Measure: Tracking Techniques
Tracking techniques are methods or technical solutions which help you monitor the performance of your marketing channel. They are like “observers” that you strategically placed to watch and listen to the activities of your target audience. For example, for web analytics, you would place these “observers” on your webpage to capture the activities made through your visitor’s browser (e.g., Internet Explorer).
While there are many different tracking techniques and they may differ from tool to tool in terms of implementations, these techniques are all essentially trying to identify traffic sources/influence or interactions taken by the user. In this section, we will cover some common tracking techniques to identify (1) where/how your visitors find your website (online & offline traffic sources) and (2) understand what your visitors are doing on your website.
For ease of reference, we will be using Google Analytics (GA) as an example for some of the online techniques. Most capabilities found in GA should also be available in other web analytics tools. Please refer to the help/support guides for those tools for more information.
Where/How did my visitors find me?
Understanding where and how your visitors find your website is a critical insight for your business. It helps you determine if your marketing channels are effectively bringing traffic to your website.
To identify where/how my visitors find me, click on the following buttons to find out more!
What are my visitors doing on my website?
Knowing how your visitors behave on your website allows you to identify opportunities for improvement on your website such as increasing the conversion rate to purchase or providing more direct access to important content from your homepage.
To identify what my visitors are doing on my website, click on the following buttons to find out more!
Where/How did my visitors find me?
Tracking where your website visitors came from (traffic sources) is all about URL management. A URL is basically an online address to a specific webpage such as your homepage, product page, campaign page, etc.
Assuming if you already have an analytics tool and script implemented on all your webpages, by default, you should already be tracking how and where your visitors came from. Google Analytics (GA) records and sorts your traffic sources in your traffic acquisition reports without any additional effort required on your part.
However, there are some limitations to how far GA by default can categorise or group your traffic sources. Example: if you run two or more campaigns, on two or more media partner sites, and/or two or more offer discounts on the same channel and period, it will be difficult for you to review the performance of each of these campaigns/ads. This is when URL management comes into play.
How does Jane setup campaign tagging URLs
To help differentiate the two advertised locations (Google & Yahoo) of her online banner ads, Jane creates two separate tags for each location, which GA will recognize and group this accordingly in the traffic acquisition reports:
Jane can now distinguish the visits and conversions driven by “google” vs. “yahoo” from her “August Clearance” campaign online “banner” ads.
URL tagging is available in most other web analytics tools, which also use parameters after the landing page URL to distinguish the detailed source. Instead of “utm,” it may be something else unique to the tool. Find out more about GA URL Tagging (custom campaigns): https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033863
Build your own Google Analytics tagged URLs with this URL builder tool:
Best used for: This is very useful for marketing campaign-related tracking instead of overall marketing efforts. URL tagging is commonly used on online display ads and hyperlinks within emails.
Best used for: social media posts such as Twitter (character limitation) & Facebook (when you don’t want to show an unsightly, long URL).
For Offline channels (e.g., flyers, print ads, radio or TV), here are some commonly used tools to track the influence of these channels:
- Vanity URLs
- QR codes
- Promo codes
How does Jane setup a Vanity URL
To setup a vanity URL, Jane will need to purchase an additional domain name to track her offline flyer(www.50offjanesshoes.com). If Jane has more than one offline source and she wants to distinguish performance, she can purchase additional domain names for each offline source. Jane will then need to work with her web developer to setup the additionally purchased domain to redirect to the e-commerce site’s tagged promotion URL (www.janeshoeshop.com/augustclearancesale.html?utm_source=offline&utm_medium=flyervanity&utm_campaign=augclearance). Jane can then see how many visits and conversions offline flyers via the vanity URL drove to her August Clearance promotion URL within her web analytics platform.
As you may have noticed, you may need a little technical knowledge to create a vanity URL under your current domain and hosting infrastructure. Thus it will be advisable to seek assistance from your hosting vendor or web developer.
Best used for: TV/Radio ads that are shown or heard for a short or limited time and can be also used for printed ads such as out of home billboards/posters, flyers, magazine/newspapers, etc.
