Make Campaign Tracking Part of Your Website Measuring Process

April 28, 2014 Steve Hennigs

In order to fully understand the success of your digital marketing efforts, you need the complete picture. In this post, we will review a key component to capturing information you may be missing, how to implement that process in your organization and provide some guidance on how to add some serious value when you are armed with a more complete data set.

This is the third installment in a series on web analytics for B2B websites. If you’re just joining us, we began by reviewing the importance of identifying KPIs and MCs for your site, and then how to track those interactions with Events.

Once you have started collecting data on your desired outcomes for the website (KPIs and MCs), you are still missing an important piece of the puzzle: a complete picture of your Acquisition Strategy, or in layman’s terms, “how people are getting to your website.”

Most web analytics tools provide a very basic overview of how people are coming to your website, which probably looks something like this:

Web Analytics Tools

The three standard metrics included out of the box are usually Direct Traffic, traffic from Referral Websites, and traffic from Search Engines. Understanding them is important, but they make up only half of what you’ll need to fully measure the success of your website and other digital efforts.

The missing sources are Email Marketing, Social Media and Offline Marketing (e.g. a print ad directing people to your website). Once you add data from these sources to the standard three, you will have a complete picture of how people are getting to your site – and more importantly, you’ll have the ability to determine which channels are delivering towards your desired outcomes!

So, how do you get data from the three missing sources into your web analytics tool? By adding extra text to your links when sharing them online. This text doesn’t do anything differently when people view the page, but it appears in your analytics tool and can be used to match shared links with campaigns. This extra text is called “campaign tracking parameters.”

Though you may not have heard of campaign tracking parameters before, you’ve probably seen them. Parameters appear in a URL after a question mark (?) and are separated by an ampersand (&). [Fun fact: you can add a question mark to a URL and then write anything you want; as long as there are no spaces it will work normally. Go ahead and try it on this page!]

Let’s take a look at what a URL with campaign tracking parameters looks like in the real world. How many parameters do you see in this URL, and what are they?

There are three parameters in this URL:

  1. utm_source
  2. utm_medium
  3. utm_campaign

Here's the same URL again, with the parameters bolded:

What makes these parameters valuable to your analytics efforts is how they are recognized in your analytics program.

By default, Siteimprove Analytics - as well as many other analytics tools, such as Google Analytics - identifies five parameters as Campaign; utm_campaign, utm_medium, utm_source, utm_content and utm_term. So you can use them without having to do any setup.

Let’s talk about how you can use your Traffic Sources information combined with your KPI and MC data for really powerful analysis.

When analyzing your data, you may find that visitors are more or less likely to do certain things depending on which traffic source they came from.

For instance, let’s say you want people to fill out a signup form for your newsletter, and the form appears on several different pages. This form is a KPI for your organization because people who subscribe to this particular newsletter are more likely to contact you for a quote, request a demo, set up a meeting, etc. One of your goals over the next quarter is to increase subscriptions to the newsletter by 10% over the previous quarter. Your plan to do so is by promoting the newsletter in the following ways:

  • Adding a link to the subscribe page in your staffs’ email signatures
  • Sending an email campaign with the subscribe page as the call-to-action
  • Promoting the newsletter via LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Featuring the newsletter more prominently on your homepage
  • For the first three promotion methods above, you’ll want to use Campaign Tracking. (Assuming you’ve already identified your KPIs and are tracking them via Event Tracking, as outlined in our first two blog posts of this series)

In order to get value out of campaign tracking, you need to:

  1. Understand how many newsletter subscribers were added in the past quarter.
  2. Identify and gain approval on the naming conventions you will use for the signature link, email campaign link and social media links.
  3. Educate anyone who will be sending out a link to the Subscribe page on how to add Campaign Tracking Parameters to that link.
  4. Check in pretty routinely early in the quarter to ensure that the process is being followed and then as needed until quarter’s end.

The end of the quarter is when the real fun begins. Then you can review whether or not you hit your goal of increasing subscriptions by 10%. In this example, let’s say that you did achieve that goal. This is ultimately the number that leadership will want to see, but you can’t stop there. As a web analyst, it’s your job to provide additional understanding as to why you were able to do so. Part of that analysis will be reviewing which promotional method drove the most subscribers.

This is the part where you’ll be happy you went through the work of making Campaign Tracking part of your process. You’ll be able look back at the past three months and have definitive evidence as to which method was the most successful, and which may have been a waste of time. In addition to making you look like a genius in front of your boss, this knowledge can be used to help determine future investments (time, people and money).

In order to truly provide value from your analytics data, there are still a few steps before you’re done. You still need to add context to your data and report that information forward in a way that leadership can easily understand.

Incidentally, adding context to your data is the focus of our next installment in this series. Be sure to tune in to the Siteimprove Web Governance Blog for the last two installments of this series.

For a full explanation of Campaign Tracking Parameters, their situational use and some quick tips, download Siteimprove’s step-by-step guide to setting up campaign tracking.

And don't forget to register for this week's #1NWebinar, during which I'll share the 3 essential skills and activities you need in order to successfully analyze your website.

This post originally appeared on the Siteimprove Web Governance Blog:


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Steve Hennigs Vice President of Customer Success - Siteimprove

Steve Hennigs aims to help firms ensure they follow SEO and web analytic best practices. For over three years, he has worked extensively within the legal community as Siteimprove’s chief representative, and in this time he has successfully launched Siteimprove’s Web Governance Suite into 20 of the Am Law 100 firms, amongst others.

An experienced practitioner, Steve is an Online Certified Marketing Professional, and a Market Motive Certified Practitioner within the disciplines of Search Engine Optimization and Web Analytics. He also carries a certification for Google Analytics.

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