Tracking Social Media, Email & Advertising with Analytics

If you’re like most businesses, you don’t have an easy answer when asked if your online marketing and media tactics are “working” or if your social media strategy is generating leads for you.  Or, what is the ROI of each of your tactics?  But, you can have the answer, and all we need to do is apply some little tools and Google Analytics.  I could write a book on the subject (and others have), but I’ll try to be simple.

Step 1.

Define Goals. There’s two kinds of Analytics goals: Engagement goals and Transactional goals

Engagement goals describe how users behave on your site and which of those behaviors are desired and trackable.

Examples:  White paper download, key page visited, watched a video, how many pages visited, time spent during the site visit.

Transactional goals are those goals that may become purchases or leads.

Examples: Information request, completed registration, completed purchase, completed form

Here’s a sample of three goals for a site:

When you enter a goal, you want to give it a value.  The value gives each goal a priority. I usually have a 1-10 ranking.  This is important because some goals are worth more than others.

Here’s an example of a lower priority goal:

Time spent on a site over 4 minutes shows engagement on this site, and is given a value of 1.

Getting visitors to a “Contact us” is higher priority, and thus is given a value of 5. A URL to a “Thank you” for submitting page is given a 10.

Note:  There are advanced configurations needed that involve some additional programming, such as tracking subdomains and multiple domains, funnels,  custom variables, ecommerce tracking, and events. Many of these configurations require server site coding so that each product purchased is assigned its own value for tracking purposes. For the purpose of this blog post we’ll keep it simple for now, but all detailed configurations are available on the help section of Google Analytics.

Step 2:

Set up Tracking.

Every outside URL that links to a website or landing page should have its own unique tag so that proper analysis can be done.  If you set up an Adwords campaign on Google, there is an option to apply automatic tagging, which should be checked.  You need to also check “apply cost data” so that Adwords results can be utilized with Analytics.  For all other media sources, I use Google’s URL builder to create these custom tags. Google asks for 5 fields:

  • Source:  The specific source of where the URL is coming from (the referral source)
  • Medium:  The general category of the source (I use socialmedia, PPC, blog, email, directory).
  • Term:  For Adwords, if you wish to customize tracking my keyword.  For this post, I’ve avoided it.  It’s optional.
  • Content: A term that helps you differentiate ads or messages
  • Name:  The unique name of the campaign

Here’s 4 examples of how this could work:

A Facebook ad.  Very clearly shows a free assessment promotion for a spring marketing campaign.

Tweets.  Here’s an example of how I would track my tweets of a specific blog post that I tweet in the mornings.  You don’t have to get this granular, but shows an example if you wish to compare results of morning tweets vs. afternoon tweets.

An email campaign.  The URL here would be a landing page embedded as a link on your email message.  This could easily be a link to a white paper or a webinar.  For this example, my source is an email campaign to A/B lead scores, which means I have a lead scoring system in place.  The email content targets top management (titles VP and above) with Version A message (so that A/B testing can be done).  The campaign name is Spring Email promo.

Look!  I’m tracking traditional media.  For this I have a vanity landing page set up for use in my ad, with a full page ad for a special pay-per-click offer.  This is important: when you set up this vanity landing page, it needs to redirect to a custom URL with the tagging as described in this post.  Redirects can be set up through your host.  Contact your hosting company for details on how to do this, if your web administrator is unsure. You can do this for outdoor, TV, or direct mail, even radio, although hearing a URL is harder than seeing it, but still worth a test, if you promote a unique offer.   If you don’t do a unique offer, then you can still set up a unique vanity landing page, and have it redirect.  The URL generated with the tagging becomes the name of the landing page the redirect is referred to.  Get it? Who said you can’t track traditional media!

So the above are just 4 simple examples of creating custom URL tags. We at NuSpark Marketing would plan your specific campaigns and attributes so that we can implement specific tracking mechanisms.

Step 3

Implement.

Okay- we have goals set.  We have our landing pages set.  We have a list of custom URLs set.

The next step is to implement these into your advertising.

  1. Search engines allow you to separate display URLs with destination URLs.  The custom URLs are entered as destination URLs. No one sees these.  The display URL is your simple landing page without the tagging.
  2. Social Media and Email.  The generated custom URLs can be inserted as a hyperlink into any web or email copy as the actual destination URL.  If you use a URL shortener like bit.ly, again you need to use custom URLS with the tagging so that you can track your results with Google Analytics.  If you just measure your results through URL shorteners, you’re not analyzing the complete picture, and you can’t measure engagement and transactional goals.  Understood?
  3. Traditional Media.  This is explained above.  Create unique vanity landing pages that are redirected to the custom URLs.

Step 4.

Analyze!

I’ll get into the details of analysis and reporting into my next blog post next week, but by carefully setting up Google Analytics, defining goals, and implementing custom tagged URLs, you’ve come a long way to measuring the effects of your online marketing.  Once the above steps are implemented, let them run for a couple of weeks.  For next week’s post I’ll explain  how to track and interpret the analytics data so that meaningful outcomes result, which means decisions can be made on marketing and media strategy.

Bear in mind that much of the analysis is based on “last-click” metrics without taking into account all other marketing messages that drive users to find you.  That’s where SEO planning, ongoing social media, or just maintaining high levels of reach and frequency contribute to the overall growth of website visits.

Until next time….Look forward to comments.

About Paul Mosenson

NuSpark Marketing Founder, Chief Lead Generation Strategist and Online Media Director An experienced B2B and B2C marketer, Paul has been helping clients generate leads and grow their businesses for over 25 years. Paul helps plan and optimize marketing and lead generation programs.

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