Getting Started With Server-Side Tracking in Elevar

Learn how to launch server-side tracking for your Shopify store in minutes.

Getting Started With Server-Side Tracking in Elevar

Brad Redding

Brad Redding is the Founder & CEO of Elevar. Specializing in analytics, tracking, GTM, and conversion optimization.

The world of server-side tracking will continue to evolve in 2022 due to the rapid changes happening in our industry:

  • More cookie restrictions making targeting and attribution more painful
  • Client-side tracking accuracy declines leaving marketers looking for answers
  • Compliance requirements grow causing confusion on configuring legally compliant tagging without adversely impacting data collection
  • Compliance with “consent management” through integrations adapted for server-side tracking environments
  • Marketing platform API integrations for maintaining the latest performance metric reporting

Server side tagging is central to accurate behavior tracking for Shopify stores.

We’ve been at the forefront of innovation and integrations for server side tracking with Shopify stores and you can rely on Elevar to remain on top of these trends and any changes.

In Q1 2021 we started piloting our own server-side tracking setup that we initially named “Fully Managed” ( i.e. Elevar handles the management, scaling, billing, etc. of the servers).

We also started asking customers if they want to manage their own GTM Server-Side container or utilize Elevar’s (fully-managed) server?

The results:


It became clear to us that a majority of merchants don’t have the technical resources, knowledge, or time to manage their own GTM server-side container, which requires:

  • Keeping up with Google Cloud version instances and scaling
  • Billing management (this alone caused major GTM outages in August 2021 due to a Google policy change with limited notice to customers)
  • Error log troubleshooting
  • Manual client and template uploads into GTM to keep up with the latest integration requirements

Based on client feedback, and the complexity of setting up and managing a GTM container, we support two versions of server side tagging: one using an Elevar server (our Advanced and above plans) and another for merchants that want to use their own GTM server.

All Elevar clients (any paid plan) are able to choose the Server-Side option (in-app) that best fits their needs.

A Closer Look at Elevar’s Two Server Side Solutions

The following outlines some of the new enhancements to server side tracking with the differences between using our server and the client’s own GTM server.

Elevar’s fully managed server-side solution

This option provides the benefit of server-side tracking without the hassle of having to own and maintain a Google Cloud server that is connected to your GTM server-side container type.

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You handle all of the configuration of your source (e.g. orders via Shopify webhooks) and destinations (e.g. Facebook Conversion API) directly in the Elevar dashboard:

Screen Shot 2021-12-02 at 11.41.11 AM

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We provide all of the advanced configurations necessary to ensure you have at least 95% accuracy in your server-side destinations (plus we monitor and provide an alert if tracking ever drops below 95%).

Sources & Destinations:

  • Sources: A Source is one single stream of data that feeds into the Elevar server-side data engine. Data sources include shopper browsing behavior on the site and Shopify transactions via webhooks.
  • Destinations: Server-Side Destinations are where data is sent. These are typically synonymous with the marketing pixel integrations like Facebook, Google Ads, Google Analytics, TikTok, etc.

The Source and Destination feature allows merchants a point-and-click way to enable server-side tracking inside the Elevar dashboard without any complex engineering or integrations with the store!

We support:

  • Sources that collect data from the shoppers’ browsing behavior via our data layer and Shopify webhooks (ex. purchases)
  • Destinations for Facebook Conversion API, Google Analytics, GA4, plus beta integrations for TikTok, Impact, and Voluum

All of our Destinations default to using webhooks to listen for order creation.

The big benefits to this are:

  1. Conversion tracking is completely removed from the browser and is nearly 100% accurate
  2. Purchases and purchase data that happen in any Shopify Channel (ex. Online Store, Recurring Orders, Facebook Shop, Instagram Shop, etc) can be sent to any destination

Choosing your own GTM server-side container

This option allows you the flexibility to create and manage a Google Cloud server that is connected to your GTM server-side container.

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You’ll notice in the image above there is an extra step required.

This is the process of importing and configuring the various pre-built client templates and tags inside your GTM server-side container.

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Once you’ve imported and published our data sources to your GTM server-side container then you can:

  • Launch the pre-built tags we support in your Destinations
  • Add your own custom tags that can tap into our data sources and events (ex. webhook orders from Shopify admin)

For merchants that want to maintain their own GTM server side container, we added Sources and Destinations support. The main differences for merchants that maintain their own GTM server are:

  1. Instead of configuring destination details inside of Elevar (like how to manage recurring orders for subscriptions), this is done inside the client’s GTM container
  2. Clients administer the Google Cloud App Engine instances connected to their GTM server-side container

In summary, server side tracking is the direction the industry is heading.

Whether you want to use our server or your own, Elevar has a solution.

Ready to get started with a server-side implementation?

Book a call with us, or sign up and start testing your own server-side setup.

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