Internal Campaign Tracking: Mind your Tags
We equate campaign monitoring and tracking with the tracking and analyses of ‘external campaigns’– campaigns where users click a link outside of your site and arrive at one of the pages on your site. We dedicate a major part of our analytic capability towards the measurement and interpretation of external campaigns. This is in spite of the fact that a good percentage of our websites have some flavor of internal campaigns, links or banners positioned strategically on our homepage or some other key pages – these internal campaigns can have many flavors – free product trial or demo, webinar registration, company managed conference or event, webcast signup, whitepaper or media kit download, upcoming ticket sale for an event etc.
A good example of internal campaign usage is the Manchester United website…..
As a business owner, we often want or viewers to have a sneak peek at a new product or service and for this we deploy a set of banners or links on our home page – all of these lead to the page featuring the new product or service. The GA data shows an increased number of page views for new product peek page. But, is there a way to know which links or banners are delivering the maximum number of leads for you?
Oh yes. We will use the UTM parameters just as we use them for the external campaigns.
Dead Wrong! This will kill all the good work you have done thus far.
So, what happens when we utilize the standard campaign (UTM) parameters for tracking the internal campaigns?
Let’s consider a very common marketing scenario to answer the above question. You have been running a paid marketing campaign (Adwords / Bing / Facebook) for the last one month – just before the launch of your new product. The next sequence of actions runs like this…
- A visitor clicks on one of your paid ADs and arrives on your site.
- GA (Google Analytics – You can use any other tool also) records the traffic source and attributes it to the paid marketing campaign
- Next, the visitor clicks on an internal banner (with UTM tags) and reaches the new ‘product sneak peek’ page.
- Google Analytics records a new traffic source and starts a whole new visit.
- This initiates a misguiding set of data collection
- You’ve split what was really one visit into two visits thus skewing your data.
- It is now difficult to tie the original referral source to the conversion, because the conversion happens after the user has clicked on the banner – thus overriding the original UTM values.
This certainly eliminates the option of utilizing the UTM parameters for internal campaigns. But, is there a reliable way to track these onsite campaigns. YES.
The following three tracking methods can be safely employed to provide the right metrics for the internal campaigns, while keeping the sanity of the external campaigns.
[A] Construct your own campaign parameters (not GA campaign tags) and append them to links. The internal campaign data can be viewed in the Content / Pages reports.
[B] Utilize the Event tracking feature of GA for tracking visits through an internal banner or promotional link. The internal campaign data can be viewed in the Content / Events reports. One small caveat with this approach is that Google Analytics the use of 10 events per page and no more than 500 total events for the entire session.
[C] Utilize Internal site Search for internal campaign tracking – This works very similar to the external campaign tracking.
Each of the above approaches would require a separate post in itself, but here we will try to lay the foundation for all the 3 methods.
[i] Custom Campaign Parameters (Non-UTM) for internal campaigns:
- Create custom tags instead of standard UTM tags (source / medium / campaign)
- Construct the tags meaningfully so that it reflects the campaign name, position of the link or banner or even the date of the campaign
- For example: camp_name=boxing-day , camp_link=side-navigation / home-page-banner
- The promotional link would look like:
- The exact number of leads from the above clicks would appear in the Content / Pages report
[ii] Event tracking for internal campaigns:
- This requires the addition of a small piece of code to the link on the page
- Event tracking offers higher flexibility in campaign naming conventions by utilizing category, action and label values
- An example of an internal campaign event tag would be: _gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Internal-Banner-Campaigns’, ‘Side-Banner’, ‘Boxing_day_Sale – Dec 2014 – 400×150’]);
- In the above even tag: Category = Internal-Banner-Campaigns ; Action = Side-Banner ; Label = ‘Boxing_day_Sale – Dec 2014 – 400×150’
- This data can be viewed your Content/Events reports by drilling into Top Events through the “Internal-Banner-Campaigns” category
[iii] Internal site search for internal campaign tracking:
- This works in pretty much the same way as the external campaign tracking
- The promotional links need to be suffixed by a query string (example:
- GA allows 2 values to be passed through this method
- The first step in this approach would be to ‘Set up a new profile dedicated to the internal campaigns’
- This enables us to segment our real site search data from this ‘Fake’ site search data
- A very detailed process to utilize this method for internal campaign tracking can be found here: Justin Cutroni’s post for internal campaign tracking utilizing the internal site search.
You see, it’s not that complex to track internal campaigns – the only change required is a small detour around the standard GA tags.
Do write to us if you have any queries / recommendations.