Digital Analytics

Activate Your Silent Salesperson with Digital Retargeting

by Kelly Kubrick on October 31, 2016

Ever been tempted into a wine-tasting class because the offer of wine overrides your resistance? And then gleefully bought a case of the wine?  Me too. That’s what this post is about – offering your prospects content that is so irresistible, you’re able to entice them forward into your conversion funnel – willingly.

First published through the Canadian Home Builder’s Association (CHBA)

Now that we’re well past the era of questioning the value of including a website in the marketing toolkit, today’s business concern is ensuring the digital content produced contributes to the larger sales funnel.

Once a business has put its contact and product information online, the challenge becomes justification for continued investment in driving awareness and usage of the website. To date, low-hanging fruit included launching additional digital channels such as a blog, an email list and social media.

What happens when sources to stagnate?

Digitally, it used to be good enough to make sure you’d sorta-kinda made your website search engine friendly and populated your company’s social media account(s) profile pages with updates. But, if asked, your marketing team will likely admit that your website reach has stalled or that Facebook’s “people-reached” update performance indicator is declining. Now what?

As lead generation sources dry up, where will sales come from?

It’s no longer enough to merely hope that digital reach will continue to grow as it has in the past. What if you could efficiently reach new people likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to customers you’ve had success with previously?

More importantly, what if you could reach that audience in a way that both personalizes your interactions, while automating them, so there’s efficiency of effort? The concept is called a ‘lookalike’ audience and is available through a combination of advertising networks – like Facebook – and your existing website.

Activating your silent salesperson

The consumer packaged goods industry talks about a product’s packaging as a brand’s “silent salesman”. When a consumer buys a product and places it on a household shelf, the packaging dutifully reminds buyers its presence.

There’s a similar concept in digital, called re-targeting, also referred to as re-marketing. Digital publishers provide their advertisers with a small piece of computer code, often called a “pixel” – similar to a cookie – that won’t affect your visitors’ experience or your website performance, that is unique to that advertiser. By publishing your pixel on your website, you activate your silent salesperson.

Put your digital content to work

Next – instead of merely launching a sales-oriented advertising campaign, you use that pixel to begin building a new prospect list through irresistible content. Using Facebook as an example, here’s a big picture visual of how re-targeting works:

Activate your silence salesperson - digital re-targeting cycle

With that cycle in mind, it’s time to get granular. An effort like this has a lot of moving parts, but done right, your marketing team gets access to a rich source of digital leads.

Ten Steps of Digital Re-targeting

Using Facebook as an example, here’s what your marketing team will need to do:

  1. Create a Facebook Ads account for your organization and generate your Facebook pixel from within it. Publish that pixel to all pages of your website.

2. Define a specific buyer persona, with unique interests, such as ‘eco-friendly living’, or ‘vintage motorcycles’ that your company wants to pursue. Research and quantify those interest groups on Facebook – called audiences – and then narrow that audience further by geographic – all of Canada? Or only one province / territory? and demographic ( age and gender) targeting.

3. Create a unique piece of irresistibly good content, written purely for that persona’s concerns, and publish it on your website. Provide enormous amounts of added-value information – imagine content that answers every question unique to that buyer persona, without the pressure of any kind of a sales pitch. Establish your subject authority while assuring the reader of your goodwill.

4. In parallel, create a digital advertisement that promotes the educational nature of your irresistible content, and run it on Facebook – but only show it to the unique interest groups identified in step 2.

5. As your advertisement is shown on Facebook, interested individuals will engage and click through to read your irresistible content, causing your Facebook pixel to activate.

6. You will have made your content even more irresistible by offering an additional piece of even higher-added value information – perhaps by providing a critical check list, a list of unique resources, a countdown calendar, or how-to instructions – unavailable anywhere else.

7. However, that additional content will only be accessible in exchange for the visitor’s forward movement into the sales funnel – for example, perhaps in exchange for an email address. Since most first-time visitors will shy away from giving you that information on the spot, because of the pixel, you let them go without worry.

8. After an appropriate interval, your marketing team runs a second advertisement on Facebook, only shown to (or ‘re-targeting’) to those who visited your irresistible content but didn’t convert to a lead. That second ad will offer a gentle reminder of the fabulous extra content they have missed out on, enticing them back to your content, this time with a higher likelihood to convert to access your higher value content.

9. As you identify the right audiences and use the right creative to entice them towards consideration, the automated – yet more personalized than a mass-media buy – process repeats until a lead converts. This allows you to engage with the lead on an ongoing basis through your existing qualification process.

10. As you identify the audiences most likely to convert, Facebook then is able to give you access to ‘lookalike’ audiences – other people with profiles and behaviour that match those you’ve successfully converted – that you can now offer your irresistible content to. And the cycle repeats…

To access a lookalike audience on Facebook, organizations will need to have a Facebook Ad Account, which provides tools to create your pixel, advertising campaigns, and Audiences, including lookalikes. In Facebook, lookalike audiences can be modelled from ‘source’ audiences including specific on Facebook, people who’ve liked your Facebook page or your own customer lists.

To create these lookalike audiences, Facebook looks at the common qualities of the people in your source audience and then finds people who “look like” your source audience on Facebook for a country. Organizations can choose the size of the Lookalike Audience during the creation process.

