June 15, 2023

15 min. read

Server Side Tracking | What is it and why do you need it?

By Sander Kah

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Short introduction on the topic - Server Side Tracking

In the current digital era, measuring and understanding user behavior is a key component in successful business operations. When it comes to e-commerce, the concept of server-side tracking is revolutionizing the way businesses can measure interactions and conversions.

Issues with traditional measurement methods (via a pixel on a website)

Traditional methods of tracking, such as the use of a pixel on a website, have faced many challenges in recent years. With increasing attention to user privacy, the implementation of ad-blockers, and browser restrictions such as Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention protocol, the effectiveness of these methods has declined. Additionally, there are also technical challenges, like slow loading times due to third-party scripts, that can negatively impact the user experience.

Why Server Side Tracking is important in today's e-commerce and retail industry

The server-side tracking model is a response to the problems with traditional methods. It enables businesses to more accurately track user behavior, and thereby gain better insights into the customer journey. This leads to more effective marketing strategies and improved business outcomes. It is therefore no surprise that an increasing number of businesses, especially in the e-commerce and retail industry, are switching to server-side tracking.

What are Server Side Events?

Definition and technical explanation about Server Side Events

Server Side Events (SSE) are a web technology that allows a server to automatically send data to other systems, such as Google Analytics, Klaviyo, Facebook, and other marketing and analysis tools. Instead of using a traditional HTTP connection, Afosto implements a special tracking layer on incoming visitor requests. This layer functions as a middleware solution, providing real-time and accurate data collection.

Unlike classic client-server communication, where the client continually sends requests to the server for information, SSE allows the server to proactively send data as soon as it is available. By implementing this technology directly on incoming visitor requests, we have an exact picture of what the user is doing while browsing a website.

How does SSE work?

Server Side Events serve as a bridge between the server and other systems, with the server actively and continuously forwarding information. Whenever an event occurs on the server-side - for example, a change in the data or an action performed by a user - the server generates an event and sends it.

At Afosto, all user requests are captured by a special tracking layer implemented on the server. This allows us to always have a complete and accurate overview of all events occurring. These are then transformed and sent as Server Side Events to relevant systems like Google Analytics, Klaviyo, Facebook, and other marketing and analysis tools.

In practice, this technology enables real-time updates or notifications to be sent to the systems processing the data. Additionally, it enables Afosto to take conversion measurement tracking to a higher, more accurate, and privacy-friendly level. This is because traditional tracking mechanisms, which primarily rely on cookies and pixels, are running into limitations. In the next part of this article, we will delve deeper into how this technology is implemented within Afosto.

The importance of Server Side Events for retailers

Server Side Events can offer retailers a host of benefits. One of the main advantages is the improved tracking and attribution of conversions to campaigns. In the dynamic world of retail, it is crucial to stay up-to-date with customer behavior and trends. Server Side Events make this possible by informing retailers directly about events such as purchases, ad clicks, or other interactions with their online store and assigning them to the correct campaign.

This real-time insight can then be used to adjust marketing strategies, improve the user experience, or even manage inventory levels. Moreover, because the data comes directly from the server, it is more reliable than data collected via cookies or pixels.

Another great advantage is the potential for improved data privacy. Because Server Side Events operate without relying on the user's browser, they circumvent potential issues with browser restrictions or privacy blocks.

A practical example from Afosto: Onderdelenhuis.nl

Let's take a look at Onderdelenhuis.nl, one of our customers who has achieved success with Server Side Tracking. By measuring conversions via the server, we managed to correctly attribute 20% more conversions to their marketing campaigns.

Edwin Bakker, owner of Onderdelenhuis.nl, is a big proponent of this technology. He noted, "Server Side Tracking has given us a new level of insight. We can now more accurately track which campaigns lead to conversions and this enables us to optimize our marketing efforts. The results are clear - with 20% more correctly attributed conversions, we have taken a significant step forward in our data-driven approach."

This case demonstrates that Server Side Events can help retailers make their marketing efforts more effective and increase their conversions.

