With technology’s importance forever growing in the marketing world, you would think it would be easier to measure marketing results.
Are you shaking your head? Well, you’re not alone.
Most marketers still struggle with figuring which marketing efforts are successful. But if you are running a small business, some features of your Web analytics solution can give you a good place to start. When examined, these features can provide at least a functioning indicator of improvement toward your online targets. Most importantly, they can provide you with the data to streamline navigation on your site and nudge visitors toward your desired outcomes.
URL tracking variables
URL tracking variables were originally designed for pay-per-click campaigns, as a means of measuring traffic. And over the last few years, new applications have increased the versatility of tracking variables. A few examples include QR codes, email newsletter links, Facebook ads, shared Twitter links (which are usually incorporated into shortened URLs), and specialty websites.
Most analytics solutions have a tracking variable builder associated with it. For example, Web analytics solution Piwik includes a builder that differs slightly from Google Analytics in its naming conventions, but the functionality is the same. (And Piwik does support Google Analytics parameters.)
The builder appends variable codes that identify the following:
Source: search engine, site
Medium: organic, email, print
Term: keyword typed in a search
Content: version of an advertisement — useful for A/B testing
Campaign: IDs like Christmas sales, clearance, business expo
For instance, a Google Analytics-tagged URL connected to a New York Times banner ad for a waffle deal at Elena’s diner, with a URL www.elenasdiner.com, will appear as:
The builder usually accommodates only one URL at a time. For multiple tagging needs, you can use a spreadsheet with cell concatenation (the joining of variables) based on the parameters, which will save your repetitive effort. But overall the tagging makes your analysis easier. (For a real example, give the Google Analytics version a try.)
Suppose you are specifically interested in following a visitor’s actions on a page — like clicking a PDF download, or playing a video, for example — then event tracking is the most useful tool. An example of a Google Analytics event tracking for an embedded video would look like this:
onClick=”pageTracker._trackEvent(‘Videos’, ‘Play’, ‘Promotion’)”
The naming convention within the parenthesis is a description of the event (“Video” in this case), the desired action to be taken (“Play”), and a label for (“Promotion”).
In addition, Piwik and version 5 of Google Analytics allow event tracking to be a step in a goal funnel. This enables visitor traffic leading to an event to be tracked, along with points in the funnel where a visitor stops short of reaching the desired event.
A variation on this theme also includes virtual page views. Virtual page views are used when a page is an intended action, but not rendered in standard HTML. A flash page is a good example of this.
setCustomVariable (index, name, value, scope)
The naming convention within the parenthesis is a description of the variable:
index: a number associated to a variable, typically 1 – 5 (dictated by solution)
name: the name of the variable
value: a numerical or a text identifier like “female”
scope: usually when the variable is activated, such as a visit
As in the event tracking example, variable parameter details can change, but the functional uses among parameters are similar.
These features can help your business by forcing you to review the purpose of your website, your marketing media and your landing pages. Using these features is also essential for coordinating split tests designed to calculate which version of a page content or feature produces the best open rate, click rate, or conversion rate. In some instance, you can even create custom date reports. This is particularly useful in starting a discussion about integrating your digital and offline media such as using a QR code with a print ad or postcard.
Overall, making your marketing successful begins with organizing the key elements that reflect the purpose for your website and then finding the best analytic features to keep track of them.
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Pierre DeBois is a marketing analytics expert. He is the founder of Zimana (www.zimana.com), a small business analytics consultancy. Pierre is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.