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#Hashtag Mindblown

Game changer. You hear it a lot in online marketing. Everything happens, changes and updates so fast that as soon as people have their head around the latest ‘game changer’ the game has just been changed. Again.

As a result I don’t want to use the term lightly. However, when I started to look and experiment with ideas surrounding the latest ‘game changer’ a whole new world opened up to me… hashtag; mind blown! The game changer I’m referring to is one of the new features within Universal Analytics that’s only beginning to be explored. The game changer I speak of is offline conversion tracking. “Offline conversion tracking?! No way?! #Hashtag Mindblown!” I hear you say?

Yep. It’s big.

Let me begin by throwing a fairly normal scenario at you. A customer comes to find ‘Website A’ through a referral from Facebook. They look through the catalogue and get their head around the products on the website before life gets in the way and their phone rings; they close the browser down and walk away.Two days later they are browsing the internet when they notice a Remarketing advert following them around from Website A, so they click through and do some further online price comparison. They feel they are getting closer to a purchase decision, but need more time. A whole week goes by before they type the product name into Google and find the Website A again, this time organically. Now they are sure and they commit to purchasing. However, this particular user decides they want to travel into the bricks and mortar shop and put through the transaction in the traditional way. They hand their cash over the counter and walk out with their product and they’re feeling pretty good. In this scenario Google Analytics would have marked down three separate website visits on three separate occasions. That is; one referral visit, one visit through from the AdWords Remarketing campaign and finally, to top it all off, one organic session. But no measurable goal has been resulted online.

Now it’s fair to say that the complete digital strategy of this particular company has done its job. I think it’s fair to say that the online marketing guru should get some credit for the hard work put into the campaign strategy, even if the sale did get processed in the physical realm. On the other side of the coin, the business owner is looking at the sales from the shop front and thinking to themselves, “We’ve had a busy day today. Life is good.”

With Universal Analytics we can now do some really cool things. What if I told you that through the use of Universal Analytics new tracking mechanism we were able to stamp that visitor with a (non-identifiable) unique customer ID? What would that mean for our data? Well for starters the three individual sessions recorded by Analytics could all be attributed to the same user. This is important, because it now means we can easily measure the success of a full digital strategy. The Facebook campaign, AdWords campaign and SEO strategy can all be measured in their success to work together. No longer do you have to look at each strategy as a silo for funnelling users to your website. We can begin to look at the bigger picture, better target people and better understand how each piece of the puzzle fits into the grand scheme of the all important buying cycle.

Now (drum roll please…) it’s time for the game changer. . What if I were to tell you that we could take this one step further? What if I were to tell you that the unique customer ID given to the user who first engaged through Facebook could be tracked all the way to the checkout? What if I were to tell you we could not only track this ID at the point of sale, but also send that information back into Universal Analytics and look at how people engage with your business from start to finish? Well, now we can. #Hashtag MindBlown.

In theory it’s quite simple. Through the means of a loyalty card, an App, a QR code or an RFID tag we can now begin to allow people to carry this customer ID around with them in their pocket, scan it at point of sale and then look at the bigger picture from beginning to end. This idea itself could be the subject of books let alone an article. In future articles I will elaborate on how this could, should and will look. But for now, imagine the bigger picture.

This actually is a real game changer. This development gives us the ability to bridge the gap between online and bricks and mortar. It allows us to tap into the void that for so long has been filled with hunches and assumptions. We can follow a purchase through the buying cycle, from the recognition of the need all the way through to the point of purchase. It opens up doors to allow us as marketers to become more creative with our strategy. It allows us to work on, build, implement and measure full service digital strategy that can be measured at any point along the way. Not only that, it allows us to look at how this interacts with all other aspects of a marketing strategy and correlates this within the framework of Google Analytics.

This game changer allows us to gather data on all aspects of the buying cycle. Further to this, it allows us to change our philosophy on conversion tracking. No longer do we have to attribute a conversion or sale to just one method of acquisition. Instead we can look at almost every conversion as an assisted conversion. Better yet, we can measure it.

What that means is we can see exactly how each and every part of the online marketing strategy works together to bring home the bacon. #Hashtag Mindblown.

This article was recently featured in Optimise Magazine – a specialist industry publication packed full of online marketing tips and tricks for business owners and entrepreneurs. Order your free copy here.