It’s likely that your company has an integrated marketing plan that includes print and digital communications. You probably have a website with Google Analytics capturing your traffic. As part of your plan, you might send out monthly email blasts to loyal clients or mail marketing materials to prospective customers. You may have purchased banner advertising on websites that target your primary audiences. Perhaps you place print ads in industry magazines as well. You hope that at least some of your marketing strategy is gaining traction.

Hope is not a strategy.

If you are using Google Analytics to track your website, but not whether print, email, and online marketing efforts are effectively driving traffic to your site, you are missing a key opportunity to measure ROI. (Especially considering that it takes minimal effort and zero budget to get started!)

Google Analytics’ Campaign TrackingCampaigns in Google Analytics

Campaigns can be generated to capture traffic from online ads, email blasts, social media posts and even printed marketing materials. Visits are tracked in Google Analytics through specially tagged links that contain attributes helping you identify the source. This helps you gain insight into what motivated your audience to click and where you should continue (or not continue) to put effort in the future. The results, including number of visits, pages per visit, visit duration and bounce rate, will appear in the Campaigns section of your Google Analytics account under Acquisitions.

Google’s Campaign URL Builder helps you generate the links to utilize in your marketing efforts. Campaign URLs consist of four required pieces of data and two optional fields. Campaign Term is for paid keywords.

  • Website URL – The page on your website where the link will go. It could be the homepage or a specific article, product, or service that you are promoting.
  • Campaign Name - The overarching campaign title that allows you to group all of the activities in your integrated marketing plan. For example, Campaign Name: “ProductXLaunch_2014.” It is critical that each time you use the Campaign Name to generate a new URL that you enter the name exactly the same. Even changing an uppercase letter to a lowercase letter will cause Google to track it as a separate campaign.
  • Campaign Source and Medium - Both can be used in conjunction to differentiate your marketing. For example, if you are generating one banner ad that will appear both on a website and  in an eNewsletter, you could track the banner’s success in each location by generating one URL with the Source= “ProductX_Banner Ad,”  Medium=”Website” and the second URL with the same exact Name and Source but with the  Medium=”eNews”
  • Campaign Content - Campaign content is not required but offers another dimension of information. For instance, if your Medium is “eNews”, Content could be “April2014” to help identify which issue of eNews the banner appeared.

TIP: Since you will create custom campaign URL on a regular basis, it is highly recommended that you document the URLs and data fields you create so you can use them consistently over time.

What about print?

There are two options for using Campaign Tracking on print materials, Shortened URLs or QR codes.

Shortened URLs
Custom URLs are quite long and are better left behind the scenes. Placing a campaign URL on printed materials simply would not work. You can use a tool like Google’s URL Shortener or Bitly to shorten the long campaign URL into something easier for a visitor to enter. Below is the long campaign URL shortened by Google. Shorter? Yes! But it is still not a thing of beauty. If this route was taken, it is recommended to create an account on Bitly, which will allow you to create custom branded URLs.

Google shortened URL

TIP: Shortened Campaign URLs are great for posting on social media sites such as Twitter. You’ll have a clear measure of which posts generated the most traffic.

QR Codes

A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a matrix barcode that when scanned by a mobile device, can direct visitors to a web page. I know what you are thinking. QR codes, really? People use those? Sometimes they do, and they can provide some data about your printed marketing that you may not otherwise get. QR codes can be generated for free, you can code them with the custom URL you created, and any visits to the site from the QR code will be tracked as part of your campaign. It is highly recommended that if you employ QR codes, you use them strategically to drive visitors to an experience that allows them to engage with your company, rather than simply driving traffic to your homepage.

TIP: Using shortened URLs on your QR code will make the matrix appear cleaner and should result in better scan success.

QR code with full campaign link

QR code with shortened campaign link

QR code with full campaign Link

QR code with shortened campaign link

Next Steps

Once you start utilizing campaigns, your Google Analytics data becomes that much more valuable. You can make informed marketing decisions, better evaluate your return on investment for marketing efforts, and be more equipped to share detailed reports with leadership.

To learn more ways to get the most out of Google Analytics, register for our next webinar Google Analytics: Putting Data into Action on March 18, 2014 at 11am EDT.