Tracking MattersTuesday August 26th, 2014
With so much big data and analytics options, tracking digital marketing initiatives can be daunting. Use this scrappy tool set to identify which of your initiatives are working and which are just wasting your money.
John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Marketers who agree with this statement today are likely just lazy. If you aren’t tracking your marketing efforts down to the dollars and cents they generate, you aren’t working hard enough.
This can be a complex process requiring an investment of time and thought during the beginning of a campaign, but if you are anything like John Wanamaker, it could save you 50% of your advertising budget.
If you aren’t tracking marketing down to the dollars and cents, you aren’t working hard enough.
Since I have been at Brolik, I have developed a scrappy toolset that I use to monitor the effectiveness of clients’ advertising budgets. I now implement it with every campaign that I manage.
Here it is.
The first and most obvious place to begin tracking a campaign is Google Analytics. At the beginning of any marketing endeavor, proper conversion points can be established to track specific actions. The most common conversion point is the tracking of visitors to a particular page that is only reached after a desired action is completed. This is usually in the form of a thank you page that visitors land on after submitting information or making a purchase.
For the novice user, Google Analytics provides a plethora of information simply by clicking on the graduation cap under the date field on any Analytics view.
The second tool I use relates to the first tool, in the sense that it makes it better. UTM parameters are nothing more than a string of text that is attached to a URL.
With UTM parameters, I attach information that I consider important for optimizing campaigns and tracking ad spend effectiveness. This includes basic information like the source and medium that describe where a user comes from. Google Analytics attempts to track this information, but it is not always accurate.
UTM parameters also provide three additional fields named campaign, keyword and content. When I don’t have pertinent campaign, keyword or content information to track, I like to get creative with fields and include other variables that I’m monitoring. Data points I include are gender, age, geographic location, income bracket or A/B information that differentiates ad concepts for an A/B test. This can eventually lead to information identifying ideal target audience information or effective creative concepts. Both of which, if used properly, allow for an increased return of ad spend.
For the first time UTM user, Google has developed a url generator that provides descriptive information for each parameter type. Here at Brolik, we also developed our own url generator to help our clients keep their tracking urls consistent. It can be found at campaignurlbuilder.com (I know, it is a very clever domain).
Google Tag Manager
The next tool that I rely on heavily is Google Tag Manager. Since its introduction, it has experienced very slow growth in usership. But not for the lack of my efforts. I wrote a blog titled, Digital Marketers Are Crazy For Not Using This, which details a basic Google Tag Manager configuration.
The reason I include Google Tag Manager in this list is because the ease it provides for uploading marketing snippets like conversion pixels and retargeting code. The real winning feature of Google Tag Manager, however, is the listener templates it has. Non-code-savvy marketers can create custom events that fire based on button clicks or form submissions, allowing for tracking of new leads.
Beyond referencing the previous article I wrote, I recommend reviewing Justin Cutroni’s blog. He writes many articles like this one, that provide tips and tricks for Google Tag Manager.
One of my more recent discoveries is CallRail. Using CallRail, I am able to dynamically track where calls to my clients come from, and when necessary, record them.
This is exceptionally useful for SEM campaigns. Custom events can be configured in Google Analytics to trigger every time a call is placed, which can be tracked all the way down to the ad and keyword that the caller originated from. This means that I can optimize client campaigns for the keywords and ads that truly drive business for them, not just clicks.
Did I mention they have exceptional customer service? Well they do. If you struggle with any CallRail feature, you can call them and get in direct contact. Also, they sent me a shirt and a handwritten card just for using their service.
I feel rudimentary mentioning this, but it’s a critical step in the process. Not all businesses are going to process all transactions through a web-based store. In these situations, many good digital marketers consider the lead as the end of the funnel. To be a great digital marketer, however, one must understand the stages that take place from lead to sale, and what percentage of people advance at each level. If you can discover the number of leads that it takes to create a sale, you can calculate a return on investment and optimize from there.
Do you have any tools you love to use with your tracking efforts? Let me know! Maybe I’ll adopt them for my next campaign.