In our last post on Data Sources, we discussed how you can augment your online data by injecting offline (or non-web online data) into your SiteCatalyst data set. This post will build upon this topic by covering one of the most powerful new features of SiteCatalyst, Transaction ID.
What is Transaction ID
So what is Transaction ID? Transaction ID allows you to connect online and offline data by establishing a “key” that can tie the online visit to the offline success. For example, let’s say that you are a retailer and you sell three iPods to Joe Smith today. However, a week from now, what if Joe Smith returns two of the iPods. All of your online numbers will be inflated since they do not reflect product returns. In addition, you have a lot of online data about Joe including his Visit Number, which Campaign Tracking Code he came from, etc… All of these reports are now suspect since they don’t include product returns. So how do you fix this? One way would be to use Data Sources like we discussed in the last post, but you would have to manually identify Joe’s Visit Number, Campaign Tracking Code, etc… What a pain, especially since Omniture SiteCatalyst already has all of this information right up until the point that Joe purchases the three iPods. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way for SiteCatalyst to store all of that data somewhere so if we tell SiteCatalyst that Joe had a return, SiteCatalyst could, in effect, reverse out part or all of his transaction in all of these reports? Well, that is exactly what Transaction ID can do!
How Does Transaction ID Work?
So how does Transaction ID work this kind of magic? It’s not as hard as you would think. Using the example above, when Joe completes a purchase online, your developers would pass a unique “Transaction ID” (hence the name) to a special SiteCatalyst variable. When that happens, SiteCatalyst stores all known data for that Visitor in a separate table and uses the Transaction ID as the “key.” Later, when there is offline data related to that same Transaction ID uploaded (the product return in this example), all of the conversion data (i.e. Campaign Tracking Code, Visit Number, etc…) is associated with the newly uploaded metrics. This saves you the work of having to upload all of this supplemental data with the offline metrics like you would using traditional Data Sources.
Please note, that the example here is one of many ways you can use Transaction ID functionality. Here are a few more examples:
- A visitor fills out a lead form on your website and later purchases a product by phone. If you can connect the user’s online session and phone call together using an ID (i.e. e-mail address), you can see what online campaigns or referral sources led to the phone call, which led to the sale. This helps you justify your investment in online advertising.
- A visitor to a bank site completes a loan application online, but the bank needs a few weeks to determine if it will give them the loan. Using Transaction ID, the bank can upload the results (Loans Approved or Loans Declined) and see what campaigns or referral sources lead to Loan Approvals vs. Loan Declines in order to maximize online advertising budgets.
- A rental car company wants to see which campaigns lead to online car reservations vs. which lead to actual car rentals (offline)
- A retailer wants to test a new joint affiliate landing page so they ask visitors on that site to print off a digital coupon and bring it to their brick and mortar store. Using Transaction ID, they can associate each sale made at the store with the online source.
As you can see, there are many ways to use this feature, but the common theme is tying together online and offline behavior.
Important Things To Know About Transaction ID
So now that I have you all excited about Transaction ID, here are some of the caveats:
- Because Omniture has to store an extra table of data to make Transaction ID work, there are some additional fees involved. Your Account Manager can discuss this with you in more detail.
- By default, all Transaction ID data is stored for 90 days. This means that you have up to 90 days from the time you set the Transaction ID online to upload the related offline data. This timeframe has been adequate for most of my clients and can be extended if needed for a surcharge.
In this real-world example, we will look at a banking scenario. Let’s assume that a banking subsidiary of Greco Inc. (First Bank USA) is making a major push for new credit card customers. They are spending lots of money on paid search and display advertising. As a result, they are generating tons of online leads, representing visitors filling out credit card applications. Below is a report that they see from within SiteCatalyst:
As you can see, the “Lowest Rates” campaign is performing the best and the “Switch to First Bank USA” campaign is the most expensive. Based upon this information, the online marketing manager begins to spend more and more money on the “Lowest Rates” campaign and abandons the “Switch to First Bank USA” campaign.
However, after a few weeks, the marketing manager gets a report that their numbers for new credit card customers have not increased as expected. Given the high number of new leads, this doesn’t make sense, so they decide to dig into things further. Around this time, a marketing intern happens to read a cool blog about SiteCatalyst’s Transaction ID functionality and convinces First Bank USA decides to pass the application ID to the Transaction ID variable and then upload the results of each credit card application using the application ID as the “key.” After doing this, they looked at the same campaigns report, but included the newly created metric of “Approved Applications” and then created calculated metrics for “Approved/Completed Conversion %” and “Cost per Approved Application:”
Once they did this, they were able to see that the different campaigns had varying degrees of application approval such that some campaigns generated a lot of submitted applications, but not applications that First Bank USA deemed to be credit-worthy. In fact, when looking at the same campaigns as before, it was found that the “Lowest Rates” campaign that looked so promising before, actually had the worst Cost per Approved Application and that “Switch to First Bank USA” campaign that they stopped investing in, had the lowest Cost per Approved Application! By basing their analysis on only the online piece of the conversion process, First Bank USA had wasted much of its online marketing dollars on credit card leads that it didn’t want and stopped investing in campaigns that led to worthy candidates.
Hopefully this example shows you how important it is that you know about Transaction ID and how it can impact your online analyses. If you have other inventive ways you can think of to use this feature, please leave them here as comments…
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