This combination of using technology to target the interests of buyer personas you can uniquely help, without even knowing who they are – while using automation to re-target them later – can be a powerful tool to help drive your lead generation efforts.

Although tactically, this ‘silent salesperson aka pixel’ approach may feel very far from how you’ve sourced leads in the past, my hope is that you will consider adding re-targeting as an arrow to your marketing quiver. Any questions? Ask away in the Comments section below.

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Kelly KubrickActivate Your Silent Salesperson with Digital Retargeting

Measuring digital diplomacy and digital advocacy

by Kelly Kubrick on April 6, 2016
Updated April 15, 2016

On April 20-21, 2016, Global Affairs Canada in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy is hosting a conversation between foreign governments, academics and industry experts.

Entitled “#Diplometrics – Measuring up: Public Diplomacy & Advocacy 2.0 for Effective Results” the event is intended to explore results measurement for public diplomacy, advocacy and digital diplomacy efforts. As the event approaches, I found a handful of definitions for digital diplomacy:

  • “…the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and social media platforms in the conduct of Public Diplomacy (i.e. processes in which countries seek to accomplish their foreign policy goals by communicating with foreign publics)
  • “…the use of the Internet and new information communication technologies to help achieve diplomatic objectives”
  • “…more than a new tool in a used tool box…[it’s] a dialogue made possible by Digital Diplomacy which could replace the monologue of Public Diplomacy.”

I was intrigued as at Digital Strategy Conference, we defined social business strategy, one of the six definitions of digital maturity as: “the intent to facilitate interaction and collaboration in three directions: externally, with your community; internally, employee to employee; and between customers.” Immediately, I could see that being adapted for Digital Diplomacy –

In terms of advocacy or diplomacy campaign measurement, #diplometrics could be the “measurement, use, and impact of, social technologies to achieve diplomatic objectives”. Or is it broader than results measurement with social technologies, and needs to incorporate offline outcomes as well? To help answer my questions, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to moderate the Industry panel #Diplometrics. My panellists will be:

  1. William Carty – Manager, Public Policy for U.S. & Canada – Twitter Inc. and @WRDCarty;
  2. Kevin Chan – Head of Public Policy, Canada – Facebook Inc.;
  3. Colin McKay – Head of Public Policy & Government Relations, Canada – Google and @Canuckflack; and
  4. Donny Halliwell – Senior Strategist, Customer Success – Hootsuite and @DonnyHalliwell.

Given their backgrounds, I’m intrigued to learn more: William played a key role in the development and passage of US legislation in technology, telecommunications, cybersecurity, privacy, data security, public safety, energy and healthcare. Kevin has academic and Canadian federal government chops. Colin has been an advocate for both Open Government and privacy, which is quite the balancing act. Prior to his role at Hootsuite, Don operated the Twitter handle @BlackBerry with over 4 million followers and BlackBerry’s corporate Facebook pages with over 30 million fans.

Over the course of the day, we’ll hear from industry and policy experts all working to pin #Diplometrics down. Looking forward to it!

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Kelly KubrickMeasuring digital diplomacy and digital advocacy

Communicators: take note of changes in digital analytics

by Kelly Kubrick on January 14, 2016

How have analytics changed?

Four years ago I participated in IABC Ottawa’s “Networking in the New Year” event, where communications professionals can speak informally with specialists in different fields. In 2012, I spoke about web analytics. I’m returning this year, and I will do the same. Which begs the question, has anything changed? Most definitely.

The bar is higher on what can (and should) be tracked

By January 2012, our community was

  1. Articulating more complex tracking requirements – instead of merely tracking website visits, there was increasing demand to measure the impact of social media / earned media efforts; while
  2. On the paid media side, measurement of remarketing (or retargeting) campaigns were at the bleeding edge of reporting requirements; and
  3. Google Tag Manager didn’t exist.

Website tag management emerges

This last item is critical, and links directly to item 1 and 2. “Tags”, in the context of tag management systems are used on your website to help you measure traffic and optimize your online marcom efforts. Examples of these website tags include:

  • Your website’s digital analytics tracking code i.e. your Google Analytics or your Adobe Analytics tracking code;
  • Conversion tracking tags (Google AdWords conversion code or the Facebook pixel); or
  • Remarketing (or behavioural retargeting) tags to target previous visitors.

Website tags are different from campaign tracking tags

For those of you familiar with campaign tracking tags such as Google Analytics’ “utm” codes or Adobe Analytics campaign tracking codes, note that they are different from the website tags above. It’s unfortunate that the terms overlap, but each accomplishes different things.

Prior to website tag management solutions, inserting website tags was a messy, inefficient coding effort requiring information technology resources. Then the inevitable would occur – organizations lost track of which tags were where, whether they were up to date or not, and who actually ‘owned them’. Not good. Thus, tag management solutions proliferated, including solutions like Google Tag Manager, Adobe’s Dynamic Tag Manager, Ensighten, and Tealium.

Website tag management: imagine never losing your keys again

bowl-for-keys
Today, tag management solutions are much better known – they have gone from an outlier technology concept to a critical tool in organizations’ digital toolkit. It’s exactly what we all need – a better way to facilitate the business discussion around determining what should be measured, while reducing the need for technical involvement for implementation.

