How to use website visitor tracking to your advantage
Implementing website visitor tracking will help you ensure you treat every visitor as a customer rather than a stranger. We look at what website tracking is, why it’s so important, and how to implement it.
When a visitor lands on your website, you want to be sure you deliver the best possible experience to push them to become a customer or spike their interest enough to warrant a return visit in the future.
To deliver a truly remarkable customer experience, it’s crucial to set up fully compliant website visitor tracking. Not only will this allow you to find out more about who your customers are, but you’ll get a view of which actions, content types, and marketing messages are driving conversions and better understand how you can improve user experience on your site.
In this article, we’ll explore what website visitor tracking is, the benefits, how to stay compliant, and how to implement and use it to your business’s advantage.
What is website visitor tracking?
Website tracking allows you to get an understanding of who has visited your website (e.g. demographic and geographic information) and what they’re doing while they’re there.
At a very basic level, website tracking happens with programs like Google Analytics where you can understand the volume and type of traffic on your website.
More advanced website tracking tools like Ortto allow you to get a deeper understanding of the user experience, how existing customers are interacting with your website, what kind of content visitors are engaged with, and even details like the company name of site visitors.
What is session association?
Session association allows you to identify visitors using activities that help with identification, like email clicks, capture forms, or starting a checkout in Shopify. When session association is set up, these activities will be attached to your known user’s profile and will be identified as a known user session rather than an unknown website session.
Session association helps you capture people who sign up to your website in Orttto without requiring a dedicated integration. Plus, by identifying the users on your page, you can send more targeted capture forms. For example, if they are known you will be able to show them a relevant deal. If they are unknown, you might prompt them to download an eBook or watch a demo.
How does tracking website visitors help my business?
Modern digital marketing relies on website visitor tracking to deliver personalized experiences not just on your website, but through retargeting campaigns on social media or search, email marketing, and more.
Here are just some of the benefits of implementing website visitor tracking:
1. Track known and anonymous visitor activity
All website visitors have a unique ID number and are initially treated as anonymous. With a tracking code, once a visitor has interacted with your website, they become ‘known,’ automatically transforming them from a stranger into a customer.
By tracking your known customers, you can generate a customer profile and record the entire journey they take with your product or service. All this information allows you to trigger them into the right customer journey for acquisition, onboarding, or retention.
2. Capture leads and contact data
With a tracking code in place, you can collect customer data through tools like web forms and automatically enter that data into your marketing automation software. With that data, you can trigger website visitors into a customer journey and start converting them from a lead into a buyer.
For example, when a visitor opts to sign-up for your blog, you can use a web form to capture their email address and, with a customer data platform like Ortto, your new contact will be automatically entered into a relevant audience segment and sent a welcome email, beginning their customer journey.
3. Identify popular posts and pages
By knowing what pages your visitors land on and the content they spend time with, you can identify what’s working and what’s not. With all your data sources integrated into one CDP, you can start to figure out which content types drive traffic or conversions, and replicate them to drive growth. Content that has a high bounce rate, you can consider optimizing titles, metadata, and load time to improve results.
Every post and page on your website should be optimized for search, and have a purpose within the customer journey. If you discover a page that no one lands on or reads, consider how you can update it for relevancy or search. You can also use A/B testing to trial different messaging and see which marketing messages or content types drive the most conversions.
4. Find the source of your traffic and leads
By implementing website visitor tracking, you can see the source of your traffic, whether it’s from direct, organic search, referral, display, social, backlinking efforts, advertising, or something else entirely. You can even break down traffic sources by geographic location, gender, demographics, interests, mobile, and more.
Understanding where your visitors come from helps to create targeted marketing strategies, like a location-specific promotion or a customer referral campaign. You can also start to track where your highest-converting traffic comes from and attribute revenue to different traffic sources.
5. Enable automatic UTM parameter tracking
UTM parameters are snippets of text that, when added to a link, tell tools like Google Analytics or Ortto more information about the visitor. You can track information such as where the visitor came from, what medium they engaged with, and what they’re interested in. When visitors click on one of these custom links, the unique parameters are displayed on your account for easy viewing.
Website visitor tracking and automation of UTM parameter tracking help when creating specific campaigns to convert users from leads to customers. For example, a UTM parameter can tell you which campaign led to sales and how many customers converted from a specific advertisement. These insights are crucial to making data-driven decisions about where to invest, and where to redirect.
