tagging-map

How to make Adobe Analytics tagging map aka solution design requirements for SiteCatalyst implementation


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Endress Analytics has a great video about tracking manifest for Adobe Analytics aka SiteCatalyst. Kevin Rogers has also good blog post why you need to have tracking file for your analytics implementation. It’s official name is Adobe Solution Design Requirements (SDR), but I like to simplify and use the name “tagging map”. This blog post focus also on Adobe Analytics but you can do this kind of tagging map for any other analytics tool as well.

What is this tagging map exactly?

It’s a document (Excel, Word, whatever…) where you write all the details of your analytics implementation. I’ll do this every time because at the same time that is also document for our scrum team (coders) how they have to implement the tags to our sites. Our (my employer) sites are so complicated from the technical perspective that it would be stupid for me to try implement all the codes by myself, and if that would happen I’m sure I would do something wrong. At least, it wouldn’t be very effective and I should focus on my real job which is analyzing the data. Although, I admit that it’s a useful thing to now little bit how the codes are implemented so you can make the tagging map easy as possible for the coders and for smaller sites I have implemented codes too (sometimes with the help of dynamic tag management aka Adobe DTM).

Why do we need tagging map?

For smaller sites you don’t need one and you can get all the data needed just by copy & paste the default analytics code. Tagging maps are needed especially for big sites that use Adobe Analytics and include lots of dynamic content and/or user generated actions (forms, buttons, internal search, logged-in status etc). With default analytics code you can’t save this kind of data and you need to do custom tags for these. You can also do changes to your default data with custom tags, e.g. change page names to more user-friendly.

Do it once and forget it. No, update!

Every time you make a change to your implementation, update the change to your tagging map also. If you add new custom tag (prop, eVar, event) to the site, add it also to your tagging map. Your tagging map is your tagging bible! Of course you can debug your current site and even look directly from the admin console what you have enabled and implemented, but what happens when something has gone wrong on the site? What happens if the client/coder says that they have implemented everything correctly but you don’t see the data needed? No need to worry, the answer can be found on the tagging map. It’s important that there is a single source of truth for analytics implementation = Tagging map!

What is the best format for tagging map?

There isn’t one and right answer to this. I have done about 50 different tagging maps and none of them are exactly the same, but the basic structure is the same. When I started to do these maps I used to add every code for every single page and custom tags. Nowadays, I have tried to be me more effective and made only one code example for every same kind of custom tags. For example if you have contact form on 20 different pages then I would do my guide for tagging like this “send the information X to SiteCatalyst every time contact form is sent”.

Here is my latest format for Adobe Analytics

Yes, just an example so you get the idea. You might get a feeling that there is so much to do but actually there isn’t, because you can copy the format to any other report suite´s tagging map. It also helps if you have same kind of sites then you can try to use same props, eVars and events. And usually custom tags (form submission etc.) use pretty much the same code with the help of S object.

Name of the document

Year-Month-Day_YOURDOMAIN_SiteCatalyst_Tagging_Map.xlsx

Always make a new copy and update the date when you make changes to the document.

Tab #1  for tags

SiteCatalyst tagging map tab 1 for tags

On the “code” section is the real guide for tagging and you need to open that cell to see the full code. I can give two small examples how I write these:

Please execute the following SiteCatalyst tracking code if the login fails on the URL X:

if (s) {
s.linkTrackVars=’prop9,events’;
s.prop9=s.pageName;
s.linkTrackEvents=’event43′;
s.events=’event43′;
s.tl(true,’o’,’invalid_login’);
}

Please implement the following tracking parameters within the SiteCatalyst tag on the search result page URL X:

s.pageName=”search_result_companies”;
s.channel=”companies”;
s.eVar1=”<search term>”;
s.eVar3=”<number of results>”;
s.eVar25=”search_result_companies_<page number>”;
s.eVar30=”<user status>”;
s.eVar36=”<number of results displayed>”;
s.events=”event1, <,no_results_event>”;

Notes:
<search term> = search term that the user typed.
<number of results> = the accurate number of search results returned. If no results were found -> “0”.
<page number> = the page number of the search results page. For example, “1” for the first page. If the user clicks to “see more results”, the page number must be incremented.
<user status> = either “yes” or “no”, depending on whether the user is logged-in to the website.
<,no_results_event> = if no search results were found, “event2” should be appended to s.events.