How? By storing all those tags in one container in your website code instead of scattering different tags all over the place. Imagine that glorious moment when you successfully organize scattered key sets into one bowl at the front door. No more frantic searching as you try and get out the door.

Now, the business owner(s) can manage their tags centrally, outside of your HTML using a friendly interface. Other benefits include simplified tracking of video, social buttons or other interactive elements on your website. If your organization hasn’t looked at tag management solutions, I’d add it to your 2016 measurement plans.

Vanquish referral spam

The second big change since 2012 is the acceleration of referral spam clogging all our analytics reports. Consider this the second item on your organization’s analytics to do list in 2016: tackling the deeply frustrating problem of referral spam or ghost spam. What is referral spam? It’s garbage traffic that’s inflating your website traffic reports.

Example of referral spam - notice the 100% bounce rate with zero session duration time?

Click to enlarge example of referral spam: notice the 100% bounce rate with zero session duration time?

To give you some sense of how bad the problem has gotten, I was involved in a website launch in late November 2015. Not quite two months later 32% of the visits are is spam – fake traffic that could inflate our numbers and impact our marcom decisions. How can do we know that?

Fortunately, we followed best practices and set our digital analytics up with multiple data views. We use our primary decision-making data view to measure net visitor traffic (excluding ourselves and referral spam) and we can contrast it to our unfiltered data view capturing gross visitor traffic. This gives us a much cleaner – and more reassuring – view of our real audience numbers and their activities on our site.

Be sure you’ve got the same set up at your organization so that you can better measure the real impact of your communications efforts. Speak with your digital analyst or analytics team to ask them if and how the issue is being addressed internally. Like you, they’ll want to ensure ongoing trust in your organization’s data.

Web analytics broadens to digital analytics

One last important analytics change occurred only two months after the 2012 Networking in the New Year event. To acknowledge the proliferation of digital data sources, the Web Analytics Association (WAA) formally changed its name to the Digital Analytics Association (DAA):

“As more digital data streams became available, the responsibilities of the analyst broadened and the term “web analytics” became known as the study of data collected exclusively on websites…account[ing] for the analyst’s changing role of weaving together data from multiple sources and channels.”

As a long-time member, I heartily agreed with the change. To truly leverage the opportunities of digital, we in marcom need to take advantage of all of the data on offer. Data is a critical output of your digital initiatives and is what differentiates them from their offline equivalent. Knowing that, have you got a handle on your data strategy for 2016?

What’s on your 2016 analytics list?

I look forward to seeing the IABC Ottawa crew on January 28th and to discussing analytics. Bring your questions and concerns or feel free to ask any advance questions in the comments below. See you soon!

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Kelly KubrickCommunicators: take note of changes in digital analytics

How to remove referral spam from your Google Analytics reports

by Kelly Kubrick on March 5, 2015

Referral or “ghost” spam is ‘bad’ traffic that can inflate your digital analytics reports and make it appear like your website is receiving more visitors than usual. It’s often characterized by very high bounce rates with one second or less session duration, and 100% new visits. To learn more, see the “Vanquish Referral Spam” section in this blog post.

I realize this probably looks overwhelming, but it looks worse than it is…and once you get into a groove, it’ll go faster. The first major clean up is always the worst, but once you start doing this monthly, you’ll be getting excluding a handful of spammers at a time.

Step 1: In Google Analytics run and export an extended time frame of the Referrals report:

  1. Change the calendar to an extended period e.g. 2 years
  2. Go to Reporting > Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals and expand the number of rows to 500
  3. At the top of the report, click Export > XLSX

Step 2: When that report launches in Excel, click the 2nd tab, called Dataset1

  1. Click Data > Filters, which will enable you to filter the data to sort through it faster
  2. In Column G, Avg. Session Duration, click the little down arrow to open up your filter options. Click “Sort Smallest to Largest”, which will bring all the 0.00 second session duration to the top of your list
  3. Review the resulting sites listed in column A, and delete any that are legitimate referrals as we only want to identify the spammers
  4. You should end up with a list of spam sites. If you’re unsure of a particular referral, check the “pages per visit” metric. If it is 0 or 1, and has a session duration of 0.00, it’s spam – see the featured image above for examples

Step 3: When you have a final list, cut and paste column A into Notepad (or a similar no-formatting tool)

  1. Format the groups into a single line of text separated by vertical pipes|no spaces between each, so you get something like”
    “traffic2cash.xyz|best-seo-offer.com|www.event-tracking.com|semalt.semalt.com|www1.social-buttons.com|buttons-for-website.com|share-buttons.xyz|net-profits.xyz|free-social-buttons.xyz” FYI – that text string above is 182 characters; you can check using something like http://www.lettercount.com/
  2. Add one more character – a backslash before every period, so the above now looks like “traffic2cash\.xyz|best-seo-offer\.com|www\.event-tracking\.com|semalt\.semalt\.com|www1\.social-buttons\.com|buttons-for-website\.com|share-buttons\.xyz|net-profits\.xyz|free-social-buttons\.xyz”
  3. Create groups of about 10-15 referral sites. Don’t go much bigger than that as each final filter text string cannot exceed 256 characters, including the vertical pipes and periods. The amended string above is 194 characters – again, checked using http://www.lettercount.com/
  4. Save that file somewhere close by…

Step 4: Go back into Google Analytics > Admin > Account > All Filters and click + Add Filter

