In my previous article in PR News we reviewed how to connect online and offline marketing by first defining our audience, profiling its intent, and determining the message we want to get across and which media channel will be most effective. Now we need to outline our metrics and create our tracking protocols.
▶ Your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and metrics.
The message exercise defined a measurable goal, our KPI. Ideally, your chosen KPI impacts revenue or decreases cost. For each activity within a campaign, tie at least one metric that supports the KPI indicating how each activity influenced the campaign.
For example, for press releases the metrics are press mentions and visits to website; for an email invitation to an events the metrics track the number of emails distributed and the open rate while for an event the metric is the number of attendees.
▶ Tracking online and offline.
In today’s hyperconnected business environment, it is rare for a communication campaign to exist exclusively offline. We can track audience behavior at each online touch point and make educated assumptions of the offline influence. For example, if our campaign involves an event, we can send e-mail invitations. At the event, we provide our audience with a motive to visit the website for information.
▶ Ensuring proper audience flow tracking.
Just because something is online doesn’t guarantee that tracking exists. For example, Google now restricts the keyword data from searches that result in traffic to websites (see www.notprovidedcount.com). Unless you take steps to ensure your metrics track properly, you may not have the data you expect.
▶ Google Analytics URL tracking.
Websites are the natural endpoint for online corporate communications, so we take advantage by configuring tracking to flag activity in (and on) the website.
Other website analytics tools, such as Site Catalyst and Webtrends, have similar methods for tracking:
1. Confirm the landing page URL. The landing page is the exact page you will send people.
2. Search ‘Google Analytics URL Builder’ and select the first page in the results. The page provides everything you need to create tracking URLs including detailed instructions.
a. Copy/paste the URL in ‘Website URL’ field. You must include the complete URL, don’t forget the ‘http://’ or ‘https://.’
b. Three fields are required: Source (the referrer), Medium (category) and Name (descriptor)
c. Two optional fields are also present, Campaign and Content, to help further define traffic. For example, your email might include two different links to your landing page, one at the top of the email and another at the bottom. Labeling one link ‘top-link’ in the Content field and the second ‘bottom-link’ will tell you how many click the first link versus the second.
d. Once you’ve entered your information, click ‘submit’ and your complete tracking code will appear, directly below the submit button.
e. Copy/paste the complete URL to a web browser address bar and hit ‘enter’—the page should load. You’ll notice that in addition to your landing page URL, e.g. http://mywebsite.com, you’ll see a question mark followed by your tracking info separated by ‘utm=’ http://www.mywebsite.comutm_ source=invite2&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PressEvent&utm_content=top-link in the address bar.
3. Repeat this process for every link that you want to track.
4. Confirm that your tracking is properly pulling into Google Analytics. Your test load of the URL in your browser will be recorded and appear within 20 minutes.
▶ Offline and social tracking using QR Codes and bit.ly.
Configured URLs can be included within QR codes and URL shorteners, such as bit.ly, thereby extending tracking offline through printed QRs or social channels via bit.ly. Simply copy and paste the “built” URL in the QR or bit.ly tool as you would a standard URL. Upon scanning the QR code or clicking on the shortened URL, you’ll be able to see the built URL load in the browser.
Once you’ve completed the process of assigning metrics to each activity and created tracking code for each link within each activity, you are now ready to roll. In my next article we’ll cover how to extract this data and organize it. PRN
This article appeared in the September 30 issue of PR News. Subscribe to PR News today to receive weekly comprehensive coverage of the most fundamental PR topics from visual storytelling to crisis management to media training.