Are You Tracking Too Much? How to Use a Powerful Tracking Plan Framework That Won’t Drive You Crazy

There’s a common misconception in the world of data, and it’s one that even data nerds like us didn’t question for a long time — nearly seven years, in fact. 

So what is this misconception? It’s the idea that the more data you collect in your tracking plan, the better. This simple but misguided notion created a lot of unnecessary work for us and our clients. We used to define way too many events (up to 20 or 30) that made data tracking downright unwieldy, which in turn made it difficult to extract meaningful insights. 

In our defense, we meant well. We embraced this “more is better” approach out of a desire to provide as much value as possible to our clients. We wanted to make sure that the product teams who worked with this tracking data had insights into all the features they were working on. So we didn’t refine our focus, with the intent of capturing as big a picture as possible, defining events from the data user flows to the product feature usage to the user experience (UX). 

For small, simple applications, this approach wasn’t so bad. But when it came to big SaaS applications, it created an overwhelming amount of properties that were a nightmare for developers to implement and maintain. When we handed over our data tracking, with 30 defined events, they must have hated us! And who could blame them? It was like going to university and trying to enroll in every class. Or eating dinner at a buffet and trying to take a bite of every single dish. At a certain point, more wasn’t better. It was worse. 

Table of Content:

1. Creating a tracking plan with a framework that actually works

2. Introducing the three-layer tracking plan framework

2.1 Tracking plan level #1: Core business events

2.2 Tracking plan level #2: Product events

2.3 Tracking plan level #3: UX events

3. Learn more about our tracking plan framework

Creating a tracking plan with a framework that actually works

It’s embarrassing it took us so long to connect the dots and understand that meaningful and relevant data is infinitely better than just more data. 

The good news is, we’ve developed an approach that allows us to define events according to a hierarchy, identifying the stuff that matters most (and that needs to be included in a data tracking plan) and separating it from the stuff that’s seasonal, incidental, or just plain not relevant. 

This approach consists of a three-layer tracking plan framework. It’s super easy and straightforward to implement, and it produces data insights that are focused and actionable. 

It all starts with separating your data events into three broad categories: 

  1. Core business events (or customer life cycle events)
  2. Product events
  3. UX events

Let’s take a closer look at each one. 

Introducing the three-layer tracking plan framework

Tracking plan level #1: Core business events 

First in the hierarchy are the core business events. 

Some tracking events are so essential and so central that you work with them virtually all the time. These events describe how customers or users go through the whole application, illustrating the typical customer life cycle, whatever it is. 

This life cycle usually consists of about 10 to 12 events and they require full monitoring at all times. They are so meaningful and so rich with potential insight that these events alone can be used to steer a company’s decision-making. Because of their importance and relevance, these core business events form the backbone of your data tracking plan.

Tracking plan level #2: Product events

Next in the hierarchy are the product events. 

These tracking events are also important but since they are based on product features, such as a sign-up process, their relevance is tied to specific times. For this reason, they don’t require the same non-stop monitoring that core business events do. They can be implemented later on in your data tracking plan, or not at all, depending on the circumstances. 

If you do add them, be sure to keep them separate from level 1 events. Product teams tend to work on one feature at a time, so product events can be analyzed for the two to three months following a refinement or change to a product feature. 

Tracking plan level #3: UX events

Last in the hierarchy are UX events. 

These tracking events represent the detailed, nitty gritty data about how users interact with the front end of an application, such as input click behavior, navigation clicks, and opening layers. Because UX is all about understanding user behavior, data tracking events are just one part of an overall setup that will include A/B tests, recordings, and more. 

We recommend leaving UX events out of data tracking plans entirely. They’re too fine-grained, add unnecessary bulk to your tracking plan, and just end up driving everyone crazy. 

It’s still important, however, to track UX events, which is where an auto-collection tracking service like Heap can come in super handy. Heap basically runs a script that collects all the clicks that are happening on your website or application, and you can define the events for them later and retroactively. This lets you perform high-level analysis without messing up your tracking plan. 

Learn more about our tracking plan framework

Implementing a hierarchy will go a long way toward creating a robust data tracking plan that yields quality insights and won’t drive you, or your developers, crazy. 

Find all the information from above explained in detail in this video:

If you’d like to know more, get in touch with us at deepskydata. We specialize in creating pro tracking setups that make data collection reliable and complete, delivering top-tier data quality and scalability. We do this by collecting data not just from your website, but also your backend, CRM, customer service tools — basically anywhere that your customers create data. We’ve also worked with over 30 different tracking systems, so we can identify the ones that will work best for you and avoid the ones that aren’t a good fit. 

If you have a tracking mess to untangle, deepskydata can help. It’s easy to get started — simply choose from one of our popular packages or schedule a free consultation call to get started.