Monday, September 18, 2006

Web Analytics – Tool For Measuring Off Line Efforts

Web Analytics, as the name suggests, is used for measuring and analyzing the web traffic. Online campaigns can be effectively measured by almost all of the web analytics tool in the market.

To measure online campaigns you assign a unique campaign identifier at the end of the landing url and then use your analytics tool to see how many people responded to the end and then track them all the way to end conversion. It is easy (sort of) to calculate your Return on Investment on online campaigns.

You can use the same method to track offline campaigns, print, in-store display ads, billboards etc.

Here is how it works
1. Create a campaign tracking code(s) to track this campaign just like you do in online campaign
2. Create a easy to remember unique URL e.g. http://www.SeattleIndian.com/saveondining
3. The URL created in step 2 above redirect the users to actual landing page passing the campaign variables.
4. When a user arrives on page created in step 2, the user will be redirect as in step 3 and it will appear in the web analytics tool as the user is coming from a campaign.
5. Add the URL created in step 2 to your print advertising and you are done.

Example:
I will be using Google analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics) for this example

1. You have a campaign called “Save on Dining” running as a Half page color in local newspaper
Your campaign variables are
utm_source=Newspaper
utm_medium=Print
utm_content=HalfPageColorAd
utm_campaign=SaveOnDining

2. Create a easy to remember unique Vanity URL e.g. http://www.SeattleIndian.com/saveondining
3. The URL created in step 2 above redirect the users to actual landing page passing the campaign variables.
http://www.seattleIndian.com/dining.asp?utm_source=Newspaper&utm_medium=Print
&utm_content=HalfPageColorAd&utm_campaign=SaveOnDining
4. When a user arrives on http://www.SeattleIndian.com/saveondining will be redirect to http://www.seattleIndian.com/dining.asp?utm_source=Newspaper&utm_medium=Print
&utm_content=HalfPageColorAd&utm_campaign=SaveOnDining

Note: You can also set some variables on the Vanity URL web analytics tracking code instead of redirecting to a new URL.

Add the URL created in step 2 to your print advertising and you are done.

So why did I write this article? Well, there are two reasons why I decided to write this article today.
1. I have been involved with tracking campaigns for a fortune 50 company and this topic has come several times. So I had to write this one day.
2. I just read an article by Kevin Newcomb (http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3623461) about how one company successfully tracked offline campaigns so I thought this is a good time to write it so that users not only know that it can be done but how it can be done.

As always, I would like to hear your experiences with offline campaign tracking.

4 comments:

  1. Anil -- This is a good method, but do you have any "rules of thumb" about what proportion of people who see the offline ad actually use the vanity URL? I've only had one opportunity to use this method with a really big offline campaign. When we measured lift in direct traffic and search engine traffic it turned out that only a quarter of of the overall lift we observed on the site came in through the vanity URL.
    The exact number probably is really dependent on how the URL is presented in the ad and if there are any incentives to go to that particular URL...

    Anyway, what have you observed?

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  2. Mike, you are correct that copy of the ad and incentive will have a huge impact in the traffic.
    I have not yet implemented this approach with any of my clients. I have proposed this to one of my clients (a fortune 50 company). If and when they implement it, I will share the results on this blog (if they allow me to).

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  3. I work at a large polytechnical institute and we're continually amazed at how few people take the time to type in a vanity url, even for high profile off-line campaigns. We use /spring, /fall, /winter in hundreds of thousands of course catalogues as the main registration url, and repeatedly, we see a significant jump in site traffic, but only a tiny fraction of visits come through the marketing url. We've experimented with other marketing urls for targeted course offerings, and we see the same low response rates. Next up on our experiment list is to direct people to our main url, and tell them to search for the subject. Anyone else have this kind of experience with their marketing urls?

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  4. Anonymous2:39 PM

    How do you track the success of your vanity URL? What tool do you use? Does this information get passed to your web logs?

    ReplyDelete

I would like to hear your comments and questions.