One problem with online booking systems is that they typically sit external to your own website and so you don’t have much control of what information you can collect when website visitors book a session with you.

The result of this is you can have visitors come to your website and book an appointment through your online booking system, but then you have no ability to identify how the visitor got there and which of your marketing channels is resulting in bookings.

If you don’t know the marketing source of your online bookings then you are unable to optimize your marketing strategy because you don’t know what is and is not working. You are more likely then to spend money on a whole range of different marketing options in the hope that some of them work, but overall you could be wasting thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on marketing strategies that do not result in bookings.

massage therapist where to invest marketing budgetAsking a customer at the time of their appointment how they found your business doesn’t really work, because a visitor may have found you through more than one marketing campaign. They might tell you the one they saw first, the one they saw last, or the one that was most memorable to them but didn’t result in their booking. Plus storing this information in the form of a customer survey can’t be linked to your website results as your website visitors are anonymous.

Unless you set up your Google Analytics to tell you definitively which marketing campaigns brought the visitors to your website and which visitors booked using your online booking system you won’t have the accurate picture that is needed to really optimise your marketing.

If you have a health practice or a business that relies on lead generation or appointments booked through a third-party tool from your website then you may well be experiencing an issue with this because the Google Analytics on your website only tracks what happens on your website and not what happens on your booking system.

Your marketing efforts drive visits to your website which are then converted into online bookings on the booking system. You can see in your Google Analytics how many visitors come to your website from Organic Search, Adwords, Display, Facebook, Directory Listings etc. You cannot see how many of each of these visitors converted into online bookings, which visitors turned into bookings, or which marketing channels did or did not result in bookings.

Good news

Some online booking systems are aware of this problem and have made inroads into enabling Google Analytics tracking through their application. They have been updated to enable the original marketing source of the online booking to be preserved!

What are the biggest benefits to tracking online bookings?

One of the biggest benefits to tracking online bookings is being able to optimise all paid traffic sources by measuring their conversion rate against online bookings rather than visits to the website. Having the ability to see which paid traffic sources actually convert into bookings will spark a re-evaluation of how to best position the paid traffic sources so that they convert, and enables testing of variations to see which performs best.

Another benefit to measuring online bookings through Google Analytics is that we are able to see if some marketing campaigns are assisting other marketing campaigns leading up to the booking being made. For example, you will know if a visitor gets to the website originally through an Adwords ad, but then later converts through Organic Search, or vice versa.

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This is important because the overall brand recognition is built up through the different impressions of the brand over time and you don’t want to adjust marketing spend in one channel and then find out that another channel dries up as a result.

An exciting new possibility for this technology is that we can now capture all the visitors who started to book online but who abandoned their booking. It was not possible for this data to be collected previously because the visitors were not being tracked on the booking system.

The visitors who abandon their booking can be retargeted through display campaigns such as Facebook and Google Display with personalised offers. Personalised offers such as offering a particular location or service that is relevant to the customer is more likely to convert than a generalised campaign.

Being smart about remarketing also saves money on ad impressions compared to showing your advert to any person who has visited your website, because you can target only the people who have shown buying signals such as starting the process of making a booking.

Top Tip

Even if your booking software does not work with Google Analytics, you can still track the marketing source of people who click on the “Book Now” button.

How is it done?

You may be able to see the original marketing source of a booking if the hosted booking software allows you to add a Google Analytics or a Google Tag Manager tracking code. The process of enabling data to flow between two different websites is called cross-domain linking, or cross-domain tracking. Your booking system has to be linked to your website with cross-domain linking, otherwise the data stops being collected when the customer clicks on the Book Now button.

Using Google Tag Manager with the Smartsoft booking system (yours may be different), I was able to collect data from any of the selections that the customer made during their booking process. Some of this data, such as the customer’s name and email address, cannot be sent to Google Analytics due to Google’s privacy terms, but non-identifying data can be sent to Google Analytics and this includes whether or not they completed their booking.

Once all this is set up and working for both desktop and mobile websites, you are able to see all the marketing data come through. You may discover some surprising results, with some marketing channels making up the majority of online bookings, and some leading to no online bookings at all!

If your business uses an online booking system to book appointments with customers, I may be able to set up your Google Analytics so that you can find out where your bookings are coming from. Email Petra at to chat about setting this up.

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Erica Stacey Scout Digital

I recently worked with Petra to improve my understanding of Google Tag Manager.

Petra not only provided a solid overview of GTM set up and event tracking, she also provided many tips on best practice, and answered the questions that I didn't even know to ask!

Petra is patient, fun to work with, and her analytical programming mind is hell bent on finding the BEST solution to any data, analytics or tracking problem.

Erica Stacey Scout Digital Marketing Strategy Session June 21, 2017

keneena fanning

This dashboard is sooo much easier to read than the Google Analytics one. I love that you explain what each table means underneath - super helpful. I definitely love visual rather than written info so the graphs are great - and make it much easier to see trends etc. Especially helpful to see where traffic is coming from and how it's converting so I can see where to focus my efforts.

Keneena Fanning Kablooie Store Basic Dashboard May 25, 2017

Nick Hughes

We now have greater insights into how many people visit our site and when, where they come from and the detail of our traffic sources. Glad I spent the time with Petra to cut straight to the insights in our data. Time well spent!

Nick Hughes Successfully Navigating Redundancy Strategy Session May 25, 2017

Nicholls Web Consulting

Utilising Web Data Analytics findings, we have made significant discoveries in user behaviours, and made recommendations based on the available data ensuring that our clients have a well-informed view on their customer’s actions within the web environment. We have found insights from Web Data Analytics have influenced our recommendations in terms of channel spending, and also ways to increase customer conversion based on optimization efforts. I have found Petra easy to deal with and, importantly to us, this works in with our objectives to ensure our clients success.

Eben Nicholls Director - Nicholls Web Consulting Strategic Analysis Report, Booking Gateway Attribution Report June 21, 2017

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Petra helped me set up many aspects of Google Analytics, and I now feel confident in finding the information I need. It's definitely increased my understanding of my website audience and the data that comes out of it massively!

Hannah Noble Nipenda Blog May 25, 2017


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