Finding out how your website visitors are getting to your website is probably the most important thing you can monitor when running an Email, SEO, Pay Per Click or Social Media campaign to drive traffic to your website. While Google Analytics is a great tool for getting this type of information, without proper URL tracking, measuring the actual response from these types of campaigns can be difficult at best. More often than not, much of that traffic, particularly traffic from email campaigns will show up as direct traffic to your site. So what exactly IS direct traffic.
By the standard definition:
Direct traffic would be any visit to your website that came from someone directly typing your URL into their browser.
Not so correct. There are several ways a user could arrive at your website that Google Analytics will deem as direct traffic. Avinash kaushik explains all of this very well over at his Occam’s Razor blog. A few key points:
1. People who are your existing customers / past purchasers, they’ll type url and come to the site or via bookmarks.
2. People familiar with your brand. They need a solution and your name pops up into their head and they type.
3. People driven by word of mouth. Someone recommends your business / solution to someone else and boom they show up at the site. Uninvited, but we love them!
4. People driven by your offline campaigns. Saw an ad on TV, heard one on radio, saw a billboard and were motivated enough to typed the url and show up.
[If you were really smart you would use campaign tagged vanity url so you can segment them!]
5. [Remember the part below, but.] Free, non-campaign, traffic.
In a nutshell these are people show up without invitation (email, display, social campaigns) or they are people who already know you. There is an extra motivation connected to their visit which causes them to type your url of find the bookmark they made.
There are some great ways to measure customer loyalty and conversions from social media already built into Google Analytics, but they fall short in defining what link or marketing campaign those visitors came from. So, as marketers, he have to go through the process of creating custom tracking URLs for our campaigns, or we can lose a mountain of useful data about our campaigns which could be use to measure their effectiveness and ROI.
Here’s what a tracking URL for this blog post via email campaign might look like:
There are a few tools available on the web to generate these for you:
This is great stuff for a determined and focused social media marketer who is developing campaigns for a client on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, but what about the layperson who still requires this tracking and doesn’t necessarily understand its usefulness? Campaign start –> Campaign Fail.
So, I’m highly curious as to what other marketers are doing for developing their URL tracking campaigns and even more curious a (for consultants) how you handle potential handoff’s when your own contract expires with a client.
I’ll run the poll for a while here on the blog and see if we can’t get some good responses. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comments below.