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Track Your Marketing Dollars with Google Analytics

September 13, 2011

Throughout the year we track our marketing campaigns to see which channels are working and which are not. These channels could include email marketing, social media, QR Codes, and banner ads. Using a tracking URL and Google Analytics we can see the channels that are producing the most activity. We can easily weed out the underperforming campaigns and save our company thousands. If you’re spending money marketing online, and have no idea if it’s producing results, here’s a simple way to track your marketing dollars.
Here are a few marketing channels where tracking URLs will come in handy.

  • Banner Ads / Sponsored Listings (Paid and non-paid. Is the advertising paying off? Do certain ads work better than others?)
  • Links (Ex: Chamber website, Visitor’s Bureau website, local directories, paid and non-paid links.)
  • Email Marketing (For our clients who use BLASTnewsletters)
  • QR Codes (QR codes can be displayed almost everywhere, e.g., posters and business cards. It’s the only offline tool where it’s easy to track URLs.)
  • PDF Files and Brochures (Want to know if your exclusive white paper was downloaded?)
  • Social Media campaigns (Such as having multiple Facebook landing pages. Find out which one draws the most traffic back to your site.)
  • Email Signature (Do you send out email every day? Find out if people are clicking on a link or logo within your email signature. Change it around or create ads that produce more click-throughs.)

Let’s get started! Go to www.google.com/support/analyticshelp/….
So, what are you going to track? In this demonstration I’m tracking the new Experience Facebook package we are offering. In the example below I grabbed the full URL and added it to the Website URL field. Go ahead and grab your website address and add it here.

Where are you advertising? On another website or maybe within your email signature? Enter the source in theCampaign Source field. I’m adding ‘Noteworthy’ as our source since I’m tracking the visitors that click on this link: Experience Facebook; right here in this article. You may call it anything you wish such as a name, number, or web address, but I recommend keeping it to a few short words. Not so difficult, right?

Tip: Avoid really long names. Names that are incredibly long will make your reports on Google Analytics look very ugly, as you cannot expand or contract the columns in report tables. Try to keep names of things short and concise, but descriptive at the same time.
I’ll be using ‘Blog Link’ as the Campaign Medium. When I review the results in Google Analytics I will know that it was a link embedded in a blog article.Google’s recommendation for naming the Campaign Medium is cpc, banner, and email. Good news is you’re not limited by what they recommend. Other examples can be Time Square QR Code, Twitter, Rob’s Email Signature, and September Email Newsletter.

Tip: If you are planning on creating additional tracking URLs it would be best to create a spreadsheet in Excel to organize them – a few dozen tracking URLs and it’s going to get confusing!
This will come in handy if you’re running multiple ads, using different keywords, on the same source and medium. If you’re paying for keyword placement, this will help determine which ones are producing the best results. Since the campaign I’m creating is not that complex I’m going to skip this step.

Tip: If using Google AdWords in combination with Google Analytics you don’t need to tag your AdWords URLs.
There is a strong possibility that I might run a similar campaign from another blog article. Therefore, I’m going to use the date the article was published to differentiate between the two. (Campaign Content is not required.)

Since our campaign links to a landing page about Facebook I’m going to add ‘Experience Facebook’ as the campaign name. For your campaign, include something that is easy to recognize. It will come in handy when reviewing Google Analytics.

Once completed, click Generate URL. This will yield a nice and attractive…um, long and confusing-looking URL.

And here’s a breakdown of the URL that we created.

See, not so difficult, right?
The next campaign you run; whatever it may be, e.g., online newspaper, QR code campaign, email newsletter – remember to create a tracking URL through Google’s URL builder. After your campaign is launched, log into Google Analytics to see how well it’s performing. Tracking your marketing dollars couldn’t be any easier. Good luck!
Note: This is a two part series. The first part covers a tutorial on creating your own tracking URLs. The second part will explain where to view the results in Google Analytics. We’ll have to wait until viewers have had a chance to read this article before I can report on it. Subscribe to our blog to be notified when the next article is released.