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October 17, 2006


Via a post on Stowe Boyd's blog, Genius.com's SalesGenius is brought to my attention. At first glance, I thought this was just another bulk e-mail marketing tool with post-click web analytics built in, but they're doing something slightly more interesting here, by tracking the clicks from e-mails sent by company sales reps and then presenting post-click path data in quite a nice way.

SalesGenius provides an Outlook plug-in which enables any e-mail to be 'sent via SalesGenius'. I assume that this routes the e-mail via SalesGenius's servers which insert tracking code into the links in the e-mail. When (if) the recipient clicks on one of those links, a cookie gets dropped and their post-click behaviour is tracked.

So far, so ho hum. But interestingly, SalesGenius requires that you add no code to your site. So how do they capture the post-click page information? Capturing the first click is easy enough, by redirecting it through their server - this is how almost all adservers capture click data. But all the ad serving systems I've worked with require you to add some kind of tracking code to any subsequent pages you want to track; but they maintain that:

"Absolutely no changes are made to your company’s web site."

So how do they do it? There are a couple of ways I can think of:

  1. E-mail recipients click through to a framed page with one hidden frame that contains tracking code and a 100% frame which contains the site. As the user clicks through the site, the tracking code can capture the clicks and send them back to the SalesGenius server.
  2. The e-mails are directed through a proxy server which fetches the actual site's HTML data and re-presents it to the user, whilst simultaneously re-writing all the URLs on the page to also go through the redirection/proxy server.

If I were doing it, I'd choose no. 1, because it throws up way fewer problems; you can just track the click events (or even the page load events) in the main frame and be done. With the 'proxy' approach, you'd need to re-write all the links on a page, even if they crop up in JavaScript-controlled drop-down boxes, etc. I know from bitter experience that this is more or less impossible.

Can you think of any way this could be done? Don't all rush to answer at once.

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