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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Real-World Exam­ple
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…


Have a ques­tion about any­thing related to Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst?  Is there some­thing on your web­site that you would like to report on, but don’t know how?  Do you have any tips or best prac­tices you want to share?  If so, please leave a com­ment here or send me an e-mail at insidesitecatalyst@​omniture.​com and I will do my best to answer it right here on the blog so every­one can learn! (Don’t worry — I won’t use your name or com­pany name!).  If you are on Twit­ter, you can fol­low me at http://​twit​ter​.com/​O​m​n​i​_​man.

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Hi Adam, I'm contacting ClientCare now. Something I noticed is that the event works as expected in Discover but not in SiteCatalyst. Is the imported data only connected to the Visitor and not the Visit or could it be that the event needs some setting that I can't set from the Admin Console?


Hi Adam, Great post. We have been starting to do some tests with transactionID to track offline sales. But when breaking down the offline sales event in any report, for example the Search Keywords report, all the sales get listed as None. But when we break it down in Products it works fine. What could be the problem here?

Adam Greco
Adam Greco

If it is uploaded within 90 days, that should not be the case. I would speak to Client Care or your Account Manager...