How to Initially Configure Your Account
Our mission at Tech Savvy Leads is to provide our customers with a reliable online lead generation platform that can be used by non-programmers without the burden of operating and securing a proper computing environment to do so. Granted, the industry of online lead generation takes at the very least some comfort with technology. It is after all a technical industry. The more experience that you have with online
lead generation, affiliate management, and the like the easier it will be for you to come up to speed on how to use the system. The more technical you are the easier it will be as well. If you do not have either of these skill sets then this is still okay because we can be hired to take on as much one-time set up and ongoing operational work as you wish to delegate.
This article presents an overview of the steps necessary to begin to use TSL Ping Tree. This is the place to start if you are a new user.
The core functionality of TSL Ping Tree is to validate, filter, and distribute real-time online leads in response to web form submissions. The possible destinations, their filters, their distribution rules, etc. are collectively what we call a “Ping Tree”. We call each destination in a Ping Tree a “Lead Point”.
There are two basic ways to send leads through your account.
Direct Integration (a.k.a. "Redirect Mode")
- Point a form on a web page to your account in our network. The web page
can be anything from a simple static HTML page to a dynamically
generated page on a PHP, .Net, or other such website. When a person
submits the form its contents are passed to our data center along with
tracking information for promotion/campaign, affiliate, etc.
- The system first validates the form submission per your configured
settings. Valid submissions are then dropped into a "ping tree" -- a
collection of interfaces for storing, scoring, and/or buying leads. The
interfaces can be any combination of lead buyer, in-house, or 3rd party
web services that you configure to run for valid form submissions.
- An accept, decline, or error redirect URL is returned to the user's web
browser. The URL may come from one of your lead buyers or it may be
built up based on rules that you specify. Any tracking pixels that were configured for the promotion will be honored as part of the redirect in such a way that even cookie-based tracking will work.
Integration Through a Web Server (a.k.a. "XML Mode")
- Form submissions go to a PHP, .Net, or other such web application on your web server or your affiliate's web server.
- The web server relays the form submission contents -- possibly
altered or augmented in a custom way -- to your account in our network.
- As with the Direct Integration set up the system first validates the
form submission per your configured settings. Valid submissions are
then dropped into a "ping tree" -- a collection of interfaces for
storing, scoring, and/or buying leads. The interfaces can be any
combination of lead buyer, in-house, or 3rd party web services that you
configure to run for valid form submissions.
- An XML document is returned to the caller. The XML contains a
unique ID for the form submission, the disposition (accept, decline, or
error), plus other data based on what happened in the ping tree such as
detailed error messages, a redirect URL, an affiliate payout, e.g. If a tracking pixel was defined for the given promotion then it will be generated and returned in the response via a Pixel tag. It is the responsibility of the caller to "fire" the pixel.
- The web server processes the XML document and determines how to respond to the original form submission.
The benefit of Integration Through a Web Server (a.k.a. "XML Mode") is that it allows for much finer control over what happens before and after the submit to your account in our network. The consequences however are that the first time this is done will take some time, it will probably require active involvement with third party
tracking, and moderate to perhaps advanced programming skills are required of
the web developer.
These are only examples of the two most basic set ups. More advanced set ups are possible to support, for example:
- having the landing page be randomly selected ("A/B testing") from a weighted set of URLs on the same or different websites,
- having multiple pages in a form submission flow,
- having multiple types of leads, co-registrations, and ping trees on a single website,
- using attention-keeping wait pages while long-running ping trees execute,
- having one ping tree feed into another, etc.
Once you have planned how you will initially use your account the following general steps should be taken to do your initial configuration. For each step there are other help articles that explain in more detail how to use the relevant configuration web pages, explain how to accomplish business level tasks, or provide reference materials.
- Update Your Profile. Log in to the Web Portal for your account. Go to the "Account > Update Profile" menu option. You can change your name, default time zone, and default culture, e.g.
- Plan the types of websites that you will initially use with TSL Ping Tree. Our customers primarily operate websites where traffic is driven to them through a tracking link from our network where our ClickId is produced. Subsequent form submissions post our ClickId back to us so that conversions are trackable; we call this a "front site". On a front site it is possible for a click to start and receive no further action by the visitor. Usually a visitor will submit a form and it will either be good as-is or it will have errors which are reported back to the visitor (some errors, not all -- it's up to you) and then the visitor may correct the errors and resubmit. On a front site it is useful to measure how many clicks result in at least one submit; those that never submit are called "bounces" -- something you want to avoid perhaps with better matching of traffic sources, keywords, marketing messages, etc. to what your website offers.
It is also possible to operate a "headless" website – where other lead generators post leads to one of your ping trees and receive an XML response for each post indicating an accept or decline. A headless site has a 1-to-1 click-to-submit ratio. Tracking headaches are usually not present as the party posting leads to you will know in real-time whether the post was accepted.
- Will you be using an affiliate management system or some other sort of third party tracking system with TSL Ping Tree? If not then skip to the next section. If so then then plan how you will integrate with it for each website (but consider skipping the actual integration at first until you have at least one working site).
