Lean Your Marketing: Make Tracking Part Of The Product Plan


I’ve got to say, everything I’ve recommended on these slides so far has been something that, even if clients weren’t doing it right away, they got there eventually– deciding on a key metric, figuring CPA, etc.  This, though?  This one’s more like a cri de couer for a perfect that world that might exist if we all hold hands and dream together.  This is something that I’ve never really seen happen, but that I’d hope all new companies do, and then when they are wise, grey-whiskered 5-year-old companies we’ll all look back and say, “Can you believe that people didn’t used to make tracking part of their product plan right from the get-go? Wow, what a pain in the butt that was.”

But wait– let me back up and explain what I’m talking about.

Pretty much every place I’ve ever worked or consulted, tracking metrics has involved placing a snippet of code on every page you want tracked.  Google Analytics works that way, KISSMetrics works that way, Mixpanel works that way, etc.  Further, to do the sort of tracking we smart lean marketers are going to do, where we are tracking conversion events deep in the funnel and not just surface stuff like site traffic, you need to tell your metrics tool what counts as a conversion– often by citing a page that comes up after a success event occurs (such as a thank-you page after a signup or a purchase).  There are other ways to track successes, but that is by far the most common one– basically telling your tracking tool that “when you see Page X, count it as a conversion.”

At the last couple of places where I set up new metrics regimens, though, this wasn’t possible. The user flow wasn’t set up to deliver such a unique page; however, at both places, we didn’t even realize this until we were validating the numbers against what was in the database and just couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t come out correctly.  In both cases we eventually realized that the page we had marked as coming up only for new users came up any time a user created a new page, account, whatever.  So we were tracking *a* metric, just not *the* metric we wanted.  This then resulted in having to create a klugey work-around, put a change in user flow into the next product plan, and put a little asterisk on all the reports to explain why the number we’d be using was wrong and shouldn’t really be compared to future numbers, and… ugh.

How much better would it have been if the person designing the user flow and the person in charge of tracking results had a quick chat before the product was even launched to coordinate on what was going to be tracked and how to track it?  And how lovely would it be if when site changes are planned, those two people meet again to make sure that tracking that’s in place will be maintained, that funnels won’t be wiped out, etc?

In an organization where numbers-driven decision-making is front and center, this is what will happen.  If we all just hold hands and dream hard enough.

Next up: how to track things that don’t really seem trackable.

(Photo credit: theiry49)


Lean Your Marketing: The Slide Deck

Slide 1 | Slide 2 | Slide 3 | Slides 4, 5, 6 | Slide 7 | Slide 8 | Slides 9 & 10 | Slides 11 & 12 | Slide 13 | Slide 14 | Slide 15 | Slide 16 | Slide 17 | Slides 18, 19 & 20



  1. Do you think the Kissmetrics/Mixpanel approach of tracking customers is better than Google Analytics’ approach of tracking pages?

    Also, as I understand it, the Google funnel can only track from the Checkout onwards, because to do otherwise wold have it following spidery trails of pageviews back and forth all over the site – whereas Kissmetrics and Mixpanel can track earlier and even offsite. Does this sound about right?

    1. Personally, I think it’s much better, because as a marketer those are the terms you think in: people, not pages. You want to know who came to your page, who converted, what they looked at, etc. I’ve never found Google funnels to work that well at all– even when you tell it a sequence of pages to track, it never seems to get within shouting distance. I haven’t personally used either KISSmetrics or Mixpanel that much, but my understanding is that their funnels are much better.

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