Server Side Events at Afosto

At Afosto, we have recognized the power of Server Side Events and integrated it into our offerings. Our technology allows measuring events on a website via the server and forwarding these events to analytical tools like Google Analytics or email marketing tools like Klaviyo.

How Afosto integrates Server Side Events into their offering

At Afosto, we have developed our technology in such a way that integrating Server Side Events is seamless and efficient. Our system can track customer activities on the website, forward this information to the server, and then send the collected data to the desired analytical tool.

The beauty of our solution is that it is fully integrated into the Afosto system. This means that no extra software or complicated setups are required. You can simply continue to use your current analytical or marketing tools, but with the added value of more accurate and real-time data thanks to Server Side Events.

Specific benefits for Afosto customers - How Server Side Events help in scaling businesses

For our customers, the integration of Server Side Events into our system means a greater potential for business growth. By providing more accurate data, we can help our customers optimize their marketing efforts, leading to a higher ROI.

Moreover, thanks to real-time tracking, our customers can respond quickly to changes in customer behavior and trends, leading to a more proactive and efficient business operation.

All in all, by integrating Server Side Events into our systems, we at Afosto are taking a significant step forward in our mission to help retailers scale their businesses in a healthy and responsible manner.

Afosto's commitment to innovation and technology

Our implementation of Server Side Events is just one example of our commitment to innovation and technology. At Afosto, we believe in developing forward-thinking software solutions to help retailers scale their businesses in a healthy and responsible manner.

Our vision is to help ambitious retailers scale their businesses. We aim to build the best headless e-commerce, -search, and image optimization software. And the integration of Server Side Events into our system is a clear reflection of this vision.

By providing accurate and real-time data, we help retailers become more efficient, optimize their marketing efforts, and ultimately grow their businesses. This is completely in line with our mission to create efficient, user-friendly, well-documented, and beautifully designed software.

Other technologies that Afosto uses to help retailers

In addition to Server Side Events, we at Afosto also utilize other advanced technologies to support our customers. For instance, our headless e-commerce solution enables retailers to fully customize their online sales channels, leading to better user experiences and increased conversions.

Furthermore, our image optimization software is designed to help retailers deliver high-quality visuals without compromising on load speed and website performance.

Collectively, these technologies form a powerful toolkit that retailers can utilize to elevate their businesses to a higher level. And all of this is backed by the support and expertise of the Afosto team.

Server Side Tracking FAQ

Server Side Tracking is a technique in which user interactions or 'events' on a website are measured and processed via the server instead of via the client-side (the user's browser). This provides a more accurate and robust method of data collection, which is less susceptible to blocking by ad blockers or privacy settings.

Server Side Tracking is particularly useful for businesses that require accurate and real-time data to optimize their marketing efforts and results. By tracking data on the server side, you get a more complete picture of user interactions and can better align your campaigns with the needs of your target audience.

It depends on the context. Server Side Tracking provides a more robust and accurate method of data collection and is less susceptible to blocking by privacy tools. However, it can be more complex to implement and usually requires more technical expertise. It is often best to combine both methods in a hybrid approach.

Not necessarily. Server Side Tracking can actually help with compliance with privacy laws by reducing the need to use third-party cookies. However, it is still important to ensure that all data collected and processed complies with all relevant privacy laws and regulations.

The implementation of Server Side Tracking usually requires some technical expertise. You may want to consider using a service like Afosto, which offers Server Side Tracking as part of their suite of e-commerce solutions. This can help you reap the benefits of Server Side Tracking without having to worry about the technical details.

Written by
Sander Kah

I'm Sander, a SaaS entrepreneur with over 5 years of experience in co-owning and growing a software company, Afosto, that helps retailers succeed using smart and scalable software solutions. I'm also the co-founder of Sanwin Beachwear, an exclusive beachwear brand for men, and a pilot, flying Boeing 737 aircrafts across Europe and beyond. I'm passionate about creating value for my clients, partners, and customers, and seeing them achieve their business goals and reach new heights. When I'm not in the cockpit or the boardroom, I love to explore the world, kitesurf, and camp in my van. I'm always open to connect and exchange ideas with like-minded people, so feel free to reach out to me.

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