10 Tips for Successful Campaign Tracking

Matthias Schmid

Matthias SchmidSeptember 2020

1. Check Campaign Measurement Periodically

Measuring the success of cross-media campaigns is one of the most important tasks for marketing and communications departments. After all, it is crucial to know whether the money you are spending is having the desired effect or whether it has been allocated incorrectly. That is why it pays to check the campaign measurement setup periodically. Is the measurement still state of the art? Are campaigns being measured consistently? And have the business goals been mapped correctly? In the following we provide a list of things to check every once in a while.

2. Overview of Your Campaigns

Get an overview of all campaigns that you are currently running to attract visitors to your website. This may include:

  • Newsletters

  • Posts on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter

  • RSS feeds

  • Banner ads

  • Text and search ads

  • Affiliate partners

  • Offline campaigns such as brochures, posters, TV or radio advertising

3. Enable Tracking With Web Analytics Software

Be sure to add the tracking parameters that your web analytics tool can read to all campaign links. Google Analytics requires at least the “utm_source”, “utm_medium” and “utm_campaign” parameters. For more information, consult the relevant Google documentation. In Adobe Analytics, you can use utm parameters or your own parameters.

Start with the main campaigns and the base parameters to get an understanding of how campaign metrics work. You can fine-tune this setup later. Still, it pays to define a campaign tracking concept and a naming convention early on (see next section).

Using Tracking Parameters Instead of “Referring Sites”

By the way, you should not rely on the referring sites report for your campaign tracking. In online campaigns, the referring URL – or referrer – sometimes gets lost, which makes the report less relevant. That is why we recommend using the tracking parameters instead.

4. A Naming Convention Helps

Think about which channels and which formats you want to use to advertise a certain topic. To be able to analyse and compare your campaign data later, you should define a consistent naming convention for your tracking parameters from the start. For instance: “The campaign IDs of all newsletter campaigns start with ‘nl’.” This will give you neat campaign reports. Filters will let you cluster related campaigns into groups, for instance, putting all newsletters into special promotions.

5. Leave No Link Behind

Make sure you have added tracking parameters to all your links. For newsletters, for example, this means making sure you are not just measuring the text links but also the image links. Otherwise, you will be missing the majority of clicks, i.e. clicks on images.

Also, remember that transactional emails such as order confirmation emails may also contain a teaser link to the campaign landing page. These links should be tracked. After all, many customer touchpoints with the campaign are generated during day-to-day business.

6. Generate Campaign Tracking Parameters Automatically

If you generate campaign tracking parameters manually, a simple typo may have serious consequences. Information may not be forwarded to the analytics tool, or several lines may be generated in a report for the same medium. Use a specific tool or an Excel spreadsheet to generate the parameters, or have your email marketing software add the parameters to the links automatically.

Remember to check that the target URLs are actually the target URLs. If the URL with the tracking parameters gets forwarded again, the tracking parameters may get lost along the way. In general, we recommend checking the URLs generated with the parameters before the campaign goes “on air”.

7. Measuring More Than Clicks or Visits

Do you evaluate your Google Ads campaigns or newsletter mailings based solely on the click rate? The click rate is only one piece of the puzzle. Only if you know whether the clicks are also converted into purchases or requests for consulting can you assess whether your campaign was successful. Maybe your ad text promises more than the website delivers, or it speaks to the wrong target group?

That is why it pays to also look at what happens after the click: Compare your campaign traffic based on conversions and conversion rates.

8. Understanding Conversion Attribution

What if a user who was referred to the website from a newsletter yesterday comes back via Google Ads today and converts then? Is this a Google Ads conversion, or a newsletter conversion, or both? What if tomorrow, they visit the website “directly”, using a browser bookmark or simply entering the URL into their browser?

What if a user switches campaigns within a single visitor session – say, clicks on a banner but also a Facebook link within 30 minutes? A lack of knowledge about these mechanisms often leads to misinterpretation. A lot of the time, the last source “wins” – the so-called “last click”. Multi-touch analyses help you understand more: for instance, using multi-channel funnels in Google Analytics.

These multi-touch analyses help you identify which media and ads prime users for conversion. Once you understand the conversion attribution principle, you will learn that you should not stop the display campaign despite the low number of direct conversions, because it generates the necessary awareness for your product or service, priming users for conversion.

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9. Set Up Suitable Reporting

Funnels are often used to visualise the results of a campaign in a report. You could use the following schematic, for instance:

10. Harness Data in Experience Platforms

Make sure that you can derive actions from your data. For campaign tracking, this may mean adapting the media mix of the next campaign based on the performance data from previous campaigns.

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If you are using a powerful software tool such as Sitecore Experience Platform, Adobe Marketing Cloud or a Drupal environment with the relevant add-ons, you can also use the information from campaign tracking for other purposes. For instance, you can dynamically change the image on a landing page during a campaign depending on which display ad a visitor was referred from. Tag management systems or other technical solutions will allow you to forward the information from the tracking parameters to these experience platforms in the right format. This will let you harness the data for personalisation.

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