Overview of user tracking

Let’s look one step further in our way to track users (continuing from http://alleko.com/2010/01/07/tracking-users-or-traffic/ )

How else you can track customers of your site:

  • web analytics (they normally use cookies and URL parameters)
  • e-commerce engine (user must in most cases create login for buying something, but even without logins the e-shop software could use cookies to track customers)
  • user account, you can ask user identify hiself somehow, for example giving email address before downloading a trial. Normally user is identified by email

But all those methods could work in parallel! Let’s consider a following scenario of a person, who wishes to find and buy some software:

  1. He’s using Google to search for a brand name and find a nice article on a MEGA IT-site about the software. He clicks on it, reads the review and clicks on “Buy now” affiliate link. (At this moment affiliate network system is registering this guy as user, coming from an affiliate partner MEGA-IT)
  2. The guy is having second thoughts, opens a Google window and searching for best deal on the software. He clicks then on the first link, which is direct link to the customer e-shop. (Smart e-shop software should remember him as a client of MEGA-IT, of course, but Google Analytics script doesn’t know that and can think that this guy came from Google)
  3. The guy suddenly sees a button “Free 30-days trial” on the e-shop and decides to profit from it. He fills his email, downloads the software and after a couple of days buys it, using direct link in the software itself. (The e-shop system registers him as converted trial user)

So, who was responsible for this user – Affiliate MEGA-IT, Google or trial? It’s very hard to find out, because the whole system of managing sales is not streamlined. There is no feedback from user to the vendor, only clicks via different web-sites. The possible solution could be the model of Steam. After the first click we should somehow made user install the agent software, which will track user activities, from trial to purchase. Then we’ll know for sure, where this guy came from.

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