  1. For Filter Name, because you’ll be creating multiple filters, use a standard naming convention like “Exclude spam referral 1 of 10 – created 5Nov20XX”
  2. Click Custom > Exclude > Filter Field = Campaign Source
  3. In Filter Pattern, cut the 1st of your referral spam groups from Step 3, item 4 above
  4. Apply the filter to the TEST views only (so that you can see if they are working)
  5. Click Save
  6. Repeat for all remaining groups
  7. Annotate (need instructions how to do that? see this post: what you’ve done in TEST

Step 5: A week or so later, go back in and check your data in your TEST view

  1. Run the calendar for the last week
  2. Compare Reporting > Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals between Test and Master views
  3. Assuming all is well i.e. that you see a decline in referral spam in Test, apply the filters to Master
  4. Go back into Google Analytics > Admin > Account > All Filters
  5. Click the name of the filter to edit it, and add it to Master view using the Add > to “Selected Views” tool
  6. Click Save
  7. Annotate what you’ve done in Master
  8. Pat yourself on the back!

Once you get the worst of the spam cleaned up, you can make a reminder to yourself to keep an eye on your Referrals traffic, and potentially add/edit new filters monthly. That’s why it’s important to add the ‘created date’ to the filter name, as you’ll be able to run the data as of that date next time thus saving yourself guesswork on what you’ve already excluded.

Have fun…!

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Kelly KubrickHow to remove referral spam from your Google Analytics reports

Wrap up: Digital Strategy Conference Vancouver 2014

by Kelly Kubrick on May 2, 2014

From April 29 – May 1, 2014, I had the pleasure of watching our second Digital Strategy Conference Vancouver unfold. We returned to UBC Robson Square and expanded the content to offer two tracks per day for all three days; nearly twice as many sessions as 2013. As co-founder of the event, I was pleased to moderate two tracks as well as present the latest on digital maturity.

On the presentation side, Andrea Hadley and I presented the Six Dimensions of Digital Maturity and provided initial findings from our dStrategy Digital Maturity Benchmark Survey 2014. I also facilitated three “Mapping Your Digital Maturity” sessions, each one intended to help our attendees better understand the benefits and mechanics of mapping their organization’s digital maturity.

Digital Strategy Conference Vancouver 2014 Key Stats:

In anticipation of testing an experimental session format – a Google Hangout with a virtual panel of speakers scattered across North America, we published a series of “Future of Work” blog posts in advance of the panel, to introduce everyone to those speakers.

As a digital analyst, I thoroughly enjoyed the task of moderating our Data Strategy and Analytics track, especially as it brought together analytics friends and colleagues old and new:

  1. David Jenkins, VP Data Intelligence, Traction
  2. Bryan Robertson, Senior Analyst, OpenRoad Communications
  3. Brent Dykes, Evangelist for Customer Analytics, Adobe and Author, Web Analytics Action Hero
  4. A panel that tackle how to Drive Competitive Advantage with Analytics and Data

On a personal note, my favourite sessions included Tim Goudie for the intriguing way he deconstructed Coca-Cola’s sustainability efforts via our digital maturity model; Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, simply because I’ve been a fan for years (I have her and C.C. Chapman’s book Content Rules on the bookshelf behind me) and Eric Hellweg for his thoughtful presentation on the impact of digital on the Harvard Business Review‘s processes and organizations.

Mark your calendars for Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa 2014

It was another great gathering and I’m already excited for next year. However, before then, we’ll gather Canada’s digital strategy community here in Ottawa, from September 30 – October 1, 2014 at Carleton University. Be sure to mark your calendars and join us for Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa 2014!

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Kelly KubrickWrap up: Digital Strategy Conference Vancouver 2014

How to track digital campaigns using Google Analytics utm codes

by Kelly Kubrick on November 27, 2013

“Tagging” Credit When Credit Is Due: Understanding Digital Campaign Tracking

Imagine a website…It’s a good website. It deserves visitors.

 

 

 

 

 

Those responsible for it agree, and the marketing / communications plans initiate:

  • Press / news releases are issued
  • Advertising is purchased
  • Keywords are bid on
  • Emails go out
  • Social media gets conversational

Good news! Website visitors start showing up…

 

 

 

 

 

Lots more visitors…

Image credit: Penguins sculpture, by Nao Matsumoto

Image credit: Penguins sculpture, by Nao Matsumoto

And right in the middle of all the celebrations, you get the dreaded question. Someone asks you which marketing or communication effort did the trick.

They start pummelling you with questions – which effort brought the visitors? Which didn’t? How did the efforts compare? Which should we do more of? Less of? Should we double down on any of them? Or discontinue any of them?

And once they hit you with all the ‘quantity’ questions, they then want to know the ‘quality’ questions: which effort(s) brought the right visitors for the campaign objective?

And you slowly back out of the room…

I am pleased to tell you there is good news – you can answer all those questions, and with flair and panache. The bad news is that it does take some advance planning.

Campaign tracking is about taking – or ‘tagging’ – credit

Web analytics tools attribute visitors to 1 of 2 ‘default’ traffic sources: the “Direct” (aka No Referral) or the “Referral” source:

“Typical” split measured as by web analytics tools - Direct vs Referral

“Typical” split measured as by web analytics tools

 

 

 

 

 

Direct is traffic a measure of brand awareness

Direct traffic website visitors are those who arrive by bookmark or memorized domain or URL. Think of this source of visitor traffic as a measure of brand awareness; visitors must have had previous exposure to your brand or URL,  to recall or type it into a browser window and / or bookmark it.

