What is a tracking plan?

Andy Jiang on November 10th 2016

A tracking plan is a document or spreadsheet that’s used across an organization, serving as both a project management tool as well as a reference document. It generally contains three key pieces of information:

  1. the events (and their properties) to track,

  2. where in your code base and/or app to track them, and

  3. the business justification for tracking them

Once the above are written into the tracking plan, the product engineer can go ahead and add the events into the right places in the code base.

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Want an example of a tracking plan? Get a Segment customer’s tracking plan to guide you, courtesy of Mention.

Why create a tracking plan?

Going through the exercise of creating a tracking plan will encourage your team to think about the unknowns in your business or customer base and how to answer those unknowns. Additionally, if you’re launching a new feature or product, it’ll help you both set metrics-driven goals and list assumptions that need to be invalidated.

On an organizational level, having all stakeholders opine on the tracking plan will align everyone behind using the data later to provide a thorough retrospective, as well as to inform future decision making.

What events should I track?

The best approach towards speccing out analytics is to identify what exactly you want to learn (or conversely, what you don’t know) about your business or product. Asking these questions encourages a more targeted and structured approach to determining which events to include.

A common starting place is to look at your funnel. What are the key steps?

At Segment, we started out tracking these events:

  • Signed Up

  • Project Data Sent

  • Subscription Started

Each of these events signal a discrete step that a user has taken towards activating. In capturing these events, we can identify the biggest drop offs between stages, which would be a starting point in exploratory analysis as to what needs to be fixed.

Of course, every business is different! Figure out which events are critical pieces of your funnel and start there.

Achieving data-informed growth

Understanding the need to frontload your data and analytics planning is the first step towards a data-driven culture. When everyone agrees on which data to collect and how to make decisions based on that data, data reconciliation, skepticism, and other organizational overhead is eliminated.

If you’re interested in learning how to create your own tracking plan, this guideprovides details around:

  • the data philosophies that inform how we decide which events, properties, and traits are included

  • the importance of having a consistent naming convention

  • ways to think about what should be an event vs. what should be a property

If you want to get started immediately, check out an example of a Segment customer’s tracking plan.

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