6. Segment and score contacts based on website visits
Once you know how your customers are interacting with your website, you can start segmenting and scoring them based on behavior. With marketing automation software, you can create specific journeys that trigger when a known customer performs specific actions on your website.
For example, visitors who viewed the pricing page, but didn’t make a purchase could receive a promotional email a day after their interaction. In another scenario, a visitor who reads three or more blog articles could increase their lead score by one. This is especially beneficial for growing sustainably since email marketing has the highest return on investment. (Campaign Monitor, 2019)
7. Display personalized messages
Given that 71% of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal, giving your visitors a personalized experience should be top priority.
As your visitors start to browse through your website, you may want to give them an extra nudge or help guide them along on their journey. When combining a tracking code with marketing automation software, you can integrate pop-ups, forms, or chatbots that display in-app or on-site messages.
For example, you could automate a notification that explains your latest product release for any visitors scrolling through your features list. You could also give them the opportunity to fill out a form requesting help from your customer success team.
Alternatively, visitors who spend some time on a specific blog could be targeted with a form pop-up that offers them a free eBook on a relevant topic, enticing them to hand over their email address in exchange for the content. Or, like the Thrive Market example you see below, you could entice visitors who show exit intent with a free gift or offer.
How to stay compliant when tracking your website visitors
It’s important to ensure your website is compliant with all data compliance laws and that you stay on top of any new developments in the space. There are different laws around website tracking in different countries and states, including GDPR, CCPA, and LGPD. In addition, it’s important to ensure that data is stored and managed correctly.
When it comes to website tracking, staying compliant requires you to:
Follow rules around email and data protection laws There are different data protection laws in place in countries that are governed by GDPR or in states like California where the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is in place.
Do your due diligence to ensure that data, including email addresses, is stored and managed correctly. At Ortto, we are SOC 2, meaning we have been audited by an independent third party to ensure our customer’s data is protected and kept private from unauthorized users.
We also have HIPAA certification to ensure customers working in the health sector are compliant with the laws around protected health information. These certifications may or may not be relevant to your business, but no matter which industry your business is in, you need to ensure that you are doing due diligence and following the relevant laws and regulations around data protection.
Give leads the opportunity to opt out of marketing communications Email and SMS subscribers, for example, should include an unsubscribe option. All of the standard email, SMS, and email footer templates in Ortto include this option to ensure every message sent is compliant.
Implementing web visitor tracking with Ortto
Ortto’s tracking code enables you to track known and anonymous visitor activity, capture lead and contact data, and display targeted messages or capture widgets.
By default, a website session tracking code is created for all Ortto accounts, and you can find installation instructions by clicking on the website session tracking data source. If you’re using a data source like Shopify, BigCommerce or PrestaShop, your tracking code will be automatically installed and will work with no additional setup required.
User session association requires a tweak to the tracking code that is placed on your website. Visit our help pages to see which code needs to be replaced to associate a known user session by email address or external ID.
With this tracking code implemented, you’ll be able to:
Track known and anonymous visitor activity on any site with the code
Capture leads and contact data from nearly any web form
Display onsite messages on specific or all tracked pages
Enable automatic UTM parameter tracking
Segment and/or score contacts based on website visits
Display highly targeted in-product messages
Let’s say you run an ecommerce company that sells skincare products. You’re going to use Ortto to entice visitors who abandon their shopping cart to return and buy, and to nurture and reactive lapsed customers.
Here’s how website visitor tracking will help you achieve both goals:
1. Track anonymous and known visitor activity on your website
All visitors to your tracked pages are initially treated as anonymous and assigned a unique ID number.
In Ortto, once a visitor becomes known, all of their previous anonymous browsing history will be connected to their contact record. Plus, their future activity will appear alongside their known name in your activity feed.
As the contact engages with your website, content, and messages, Ortto tracks their interactions and aggregates them in her contact profile.
This contact record activity feed will help you understand your customer’s entire journey, targeting relevant messages at the right time, in the right place.
2. Capture leads directly into Ortto
So how do anonymous visitors turn into known contacts in the first place? With the tracking code in place, you unlock a number of key features that will enable you to ‘session’ or convert anonymous visitors into known contacts:
Let’s say your skincare company sends an email newsletter. After visiting your blog or being enticed by your remarkable website experience, visitors can subscribe to your newsletter from a number of pages or pop-ups on site.