A "front site" should first route traffic through your affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system and then through your TSL Ping Tree account via our "clickthru" service. In the redirect from your affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system through our "clickthru" service you should use our "s1" parameter to pass the unique tracking ID assigned by your affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system. This way our system can fire the tracking pixel from you affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system whenever a conversion event occurs.
A front site should also be prepared to accept organic traffic (a.k.a. "type-in traffic") -- where a visitor shows up to your website without being directed through a tracking link of any kind; in this case you will want to start a session with your third party tracking system and/or with us via our "getclick" service.
Our "clickthru" and "getclick" services are documented in more detail in the help topic entitled "How to Start a Click".
For a "headless site" you may choose to skip integration with your affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system. But if you prefer to communicate all submits and their possible conversions then what you can do is create a top level tier in your ping tree with a single lead point in it -- one that talks to your affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system to start a session in that system. Then at the bottom of your ping tree you make a final tier with one more single lead point -- one that reports the conversion to your affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system, if a conversion in fact took place. Alternatively you can place a tracking pixel from your affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system into the configuration for your Promotion but then you have to have the caller (your affiliate) fire that pixel... which is not something that we recommend you do.
Exactly how you integrate your selected affiliate management / 3rd party tracking system with TSL Ping Tree depends on that system and its features. The information you will need to complete this task will mostly come from your tracking system vendor. If you need help then you can hire us to get involved with your tracking system and its vendor to make your end-to-end tracking work as you require.
- Plan all web forms for "front sites", posts for "headless sites", and form fields in advance of any other set up work. Survey all existing and planned websites and forms across all verticals and establish a master set of fields for your account. TSL Ping Tree supports multi-page forms and an unlimited number of distinct forms and ping trees per website.
- Document any needs for schedules, e.g. lead buyers that only buy per some schedule or promotions or ping trees that you only want to run on a certain schedule.
- Document filter and validation needs. What fields will be required for each of your form submissions? Which fields have default values and what are those values? What are the validation rules that you want to run before attempting to run the ping tree, etc.? Do you want visitors to be able to see certain validation errors but not others? (You can decline a form submission without generating any errors if you like, e.g.)
- Gather the posting specifications and insertion orders for all lead buyers. Document anything that constrains the agreement that isn't specified in the posting specs or IO. This includes daily limits, schedules, duplicate/exclusivity rules, e.g.
- Plan your promotions. Promotions are used mostly to specify affiliate payout terms. If you do not wish to track financial figures in TSL Ping Tree then you may simply implement one or more promotions with payout type "None".
- Using the information gathered above configure your TSL Ping Tree account to handle a new ping tree. Do so in this order:
a. Fields – A Field is a visible or hidden parameter on a web form or a parameter on a posting specification. Define all of the fields necessary for your ping tree.
b. Form – A Form is a named collection of Fields tied to a specified locale such as “English (United States)” or “English (United Kingdom)”. The locale determines how posted dates and numbers are interpreted. Create one form after you first create all of its Fields.
c. Ping Tree – A Ping Tree is a set of possible destinations for lead distribution plus the rules for determining how and when to consider them. Keep things simple at first and just give your ping tree a name and set it up to respond with XML (versus Redirects). Tie the Form you made in step (b) to this new ping tree. Don't worry about any other ping tree configuration items including anything from the "Ping Tree Order" tab.
d. Promotion – A Promotion is mainly used to specify affiliate payout terms. It can also be used to group traffic for reporting purposes. Every form submission requires either a Ping Tree ID or a Click ID; to get a Click ID a Promotion ID is required. So either way you will need to configure at least one Promotion in order to get a Ping Tree working.
- Test Your Progress. Use our internal test tool to test the fields, form, ping tree, and promotion that you just set up. You will find this tool located at https://YOURSUBDOMAIN.tslpingtree.net/testpost.ashx You don't have any lead buyers, interfaces, or lead points yet. You also don't have any of the features that help you to validate form submissions such as Field Validations, Filters, Schedules, IP Filter Sets, or Duplicate/Exclusivity Rules. But don't worry about that yet. At this point you can submit a form and do the most basic types of tests such as required fields versus non-required optional or strict fields, sending a non-numerical value for a Decimal or Integer type field, leaving off the Promotion ID or Ping Tree ID, e.g. Use the "Reporting > Click Search" tool from your Web Portal to see exactly what the system is doing for each of your test posts.
- Add a Lead Point to your Ping Tree. First you add a Lead Buyer. Next you create an Interface for that Lead Buyer; this is where most of the hard work is done. Once you have an Interface defined then you add a Lead Point that uses that Interface. To test this Lead Point see the separate help topics about testing Lead Points.
- Add some validation logic. You do this with Field Validations, Filters, Schedules, IP Filter Sets, or Duplicate/Exclusivity Rules. Field Validations attach to Fields. Schedules and IP Filter Sets attach to Filters... which in turn may be Global or may be attached to Promotions, Ping Trees, or Lead Points. Duplicate Rules (a.k.a. Exclusivity Rules) are attached to Lead Points.
One you have gone through these steps and you have reviewed the page specific help for each configuration page then you should start to get the hang of things. If you have taken the system out for a test drive and you are still puzzled about what to do to get rolling then please reach out to us for help. We are always trying to make the system easier to use and our documentation better. We also offer custom training and consulting services.