Evolution of the Barcode: Importance of Tracking

By Felicia Gardner, Paid Search Supervisor, Advertising Solutions

October 7th marked the 57th anniversary of the barcode! I know this may have not caught many people’s attention as it did mine. I couldn’t help but to reflect on the power of this invention and what it meant to the world of business management. I am sure the strategically placed black and white lines on an item as your rushing through the grocery store aisles is last thing you are thinking about. Years ago before the invention of the barcode, inventory management and decisions were handled manually and made off consumer purchase assumptions. Now that small coding on a can of soup provides a wealth of information to keep businesses organized while truly understanding and connecting to their consumer’s behaviors. This was an amazing solution to an offline business need.

In the infancy of search engine marketing a major gap was obtaining quality data to effectively manage an online brand. Data management tools and technology were very basic, providing minimal site behavior and metrics. This left way for assumptions and a lack of customer knowledge. Online consumer habits are much different than offline, site metrics are key to fully telling the story. I like to think of the changes in tracking over the years as the evolution of the online barcode.

To mange a successful search account we ensure that the correct tracking strings are in place throughout the clients’ site. The coding impended on the site (also known as tags) and appended to the keyword URL strings allow for a granular tracking system to provide a wealth of information for clients. We are able to distinguish which keyword lead to a particular conversion and through analytics what additional site actions took place. The correlation between site actions and keywords answers questions such as, why do customers come to the site? What are they buying? What are they not buying? How long do they stay on the site? Is the conversion path too lengthy? What is the purchase latency? How should we re-target customers? Who is not converting? These are important questions that yield optimizations to uncover possible missed opportunities and drive relevant traffic to a site. This information also assists clients in making sound decisions on how to manage their ecommerce departments from a portfolio perspective.

The information we receive from our management tools is one of the main foundations of what we do. It is what equips us in being true search engine marketers with rich quantifiable data. Similar to the barcode, digital technology is continuously advancing to meet business needs, as consumer demand rises in an ever changing digital space.


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