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How to track number of third party forms submitted

Posted on 2016-07-19
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Last Modified: 2016-07-28
I have a client that is paid a fee for each referral that is submitted to a third party service provider. Currently the user clicks a link on my client's site, which sends them to an external url where they must submit a form on that third party site before the referral fee is generated. My client wants to track these submissions to be sure they are getting compensated fairly and accurately.

Is there a way to do that without hosting the third party form on my client's site? We can track each redirect from the client site to the third party form url, but that does not insure that the user didn't abandon the form before submitting it. The values in the form are auto-entered into the custom CRM system of the third party from owner so that it can be processed.
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Question by:weknowjack
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 41719906
You can't track actions that are done on the third party site without their cooperation.  Once the users leave your client's site, you don't get anything back about what the user did 'over there'.
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Ray Paseur earned 500 total points
ID: 41719935
This is not easy to get right, but DoubleClick has got it covered.

Consider replicating the entire 3rd-party sign up mechanism on your own site.  When the client submits the form, it goes to your server, not to the 3rd-party.  Your server, in turn, makes a record of the registration in your database, then uses fSockOpen() or cURL to repeat the submission of sign-up data to the 3rd-party.  If you do it this way, you will always be in control of the communication with the 3rd-party site and you can produce auditable records proving that your referrals resulted in registrations on the 3rd-party site.

So to answer the question, "Is there a way..." we can say, "Yes, and it takes some custom programming, but it's entirely doable."
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Author Comment

by:weknowjack
ID: 41719941
Should the third party have any concerns about providing us with a copy of their form for tracking purposes? Here is their form:
https my(close up the space)utilities dot com slash survey
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Author Comment

by:weknowjack
ID: 41719960
Ray, I submitted my reply above before I saw yours. Are you saying we need DoubleClick or are you using it as an example?

How would I get someone to implement this solution for me? Is it possible to create a solution that we can adapt to other similar needs?
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by:Ray Paseur
ID: 41719973
Using DoubleClick as an example.  They have infrastructure that "knows" what is going on with other web sites.  Their infrastructure is similar to what I described above.

Nothing here is "rocket science" but it requires rather meticulous attention to detail.  Here is the outline, as I understand it.

1. Client visits your web site.
2. Your web site reads the 3rd party web site page, and extracts all of the form input controls from the survey page.
3. Your web site presents a form to the client and receives the client's input (hopefully a 1:1 relationship with the input controls from the 3rd party site).
4. Your site takes the client input and matches it up to the form input controls from Step 2.
5. Your site records the request variables and the client identity (IP address, user-agent) in your database.
6. Your site makes an HTTP request (matching the method of the 3rd party site) to the 3rd party site, and parses the response.
7. Your site responds to your client with a success or failure message, according to the response from the HTTP request in Step 6.
8. (Optional) Your site redirects the client to the 3rd party site.

That's the overview.  Throughout this process your site will need to act like a well-behaved web browser client, accepting and returning cookies and following redirection.  Some of this can get complicated, if (for example) the 3rd party site has been engineered to prevent web scraping.  But if they are doing what most sites are doing today, you can use this process and get good results most of the time.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 41720185
Ray's suggestion will work on a basic form page.  It would not work on any of my ordering pages on web sites I support.  A lot of things are done to block third party access to ordering pages and especially any pages that submit credit card data.

Doubleclick is owned by Google now.  Google makes a profile of you and your browser anytime you access any of their pages including search pages and Gmail.  Many sites put 'tracking code' in iframes on their client's sites and they develop profiles to recognize you and your browser their.  Amazon and Facebook and other large sites and advertisers do this also.  While they do use cookies to make it easier, they also store the profile info on their servers where you can't erase it.  

In another question, the asker had reformatted and reinstalled Windows 7 several times and still kept seeing the same ads in the same sites no matter what he did.  That's because the info isn't kept in your browser but on the advertisers servers.  The advertisers use those profiles to recognize you anywhere on the internet and serve up ads that they think you might want to see and buy.
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Author Comment

by:weknowjack
ID: 41725239
We have a basic form page. No ordering. We are looking into how to test this. Trying to follow your thought, are you suggesting that even though it may work, it is a less than good idea?
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