Guest blog by Yard
If you work in the world of digital, it’s likely you’re familiar with the term ‘data layer’, but perhaps you’re wondering what exactly it means. To put it simply, data layers make data collection more efficient and reliable, compiling all data in one place to make it easier to understand website usage and performance. It’s a list of all your business’ website requirements in formats that can be understood by both your IT team and your client.
Most analytics packages will collect data as standard but this can be minimal. Using a data layer instead allows you to combine the information recorded by various tracking tools that may already be in place on a site (i.e. Google Analytics and a Facebook pixel).
As a result, data layers can help you make informed decisions about your marketing activity in many ways, by collecting additional information to show the effectiveness of your marketing activity and how customers are using your website.
This blog will give you an initial understanding of what data layers are and how to create them.
What is a Data Layer?
A data layer acts as the single point of reference for the information that needs to be collected by your Tag Management System. The system then sends it out to any third-party technologies you already have implemented. In simpler terms, you can specify the exact information you want to collect about how your website is used by site visitors. The data layer then collates this information and sends it to other programmes to package this data for easy analysis.
How to Create and Implement a Data Layer
Firstly, you’ll want to determine your KPIs. Once these are defined, you can then consider what kinds of data points you need to collect. With that determined, you can finally design your solution.
Creating a data layer will be different for each company, but any individual or team with a requirement for the data, or those responsible for its design and implementation, should be involved. Teams who should be consulted include:
- Analytics/Data and Insight
- Data Science
- Business Intelligence
Beyond these initial teams, it’s a good idea to make sure that the wider business is at least aware of the plan so the opportunity for input is available to all.
Next, you’ll want to decide on the design of your data layer. It’s your development and IT teams who will most likely be involved in this part of the process but generally, the agreed design will either be a flat data layer or a multi-layer object. While a flat data layer entails all the project properties being a direct property of the variable, the latter has multiple levels of different groups of data.
Once you’ve clarified what your business requirements will be as well as the format of your data layer, it’s time to choose what data points you’ll add. You should consider all current business requirements as well as potential future ones too. If a requirement or KPI is a complex one, it’s likely that measuring performance will require several data points.
However, regardless of your industry, there are some variables which are commonly agreed to always feature. These include:
- Page URL
- Page path
- Page category
- Campaign code
Creating a data layer is a continuous process and one you should revisit and update as your business requirements evolve. Succeed in doing this and you can improve the information you collect and report on, reduce work being duplicated across teams and make more informed and savvy marketing decisions.
Now that you have learned a bit about the basics of data layers, why not take a closer look with this in-depth guide to data layers?