What is Cross-Device Tracking and How to Use It

Our online connection to the internet is no longer limited to our computers. Nowadays, there are plenty of different devices that customers can use to get online. This gives us more freedom and flexibility when it comes to how and where we connect to the internet.

But being able to connect to multiple devices isn’t only benefitting the customer. It’s giving much-needed leverage to business owners and marketers who want to use cross-device capabilities best.

What is cross-device tracking, why is it so important for marketers, and how do you apply it to your business? If these questions are subjects of your interest, then keep on reading, as we’ll find the answers to them.


What is Cross-Device Tracking?

Cross-device tracking enables businesses to track customers’ online behavior by correlating activity across different devices. Using this technology, brands can put together pictures of how consumers use their products in the real world — not just how they shop on their websites but also how they use their apps and mobile devices. This information is vital to streamlining customer journeys and boosting onsite conversion rates.

To make good use of this type of tracking, marketers must utilize cross-device tracking on their ecommerce sites. This will help deliver ads to the same consumers across multiple devices and ensure users are profiled correctly without bias.

Without this kind of tracking, it will be nearly impossible to track user behavior and predict outcomes. To get a complete picture of how users interact with your product or service, you need to be able to track their behavior across all of their devices.


Why is It Important?

Cross-device tracking wouldn’t be such a powerful marketing strategy for targeted advertising if it didn’t have the X-factor. But there are plenty of reasons why it is crucial for business success, and let’s see six reasonable grounds why it matters more than ever.

  1. Identifies users: the first reason cross-device tracking matters so much is that it can track users regardless of the device type they’re using to access your store. Whether it’s a mobile device, a computer, or a Smart TV, you can see if a user id profile matches many different devices.

  2. Helps with data analysis: cross-device tracking enables you to identify if most of your users visit your website through their desktop computers or prefer using their mobile browser to access your site through their phones.

  3. Identify patterns: having many data points allows you to identify patterns easier and check if something is lacking regarding your products (or the website/mobile app). This way, you can quickly resolve issues, knowing where the root cause stands.

  4. Lifts conversion rates: cross-device tracking could significantly boost conversion rates, as it provides more accurate results on shopping behavior. By tracking a user’s journey across multiple devices, businesses can better understand how customers interact with their brand and what leads them to purchase a product.

  5. Saves money: advertising is a costly endeavor these days. However, suppose you track users and their shopping behavior. In that case, you can decrease your marketing expenses since you’ll target customers who are more prone to buy your products or services and avoid leads that are not profitable enough.

  6. Creates a better overall experience: guessing is never a good idea in marketing. It might annoy customers who don’t want to be targeted with random ads. Cross-device tracking will help you tailor your marketing campaigns.


How Does It Work?

Cross-device tracking is a crucial tool that allows brands and digital marketers to follow their customers across devices. By integrating the customer’s online and offline activity, it’s possible to get an accurate view of customer preferences, purchases, and user behavior.

The idea behind this type of tracking is to find which devices belong to the same person. For example, if user X has a laptop and smartphone to access “randomshopname.com,” it is possible to link all devices to the same user, meaning they can now be targeted with specific ads.

And while this tracking does a great job at finding cross-device data and identifying patterns, it is a big worry for some customers to know they are being monitored by big tech companies that provide the information to 3rd party companies.



There are two primary methods for this kind of tracking — deterministic and probabilistic tracking. Let’s see what they mean in the real world.



Deterministic tracking is the more accurate method of device ID tracking. This method involves recognizing personally identifiable information, like an email address, when it is used across many devices to log into applications and websites — for example, using the same username and password to sign in to your email account across many different computers or mobile phones.

Big tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft use it. And if there is someone that can apply large-scale cross-device targeting, it’s undoubtedly one of those names.

Many marketing beginners prefer to use deterministic tracking since it’s way more accurate, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. While it would bring much better results in a perfect world, the ROI might be highly impacted by huge prices.

Since having big data centers and containing user logs costs a lot, “Big Tech” often surcharges more than what you’d have to spend if you did your homework alone.



As the name indicates, probabilistic tracking is more about “probability” (or chances) than a particular fixed event. This type of tracking requires a more probabilistic approach when predicting future events instead of a deterministic process.

The outcome is that you should apply more algorithms and track anonymous data points, to connect the dots. What you have to collect (but are not limited to) are some of the following things:

  • The IP address of the customers

  • Browsing data of your customers

  • The operating system of your clients

  • Type of device where your users are entering from

  • Wi-Fi network.

Probabilistic tracking has one big flaw: it can only guess, but it’s unavoidable, so you can make a good guess based on data and still get it wrong. On the bright side, executing is much cheaper, and everyone can apply it.


How to Use Cross-Device Tracking for Your Ecommerce Business

There are a number of ways that cross-device tracking can help your ecommerce business. By understanding how customers interact with your site across different devices, you can adjust your marketing and sales tactics to be more effective. Here are some excellent ways to apply those tactics.


Start with analysis

One great way to use this tracking method to your advantage is to analyze your results. It will help you understand which devices are used most often, what time of day people use them, and what kind of content they are looking for.


Fix problems that you didn’t know existed

This kind of tracking can help you fix issues with different metrics. For example, if your website traffic from tablet devices is not enough, you should start advertising on mobile phones and tablets so that potential customers are exposed to your brand across their devices.


Increase conversion rates

If you wish to lift your conversion rate, then this traking can help you identify patterns you can use to your advantage. By acknowledging how users interact with your website or app across different devices, you can adjust your strategy to meet their needs better and enhance your conversion rate by miles.



As technology advances, so does the way that businesses market to their consumers. To be successful, tracking customers across devices is now more critical than ever, allowing you to target the right clients at the right moment with the right message.


We can’t give such an answer since both serve different purposes. While you cannot easily bypass the tons of data that has been collected over the years, more often than not, your marketing budget cannot stretch enough to utilize deterministic tracking only.

And while probabilistic tracking can not deliver such accurate results most of the time, the low price and the incredible ROI make it a great way to complement the other popular method.

Cross-platform targeting within mobile advertising enables brands to reach potential customers through a single campaign on mobile devices and desktops.

Doing so allows you to be more flexible with budget spending, and your ads can appear in front of customers whether they are shopping online or on the go.

Cross-device tracking is the way you collect data about users across different devices. Cross-device targeting refers to how you use that data to tailor your marketing campaigns.

Both are crucial for optimizing your marketing campaigns and achieving good results.

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