One of the most traditional ways to get the word out about a company, product or service is advertising. It started with print, then radio, television and finally the web. Each of these media are still being used today as advertising vehicles, and tracking the various ways ads are presented to the consumer can be daunting, especially to analysts who have no experience with offline media.
To that end I want to provide a few simple things that I feel are essential for any campaign you want to track, online or offline.
It doesn’t matter which analytics tool you use, unique URLs are bottom-line the most important way to track any campaign. With online campaigns this is fairly simple – just add a unique ID to the URL from the banner ad, PPC campaign, etc. A common way to do this is:
The unique string after the ?uid= can be anything, and can even be as cryptic as “40z782osp” if you want. This can always be deciphered later by your analytics tool.
If you are running an offline campaign (print, radio, TV), you really don’t want to use such an awkward URL, but you do want to track any traffic that comes in from the ad so you can measure the effectiveness and the ROI from your campaign. The best way to do this is either through a unique domain name (www.yourcampaignsite.com), or a subdomain (campaignsite.yoursite.com).
Your offline campaigns need a URL, that while unique, is easy for your target audience to remember. If not they may use search to find the company, product or service you were advertising about instead.
When you are running a campaign, you may be tempted to send people to your site’s home page or another existing page on your site. This is not necessarily a bad practice, but I would recommend designing a special landing page for your campaign visitors to go to. The landing page will be relevant to the ad and include a single call-to-action. The call-to-action should be to send the customer to the primary goal of the campaign (print a coupon, buy a book, download a whitepaper, contact a sales agent, etc.).
This will help focus your customer on the conversion you wish to achieve with the campaign. If they just go to a normal page on your site they can easily be distracted by all the other content and navigation, and never make it to the part of the site you really wanted to drive them to.
There are many more theories and best practices that can be employed to make your campaigns a success, but these are the top things I always make sure are part of any campaign I’m helping to set up and/or analyze.
Differentiating Campaign from Organic Traffic
Naturally there will always be some customers who will be driven to the site by the campaign, but opt to use search instead anyway. During an on-going campaign you should see if there is any increase in organic search or direct traffic to your site. The percentage of increase there may also be considered part of your campaign traffic.
Tracking from your unique URL should also have been set up ahead of time to go into it’s own campaign report. The way this is set up differs between each analytics tool, but they can all recognize any of the mentioned unique URL methods.