The Others – A not-so-scary story of unknown revenue

Dawn Washelesky

By Kathy Powers

Some organizations are diligent about setting up funnels and source coding systems and compiling multiple reports to provide insights into ‘The Other’ revenue that comes in. Most organizations just see that a (smaller) percentage of their revenue came in response to email and the remainder came in ‘over the transom’.

Identifying ‘The Other’ revenue can be like a scary movie where you are trapped in a big house not knowing who is knocking at the door – or even who is inside with you!

Picture from The Others, 2001 starring Nicole Kidman.

Turns out, identifying the other revenue takes some diligence, but is not that complicated with the right tools.

Why we end up with ‘Other’ revenue in the first place

As mentioned, your amount of other revenue will vary based on how good you are at tracking it back to your messages. It revenue can come from:

  • New people coming to your website and placing a transaction OR current customers coming back and you not knowing it. Either way, a scary prospect, you could be managing those new and old customers differently if you had an idea of how or why they were coming to you.
  • Your best laid plans to source code every link were squashed as your customers hopped from one page to the next and that code was not only stripped but replaced with more ‘Other’ codes only somewhat related to your message (if you are lucky).

You can spend hours – days even – diving into reports to decipher who The Others are and where they came from. A frightening prospect indeed.

Every Other transaction carries clues that need to be pieced together like a puzzle to ascertain valuable insights about the customer and the revenue stream. For instance, you may receive a transaction two days after you sent out an email. A very similar situation could be someone who clicked on an email, went to your site, surfed around, left your site, came back and finally placed the transaction two hours later. By then, no remnant of the original source coding was left to carry through to your reports. At least you know who they are. What about those folks who saw your logo on a partner site, clicked on it to see who you were and placed a transaction? Likely your partner didn’t bother to add your specific source coding to the link so all you know is that they came from that site. That’s something.

So how do you make sense of it all, why is it important and what should you be looking for? Those are questions that you should consider more strategically, but at the very least you should know how your specific communication channels are performing such as mail, email, website and social media. That insight can guide you as you develop a deeper dive strategy on how you reach out to existing and prospective customers/donors/supporters through those channels.

Identifying ‘The Others’ with your current tools

Most CRMs come with reporting tools that offer insights into revenue sources. This can be in the form of source code reporting which can be very insightful if you have good source coding in place. If not, you can typically look to an origin source and/or subsource report for additional information. With good source coding in a link – assuming that the link remains intact through transaction – you can track response from the ask all the way to the transaction and maybe even pick up a few nuggets of information on the way. Depending on what tools you are using you may need to pull multiple reports, compile them and run your own pivot tables to generate actionable insights and visualizations to share.

Letting someone else identify your ‘Others’

Some tools can automate delivery of your data from multiple sources to a central repository saving you mountains of time. A handful of those tools can then look for connections between your revenue and channels. Frakture does both of these. This is called attribution, a highly complex process of properly attributing revenue back to a specific message. Technology can reduce a significant bit of the legwork, but don’t be deceived. Even the smartest Bots are not omniscient. Humans will almost always need to intervene at some point and give instructions on how to attribute revenue.

What could good cross-channel attribution of your Others look like?


We love good discussion if you have only two slices or if your pie is on the more diverse side. Let us know how your pie looks in the comments below!

If you didn’t follow the reference to the movie The Others, it is a 2001 thriller starring Nicole Kidman. Spooky with some unpredictable twists, a good watch.

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