Referral traffic is closer to publicity

By contrast, the Referral traffic source ‘refers’ (get it?) to visitors arriving via a third party website. However, to make Referral more useful, we immediately segment those third parties into more specific organic (or unpaid) sources. Examples include:

  1. Search: traffic from commercial search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN/Bing or About
  2. Social Media: traffic from social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram
  3. Publishers such as online newspapers, magazines or bloggers
  4. Institutions such as universities, hospitals or government websites

Think of these referral sources as a kind of publicity (for good or bad). And, as wonderful as all that referral traffic generally is, it can be challenging to secure, and it can be unpredictable. When it does show up, it is fabulous. And when it dries up, it can be scary.

To combat the unpredictable nature of referral traffic, we have another category of traffic source, known as “Campaigns”.

Campaigns are sources of traffic that you have defined in advance of your effort / spend

The definitions are unique to your organization’s marketing / communications / advertising efforts. When those definitions are aligned with your digital campaign tracking efforts, you’re able to isolate those visitors and report on them separately. You can answer questions such as”

  • Do particular campaigns bring more new leads vs. other sources?
  • Are those visitors of a higher quality? Do they read more content? Do they exhibit higher engagement?
  • Do they convert at a higher rate?

Campaigns are sources of traffic unique to your organization’s efforts to drive traffic

Campaigns might include:

  • Emails sent to your newsletter subscribers, prospects or customers that drive traffic back to your site
  • Display advertising (banners, buttons or other ad units) you purchased or traded for
  • Keywords you bid for via networks such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads
  • CPC (cost per click), CPM (cost per thousand) or CPA (cost per action) media buys from publishers
  • Social media updates posted to your organization’s profiles / feeds
  • Press or news releases distributed to your networks
  • Affiliate / partner websites where you negotiated placement; and even
  • “Offline” efforts such as print or radio ads (where you included a unique, or vanity URL)

As they typically require additional effort or cost, campaigns are those sources of traffic you’d like to measure return on, compared to the default direct and referral traffic sources. To do that, we need to isolate campaign visitors from Direct or Referral traffic sources.

But how do we isolate campaign visitors?

By tagging those sources of visitors:

 

 

 

 

 

Like marine biologists who tags wildlife to identify an animal later, or farmers who tag livestock to identify animals in a larger herd, digital analysts ‘tag’. We tag sources of visitor traffic to identify different segments in a larger herd of visitors to a website.

It’s just that we do our tagging via campaign tracking tags, otherwise known as “utms” codes in Google Analytics. FYI, ‘utm’ stands for Urchin Tracking Module. Urchin was the predecessor technology to Google Analytics, and the legacy term has stuck.

Examples of tags

Picture of a penguin tag

Penguin tag

Animals are tracked via physical tags that are attached to them. And digital campaigns are tagged via ‘extensions’ to the URLs we send visitors to.

Every digital analytics tool has a unique set of extensions available to track campaigns.

As a result, the specifics of campaign tracking implementation differ depending on whether your organization uses Google Analytics, Webtrends, Adobe Analytics or another tool.

Below, I’ve provide campaign tracking tags for Google Analytics vs Webtrends:

Google Analytics campaign tags

utm_source=source1
utm_medium=medium1
utm_campaign=campaign1

Webtrends marketing campaign or paid search tags

WT.mc_id
WT.srch=1

Web analytics tools recognize their own campaign tracking tags

When visitors arrive at your website via URLs that contain your campaign tracking tags, your digital analytics tool will recognize them as belonging to particular segments of traffic, and will attribute their arrival to the correct segment for you. Here’s how the magic happens:

When you create content that drives visitors to your website, you typically provide a link: http://www.mysite.ca

In digital analytics, we consider that an “untagged” link. And, regardless of which analytics tool you use, visitors who arrive via untagged links are attributed to the “Direct” source of traffic.

If you want to attribute visitors to a different source of traffic, you need to tag the link accordingly. To tag links, you ‘extend’ the link with extra information. And – the best part is that the extra information does not interfere with the way the web page is displayed to visitors.

Here’s an example of a tagged link:

https://www.onlineauthority.com/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=signature&utm_campaign=2013

What makes the link above special?

image of a question mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously. It’s the question mark.

The question mark signals that the link is what’s knows a ‘parameter’, and in the case of particular parameters, they are contain messages recognized by particular technologies, and ignored by others. So web servers ignore campaign parameters. Internet browsers ignore campaign parameters. And thus, there’s no impact on the user’s experience of your content.

Parameters have a particular structure: a question mark followed by an ‘equation’ separated by an equal sign:

?parameter-name=parameter-value-decided-by-you

So, if the parameter name were “source”, then you might decide the parameter value is a publisher or your house email list.

Or if the parameter name were medium, then you might decide en the parameter value is a banner or a particular email edition or issue.

Or, if the parameter name were campaign, then you might decide the parameter value is a campaign name like thanksgiving or rrsp-season-2013.

