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I’ve had a few people ask me recently, if they do B2B sales, how can they track users who have purchased from them offline.

This is a real problem if you are investing in digital marketing and want to use a data-backed approach.

Lets say you have a mixture of B2C and B2B visitors on your website, and your B2C customers are transacting online whereas your B2B customers are transacting offline (i.e. you’re sending them an invoice). You now only have transaction data from the B2C group because they’re the only ones converting on your website.

As your digital marketing optimisation progresses, you will optimise for revenue, which in the case of your data implies your B2C group. But this can be a big problem because they’re probably not spending as much money as your B2B clients.

So one example of this is a client who has two very distinct markets, a B2C market who are buying products in the $60-90 price range and then a B2B market who are buying products in the $300-3,000 price range. While this is simplistic and there is some range of overlap, the larger transactions are often taking place over the phone or in person whereas the smaller transactions are taking place on the website.

This can be an awful situation if you’re trying to optimise your ads because now you don’t know which people are transacting and which are not; which are your highest value prospects. The advertising platform’s algorithm or your own bidding could be discounting the users who are actually your best users because you thought they didn’t convert when they actually did; its just that they converted offline.

Learn more by watching the video:

Keep reading if this video is relevant for you because I have more to say on the topic below than what I said on the video.

If you were willing to manually add the conversions for these users into your data (and there are ways to do this) you would still need to know which users to add the conversions to and that is the hard part.

I was talking with a client in this boat this week, and I had an idea that would hopefully help to address the issue depending on how it was implemented. Essentially what you want to do is have a secret page on your website that only your offline purchasers know about.

(By secret I mean one that you are not directing any paid traffic to, has “noindex” for organic search and cannot be found by following links on your website).

If you can direct people to go to that page after they have completed a purchase then you can track them.

OK, so how could you get them to go to your secret page? (I didn’t go into enough detail in the video).

Here are some ideas:

  • An ethical bribe. If you offer your purchasers a gift, many people will want to redeem the gift. If you ask them to fill in a form when they get there then you can be sure that it really is your paying customer before posting something out. The gift doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be something that your user would want. Track any users who come to the page. If you want to sort them by revenue you could have different gifts depending on how much they spent and you can assign a different value to each page in your Google Analytics goals.
  • If you can provide a link to their invoice on your website or if you have an invoicing provider that enables Google Analytics tracking on the viewing of the invoice then you can track users who view an invoice (I’ve never seen this, but some bookkeeping software might even track revenue to Google Analytics).
  • If you can supply some kinds of educational materials, technical manuals, “how to” or support, but add links to these documents on a client-only secret page, then you can track users who reach that page.
  • If you sell a service, you could send users to a specific page on your website as part of their onboarding, or to get status updates (embed an iframe on a page from your project management software) if you are happy for your clients to see how the project is tracking.
  • If you set up an automated system to send an email with a link to a secret page to every new B2B client you could even hook up your invoicing system with your email system via zapier or webhooks to pass the transaction value into a field on your email system which then populates a URL parameter on the link. This would look like https://www.yourdomain.com/yoursecretpage?v=568756485 (v can be whatever you like, I am using it to imply ‘value’ and the number can be representative of the financial value of that client). You could set Google Tag Manager to read the value you had passed and unhash it if you have obscured the original value. This way you could actually dummy up an Ecommerce Transaction in Google Analytics via a Google Tag Manager tag reading your URL parameters.

If that’s all Greek, I completely understand! This is tricky stuff. Best bet is to book a discovery call with me.

On client IDs

I also mentioned in the video that it would be a good idea to collect a client ID. You’d want to store it as a custom dimension. The value of collecting the client ID is that if you’re doing large B2B transactions you’d be able to monitor whether VIP purchasers are coming back to your website so that you can send them a friendly email enquiring how they are going. It helps if you have a way of identifying who that VIP is based on their client ID as it is a breach of Google Terms of Service to collect their personally identifiable data within Google Analytics.

Important Note: This shouldn’t be unethical or stalkerish in any way if done professionally. Update your privacy policy if you use client IDs or cookies to identify individuals on your website.

An example I have of this is a client online retailer who sells B2C but has several B2B wholesalers who buy from them regularly. Their wholesalers’ client IDs are used to filter users into retail users and wholesale users so that the wholesalers are not included as part of their remarketing audience.

More things to try

Here are some more things you might be interesting in trying if you have a B2B audience:

Another way to identify the B2B clients coming to your website is by using a service like Leadfeeder who attempts to identify the businesses based on their IP address. I posted an article about using Leadfeeder here. You’d want to follow these ones up with email.

If you use a website call tracking software like Delacon, it has a cool feature whereby your sales person can mark a user as converting after ending the phone conversation. This conversion can be added as a Google Analytics goal and passed into Google Ads.


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Brett Leggett Brett Leggett ✪ eCommerce Growth Specialist Ecommerce Google Ads April 23, 2020

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