Web Query Parameter | What is the Destination Targeting?

A Web Query Parameter is one of the simplest and most useful advanced queries you can create. It allows you to create a query that can be updated easily to reflect a new search term. When you open a parameter query, Access will prompt you for a search term and then show you query results that reflect your search.

When you’re running a Web Query Parameter, search terms act as variable criteria, which are query criteria that change each time you run the query. For instance, let’s say we own a bakery and want to create a query that will quickly lookup orders that were placed on a certain date.

Web Query Parameter

We could create a parameter query with variable criteria in the Date field. This way, each time we run the query a dialog box will appear prompting us to enter the date we want our query to search for.

What is a Web Query Parameter?

As a definition, the web query parameter is a set of instructions that defines two substrings. For example, the “contains” and “does not contain” subject substring containment. Whereas the “contains” match the type – also known as a “substring match.”

This allows you to target any occurrence of a substring with a longer string in regards to your website URLs. In particular, the “contains” element is most useful when targeting a unique query string parameter. Especially that which appears in multiple URLs.

As an example, the jmexclusives online consulting agency presents targeted offers to its unique and daily online readers. For instance, targeted offers based on the query parameters present in the jospehmuciraexclusives.com page URLs. In addition, you can use the URL Parameter rule to target and retarget visitors for your additional marketing or upselling.

How is a Web Query Parameter Targeting done?

In other words, a query string is also referred to as a query argument. This means they are a small snippet of code added to your URL which further processes the URL being viewed.

Explicitly, web query parameter targets values that occur in the query string of a URL. And surprisingly, web query parameters are found between the question mark (?) and a hash mark (#).

For example;
  • https://www.example.com/store/landing?utm_campaign=fall#fragment
  • https://www.example.com/store/search?q=nexus#fragment
The web query parameters in the above examples include;
  • Google Analytics campaign parameters (?utm_campaign=fall), and
  • Search queries (?q=nexus).

How is a Web Query Parameter Container used?

Equally, important, URLs can contain multiple query parameters, called query components.

The first occurs after the question mark (?), and subsequent components occur after the ampersand (&).

The following URL includes three query components from the Google Analytics URL builder:

http://www.example.com?utm_source=google&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=fall

What are the Benefits of URL targeting?

URL Components or as known as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a specific type of URI (Universal Resource Identifier).

It normally locates an existing resource on the Internet. A URL is when a web client makes a request to a server for a resource.

URL Components

As the Internet Society and IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) defines the concepts of the URI and the URL Components.  (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2396.txt).

Briefly, a URI is any character string that identifies a resource. A URL is one of those URIs that identify a resource by its location, rather than by a name or other attribute of the resource.

A newer form of the resource identifier, the IRI (Internationalized Resource Identifier), permits the use of characters and formats that are suitable for national languages other than English.

Using parameters with web queries

As an example, Microsoft Excel provides a very useful option to gather data from websites, called web queries. These have been introduced with Excel 97 and have been further enhanced in the versions released after Excel 97.

See this article that shows you how to set up a web query so that you can make the worksheet dynamically update. Based on values in so-called parameter cells.

For instance, OptinMonster can present targeted offers to readers based on the query parameters present in the page’s URL.

Additionally, you can use the URL Parameter rule to retarget visitors for additional marketing or upselling. Learn more about How to Write Valid URL Query String Parameters.

In general, the web query parameter targeting has the following benefits over the URL targeting:
  1. Query parameter rules only look at a portion of the URL between the question mark (?) and hash mark (#).
  2. Easy assignment of human-readable variable names (e.g.: “q” becomes “search”).
  3. Can save, edit and reuse commonly used variables in other experiments.
  4. You can target the unescaped value (e.g.: “a=b”) even when the raw URL contains escaped strings (e.g.: “a%3Db”)
  5. If you wish to customize your web query parameter targeting, please consult with the jmexclusives team.
Example: Target visitors who searched for a specific product

You want to target an experiment at visitors who search for nexus on your website. Searches generate the following URL structure:

https://www.example.com/store/search?q=nexus

To create a rule targeting users searching your website for a specific term, you need to create a custom variable, then build a condition with it.

How do I Create a Parameter Query?

parameter query is one of the simplest and most useful advanced queries you can create. It allows you to create a query that can be updated easily to reflect a new search term. When you open a parameter query, Access will prompt you for a search term and then show you query results that reflect your search.

When you’re running parameter queries, search terms act as variable criteria, which are query criteria that change each time you run the query. For instance, let’s say we own a bakery and want to create a query that will quickly lookup orders that were placed on a certain date.

We could create a parameter query with variable criteria in the Date field. This way, each time we run the query a dialog box will appear prompting us to enter the date we want our query to search for.

A prompt in a parameter query

We’ll enter the date we want, then Access will run the query using the date we entered as a search term.

To create and run a parameter query:

  1. Create a query as you normally would, modifying the table joins if necessary, selecting the fields to include in your query, and adding any non-variable criteria to the appropriate fields in the Criteria: row.
  2. Locate the field or fields where you want the variable criteria to appear, and place your cursor in the Criteria: row.
  3. Type the phrase you want to appear in the prompt that will pop up each time you run your query. Make sure to enclose the phrase in brackets [ ]. For example, in our parameter query that searches for orders placed on a certain date, we might type our criteria like this: [What date?].
  4. On the Query Design tab, click the Run command to run your query. A dialog box will appear with the prompt you specified. Enter your search term, then click OK to view your query results.
    Running a parameter criteria

To run an existing parameter query, simply open it.

Step 1: Create a custom variable

  1. Or edit an experiment.
  2. By clicking the TARGETING tab.
  3. Then click AND to add a new targeting rule.
  4. Create your unique Query Parameter.
  5. Click Variable, then Create new…
    1. Optionally, click an existing variable to edit it.
  6. Enter a Query Key – The query component you wish to target. For example, q.
  7. Name your variable – for example,search query
  8. Now click CREATE VARIABLE.

Step 2: Build a custom variable condition

After creating your custom variable, Optimize 360 will populate it in a new targeting condition which you can complete by adding a match type and value. For this example, build the following condition and click SAVE.

Variable Match type Value
Search query contains nexus

This condition will evaluate true if:

  • the value of the first matching query component (unescaped) contains nexus.

This condition will evaluate undefined if:

  • there are no query components containing nexus.

Please learn more about Empty vs. undefined parameters.

Tips for Writing Web Query Parameter

Ideally, the prompt you create for your query should make it clear what type of information the search term should be, and what format it should be entered in.

For example, to guarantee that people enter a search for a date in the format we use in our database, we could write the following in the Criteria: a row of the Date field: [What date? (mm/dd/yy)].

A more detailed parameter prompt

The simplest parameter query will give you exact-match criteria, meaning the query will search for the exact text you enter in the prompt.

However, you can turn any type of criteria into variable criteria. Simply type your prompt text in brackets in the part of the criteria where you would normally put a search term.

For example, in a normal query, we could find orders that were placed between two dates by using the criteria Between x AND y and replacing the x and y with the first and second dates, respectively.

To turn this into a parameter criteria, we would simply replace the x and y with the text we want to appear in the prompt. Our variable criteria might look like this: Between [Enter the start date:] AND [Enter the ending date:]. These prompts would appear:

A web query parameter using more complex criteria
Finally, I hope the above-revised guide on how to create a Web Query Parameter was useful. But, if you’ll need more assistance or support, please Contact Us.

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