When last week, we covered the essential guide for developing a multi-vendor marketplace, we were pretty much aware that an overall mentioning of event tracking is not enough. We knew that the topic would require a separate take. A follow-up article, you’re looking at right now.

Why is event measurement so crucial? Are we going to find out by answering the below questions?

  • What are the events? What kind of activities can you track?
  • What is a tracking plan?
  • What are user and event properties, and why do you need them for?
  • Where can you collect your user data?
  • How can you generate analysis and reports?

Let’s get to it:

What are the events?

In terms of running an online marketplace or any other e-commerce website, you can treat events as tools for measuring users’ interactions with your site. And as a consequence, a method for evaluating your business KPIs.

To put it as simple as possible, events are numerous actions your visitors or customers take on your website. Most importantly, activities that you can track and analyze as you move along with expanding your digital business.

Let’s inject some blood into this definition and imagine Alice and Nick. This growth-oriented start-up couple is just about to release their freshly-developed marketplace into the wild.

Although they (subconsciously) dream of becoming huge players like Etsy or Bonanza, they are both tech-savvy with analytical minds.

Hence, they are aware they have to take event tracking very seriously, to know precisely what happens when users land on their platform and explore its every corner.

What kind of events can you track?

Even tracking done right helps you in understanding your users’ behavior and how they interact with specific elements while they navigate on your site, and most importantly – in getting a bigger picture by building your customers’ journey.

To have their fashion marketplace all under control, Alice and Nick want to observe:

  • what kind of clothing items people select,
  • how do they search for products and filter the results by color or size,
  • what pages do they view and possibly – where they bounce from the site,
  • how do they add clothes to their shopping carts, complete the forms, and end up finalizing the purchasing process?

All of these actions performed by their customers are events they can track and measure to capture what’s functioning correctly, and where the possible friction occurs.

Now, it might be enticing to track every single event happening within your application. However, you will need to narrow down your interest in activities most valuable when it comes to your business goals.

What is a critical flow?

To help you prioritize events you want to scrutinize, we highly recommend defining users’ critical flow, also referred to as a critical path.

For our imaginary start-up characters Alice and Nick, the key objective will be to keep an eye on the process of how users are buying clothes on their marketplace. So, the critical flow for them will be all about the process of purchasing a product.

They will be highly interested not only in receiving the data about the number of products sold in specific categories. They’d rather also get a big-picture by tracking the sequence of actions users takes to reach the final stage – the payment.

It’s crucial to be clear about the stages of customers’ journey (and knowing what triggers visitors to take their credit cards out of their wallets), and the technology that can bring event tracking to the table.

Here’s an example of how the critical path might look for an e-commerce platform:

Search → Browse Products → Add to Cart → Checkout → Order Confirmation

But to manage it all at the expert level, you need to wrap it up in a plan:

What is a tracking plan?

What is the best event management tool? How to know if conversion tracking is working as it should? Here’s where building a tracking plan comes into play. It can take a form of a spreadsheet document, but in fact, it strikes as a project management tool that gets developers, marketers, analysts, and business owners (like Alice and Nick) on the same page.

The reason for building a tracking plan is to recognize all the essential events and place them in a structure, with a strong emphasis on grouping them into critical paths.

The tracking plan approach corresponds well with the idea of sales and marketing funnels – a linear stream where prospects become leads and lead convert into customers.

The event tracking document has one ultimate purpose. It has to collect the data regarding users’ interaction with your web page interface and align it with your business goals. As a positive side effect, this event report serves as a tool for evaluating your initial assumptions about your marketplace.

Again, you will be looking for a structure like this:

Register → Log in → Search products → View product → Select product → Purchase product

Now, each event or user identification that falls into any stage of this journey can be grouped, filtered, measured. To do that, you will make the most of their properties.

What are user and event properties? What can you use them for?

To be able to identify and measure a specific event (or qualify a user), you will be looking for a clear metric and value tied to it.

Properties are the way to precisely describe what’s going on your website or application, empowering you with a handy tool to see the context of your data. It boils down the general information to a particular attribute.

Example? Amplitude puts it this way:

“… if 'Swipe' is an event that you are tracking, then the event property ‘Direction’ could have the values ‘Left’ or ‘Right’.”

In your tracking plan, you will distinguish two types of properties:

  • Event properties
  • User properties

Event properties

Since this entire article casts light on event measurement, we’ll start with event properties. The name tells it all – they describe the events that take place within your application’s interface, to provide you with some invaluable context.

Again, after the Data Taxonomy Playbook:

“General event properties we have seen are description, category, type, duration, level, % completed, name, count, source, previous page/screen, from, number, lives, authenticated, error, rank, action, and mode.”

So, in practice, it will look like this: if your event name is called “select product”, then you would assign the following event properties: to show you the “name” of the product, its “number”, “color”, or “prices”.

Coming back to our fictitious fashion marketplace example, Alice and Nick would do it like this:

  1. Select product
    1. Event property “name”-> value: “jacket”, “dress”, “t-shirt”,
    2. Event property “color” -> value: “navy blue”, “orange”, “yellow”
    3. Event property “price” -> value: “$30”, “$45” etc.

Once you have those defined, it’s time to move to:

User properties

While the event properties focus on describing all necessary events, user properties are human-oriented. They concentrate on the user who walks through your application searching for a product, with an intent to buy one.

That said, user properties are at your disposal to analyze your visitors and customers, define groups of users, prepare A/B tests, and so on.