Tab #2 for props & eVars

SiteCatalyst tagging map tab 2 for props and eVars

Many times it’s useful to know what kind of “features” admin has enabled to these variables and that’s why I add information directly to the name of the variable, for example the number of the variable and does it have any special features e.g. “OV” = Original Value, “Never” = Never Expire

Tab #3 for events

SiteCatalyst tagging map tab 3 for events

Same here. Add special information directly to the name of the variable because it affects the way Web Analyst analyzes the data, e.g. “OPV” means event is launched only once per visit and this is crucial information.

Tab #4 for mind map (Optional)

Sometimes I do one more tab just for me, and there I can write my special notes what I still need to tag for the site and/or what specialities this site includes etc. Yes, some kind of “mind map” for the web analyst.

Please comment and/or share your ideas for tagging maps. Thanks.

About Antti

Antti

Digital Analytics Manager specialized in Adobe Analytics, Online personalization, SEO, CRO...

6 thoughts on “How to make Adobe Analytics tagging map aka solution design requirements for SiteCatalyst implementation

  1. Hi Antti , thanks for sharing your tagging map. I really like it. A File is much better than looking into Adobe Backend every time !!

    In column “notes” I would add a information what`s the objective/goal behind the variable or event. For example event 6: Registration
    Here I would add as an example: Counting Registrations in Checkout Process.

    What do you think about it?

    1. Hi Gerhard and thanks for the comment.

      And thanks for a great tip. I have to start using that kind of strategy for events and the “note” field. My tagging map was just a short example and it depends how busy I am that do I have time to add notes, I should have! 🙂

      By the way, one off-topic tip for events if someone isn’t using this strategy. If you use events a lot like I do then you can save events by making one event (number) for same type of goals, but with eVar you can correlate/segment more specifically. I mean, you could have only one event for form submission but for every unique form you should name one eVar differently. Tagging would go like this: on every form submission send “event1” but on “eVar1” type unique form name for every unique forms. I like to put form name like this: folder/folder/folder/form-askinformation etc.

  2. Hi Antti, thanks so much for your super informative and helpful blog. You really explain things well.

    One question, a true mind map can be a helpful document for a very complex project, do you use the 4th tab as a mind map interconnecting ideas or more as notes and reminders? If it’s more of a true mind map, would you be able to give an example? What I mean by an example of a mind map is maybe taking into account a complex infrastructure with databases, online and offline data, tag manager, datalayer and multiple media channels. So if you’re using the Adobe stack (DTM, Analytics, Target, Campaign, etc.) wondering if a true mind map would be helpful there maybe to tie the stack with events, the marketing channels, or whatever else.

    1. Hi Eitan,

      thanks for your kind words. If I make the 4th tab for mind map, it is usually just random notes that I tend to write as reminders especially when starting a tagging process for a new site. Yes, not very structured stuff just random things for reminders as:

      -Remember to check search result events when user gets zero results
      -Ask from the coder how this and that is going to work so I can make the taggings correct
      -Investigate what is the best way to tag shop funnel for product X, because it is very complex
      -Ask from my boss what does he thinks about this issue X I’m having on a page X
      Yes, very random stuff, but you get the idea? 🙂

      If I have a real important things to do then I just use calendar reminder, e.g. “Site X is going to be opened within 2 hours, make the final debugging process!!!”

      So yes, I use tagging map just for Adobe Analytics. Currently we are not using any other Adobe products and that’s why not sure how would I manage the situation if we would have other products. I guess it could be a good idea to combine all Adobe information to the same documentation, but not sure because I can’t know that kind of specs I would need for those other tools. But to me it sounds way too “difficult” to add information about complex infrastructure. For complex infrastructures and maybe to understand the bigger picture I would use (and we are actually using) Atlassian Confluence’s pages to combine all kinds of information. It could be any other online tool, but there could be 10 people who combine the information and that’s why it needs to be on the same place and online (Trello, Jira, Atlassian Confluence etc).

      Marketing channels are quite basic stuff, but for ad agencies we have our own document how they need to make url-addresses for different media channels etc. They don’t care about the tagging process and that’s why I don’t want to mess taggins and media stuff.

      But again, these things surely depends on what size company you are in and are there 5 web analysts who need to be updating same documents etc. I’m in quite big company and there are many analysts, but pretty much I’m the only one who is responsible for online stuff so I can be a dictator and do things how I like it. 😉

  3. Great example of an AA tagging map. Sometimes it is usefull to know, if the variables in AA are really reserved and recorded like they are documented. For this you can use the AA API (username and webservcie password) to read the configuration. The “Analytics Health Dashboard” from Adobe is a quite nice example (but to much for a tagging map).

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