The key to getting the most out of Distil is to ensure you accurately and reliably associate your Customers with their engagement with your platform.
This isn't always easy!
Not all website visitors may have registered accounts. Guest or anonymous users may browse a website without providing identifiable data, making it difficult to track their activities or attribute actions to specific individuals.
Also users will often access websites through multiple devices (e.g., desktop, mobile, tablet) and various channels (e.g., website, mobile app, social media). Identifying users across these different platforms and channels can be challenging. Distil manages these complexities to provide a unified view of the Customer's activity.
Distil Customer Tracking ID
Each Customer record in Distil is uniquely identified with a Tracking ID. This is a long string of letters and numbers that is stored in the Customer Core Data Attributes as Tracking Id: core_data.tracking_id.
This token can be used to identify the Customer when interacting with them, for example via a marketing email or chat system. It can also be exported to other systems via Destinations.
It's important to understand that this value may not remain the same for a specific Customer over time. The Identity Resolution module in Distil is constantly mapping datasets to Customers and as a result of this process may renew this token as new data comes in.
Here is an example Tracking ID:
You can see a Customer's Tracking ID towards the bottom of the Customer Profile screen.
Distil URL Identification Token
The primary means of identifying Customers in Distil is via the identifyCustomer event function. This function is explained in our article on Distil Tracking Code. However, asking Customers to perform an action to trigger this function can result in a poor customer experience, or mean that Customers are never identified.
The URL Identification Token feature provides an additional method to trigger Customer identification events without requiring the Customer to log in or explicitly identify themselves.
For example, when Customers click through from an email campaign, we want them to be able to view Content and Products without having to log in. If the identifyCustomer event is towards the end of the customer journey, then we may miss the opportunity to identify the Customer if they abandon a cart before completing check-out. In the case of a primarily content-driven site, Customers may not identify themselves at all once an initial marketing sign-up has occurred.
Triggering Identification with a URL
In our article on Distil Tracking Code we explain the identifyCustomer event function. The same identification event can be triggered by including the Customer's Tracking ID as a parameter value in the URL clicked by the Customer (for example, from an email or an app).
You will need to have Distil Tracking set up on the target page. To trigger Customer identification, append the parameter dtt along with the Customer's Tracking ID to the URL.
This is called a URL parameter. URL parameters are used to pass specific information to a web server or application. Parameters follow a question mark (?), and consist of a key-value pair, separated by an equals sign (=). Multiple parameters can be added by separating them with an ampersand (&).
For example, if we wanted to make Distil Customers aware of our fantastic Customer Analytics capability, then we might send them an email with a clickable link. To track which Customers actually visit the target page we would add a URL Identification Token to the link. The link URL would look like this (the Tracking ID is slightly truncated so that it will fit on one line):
Deploying the URL Identification Token
Distil gives you a host of options for sending the Tracking ID directly to your marketing execution tools, just as you would any other Attribute. You can build an automated process by setting up an Integration to a supported platform, push the ID to any execution layer tool via Destinations, or extract the ID using the Distil API.
The Tracking ID is also available alongside any other Customer Attribute in Distil's Data Warehouse, within the Engagement dataset.
Once you have pushed the Tracking ID into your target marketing execution platform, you can use that platform's email templates and other feature to build the URL Identification Token (as described above). For example, in Dotdigital you would add the following text to a Link (URL):
We recommend that you review the user guides for your target marketing execution platform to understand how to build the Distil URL Tracking Token into your URLs. Have a browse in our Integrations articles, look for articles about deploying the URL Identification Token to your target platform.
Distil Identity Resolution
Distil is contently working in the background to link Customers with engagement activity on your platform. Our unique Identity Resolution capability involves connecting various identifiers, attributes, and behavioural data to create a comprehensive view of a user's engagement with your platform across devices, sessions, and touchpoints.
While Tracking data is a part of this, Identity Resolution takes in information from all Distil Data Sources, including Database Sync and Integrations. We cover Identity Resolution in more detail in our article about Customers in Distil.
Distil's URL Identification Token is a great way to increase your Customer identification coverage, without impacting the customer experience. There are few considerations that should be taken into account when deploying this feature.
Forwarding: If your use-case relies on your Customers forwarding content then this could include the URL Identification Token. This would mean it’s possible to attribute one Customer’s contextual information to another Customer. While this is not ideal, in most situations this is an edge case. Also if two Customers are exchanging context about your platform, that context is likely to be relevant to both of them anyway. However, if you rely heavily on “Share” features, then it's worth working through the customer experience to make sure this does not happen systematically. Our Customer Support team can assist you here if you need it.
Long URLs: The URL Identification Token adds a reasonably large number of characters to your URLs. There is a limit to the number of characters you can have in a URL, which is defined by the Customer's web browser. Modern browsers (Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox) can all take pretty significant URL lengths, but some older browsers struggle with anything over 2,048 characters. If you are worried about the length of your URLs then consider using a URL minification service, such a https://tinyurl.com/
Keep it private: There are no security issues as such with publishing a URL Identification Token, however they are designed to be used in one-to-one Customer interactions. Using them in publicly available URLs could cause a significant disturbance in the Identity Resolution process.
Good for cross-device: Leaving the considerations on a good note, this feature is great for capturing cross-device engagement. It only requires a Customer to respond to a communication, and then their device becomes recognised and all activity on it will be attributed to that Customer.