Collecting site outcome data

'Site outcome data' refers to a customer performing a significant action which is of value to the marketer. This is usually a transaction that is recorded. It involves more than downloading a web page, and is proactive. Key marketing outcomes include:

• registration to site or subscriptions to an e-mail newsletter;

• requests for further information such as a brochure or a request for a callback from a customer service representative;

• responding to a promotion such as an online competition;

• a sale influenced by a visit to the site;

When reviewing the efficiency of the different e-communications tools referred to in Chapter 8, such as search engine marketing, online advertising and affiliate marketing, it is important to assess the outcomes generated. Measuring quantity of clickthroughs to a site is simplistic, it is conversion to these outcomes which should be used to assess the quality of traffic. To achieve this 'end-to-end' tracking, two main tools are used, first using cookies to identify the visitor across different sessions and secondly using tracking IDs within URLs to identify a user session.

An important aspect of measures collected offline is that the marketing outcomes may be recorded in different media according to how the customer has performed mixed-mode buying. For example, a new customer enquiry could arrive by e-mail, fax or phone. Similarly, an order could be placed online using a credit card, or by phone, fax or post. For both these cases what we are really interested in is whether the web site influenced the enquiry or sale. This is a difficult question to answer unless steps are put in place to answer it. For all contact points with customers staff need to be instructed to ask how they found out about the company, or made their decision to buy. Although this is valuable information it is often intrusive, and a customer placing an order may be annoyed to be asked such a question. To avoid alienating the customer, these questions about the role of the web site can be asked later, perhaps when the customer is filling in a registration or warranty card. Another device that can be used to identify use of the web site is to use a specific phone number on the web site, so when a customer rings to place an order, it is known that the number was obtained from the web site. This approach is used by Dell on its site.

It will be apparent that to collect some of these measures we may need to integrate different information systems. Where customers provide details such as an e-mail address and name in response to an offer, these are known as 'leads' and they may need to be passed on to a direct-sales team or recorded in a customer relationship management system. For full visibility of customer behaviour, the outcomes from these systems need to be integrated with the site-visitor activity data.

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