You Should Use Tracking Codes
This article is designed for the beginner marketer or small business owner working hard at some marketing campaigns and no idea how to track their efforts.
Chances are you’ve done some online marketing for your business whether it being a Facebook page, Twitter account, or posting relevant information on message boards. Why not track how well you’re doing and how your efforts direct affect your Website’s stats.
Basically if you own a Website and market it online you should be tracking your (or your vendor’s) efforts. Below is the basic guide to help you get started.
Step 1 – Google analytics
Google Analytics is widely used from small businesses to large enterprise, provides real-time information about your Website’s visitors and pages. It provides in-depth information that will help you improve and optimize your Website. Setup your free account with Google and copy the code into your Website’s <head> take within your HTML. Google provides plenty of help information and most CMS such as WordPress allows you to easily insert the code. Email email@example.com if you want some more information about this.
Step 2 – Campaign tracking organization
The key to good campaign tracking is consistency and for that, at a basic level, is to know how to code your campaign information and how detailed you want it. We will keep this short and sweet for this article and get you started with the basics.
Naming your campaigns: For example if you have a new service and would like to introduce it to your existing customers you could have a campaign called “ServiceXYZIntro”. Think of a name that easily describes what you’re trying to achieve. This could be promotions or strategic campaigns.
Campaign Medium (or platform): The campaign medium tracking code is crucial in knowing which platform works best for you. Mediums can be any of the following: Email, Twitter, Facebook, costperclick, paidadvertising, emailsignatures, etc… It’s important to be generic enough to be consistent and reusable.
Campaign Sources: Sources can be defined as email lists, newsletter lists, twitter followers, etc… If you’re using solicited email lists from a white paper download you did, you may want to tag it appropriately, for example: EM-List-WhitePaper-LearningAboutLinks which will tell you which lists provided the best results. Of if you work for a larger company, you can name the code to match your SQL query that built the list (e.g. “All-Members-With-Location_A”).
If you’re testing (or using) different advertisement content or layouts pointing to the same location, you should use this campaign tracking code to help differentiate which advertisement model works best, the code can look something like: “BigBannerEdition” or “LayoutABC”.
It’s also recommended to use short codes and ones that follow basic URL naming conventions such as:
- No spaces (uses underscores or + symbols), spaces produce ugly URLs that could easily brake if used in email campaigns or copy+pasted from different sources.
- No special characters such as: ?, &, *, /, etc… These will ultimately break your redirects and tracking codes.
- Keep it short and sweet. Create your own acronyms if you have to for example “EM = Email”, lengthy URLs produce more complex QR codes.
Step 3 – Build the URLs
There are many URL builders on the internet, the most popular may be the Google URL builder itself but you can also use the MarketyLink.com builder which also generates QR codes and TinyURLs for you. For example on the MarketyLink.com home page, you can insert:
- Landing Page: http://marketylink.com/index.php
- Campaign Name: information_on_urls
- Source: articles
- Medium: blogs
- Content: you_should_use_tracking_codes
Which will then produce this long link: http://marketylink.com/index.php?utm_campaign=information_on_urls&utm_source=articles&
Or the TinyURL: http://tinyurl.com/93yd5ca (and QR code)
MarketyLink.com helps you manage these links with the management portal so you can be consistent with your tracking codes and vanity URLs if you use those.
Step 4 – Using the long campaign tracking coded URLs
An import step to tracking your marketing efforts is to consistently use these URLs (links). For example if you have a new red bicycle product and a campaign called “RedBicycle” which consists of Marketing emails to previous customers, TV commercials, Print Ads, etc… You will need to deliver unique URLs for each your reaches. For example, a TV advertisement you would essentially create a Vanity URL such as “www.yourbusiness.com/tv” which would be a redirect to your landing page with all the campaign codes attached. For print advertisements you can use a different Vanity URL (with QR code pointing to the same URL) “www.yourbusiness.com/red” which also redirects to your landing page but contains different campaign codes. Or if you’re using Twitter or message boards to send your message, you can use a TinyURL which would redirect users to your landing page with another set of campaign codes.
All these different campaign codes and redirects (Links) will build you a powerful dashboard in your Analytics Software telling you if the TV ad was successful or if most of your customers came from your printed ad. Essentially knowing which of your Marketing efforts brought the most return. Google Analytics, for example, allows you to setup conversion pages, which gives you a very insightful report of your online leads, from which campaign they came from, what entry point they used, which pages they visited before getting to your conversion (usually a thank you page after the purchase or download). This report also tells you what the drop-off points are.
Going a step further and track ACTIONS on your Website!
If you’re all excited about tracking your marketing efforts online, you will have a blast about Event Tracking. Google Analytics provides an easy way for you to track events such as users clicking on buttons, playing videos, etc…
For example, if you want to quickly track the download of a PDF, you can create an event. To make life easier, you can use the Event Code Generator on MarketyLink.com to build the HTML needed.
- Download Link: The actual destination such as the PDF download, video, etc…
- Category: The type of objects you wish to track, this could look like “Videos”, “PDF articles”, “Buy Now BTN”
- Action: Would be your call-to-action used such as “Download Now”, “Buy Now”, etc…
- Label: Help you identify where the event took place, usually the filename the button or link is placed on.
- Link Text: The wording used for the link.
Once all set-up, you will be able to see user actions in your Google Analytics reporting. This is particularly helpful if you have different button styles and tells you which one delivers more clicks or conversions. These kinds of details will help you optimize and test your Website to the most finite detail.
If this article didn’t put you to sleep, you learnt the importance of tracking your efforts because you can be surprised with what’s actually working and allow you to focus on the things that work and fix the things that don’t - Ultimately more conversions = happier boss or thicker wallet.
You also learnt the importance of using URL builders to be consistent and introduced to a free online URL builder / management tool called MarketyLink.com
If you have questions or comments, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org