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Track Offline Marketing ROI Using Google Analytics

Are you getting any ROI from your offline marketing efforts, or are you making business decisions based upon how you feel about the success of a campaign? There is a better way to measure marketing efforts. Let me show you how.

In a previous post I provided a very simple way to track offline marketing efforts, using a landing page with any form of web analytics on it. There is a better solution, however, which leads to more clear attribution and flexibility.

The best way to track the ROI of offline marketing efforts is to setup a redirect to a page with URL tracking codes. Here’s how you can set this up on a website that uses Google Analytics (if you use another analytics package, your directions will vary but you could do something similar).

Step 1: Build your tracking URL

Go to the Google URL builder (https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/) and enter the information you want to use to distinguish your offline marketing campaign. The URL builder requires a couple of pieces of information, so this will take a little foresight into your overall offline marketing efforts.

First of all, ask yourself: when someone comes to your website, what do you want them to do? Do you want them to call you? Want them to find your store? Want to generate a sales lead?

Once you know that, the next question is: what page will make it easiest for your prospect to accomplish that goal? You might have a “Contact Us” page with a phone number or directions. You might not- but you probably should- so build a new page (that will not only help your new campaign, but your overall marketing campaign). This is the URL you’ll place in the “Website URL” in the URL builder.

What is your Campaign Source?

Think of this as your broad category of marketing. For instance, if you’re hoping to measure the efforts of your trade show efforts throughout the year, this might be “tradeshow”. If you’re hoping to measure the effect of some of the free swag you give away you might call it “swag.” Think big picture here- what’s a broad category that applies to these kinds of marketing efforts.

What is your Campaign Medium?

Think of your medium as a sub-category for your marketing efforts. For instance, if you’re tracking the efforts of a Trade Show you might have one medium for the “brochure” you hand out from your booth and another medium for the “banner” displayed in the conference hall. If you’re tracking the benefits of your swag you could have one medium for “tshirt” and another as “mousepad”.

What is your Campaign Name?

This is where you’d name the specific offline marketing channel. If you’re presenting at the American B2B Marketing Association Annual Meeting this year, you might call this “a-b2b-2015”, or something like that to distinguish when it was shared.

Technical Details

Keep this in mind when deciding the campaign values:

  • Try to stick with one-word phrases for these values. “tradeshow” is better than “Trade Show”
  • Consistency is key. Once you use “TradeShow” you always need to use that value for that same dimension. Even upper and lower case matters here.

One you know your campaign values, enter them along with your destination URL into the Google URL builder and you’ll receive a tracking URL.

Here’s a more in-depth explanation of Google’s URL Builder, if you need more information.

Step 2: Setup a redirect.

The tracking URL is full of confusing parameters and very specific. Clearly this is not a URL that you would want to publish on a t-shirt or announce in a radio ad. This is where you need to setup a URL redirect. Have your web developer setup a redirect from a more user-friendly URL to your more cumbersome tracking URL. The user-friendly URL should be extremely short and cannot be for an existing page on your site. Consider the medium: if it’s going in a radio ad, make sure it’s clearly understood if read aloud; if it’s on a banner, make sure it’s memorable.

Step 3: Test it!

Once you have a redirect, test it. If your user-friendly URL is yourwebsite.com/radio then type that into a browser.

  • Do you end-up on the desired destination page? If not, make sure your web team setup the URL correctly.
  • Does the page render correctly or is it broken? Some websites don’t handle tracking URLs very nicely.
  • When you go into Google Analytics, does this visit record with the source/medium you intended?

The point is, before you go printing your user-friendly URL on thousands of mousepads, make sure it works!

Step 4: Publish it

Once you’re sure everything’s working right, publish your offline content using your new, user-friendly URL. Print one on your banner, another URL on your t-shirt and use another in your radio ad. As long as you’ve setup your tracking URL, you’ll be able to see the ROI of each of these efforts in your Google Analytics account.

Here’s the really cool part: this is flexible. You can re-use these user-friendly URLs but change the attribution for different events. For instance, if you’re taking the same banner to different conferences, you can keep the same URL on the banner (yourwebsite.com/start-today) but change the redirect to point to a different tracking URL with a different campaign name for each different conference. You don’t have to reprint the banner but you can see the value of your banner at each event!

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Reliable Acorn, LLC

Charlotte internet marketing consulting, specializing in search engine optimization, for B2B companies.

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