Examples of untagged links:

onlineauthority.com/digital-analytics-courses/

onlineauthority.com/digital-analytics-courses/learn-google-analytics

Examples of those same links, tagged:

onlineauthority.com/digital-analytics-courses/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=adwords&utm_campaign=2013

onlineauthority.com/digital-analytics-courses/learn-google-analytics/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=adwords&utm_campaign=2013

Notice how there are actually three parameters in there, all strung together by ampersands?

Examples of those same links, tagged in colour:

In the first URL, I’ve shown the parameter name in blue:

onlineauthority.com/digital-analytics-courses/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=segment-a&utm_campaign=2013

And, in the second URL, I’ve shown the parameter value in red:

onlineauthority.com/digital-analytics-courses/learn-google-analytics/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=segment-a&utm_campaign=2013

Once you’ve tagged your URLs with campaign parameters, or utms, and distributed them via email, social media, or as the destination URLS for your display ads, those visitors will appear in your campaign reports.

Where do the tagged visitors appear in my reports?

Look for them in your Traffic Sources, or Acquisition reports:

Screenshot to show where campaign-tagged visitors show up in your Google Analytics or Webtrends reports.

Campaign-tagged visitors are found in campaign reports in Google Analytics, Webtrends or other digital analytics tools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each parameter represents one report. Thus, the values of your campaign parameter utms will will appear in your Google Analytics campaigns report:

 

 

 

 

And, your Source and Medium parameter values or utms will will appear as secondary dimensions in your Google Analytics campaigns report, and as a stand alone Source/Medium report.

 

 

How do I tag my emails with Google Analytics utms?

Example of an HTML email with links circledIn the code of an HTML email, an organization can include links to their website. And those links can be extended, inside the HTML, with campaign tracking tags or utms.

So, again – instead instead of attaching a tag to an animal…we tag the link inside the HTML code in the email that brings visitors to the website. The tagged links inside this email might look like:

cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/trades/apply-who.asp/?utm_source=bulletin&utm_medium=email_03&utm_campaign=aut2013

cic.gc.ca/francais/immigrer/metiers/demand-qui.asp/?utm_source=bulletin&utm_medium=email_03&utm_campaign=aut2013

 

How do I tag my social media with Google Analytics utms?

Social media screenshot with shortened linkIn a social media update, organization can include links to their website. And those links can be extended prior to being shortened, with campaign tracking tags or utms.

How do I tag my display advertising banners with Google Analytics utms?

 

 

 

 

When providing creative to your agency or to the publisher you’ve purchased advertising with, you also provide them with the URL you want them to link to. The button and banners above might have the following tags:

digitalstrategyconference.com/ottawa/2013/?utm_source=publisher-a&utm_medium=250×250-ros&utm_campaign=dscott13-eb

digitalstrategyconference.com/vancouver/2013/?utm_source=publisher-b&utm_medium=728×90-biz&utm_campaign=dsvan13-reg

In the examples above, the value of the source parameter is the name of publisher where the button ran (publisher-a vs b), the value of the medium parameter represents the size of the ad unit (250×250 vs 720×90) and its placement (run of site vs business section) and the campaign name represents the offer: the city and pricing codes.

How do I create my utms?

You can certainly create utms and tag URLs manually, using something like Google’s URL builder:

 

 

 

 

But, it’s far more efficient to do it via a spreadsheet, which will help you create and organize Source, Medium and Campaign naming conventions. That way, over time, you’ll maintain consistency, adding more value to your reporting and analysis efforts. In addition, you can use very simple formulas in Excel to automatically build the URLs and thus eliminate potential tagging errors.

Below is an screenshot of an example spreadsheet I created for my clients:

 

 

 

 

And with that – congratulate yourself! You’re now ready to ‘tag credit’ for your brilliant campaigns!

And of course, you’ll be annotating your Google Analytics reports throughout to provide context to the changes in traffic, right?

If this intrigues you enough to begin developing your organization’s digital campaign tracking strategy, contact me to request my campaign tagging spreadsheet template.

When you and your team are ready to roll up sleeves and dive in, we would be happy to provide a proposal to provide your team with training or consulting to implement digital campaign tracking for yourselves.

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Kelly KubrickHow to track digital campaigns using Google Analytics utm codes

Proving Value in Communications Efforts

by Kelly Kubrick on November 8, 2013

As your website visitor numbers increase, how do you know you’ve found the right ones?

One of the biggest challenges in communications relates to understanding which of your efforts brought the right visitors to your website. Was it the news release? The emails you sent? Your social media activities?

In the pressure to launch a new program, the best intentions to measure impact often get lost in the hundreds of details driving the project forward. However, with a bit of advance planning, digital analytics can be a powerful tool can let you define, segment and report on your individual communications efforts after the fact.

Many thanks to Systemscope for hosting me on November 28, 2013 to talk to Ottawa’s public sector communications community about how to prove the value of their efforts. And yes – there will be penguins and cows…

Campaign tagging helps isolate pre-determined sources of visitors

It’s done through “campaign tagging“. Campaign tagging is a process that allows us to isolate sources of digital visitors that we’ve defined in advance, so that our web analytics tools – like Webtrends or Google Analytics – recognize them, and attribute them to the ‘correct’ (as we’ve defined it) source.

When you create content that drives visitors to your website, you typically provide a link such as http://www.yourorg.ca. In the digital analytics world, we consider that an “untagged” link. If you were to extend that link with a bit more information – called a campaign parameter – you would have yourself a tagged link.