The parameters that will come in handy to report users would be about the age, gender, localization, e-mail addresses, first and last name, or a phone number.

For the sake of running a multivendor marketplace, Alice and Nick would also consider some more user properties. They would like to know what type of users they are handling – is it a “free” or “paying” user? Is it a “seller” or a “buyer”?

But the list of possible variants goes on. In your application, you can recognize your users by:

  • Whether they enabled of disabled push notifications;
  • When was the last time they visited your app;
  • The total number of critical actions they have taken.

Where can you collect user data?

The entire flow of data collection is possible, thanks to a Software Development Kit (SDK) that is provided by the service that you are using for Event Tracking. The process itself comes down to setting different loose types of calls:

  • Page calls – this type of calls helps you answer a crucial question – how did a user get to your website in the first place? What was his step before he got here?
  • Track calls – you send those to follow the footsteps of your user. Coming back to our fashion-marketplace example, track calls will go after the events like choosing the color or size of trousers or adding them to a shopping cart.
  • Identify calls – what happens when your user starts to provide you with some elements like an e-mail address, or a name? It's the moment when a track call meets the identity call to build some persona – someone who not only takes action but also has a name.

As soon as you fired away the superior above tracking technology to get your hands on some significant amount of data, you need to decide where to collect it.

Here, you have two options:

  • Client-side
  • Server-side

Client-side

The first option is about using client-side libraries (JavaScript, iOS, and Android). This way, specific calls you send will be happening within your customers’ browsers or mobile devices.

Although you will appreciate some advantages of this solution, you will also have to prepare yourself that it will backfire.

Among the advantages, you will find the possibility to run remarketing campaigns targeted by the users’ location or differentiate your users by the type of device they’re on. But above all – evaluating marketing campaigns and conversions (which are the muscles for your marketplace) thanks to UTM parameters.

The main con of the client-side option is that you will be vulnerable to browser adblockers. It means that your data-collecting adventure would end with an ad-block if you used an external service for covering client-side data collection. Browser plugins might detect scripts within that service and treat it as an ad to block.

Server-side

The alternative points out to triggering events on the server. It means that whenever your application detects some changes in the database, it will trigger an event directly from your server.

This solution is said to be more secure and reliable, and most importantly – by choosing the server-side, you won’t have to worry about browser ad-blocks.

How would Alice and Nick benefit from the reliability mentioned above? Well, if they planned to incorporate some marketing automation or e-mail marketing tools into their action plan, they would rather trigger high-priority e-mails on the server-side — for example, the Black Friday deals. Nearly as important as Christmas as far as e-commerce is concerned. Our marketplace owners wouldn’t like their customers to miss their Black Friday specials because of ad-blocking on a client-side. A server will do the trick.

As for security, tracking revenue shouldn’t rely on a browser. It’s damn too sensitive data, and you wouldn’t gamble on it. Your server will be a wiser option.

Even though it might look like a server-side is a natural choice of wisdom, but in reality, it’s best to mix up both of the approaches – the server and the client-side. While server solution stands firm when it comes to protecting your marketplace from ad-blocking headache, it won’t do the trick for triggering some events such as page views.

How to manage analysis and reports?

Project managers, marketers, digital business owners – they are all addicted to data-checking and evaluating assumptions sprinkled all over their strategies. That’s why most likely, every SaaS platform provides its clients with actionable intel and numbers. Preferably through easily-digestible charts and reports.

There is no other choice for event tracking but to provide you with a possibility to analyze the results of instrumenting events on your application.

Having access to event tracking analysis and reports will help you in coping with some critical questions:

  • What’s your conversion rate? Meaning - how many visitors transform into paying customers?
  • What kind of actions do your users take after creating an account?
  • Is this Call-to-Action button performing better than the other (yes, famous A/B tests)
  • What is the most vulnerable moment in your customers’ journey? Where is the element causing abandonment from your website?

The process of getting your hands on the results relies on event segmentation delivered by Amplitude. It comes down to collecting your events and properties and checking out how do they work out over a selected time. The methodology formed in three modules: Events module, Segmentation module, and Metrics module will lead you to receive a visual chart – your marketplace’s control panel.

A typical event segmentation chart will require selecting events, users, segmentation through, e.g., users’ whereabouts. The metrics will include unique users who took a particular action (event), evaluation of properties (for instance – how many times users added jackets to their shopping carts), the total number of events, or the frequency.

It gives you a birds-eye view on what’s happening within your application. What numbers are increasing or decreasing over time, which allows us to react on the spot and make some appropriate business decisions?

Your digital marketing self will also give a pat in a back because thanks to user segmentation, you will be able to fire away effective advertising campaigns tailored for the needs and behavior of specifics groups of users.

Funnel analysis

Speaking of marketing. Even though some authorities in the field have claimed that the funnel is dead, it remains the most commonly used methodology for generating leads and converting them to customers.

When you already dedicate your efforts towards the success of your marketplace, the funnel will give you a solid structure to monitor your users.

Generating your funnel analysis is a way to go to efficient navigation through your critical paths. How many users have started your critical path? How many have completed it? You will answer right in the report.

Your turn

Business-wise it’s a smart move to implement event tracking in your everyday work. Collected data will help you to attribute specific actions take on your site with anything that triggered them.

The ultimate value of it – understand how to optimize your marketplace and to create further revenue events.

Thankfully, there are external services, like Amplitude or Segment, that offer event tracking solutions. With the help of them, you will collect data, create event and user segmentation, and generate handy reports.

Good luck!


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