Using Ortto’s form capture feature, you can collect form field data (e.g. first name, email) from any form that resides on a page that’s running the tracking code. You can then trigger automated journeys or update and segment your contacts upon form submission.
Another way to convert anonymous visitors into known users is using email engagement. When a contact who hasn’t already been sessioned clicks a link within an email sent using Ortto, the tracking code is embedded and the user is sessioned via their email address.
This allows you to track:
Contacts from uploaded email lists (e.g., from a trade show): You already have permission to email them. Now you can track their online behavior by getting them to click a link in your follow-up email campaign, which automatically embeds the tracking code.
Contacts who have cleared their browser cookies. Their email address may be in Ortto, but since the tracking code relies on cookies, their web visits register as anonymous.
Contacts who received the email in a different browser or device (i.e. Firefox instead of Chrome). Because each browser has its own cookies, Ortto won’t immediately recognize contacts browsing your website from a new browser. But if that contact clicks on a link in an email sent by Ortto from this new browser, the tracking code on the page clicked through to will associate the new cookies with your account, converting the contact from an anonymous visitor into a known visitor. The same principles apply to different devices.
The tracking code enables you to display onsite and in-app pop-up messages.
Pop-ups can be shown to anonymous visitors or known visitors. For example, our fictitious skincare store could display a variety of pop-ups messages:
Link shoppers to a 24-hour sale with a Countdown pop-up
Use a Survey to find out why a customer didn’t checkout after adding something to cart
Display a ‘how to find your size’ video when a user has been sitting on a product page for a certain amount of time
Give shoppers a 10% off coupon if they subscribe to your newsletter
Each time you set up a pop-up, you’ll want to consider the journeys your contacts are in, the actions they’ve taken, and their attributes. Taking those elements into account leads to personalized, contextual messaging.
3. Enable automatic UTM parameter tracking
UTM parameters are snippets of text that, when added to a link, tell Ortto (and other tools, like Google Analytics) more information about the visitor, such as where they came from, what medium they engaged with, and what they’re interested in. When visitors click on one of these custom links, the unique parameters are sent to your Ortto account for easy access.
Since Ortto’s tracking code captures UTM parameters from visits to web pages, you can find out how different campaigns are performing.
You can see whether your user visited a URL with a UTM parameter, and cross-reference UTM parameters with paying customers to find out which campaigns led to sales.
Ortto also captures UTM parameters included in links in emails sent via Ortto. The benefit of this is that UTM parameters can be captured when contacts click through to web pages that don’t have your tracking code.
Finally, with automated UTM parameter tracking, you can change a contact’s path in a journey using the ‘has visited page’ condition and/or the ‘is on list or segment’ condition.
4. Unlock the ability to segment contacts based on page visits
The tracking code monitors page visits, but it also makes it easy to segment contacts based on those page visits.
This opens up a world of possibilities for our skincare company when it comes to personalized marketing efforts:
Visitors to the Sunscreen page could, after five visits, receive an email with the top three items in that category
Visitors who viewed but didn’t buy the Sleeping Mask could receive an automated discount via email after a three-hour delay
Visitors who haven’t come back to the website for more than two days could receive a 20% discount
Visitors who view the events page could receive a personal invitation to an upcoming event, but only if they live in New York City, Brooklyn or Queens
5. Display highly targeted in-product messages
The tracking code not only unlocks personalized messaging for typical websites, but also for in-product experiences.
With that in mind, imagine our skincare company has launched an app that uses AI to analyze skin health and track it over time to see which products make a difference and how consistent use of sunscreen protects your skin from aging. We’re giving every customer a two-week free trial, and the opportunity to extend that free trial by one week if they recruit a friend.
In-product messages could include:
Personalized welcome email or pop-up message as soon as a person signs up for a free trial, asking them to invite a friend to score another free week
Notifications announcing new features
Proactive assistance from support after the tracking code picks up on a user visiting the help center
Conversion nudges to move to a paid plan when the user’s free trial is coming to an end
Targeted surveys and feedback forms to gather intel on the new product
Whether you are targeting ecommerce customers or product users, the website tracking code has you covered.
The final word
Adding a website tracking code is essential to tracking even the most basic information like website traffic and source, but with a powerful CDP and marketing automation platform like Ortto, it unlocks a whole world of growth.
To get started, visit our pricing page to compare plans and find the right solution for your business.