Once you begin tagging your communications collateral, you’ll be able to show exactly how much traffic you drove, what kind of traffic you drove, and how those visitors engaged with your content. To learn more, see my blog post How to track digital campaigns using Google Analytics utm codes.

Looking forward to catching up with old friends and new – see you on November 28, 2013!

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Kelly KubrickProving Value in Communications Efforts

Web Analytics Fundamentals Online Training

by Kelly Kubrick on September 20, 2013

I’m looking forward to delivering next month’s session on the Fundamentals of Web Analytics for attendees of Instant eTraining‘s online certificate in Web Analytics.

Instant eTraining logo

 

 

The session will cover a user friendly definition of Web Analytics vs. the “official” definition Web Analytics:

“The measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.” As always, thanks to the crew at the Digital Analytics Association for helping our industry articulate the concept.

I’ll go through the benefits of Web Analytics and make sure that everyone grasps the key takeaway of “Objectives Before Data”.

I’ll talk about how web analytics allows us to measure awareness and usage of digital properties, and how you can use web analytics to keep your digital efforts accountable.

We’ll cover what you need to get started: an understanding of data collection methods, some details about the how / why of website tagging and just enough about filters to help you understand some basic mechanics.

Given how critical it is to web analytics, I promise a simple and clear definition around website visitors versus visits. Using burritos. Seriously. We’ll also talk about website traffic sources.

Finally, I’ll talk about some of the unavoidable challenges of digital analytics – why even though it offers so much great data…it can still be difficult to find value in that volume.

Looking forward to meeting you there!

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Kelly KubrickWeb Analytics Fundamentals Online Training

An afternoon immersion in digital analytics

by Kelly Kubrick on January 28, 2013

Key Takeaways from eMetrics Tour Ottawa 2013

Our thanks to the 100+ hardy souls who turned up for an afternoon of digital measurement resolutions on the first day of Ottawa’s killer cold snap this month. It was a great turnout; we had folks from all sectors and across all industries having lots of  great conversations. My thanks to Jim Sterne and my fellow sponsors for sharing their insight and information. In the hope that it might keep your own digital analytics discussions flowing back at your offices, here are my top takeaways:

Analytics definitions from Stephane Hamel of Cardinal Path

  • “How an organization arrives at an optimal and realistic decision informed by data”
  • “Analytics is context plus data plus creativity”
  • “Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic into small parts to gain an understanding of it

I agree with Stephane’s statements – that the digital analytics industry’s number one problem today is the lack of rigorous process. In my own experience, the only way to keep ahead of all tool and technology changes is to have a framework that articulates what to measure, based on your ‘why’ measure objectives, regardless of vendor. Stephane uploaded his presentation “10 years of hard learned analytics wisdom in 20 minutes” on SlideShare.

(Yours Truly) Kelly Kubrick from Online Authority

Hobbit-Bilbo-Baggins-in-Doorway I was pleased that folks seem to hear, based on tweets, some of my key messages:

  • To an analyst, reporting is practising scales is to a musician; it gets / keeps you limber so that you are more able to achieve more creativity in your analysis
  • For non-techies, know that deconstructing prose and poetry in literature gives you an edge when deconstructing blocks of data. You already know how to assess the “whole” based on your ability to isolate the parts
  • Annotate, annotate, annotate: they give you a contextual lens to better understand your data as it changes
  • Ideally, digital analysts have a belief in Second Breakfast in common with Hobbits  (vs hairy feet).

Feel free to peruse my my list of recommended resources for digital analysts, or to download my full presentation Changing Habits: An Unexpected Analytics Journey” (PDF). Let me know if you have any questions about either.

Jim Cain of Napkyn

Jim tackled the question of data and design best practices for Executive Dashboards. His words of advice:

  • “Use dashboards to replace intuition with information”
  • “Create alignment ~ draw the line between the numbers to sales/leads etc for executives by anticipating the question: “I showed you this because…”
  • “Good data + great analysis = appreciative execs (+ better decisions)”
  • “Your dashboard should inform ‘data focus’ choices – don’t include ALL the numbers; pick the ones that tell the story
  • “The best way to look at the numbers is to compare current to historical and predictive (the plan)”

And my personal favourite: “Think of Excel as a design tool, not just a data tool. Start thinking of your reports as non-fiction stories”. As someone known for singing the praises of pivot tables, the analogy brought a smile to my face.

If you didn’t get the chance to see it prior to our gathering, here’s Napkyn’s earlier post on the event: eMetrics Ottawa – Awesome, Important, Free! (and Napkyn is in the house).

Jim Sterne of eMetrics and the Digital Analytics Association

  • “Big data” is that which no longer fits in an Excel spreadsheet – love that! Update: per Jim’s comment below, this should actually be credited to Stephane Hamel – and with that, thanks Stephane for coining it and Jim for introducing me to it!
  • Snippet answers from Jim’s question: What Makes a Great Analyst? One who “understands the raw material and the mechanics of extraction”, “the problem to be solved” and who is “mindful of built-in biases that prevent one from looking at one’s data honestly”
  • The low hanging fruit of analysis includes “errors, omissions, complaints, spikes and troughs, ‘that’s funny” moments and anomalies”
  • “Above all, have an opinion”

emetrics-summit-logoAlthough Jim had much more to say, for a great summary of Jim’s presentation, you can’t beat Practicing the Art of Analytics published by June Li and the crew clickinsight in Toronto.