How does Jane setup a QR code
Jane may want to put a QR code on her flyers along with the vanity URL, so her potential customers can either type in the vanity URL or easily enter the promotion URL by scanning the QR code to enter her site with the tagged promotion URL(www.janeshoeshop.com/augustclearancesale.html?utm_source=offline&utm_medium=flyerqr&utm_campaign=augclearance). Jane can use a QR code generator she finds online by plugging in the unique, tagged URL she wants the QR code to drive to. This will allow Jane to see how many visits and conversions offline flyer via the QR code drove for her August Clearance promotion URL within her web analytics platform.
Here are two websites which you can generate a QR code for yourself:
Best used for: If you choose to use QR codes, be wary of where these codes are printed on your collaterals. Stagnant printed ads such as flyers, name cards and poster displays at waiting areas will allow the user enough time to scan the QR code. On the other hand, you should avoid printing QR codes on moving ads such as transport advertising on buses, taxis and trains.
How does Jane setup her promotional codes
Using unique promo codes requires a little more operational planning beforehand. Jane will need to create a promotional code that customers can use at her retail store (and/or online) for the specific 50% off offer she is trying to promote via her flyer (if Jane has more than one offline source and she wants to distinguish performance, she can create different promotional codes for her different offline sources).Jane will then need to prepare point-of-sale logistics within her retail shop to capture purchases with promo codes and/or ensure that her e-commerce website allows customers to enter promo codes. This will allow her to capture the number of transactions and sales revenue made with promo codes driven by her offline flyer.
We advise that you keep a master list of active vs. non-active promotional codes that correspond to the source on which they are printed, the promotion name/offer details, where they are valid for redemption, dates valid, etc. This will help you operationally and also allow you to link the promo code and its details to the sales performance numbers.
Best used for: Promotional codes are versatile and can be shown on TV or heard on radio ads along with being printed on ads such as out of home billboards/posters, flyers, magazine/newspapers, etc.
What are my visitors doing on my website?
In most Analytics tools, Google Analytics (GA) in this case, adding the base tag code to a page will enable the page to be tracked for visits, views, users (visitors), average session duration, bounce rate,% new sessions, geographic location, users’ device used to view the page, etc. You should always ensure that all your webpages have a base tag code inserted.
Here is the Google Analytics (GA) implementation support page with the GA page code: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/
Although using just base tagging may be sufficient for most websites, depending on your business operations and website design/functions, there will be times whereby the following techniques will be useful for your website.
Event tracking tags allow you to measure interactions by visitors on website components such as buttons, links, and banners. The types of interactions can be anything from clicks, video plays to downloads. For example, you might want to use event tracking tags for the banners on your website to identify how popular they are.
For more information about Google Analytics event tagging, visit:
Setting goals in Google Analytics allows you to measure how well your website is fulfilling your target objectives. A “goal” is the completion of a desired activity which is determined by you. Such activities may include the completion of a transaction, the amount of time spent on your site, an event that occurred, or the amount of pages viewed in a single session. For example, if your website’s target objective is to sell shoes and the final step of a transaction from your website is the “Thank You” page, you could set a page view of your “Thank You” page as your website goal.
To find out more about Goal settings, visit:
If your website has e-commerce capabilities, it will be a good idea to setup the e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics (GA). E-commerce tracking in GA allows you to track detailed information such as the products your visitors bought in a single transaction. You can also setup and track revenue, tax, shipping, and quantity information in each transaction. In addition, with e-commerce tracking, you can measure the number of days and sessions taken by your visitors before they make the decision to purchase.
E-commerce tracking is available for both web and app properties but must first be enabled at the view level in Admin. For more information, visit: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1037249?hl=en
Many marketers often make the mistake of not checking their implementations. Therefore, you should always consider factoring a day or two to verify your implementations before the launch date. There are two common practises to validation:
- Checking your (real-time) reports for activity
This is usually the fastest and most-straightforward way to validate your tracking
- Using the debugging tool (either provided by your analytics tool or browser)
A number of analytics tools in the market provide their own debugging tools which make tag verification much simpler. For example:
The Google Analytics Debugger
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-analytics-debugger/jnkmfdileelhofjcijamephohjechhna - available on Chrome.