Shopify Server Side Tagging

Server-Side-Tagging is a data collection and processing method that we will be talking a lot about over the upcoming years. And probably it will also be the main way of data-processing.

What is Server-Side Tagging

Server-side tagging is actually not a new concept as it has been around since the beginning of web analytics. However, we started to hear more and more about it after user privacy and cookie restrictions became a major concern, especially with Apple’s updates.

The majority of data collecting and processing tools including Google Tag Manager works on the client-side, i.e. in the browser such as Google Chrome. When you visit a website, cookies are loaded, processed, and sent through your browser. That’s why if a user is running an ad or cookie blocker; tracking won’t work correctly.

The way Server-Side-Tagging works is quite different. It adds an extra layer to the process and runs the requests through a first-party server. Basically, the data is being collected and run through your own server before it is sent to an external party such as Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel. This comes with lots of benefits including the following.

Benefits of Server Side Tagging

  • Reduce the page load:
  • One of the major negative effects on your page speed is caused by third-party JavaScript libraries such as Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, and many others. Instead of loading five different scripts on your site, you will only load and send one script to your server and it will be processed there and shared with third parties. In this way, your server-side setup does the heavy lifting and you are not adding a lot of load on your visitor’s browsers.
  • Reduce the impact of ad blockers:
  • Many ad blockers block client-side cookies and scripts. Server-side tagging also helps with that. The adblockers might be able to block requests but they will not block your own subdomain’s requests.
  • Safari & iOS 14 friendly
  • Because of Apple's updates, using cookies and tracking became harder than ever in Safari and iOS apps. You can extend cookies’ life by relying on server-side tagging. It also won’t be affected by iOS blocking third-party cookies.
  • More control on the data:
  • As you are processing the data on your server instead of sending it directly to third party libraries, you can control what is being sent. As an example, the Facebook Pixel tag might collect a lot of information about your users. However, you only need to send a certain amount of data-set such as purchase details. You can do this filtration on your server-side setup easily.
  • More PII friendly:
  • PII stands for Personally identifiable information (PII). This includes the type of information that you can use to identify a specific individual user. Examples could be an email address, name, surname, and social security number. The server-side-tagging would be more PII friendly as you can control every piece of data that is being collected and sent.

Why Use Server Side Tagging for Shopify Stores

Most Shopify stores rely on Facebook and Instagram as their primary marketing channel and revenue source.

It is crucial to have accurate data to understand your target audience’s behavior and to improve your marketing ROI. As an example, you should be sending your purchase and visitor data in the best possible way to Facebook if you are running Facebook Ads. In this way, you can see your best-performing campaigns, and it will also help Facebook in optimizing your ads according to your data.

So, let’s have a closer look at Facebook’s data collection method:

  • Facebook Pixel: works on user’s browser.
  • Facebook Conversion API: works on server-side.

Facebook allows and encourages you to use both of these data sources and merge them on your Facebook Business Manager.

How to Setup Server-Side Tagging for Shopify Stores

Server-Side-Tagging is a long technical process. Analyzify’s server-side-tagging add-on will be available in a few weeks. For a one-time fee:

  • Analyzify will integrate related code in your store,
  • Analyzify team will create your Google Cloud account for collection,
  • Also, create a server-side Google Tag Manager (sGTM) account,
  • All compatible tags will be merged and moved to your new sGTM account,
  • The data will be validated in the upcoming days,
  • And setup will be pushed to production.

The analyzify team will also walk you through your sGTM setup and provide you with a detailed video series for your specific setup.