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URL Builder for Google Analytics

Overview
Google Analytics’ URL Builder is a tool that allows us to associate offline and online marketing initiatives into our Google Analytics reports. Using this tool enables us to scientifically pinpoint an under-performing or overachieving channels and help us make better business decisions.

For example, you have promoted your products listed on your website and decided to use print media like SCMP or Apple Daily, or outdoor billboard using POAD or JCDecaux with your product URL prominently placed on these ads. Now, when someone visits your product page, how do you know they are actually readers of SCMP or pedestrians passing by the bus stop billboard at Jardine House? By using URL Builder you can figure it out!

wire-flickr

Requirements
These are the things we need to provide to accomplish tracking campaigns using URL Builder:

  1. Landing page of your products in your website
  2. Google Analytics installed on this landing page
  3. Marketing channels (EDM, RSS feeds, Twitter, Offline Magazine)
  4. Which medium among these channels we use (example, for Twitter, it could be the account name or for EDM, who is the sender)
  5. Name of campaign to distinguish the medium we defined.

We can then create our custom URL by using the following tool (we need to fill up the URL, source, medium and campaign name; others are optional):
URL Builder tool

url-builder

So if Anteprima will promote its shop in ifc (http://ifc.com.hk/english/shop.aspx?id=2081) and add a link posted on a feed within its corporate Facebook account, that link could use the following parameters:

URL: http://ifc.com.hk/english/shop.aspx?id=2081
Source: Facebook
Medium: Feed
Campaign Name: CNY Promotion

The output URL will now become:
http://ifc.com.hk/english/shop.aspx?id=2081&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=CNY%2BPromotion

This output URL will be the one posted to Facebook, instead of the shorter URL. Every time we create this custom URL in URL Builder, the URL always becomes longer, which is something we don’t really like especially if our URL is already long even before we add these parameters. However, there is a way to work around this issue. By using vanity URL, we can redirect them directly to the URL Builder generated URLs.

These are sample parameters we can use for URL Builder:

Source Medium Name
Paid Search Google AdWords [Name of Ad Group]
Paid Search Yahoo! Search Marketing [Name of Ad Group]
Twitter [Account Name] Summer 2010 Promotion
Facebook [Account Name] Wall|Discussion|Page
Offline The Standard 3Feb2010
Offline Bus Body Ad FirstBusRoute2A
Offline TV Commercial News at Seven Thirty

Say, we use a custom vanity domain name www.anteprima-ifc.com (or perhaps anteprima.com/appledaily) posted along with its promotion printed on Apple Daily, we can redirect it immediately to the URL Builder generated URL http://ifc.com.hk/english/shop.aspx?id=2081&utm_source=Offline&utm_medium=Apple%2BDaily&utm_campaign=Volume%2B25. Note the this URL is different from that generated for Facebook wall.

google-analytics-campaignsIn order to see how these marketing channels fare against each other, we can simply go to Google Analytics account that tracks these landing pages and compare the performance with respect to the website goals we set. These goals can be the number of conversions (enquiries, purchases, subscriptions, downloads, etc). Or if we don’t have any goals set, we can compare these channels in terms of user experience (which channel let visitors stay on the website longest or which one brought in most visitors).

Hope this post is helpful. Any questions, feel free to leave your comments.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-arx/

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Elmer W. Cagape is an SEO consultant based in Hong Kong. Into Seinfeld, Toad the Wet Sprocket, space exploration, comedy films, digital marketing and travel. Follow him on Twitter (@elmercagape).

3 thoughts on “URL Builder for Google Analytics

  1. Jeremy Woolf Text 10

    Elmer – great post. Great to see tools like this are getting us closer to determining the value of our communications efforts in business terms. Are you seeing any anecdotal trend data in terms of priority channels? Would be interested to see how paid search and banners, for example, fare against earned media referrers such as twitter, facebook, forums and blogs.

    - Jeremy

    Reply
  2. Pingback: How to Track Offline Campaigns for Local SEO

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