For those of you who might be interested in attending an upcoming eMetrics Summit, but you’d like to know more about it, take a look at distilled learning from eMetrics Toronto 2012.

And, congratulations to the Canadian eMetrics Summit Tour winners!

Allan Wille of Klipfolio

Allan gave us his forecast on trends that are changing the weather for marketers:

  • “1) real-time feeds, 2) data democracy, and 3) using the Cloud”
  • “Real time” of automated self-serve dashboards can make a difference”; break loose from the chains of manually updating Excel spreadsheets!
  • Data democracy is about: “aligning the entire organization behind the data, getting everyone in the organization looking at the data and realizing that data needs to be shared no matter what”
  • Communicate goals, measure then communicate again to get everyone on the bus (idea from book From Good to Great by Jim Collins)
  • “The Cloud has helped to develop the maturity if analytics tools” – amen to that!

Learn more from Klipfolio by taking a look at their pre-event post: Let’s talk metrics! Klipfolio an official sponsor of the eMetrics Tour.

Also, to see how our colleagues at the Montreal stop fared, take a look at eMetrics Tour Montréal – Un résumé des conférences (in French).

And finally – thanks to all of you who tweeted up a storm; it was great to be able to ‘replay’ the event with your documentary effort! In particular, my thanks to @w_grimes@jorrdanlouis@nellleo and @LindsayMMcPhee. You captured a great deal of information, and I really appreciated it.

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Kelly KubrickAn afternoon immersion in digital analytics

Recommended Resources for Digital Analysts

by Kelly Kubrick on January 16, 2013

First published in July 2007 – most recent update: January 16, 2013

Every few months, the opportunity comes up for me to share my list of recommended digital (web) analytics resources. Given the number of times I’ve emailed that list, I think it may be of use to you as a blog post. Enjoy!

Recommended Digital Analytics Resources

1. Follow #measure on Twitter – one of several hashtags your fellow digital analysts use – see example results here.

2. Subscribe to Web Analytics Forum email listserv. You can monitor it online or receive a daily-digest email that includes all postings. Lurk on it for a while and you’ll see the kinds of questions getting asked – sometimes vendor specific, sometimes not. I’ve had superb responses any time I’ve posted questions there. As a point of interest, when I first joined the list, there were approximately 2,000 members. Today, it’s over 7,000. FYI – as a members-only list, you must apply to join, but the administrators are pretty speedy at turning around requests, so don’t let that hold you back.

3. Nowadays, there is a plethora of fabulous digital analytics and web analytics blogs, but one of the most comprehensive remains Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik. The easiest way I’ve found to read blogs is to through an RSS reader  (I use Google Reader), which allows you to subscribe to the RSS feeds of multiple blogs.

4. Over the years, more and more web analytics books have been published, and I try to get through as many as I can. For my personal list including book descriptions, see Critical tidbits from a Web (now Digital) Analytics bookshelf.

5. If you’d prefer to listen versus read, you should subscribe to the Beyond Web Analytics podcast by Rudi Shumpert and Adam Greco. Each podcast is roughly 30 minutes and they do great interviews with fellow analysts, provide analytics event roundups and much more. One of the things I like best about it is that at the beginning of each episode, Rudy and Adam ask each interviewee how he or she got started on the path of becoming an analyst – I’m always intrigued to hear about the various paths people take.

6. Google Analytics’ Conversion University which offers hours of free online training. Although the material was developed specifically to help people prepare for Google Analytics Individual Certification (IQ) test, and so is, of course, Google Analytics-centric, the material is useful regardless. If you like to set your own learning pace, there are loads of great modules in there.

7. If you’re just starting out and are looking for some hands on experience at analytics, you should check out The Analysis Exchange. It’s a great concept – essentially, it pairs not for profits in need of web analytics consulting with eager web analysts, supervised by veteran web analysts. And the best part? It’s free consulting for the non-profits!

8. I strongly recommend you join our industry association, the Digital Analytics Association (DAA) formerly known as the Web Analytics Association. They provide great research and other useful benefits – events, webinars, articles, discounts to industry events, etc.  I’ve been a proud member since 2006. Most importantly, though, you should consider volunteering on one of several committees – I’ve participated working groups for the Education committee and met some great folks as a result.

9. Today, there are many online web analytics and or digital analytics courses you might consider: The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Award of Achievement in Digital Analytics, Université Laval”s “Analytiques Web”  (in French) course, McMaster University’s Web Analytics Program,  Algonquin College’s certificate in Digital Analytics, and the University of San Francisco (USF)’s  Advanced Web Analytics program.

Full disclosure: I serve on the advisory board of the McMaster program, am an instructor in the USF program and have served on UBC Course Enhancement working groups coordinated by (as they were then) the Web Analytics Association.

10. If your budget allows, you should consider attending one of several global eMetrics Summits. In 2008, I was very pleased to see eMetrics come to Canada. Now entering its fifth year, take a look at the upcoming eMetrics Toronto conference (March 2013).

What about you? Do you have any favourite web analytics / digital analytics resources you would add to my list?

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Kelly KubrickRecommended Resources for Digital Analysts