Consider the following. You own a website and want to track your visitors from the moment they enter the website up until the moment they actually convert into a customer. Normally you would do this by either setting up Goals and Funnels or by using the E-Commerce module within Google Analytics. This works perfectly fine if your visitors actually become customers once they complete the process.
But what if the process doesn’t end at your website?
What if the nature of your business doesn’t allow users to complete their purchase online? They might simply send in a form for a price quotation or fill out a call me back form. How can you measure those?
Measuring non direct conversions
Several web analytics products provide solutions to this problem by allowing you to import data from your back-end system. This is ideal because you can analyze, in detail, what a visitor did on your website in the same way as you would analyze a full online conversion. All data on sources, behavior and trends are available so you can do pretty much anything you want. Unfortunately Google Analytics doesn’t allow you to import data into their system (except for Google Adwords), bummer…
Making the connection between your back-end system and Google Analytics
Since it is not possible to import data into Google Analytics, it’s key to extract the data from Google Analytics and be able to match this data to individual conversions in your back-end system. Extracting data from Google Analytics isn’t that hard using the API so I won’t go into detail on that here, but how are you able to make a connection between the data in the two systems?
Creating the connection
Google Analytics allows for Custom Variables to be set (Custom Variable documentation), these custom variables allow you to create a connection between the data in Google Analytics and the data in your back-end system. By creating a unique identifier for each visit (like a hash tag or something) you can post that variable both into a Custom Variable and into a hidden field within your price quotation form. By storing this hidden field in your back-end system you can later export all individual transactions including their unique visit id hash tag.
You can also request all data from the Google Analytics API by segmenting on that specific identifier. Allowing you to get a complete insight into what the user has done during their visit and how they got to your website. This can be especially interesting to analyze your traffic sources and used keywords and compare the difference between sources driving price quotations and sources driving actual conversions.