In it’s simplest form the tool generates links that enable you to track which on and off line marketing campaigns your visitors have come from and as a consequence what they do on your site.
There are a number of reasons for tracking your visitors this way and they apply to the majority of website owners and web agencies who wish to produce value rich reports.
- To give you insight into your marketing efforts and deeper user insight
By using tracking links in your on and offline marketing you will be able to measure each of your marketing efforts in GA on a number of different levels.You can easily segment and filter the traffic from your different marketing campaigns, sources and mediums (how to do this effectively is explained in the follow on post) so regardless of what Key Performace Indicators (KPI’s) you use to measure your site’s ‘success’ you can compare specific marketing efforts against your KPI’s really easily.Obviously being able to segment your different marketing campaign traffic in your reports is absolutely crucial.If you can’t then you will never know which specific marketing campaigns or efforts:Produced good outcomes (traffic, leads, signups, customers, refer a friends, etc)
Produced bad outcomes (no traffic, unsubscribes, negative feedback, complaints, etc)Example:
You send out 5 different promotional emails today to 5 different mailing lists. Your mailing list software shows you the read count and even how many people clicked your ‘Find out more’ link in your email.
GA reports that on that day you received 1000 visitors, 200 unsubscribes, 200 contact leads and 200 sales.
But you have no way to tell which mailshot sent the good traffic and which sent the bad. You can’t even begin to figure out which mailing list was worth buying and which wasn’t and/or which email format worked if you sent out 5 completely different versions.
Instead, imagine being able to quickly glance at a single report in GA which shows for each mailshot that you sent out: the traffic, unsubscribes, contact leads, sales generated and bounce rate. Your report would look like this:
Sound good? If it doesn’t to you then it will to your marketing manager and CFO.
- Don’t pollute your direct traffic count
If you send out promotion emails and you don’t use tracking links then GA has no way of knowing where that traffic came from. As a result the traffic will be categorised as direct traffic.This is not helpful, for example, if you are trying to build up a loyal readership and so you are monitoring your direct traffic volume as an indication of returning visitors who have bookmarked the site or type in your URL directly into their browsers each time they return to the site.As with everything analytics, you might not care about this data right now but you might in the future so avoid the frustration and futureproof your direct traffic data now.
- Don’t rely on ‘referring sites’ to measure your advertising
GA tracks which sites your visitors come from by default so you don’t need to add tracking to links from other websites. The problem arises if you are advertising on a site and there are also other links to you on their site.In this situation, without tracking, you would have no way to tell whether a user who had visited from that site had clicked on your advert or on a link somewhere else on the site.Given that a site could already link to you without you knowing or link to you in the future you should always use tracking links for web banners you distribute.
You can read more about how to use the URL tool in the next post: How to Use the Google Analytics URL Builder