In the BlueConic customer data platform, you can use External Trackers to track customer or visitor activity outside of the domains defined in your BlueConic tenant, for example to record whether someone has viewed a newsletter, email, or web page or whether a hyperlink has been clicked. It can also be used in social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc. to be able to track the social origin of visitors to your channels). Within one External Tracker you can define several tracking elements.
Watch the video: External Trackers Overview
Types of external trackers in BlueConic
There are two types of tracking elements available in BlueConic: tracking URLs and tracking pixels.
A tracking URL is a substitute for another URL. When a visitor opens the tracking URL, BlueConic creates a visitor profile, registers a click, sets profile properties, optionally creates a Timeline event, and then routes the visitor to the original URL.
A tracking pixel is a transparent image with a dimension of 1 x 1 pixels, typically used as a beacon on external pages. A reference to the URL of a tracking pixel can be added to HTML.
If the pixel does not contain a unique, identifiable property, and the visitor doesn't have an active profile yet, profile property values to be added or set based on the pixel settings are stored in a cookie that is valid for a year. If, during this year, the visitor visits a site where the BlueConic script is active, a profile is created, and the data stored in the cookie is persisted in the profile.
For known profiles or known identities, BlueConic can create or update a user profile.
- When the HTML containing the tracking pixel is opened in a browser and the pixel contains an identifiable or unique property in its query string (such as an email address), a persistent profile is created immediately.
- When the HTML containing the tracking pixel is opened in a browser where the visitor already has a BlueConic profile, profile property values are added or set in the profile right away. You can optionally choose to create a BlueConic timeline event when an existing profile views a page that contains the tracking pixel. The owner channel for a tracking pixel should be set to the channel on which the tracking pixel is placed, and the channel can be of any type.
For example, if someone views content containing a tracking pixel, BlueConic can capture an event, and the viewer does not need to click in the page in order for that event to be captured.
External trackers can be added to Objectives, allowing for privacy or consent management of the information that is being tracked. The external tracker only updates a profile if the visitor consented to at least one of the objectives linked to the external tracker. Properties that are defined by the tracker are only persisted if the objectives of the tracker and the profile match.
Creating an External Tracker
An external tracker is a group of tracking URLs and tracking pixels. Select More > External trackers from the BlueConic navigation bar, and click the button Add external tracker to create a new group of external trackers.
Enter a name for the external tracker and select a tracking channel. The tracking channel defines which channel will be attributed for visitors following URLs or viewing pixels. This is a required field, because the external tracker will not function without a defined tracking channel.
Creating tracking URLs
Create a new tracking URL by clicking the button Add tracking URL:
Start by clicking "Select Url" and entering the URL of the target page where you want to send visitors that follow the link.
Next, define profile properties rules. These rules allow you to store information in a visitor's profile when the URL is being clicked.
You can create rules to store static values:
Or you can create rules to store dynamic values taken from query string parameters in the tracking URL.
For example, let's assume that you would like to keep track of the newsletter id in a visitor's profile when the visitor clicks a link in a newsletter. Using the templating engine of your email service provider (ESP) you are able to add the newsletter id to any link. The ESP mailing template would contain something like this:
<a href="https://acme.blueconic.net/s/5d?nl_id=%%newsletter_id%%">click here</a>
A visitor clicking the link in the newsletter would open a URL like:
To pick up the dynamic "nl_id" query string parameter from that URL and add it to a profile property "Newsletters", add a rule like this:
This lets you pass individualized information from your ESP to BlueConic via tracking URLs. You can add as many query string parameters to the tracking URL as you want. Only parameters mentioned in rules will be picked up. As a security measure, query string parameters added to the tracking URL will not be passed on or appended to its target URL.
Your visitors may sometimes share URLs, for example by forwarding newsletters. Exercise caution in picking up uniquely identifiable information from URLs into profile properties that are used for profile merging.
If you need immediate access to this feature for Open-Time Email Recommendations, reach out to your Customer Success Representative for assistance.
Adding Timeline events: You can also add events to the profile Timeline using tracking URLs. In the Timeline event field, you add the event and which values to add. For example, to create a Timeline event using the default Timeline event type Email opened, you select the Event type and add the properties to be set in that event:
To generate the tracking URL, click Save.
- Tracker URL: This is the actual tracker URL for use in external communications. This is a base URL; dynamic parameters may be added as a query string, e.g. https://acme.blueconic.net/s/5d?nl_id=6647&c=Gnu%20Inc.
QR code: Click on "view" in the table to open a tooltip with the QR code. The QR code is available in different sizes. Select the required size from the drop-down list and save the QR code image (by right-clicking on the image and choosing "save image") to use it in other media.
- Target URL: Click to modify the target URL for the Tracking URL. If a visitor clicks the Tracking URL or scans the QR code they will be redirected to this URL. If needed, the target URL can be changed later.
- Profile properties: You can specify one or more profile properties that need to be set when a visitor enters your channels via a tracking URL.
- Timeline event: You can define BlueConic timeline events to be set when a visitor enters your channels via a tracking URL. Learn more about BlueConic Timeline events.
Copy and delete: When you hover your mouse over the last column, copy and delete buttons appear.
The copy button copies your Target URL and the profile properties settings so you can edit these. Then (after saving the tracker) a new tracking URL and QR code are generated. The delete button deletes that Tracking URL from the list. Learn more about Copying and Deleting Rules.
Creating tracking pixels
You can add Tracking Pixels to your external tracker by clicking the Add tracking pixel button. This adds a new line to the Tracking pixel table.
Tracking pixels work in similar ways to tracking URLs. The table contains the following columns:
- Tracker URL: This is the URL of the tracking pixel. Add the link to this pixel to your HTML code to track all viewers of this pixel. Like tracking URLs above, you can add dynamic parameters as a query string.
Profile properties: You can specify one or more profile properties that need to be set, when a visitor that already has a BlueConic profile views the tracking pixel. You can select a profile property and define the value that needs to be stored. Enter a static value or enter the name of a query string parameter that will contain a dynamic value. For example, add a parameter "Opened" and a value to the query string of the tracking pixel URL like this:
to be able to pick it up like this:
- Timeline event: You can define BlueConic timeline events to be set when a visitor who already has a BlueConic profile views the tracking pixel. Learn more about BlueConic Timeline events.
Copy and delete: When you hover the mouse over the last column, copy and delete buttons appear.
The copy button creates a new Tracking pixel with the same profile property settings. It allows for quick creation of a new pixel when only small changes in the profile property settings need to be made. The delete button deletes that Tracking pixel from the list. Learn more about copying and deleting rules.
Tracking URLs and tracking pixels result in views, clicks, and conversions. These actions should be attributed to one of your channels. Search or enter your Tracking channel to establish the attribution.
Note that if a user views content containing a tracking pixel, BlueConic can capture an event, and the viewer does not need to click in the page in order for that event to be captured.
Saving, copying, or deleting an external tracker
As with most objects in BlueConic, you can save, copy, or delete external trackers using the Save button menu.
Learn more about Save, Save As, and Delete.
In the right-hand sidebar, the Related items widget shows the other BlueConic objects that are directly related to the external tracker you are managing. External trackers can have the following types of related items:
- Channels: The tracking channel for this external tracker.
- Profile properties: The profile properties that are set by this external tracker.