The to-do list is always overflowing before a marketing campaign starts.
Every banner must be in the right place, every comma must be checked twice, and suddenly someone wants to make a small change, and…
“Oh crap, I forgot to track the links!”
If there are no set rules and processes for campaign tracking for such an occasion, you end up just throwing things together and hoping they won’t come apart. All is well, you tell yourself, as long as there’s some data! And things get off to a jumbled start…
But in order for your marketing initiatives to be successful, it’s crucial to collect complete and accurate data for all campaigns.
You will want to know exactly how successful the campaign was, which factors led to success, what did not work, and how you can improve things the next time around. This also applies to e-mail and social media campaigns, but mostly to paid advertising campaigns, where knowing your ROI is essential.
Precisely defined tagging parameters = better analysis
In order to more efficiently analyse your campaign results, it’s necessary to systematically collect all data and bring it together in a campaign report.
The better structured your campaign report is, the easier it will be to evaluate your campaign and get valuable insights from your analyses.
Therefore, tag your campaigns as consistently as possible, keeping in mind the need for sufficiently granular information so you can perform meaningful data analysis later, e.g. by segmenting conversion data per target group, per channel or banner position.
If your campaign data is unstructured or erroneous, you run the risk of not being able to create uniform segments. Or your automated dashboards and reports will make no sense, because data will be shown in an illogical or incorrect way.
Therefore, select your tagging parameters with care before you start your campaign!
In particular, if you’re working as a team to manage campaigns, it’s important to define your tagging structure together. Thinking about and determining which data you need in your reporting should be a collective process.
As a result, you should agree upon certain guidelines for everyone to use for each of your campaigns, and then note these guidelines in a reference document or tutorial:
- Create a parameter tree structure: campaigns, channels, positions, variations (in the case of A/B tests), formats, languages … (of course, this will depend on which data you need for your reporting)
- Define unique parameters: If your self-promotional banners run in several different positions on your website, for example, your parameters should be clearly unique to leave no room for misunderstanding about the different placements.
- Define a set spelling for your parameters: Each parameter that’s written differently will result in a new row in your report (ex: if you write your language parameter as both “EN” and “English”, you will get different rows for both.). All campaign managers should therefore use the same nomenclature.
Nonetheless, if errors occur during setup, or you want to change how data is displayed, your web analyst can use AT Internet’s Data Manager application in many cases to modify raw data after the fact, by creating or editing tagging rules.
In this way, you can ensure that your data is accurate, and that your analyses will truly provide answers to your questions.
Practical tips for complex campaigns
It’s easy to lose track when working with complex multichannel campaigns.
To avoid errors, you should get used to documenting your campaign measurement — here are 4 tips:
- Sketch the structure of the campaign: Before creating the tracking links, make a rough sketch of the campaign: your landing page will be the goal, and all the media and channels you use will direct their traffic toward this goal. Doing this will help remind you of all the links and banner versions that must be tagged and checked, so you can be sure to collect all necessary data.
- You can use a link creation tool, whether online or built in to Excel, to help you correctly insert the parameters into the campaign links.
- List all tracking codes in an Excel sheet to get a precise overview of parameters used. You can refer back to the document later at any time. You may sort the links by language, channel, source, landing page, A/B testing, etc. You can even sort by start date, if for example you send e-mails on different days.
- Be careful of which characters you use in your URLs. Some of them are used by the browser to encode URLs, which can lead to errors. To avoid any risks, stick to the characters A-Z, a-z, 0-9, and -. _ ~. For all other special characters, such as ? #  @ use a URL encoder/decoder.
Use your digital analytics tool’s settings to your advantage
Digital analytics tools offer a range of settings and configurations that you can use to make your campaigns more successful.
- Goals: To see your campaign’s success at a glance, it’s a good idea to define your campaign goals in your analytics tool. This is particularly useful when the goals differ widely (in other words, when you have different final goal URLs to be reached, and different actions counting as a goal). Setting up goals in your digital analytics solution will give you a quicker and clearer overview of your progress toward reaching those goals.
- Accounts: If you’re using standalone landing pages that work independently and contain a direct call-to-action, it makes sense to measure them in a separate analytics account in order to bundle the analysis of different landing pages and set up the campaigns centrally in one account.
Conversely, for landing pages that work in tandem with other content in order to contribute to a goal on your main website, it’s better to include them in the website’s overall tracking structure, and in the same account, to avoid discontinuity in measurement between the landing page and website, and so goal achievement can be correctly measured. To better compare performance between landing pages, you can summarise all your data in AT Internet’s Level 2 analysis.
- Automation: When working with a large number of campaigns, it may be helpful to automate campaign tracking. Advanced analytics solutions like AT Internet’s Analytics Suite provide the necessary tools to do this.
Before you start: test first!
Before you integrate your links, you should click on all your URLs to see whether data appears in your analytics interface the way you intended.
As your IP address might be excluded from data collection, you might have to use your smartphone to test your links.
An analytics solution that displays data in real time is most practical here, because it will allow you to verify your test values in your interface almost immediately. Data is displayed in AT Internet’s interfaces in less than 5 minutes, for example, so testing in this case will be relatively quick.
Should you prefer to test on your computer, you can use Ctrl + Shift + I to open the developer console. Once open, go to the “Network” tab to see all the files that have been loaded with your page. To find AT Internet hits, use the filter and enter the keyword “xiti” to see all the hits that are sending information to our server. (If you use a different digital analytics tool, search for your tool’s name in this filter to find this information.) To see what information is collected, click on the relative hit in the list, and check the parameters in the query string. The parameter &xto= should contain the information of your campaign tracker.
When in doubt, consult AT Internet’s tag documentation, ask one of our consultants, or check with your technical team to be on the safe side.
Conclusion: Tracking should be an integral part of your campaign management
As is the case with so many things in life: Preparation is half the battle.
Setting up a tracking model will require a bit of time and reflection in the beginning, but you will reap the benefits of efficiency gains once your campaign has launched (and for all future campaigns as well!).
To avoid stress and mistakes, make the “tracking” step a natural and consistent part of your planning and timeline for each campaign.
And, do you know what you should be measuring with your campaign? In the next article in this series on campaign measurement, we’ll show you how to plan goal-oriented campaigns, and define and use the right campaign KPIs.
But now, it’s your turn: What are your tips for efficient campaign tracking?