Following New Customers One Pixel at a Time

by Volker Schwarz, 26.05.08

etracker Web ControllingOnline marketing has long since offered an interesting alternative to classical advertising media. And for good reason. Internet campaigns are not only flexible and cost-effective, their effect can be measured in concrete figures. The Hamburg software maker etracker offers efficient solutions for the performance review of all online efforts: through etracker's web controlling.

The Internet is an ideal channel for acquiring new customers. Especially for small and medium-sized businesses, the ability to have fast, targeted marketing efforts that can also be implemented with low financial expenditure is becoming increasingly more important. Virtual advertisement tools are not only inexpensive, they are also so varied in their scope which allows online shop operators to select the ideal instrument for their business. Online marketing consists of four large pillars: Search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, e-mail marketing, and naturally, direct ordering from banners and special ad forms. These basic building blocks can be combined in any number of ways and are thus easy to implement even for small businesses.

Targeted Online Marketing through Web-Controlling

A crucial factor of Internet advertising is its measurability. A precise matching to the target group – especially with companies whose products serve a niche market – is only possible if the operator of a website knows what appeals to customers and what doesn't. The web-controlling solution from etracker facilitates a fast recording and evaluation of all key data required for this. In this way, online marketing measures can be nearly infinitely adapted to the needs of the target group. In contrast to classical advertising, the advertiser is able to exchange a widely spread online marketing mix for a focused sales approach and this can be done quickly, flexibly and without great costs.

With web controlling it's even possible to find out more about individual website visitors. By taking a look into the free and open RIPE database (Réseaux IP Européens), the European database for Internet addresses, you can find out which companies are hiding behind a visitor IP. The web-controlling results allow you to get to know your customers' preferences and shopping behaviour so that you can target them with the information that they actually need.

Comprehensive Performance Review

Targeted web controlling can also be utilised for monitoring marketing activities that are already running. Although most online advertising partners and affiliate platforms supply interim results for the performance review, the underlying key data and measurement procedures, however, vary from vendor to vendor. The difference starts already with a seemingly trivial problem such as naming conventions. What is called a "visitor" for one, is called a "customer" for another. One partner may only pursue immediate conversions, the other perhaps also goes after post conversions, which are purchasing decisions that are only made several days after a visitor has clicked on the advertising material. The web-controlling solution from etracker harmonises the naming and the measuring procedure of key data and thus offers a comprehensive comparability of all efforts in the online marketing mix.

Two-Step Website Optimisation

Online marketing only makes sense if the content of a website is matched to the target group and good conversion rates are achieved. Therefore, before starting with the use of web controlling, the user-friendliness, content and the visitor reaction to a website should be analysed. For example, an inconspicuously placed shopping basket button or an overly complicated order process frequently lead to high cancellation rates. As a rule, many optimisation measures of a website can be implemented quickly and easily.

Only when the website has been ideally matched to the user in both content and structure can the utilisation and optimisation process of the online marketing be started. Now the task is to check the effectiveness of the ongoing advertising efforts and to increase the number of website visitors. This creates some very elementary questions: How did the user reach my website? Which search engine, keywords or web banner were used? Does the number of access rates increase when I regularly send out promotional e-mails? Which form of advertising not only brings me a lot of visitors but also a lot of purchase volume? The effectiveness of online-marketing is measured by precisely one figure: The cost-sales ratio. For example, a cost-sales ratio of 20 means that for every euro of marketing costs, 20 euros of purchase volume is generated. etracker compares the obtained visitor reportings in real time with the costs for the online marketing and the attained purchase volume. The effectiveness of marketing efforts becomes clearly visible in this way.

The direct and flexible access to ongoing efforts is an added plus. Ineffective efforts can be switched off easily and the rate of return is optimised.

Reliable Operating Figures Thanks to Pixel Technology

The oldest and still most popular method for evaluating online activities is the log file analysis, which evaluates the data that the web server of the visited website gathers. The etracker web-controlling solution works without log files: It uses server-independent pixel technology. An imperceptible counter pixel is loaded with every page view. Pixel technology thus allows you to get around a number of technical obstacles which can lead to unpleasant results with classical log file analysis.

One example: A visitor who uses the back button on their browser cannot be detected by the log file analysis. The reason for this is because individual pages are not called directly from the web server, but rather from the cache, the memory of the browser. This generates falsified results, which render visitor counts that are too low as well as distorted behaviour mapping.
Dynamic IP addresses can cause additional problems. Visitors who surf the Internet through providers such as AOL are constantly changing IP addresses. Since log files log a user for every IP address, more visitors are counted in these cases than were actually on the site. The etracker technology prevents these inaccuracies. Every single page that a user visits is made visible. In addition, all data that is surveyed by etracker contains no personal data; it is anonymous. This feature offers a clear advantage over other web-controlling solutions with regard to the German data privacy policy requirements.

Henner Heistermann, Marketing Manager at etracker GmbH

About the author

studied German, History and Politics at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. From 2004 to 2009 he worked as a freelancer for several marketing and communications companies in Hamburg, including e-commerce companies. Between August 2009 and December 2011, he worked as an online editor at ePages .

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  1. 30.05.2009

    What about integration with Google Analytics? Any plans? Is there an easy way to do it?


  2. 26.08.2009

    Yes, interesting question Diego! I really would like some clear technical support information concerning how I can FULLY integrate the following Google Services in my “advanced” e.pages web shop:

    Google Adwords
    Google Website Optimizer
    Google Analytics

    I dont like etracker. Google is much more advanced and has a friendlier user interface. It’s really difficult to get this kind of info, my provider (Strato) doesn’t know. None of the customer service clerks can give me a straight answer. So I thought maybe the developers of this software could help us out to use their product better.

    kind regards,


  3. 26.08.2009

    Hey Jeremy,

    I do not know for sure what the plans are for neither Google Adwords nor the Google Website Optimizer but the implementation of Google Analytics is coming with the next patch 7 for ePages.
    The patch is scheduled to be ready by the end of September, but in the end it’s your hosting provider who decides when it is going to be implemented on his servers.

    Hope I could help a little bit

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