7 Steps to Set Up Your Web Analytics Solution Design

August 24, 2016 Jason Call

close-up of someone working on laptop with blueprints displayed on the screen

close-up image of a person's hands working on a laptopIf you don’t have a solution design, your data and reports could be structurally unsound.

A solution design is a blueprint for your Adobe Analytics or other data implementation.

Also known as a solution design reference (SDR), this document defines business requirements identified by stakeholders throughout your organization, mapping them to metrics that can be measured across your digital properties using Adobe Analytics.

A more vendor-agnostic term for a solution design reference is a tagging plan. While an SDR could refer to implementation documentation in general, it tends to refer specifically to an Adobe implementation. The solution design helps analytics architects know where, when, and how to implement code.

Unless you feel like untangling an analytics knot weekly, you will want to create a dynamic SDR so that all departments involved in digital tagging are on the same page.

This article will explain in seven strategic steps how you can create and maintain an effective solution design to protect the integrity of your Adobe implementation.


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1. Ownership of the Solution Design

Establish who is responsible for maintaining your solution design. By clearly establishing stewardship over this high-touch document you will be able to make sure that all members of your organization across all departments remain accountable to it.

The creation and maintenance of a solution design fall upon the shoulders of a tag governance council, headed by a governance leader. These leaders are responsible for deciding what objectives the organization has in their web analytics implementation and how best to achieve those goals.

2. Location and Format of the Solution Design

A solution design ought to be a dynamic document. Your Adobe implementation will change over time as your business objectives evolve. In order to stay consistent with the goals of stakeholders, your solution design needs to be structured yet flexible.

In order to maintain the functionality of your SDR as well as to promote teamwork, make sure that your document is accessible to all necessary parties.

Don’t let this essential document get buried on some IT guy’s computer. Use software that allows for versioning so that you can revisit and revise previous versions.

3. Collecting Business Requirements

When creating your solution design, your tag governance council will need to ask themselves:

“Why are we doing this? What kinds of questions do we need answered? What do we want to know about the visitors to our site?”

Answering questions like these helps structure your Adobe implementation to measure user behavior. For example, you might be wondering, “Are visitors finding the content that they are looking for?”

Deciding what it is you want to discover will help you determine which corresponding use case can be measured, shedding light on user behavior.

4. Defining Metrics to Measure

Once you have decided on the aspects of user behavior that you would like to measure, then you can begin to define metrics associated with specific user events.

If a business would like to know the answer to, “Are my visitors finding the content that they are looking for?” then the event that they would measure would be an internal search yielding results. Measuring the frequency of events like this will enable analysts to fulfill corresponding business requirements.

5. Building the Solution Design Document

Organized as a spreadsheet, the solution design document should contain the following information, usually organized in columns:

    1. Status: Active or inactive tag
    2. Use Case: How the user interacts with the site
    3. Variable: A prop, eVar, or event
    4. Variable Description: A quick explanation of the variable
    5. Example: What you expect the values to look like
    6. When to Set: Page load, click, or other
    7. Where to Set: A URL, stating where this variable will be placed
    8. Notes

6. Coding the Solution Design Document

Once the solution design is assembled, it’s time to develop the code and deploy the tracking technologies.

This can be done by your IT team, a contracted digital analytics firm or digital marketers using advanced tag management tools.

7. Maintenance and QA

Constant validation allows you to keep your baseline (solution design) true. You should be sure to apply tag governance during various phases of your implementation, including:

    • In a staging environment before releasing your implementation
    • After releasing your implementation
    • Periodically to ensure that any updates or changes have not affected the functionality of your implementation

    Since it is nearly impossible to manually check all of your tags, automation via a tag governance solution like ObservePoint is essential.  Rule-based scans and active critical-path monitoring can save you time and manpower for maintaining an effective Adobe implementation.

    The best way for your organization to accomplish its analytics goals is to really take control of your tag governance and develop a solution design outlining all of the business requirements that you hope to achieve through your implementation. Doing so will provide greater insight into user behavior so that your organization can make informed decisions based on actionable data.

    To learn more about web analytics, solution designs and tag governance, check out this on-demand webinar: “7 Steps to Set Up Your Analytics Solution Design.”

    About the Author

    Jason Call

    Jason caught the “digital marketing bug” over ten years ago when his music went viral, and he became the first unsigned artist to reach a million downloads on the internet. Since then, he has devoted his career to mastering analytics and providing actionable insights for hundreds of clients, spanning many industries and verticals.

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