Real Time User Interactions in Offline World – Google Analytics

How great would it be if you are able to know the real value of the user in the offline world and that too in real time!! If you have lead based website you won’t always know the real value of the lead.
So, for eg: the websites where a user can buy a ticket or register for events like concerts, seminars, meetups, book or any product launch events.

What if you could track the real potential of the user in offline world and tie it with the online world that too in real time!!

I would like to demonstrate one simple use case to track real time user interactions when they are in real world. This would give you more ideas to work out offline user tracking in different niches. The whole scenario would work as:

  1. The User books an event through a website. He gets a unique code based on his PII.
  2. The User arrives at the event and validates his code at the entrance.
  3. The User purchase something at the event.

To Summarize..

Offline User Interaction Tracking

How Google Analytics Defines Users

  • You can check out the article Google Analytics – Users where I have explained in details How the google analytics calculates users metric.
  • To summarize, whenever user lands on the website, a unique ID is generated and stored in the user’s browser as clientId.
  • Google Analytics uses this ID to identify the User other metrics such as new user, returning user, source, campaign, count of session, etc
  • We’ll be using the same ID to stitch the users in the offline world.

I would be using measurement protocol by google to send hits to analytics server.


Process for Offline User Tracking

Step 1

  • When the user registers for the any offline event, you can collect his email ID, client ID and generate a unique code which he has to verify at the entrance of the event.
  • You can find clientID through the following code:
  • The database can be stored as:


Step 2

  • You can deploy an app such that when the user is verified at the entrance of the event, the unique ID will search for the equivalent client ID and send it with the hit to analytics server.
  • The same process would follow if user purchases item at the event.
  • You can also use other verification methods using IOT devices, QR codes, web apps, etc. Just remember it should be flexible for the user and also easy to use, fast, scalable.

Step 3 

  • Don’t forget to give the user prior notice of the whole process of tracking. Also make sure no other PII information such as name, emailID , phone no, credit card no, etc is sent to analytics server.
  • This follows from the measurement protocol policy by google. Be sure to check it if you are using GA.
  • You can also use other tools and check their policy before implementing or best way is to use your own tools for setup.


Real Time Offline User Tracking – Spreadsheet App

Offline User tracking Spreadsheet


  • When the user shows his code at the entrance of the event, you can enter the same code, click verify and the app will send hit to analytics with corresponding clientID. Also it will display the code as verified.

Offline User Tracking Spreadsheet Real Time Offline User Tracking - Google Analytics


  • When you try to verify the same code, it will display the error message ensuring duplicate hits are not sent.

Offline User Tracking- Duplicate Code Verification


  • Click on the below gif file to see the whole process in enlarged view. (I have used interaction hits to show active users here, but its good to use non-interaction hits)

Real Time Offline User Tracking - Google Analytics

User Tracking Reports

  • There are numerous possibilities of collecting and visualizing the data. It will mostly depend on how you want to track it and knowing how the data will get affected.
  • I highly recommend creating a separate property in analytics to test this out. I will be using Non-Interaction hits to send the offline events hits which will not affect sessions and its related metrics.
  • We’ll see what insights we can make out of the reports.

Using Campaign Parameters

  • When I use campaign parameters with offline events hit, they will override the previous ones. You can make use of Multi channel funnel reports. Make sure you have created goals to access this report.
  • Here I have also sent the transaction value of the user, assuming he purchases something at the event.

Offline User Multi Channel Funnel Reports

  • Here, you can check the source of the users and see their performance in the offline events. This will also help you in allocating budgets to particular sources. Totally worth it!!!!!
  • You can use the filters and see which source had only the attendees but no purchases or low purchases, etc

Without Using Campaign Parameters

  • Here you can retain the original campaign parameters. The interaction can be tracked as analytics goals and you can use custom report for all goals completed along with the revenue.

Offline User Tracking - Goals Report


  • You can apply the cost data for these campaign to know the cost of acquisition for these users and revenue they generated in the event.
  • You can also know the device, city, demographics, frequency, etc of the these high spending users.
  • If you do regional targeting and have separate campaigns, you can know the regions of high spending users within a city. (Below I have tested few hits for demo).
    Here, Andheri, Bandra, Dadar are region names in the Mumbai city.

Offline User Tracking - Regions in Cities Report


  • You can also use GA custom metrics and transaction hits to deep dive.


Real Time Offline User Tracking – Final Thoughts

  • This area is bit at a start stage but the idea of stitching online and offline world has lots of potential.
  • UserID is better choice than clientID, as it provides cross device support. I tried with clientID just to give a glimpse of the whole scenario. If you have your own tools or setup that would be the best choice rather than depending on third party tools.
  • If you are using GA or any third party tools, you have to abide by their rules (if any) for tracking users through IOT devices or other apps.

Let us know your thoughts.

Ritwik is a Web Analyst & Product Marketer. He loves to write technical & easy to understand blogs for Marketers & Entrepreneurs. Focused on Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, Tag Management, Marketing & Automation Scripts & more. Google Certified Professional. A Firm Believer in Teaching -> Learning -> Growing. :)

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