Tagging your marketing campaigns can help you measure their return on investment. Given how easy it is to do this for your online campaigns there’s no excuse not to apply these techniques to your offline campaigns too.

The wonders of Google Analytics

Google Analytics automatically detects and logs organic referrals from websites or other search engines. Google AdWords users should already know all about the benefits of tagging your ads. If you’re not taking advantage of this, turn auto-tagging on now by:

  1. Logging-in to AdWords
  2. Click on My Account>Edit
  3. Tick the “Destination URL Auto-tagging” checkbox
  4. Click “Save”.

Many people stop there but you should be tracking all of your non-AdWords campaigns. This may also include the links you share via email and social media. Doing this will mean you can access and compare the data on all of your marketing activities in one place.

It’s also worth remembering that if you’ve built a landing page it is critical that you display paths to it prominently on your website. Throughout a campaign, a landing page should always be possible to find without the original link. As there’s no point in developing and optimising a landing page for conversions if people can’t find it.

Applying tagging and tracking to an offline campaign

Tracking offline events and campaigns is somewhat harder. People often forget the URL you’ve advertised and end up accessing the website via Google. This means that visit will not be attributed to your campaign by your analytics software. This is why you should familiarise yourself with the baseline activity on your website. Doing so will allow you to identify any spikes in traffic that are likely to be attributable to a specific offline campaign.

Once you decide to track an offline campaign tagging the link you advertise offline should just be the start. Build in other tactics such as memorable discount codes or custom phone numbers. All of these will help you track users who have been exposed to your offline campaign but don’t use the URL you’ve advertised offline.

In short tracking an offline campaign is not an exact science but it is doable.

To track an online or offline event or campaign you need to:

  1. Select the URL of the page you wish to direct traffic to.
  2. Go to Google’s URL Builder http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55578 to generate a trackable link.
  3. Enter data in the required fields:

Campaign Source – enter the source of the referral, e.g. quarter 1 email newsletter, or any other source you will be using to promote your landing page.
Doing so will allow you to identify the source of the referral.

Campaign Medium – enter the marketing medium you are using for this campaign, e.g. banner adverts, email newsletter, email, cost-per-click, cost-per-impression, cost-per-action, etc.
Doing so will allow you to identify the marketing medium used to advertise your link.

Campaign Name – enter the name of your campaign.
Doing so will allow you to segment data relevant to a specific campaign.

4. Enter data in the optional fields. You don’t have to complete all of the variables but you will regret it if you don’t when it comes to filtering the data.

Campaign Term – identify the paid keywords used, e.g. kids toys.
This is only relevant to keyword-based campaigns.

Campaign Content – enter something that will differentiate this link from other links you create that point to the same landing page.
Doing so will allow you to differentiate between different ads/links that point to the same landing page. This is critical if you are A/B testing the content of your ads.

5. Publish and share the link generated.

Doing the above will enable you to track and segment a visit to your website by the dimensions you set-out when you generate your links. This will give you access to invaluable data that previously wasn’t being captured.

In fact once you’ve familiarised yourself with the process we’d highly recommend you start doing this for every ad/link or marketing campaign you implement going-forwards.

What next?

Having access to this data is just the start, it’s how you segment and filter it that matters.

Over time you can refine the way in which you track both online and offline events and campaigns. At first start off small – start off measuring the click-through rate and depth of visit your email newsletter generates. Then over time expand this to tracking and segmenting visits from your email newsletter by the specific call-to-action clicked on within the newsletter.

Using this data will help you to optimise your messaging as well as assess the return on investment each of your marketing activities is generating. Taking such an approach will no doubt help you to allocate your marketing budget and resources more effectively.

François Roshdy

François is director of user experience at Border Crossing UX. He specialises in helping clients continuously improve the experiences they deliver.