Let’s say you are doing the following for your client:
- News releases
- Media/blogger outreach
- Banner ads
- Email campaigns
- Facebook custom tabs
- etc., etc., etc.
And all of these techniques link back to your client’s website, because one of the goal’s you’ve established with them is “to drive traffic to the homepage.” At the end of the campaign, you may want to provide a report for your client showing how well each channel performed.
Google Analytics is the tool for this, but reporting could turn into a nightmare as simply cracking open Google Analytics and trying to figure out how much traffic is coming from each medium could be troublesome. Without any sort of tracking urls getting used in your outreach, you’ll have to accurately keep track of placements and sift through myriad referral data to figure out what traffic came from which tactic. Even then, some tactics will show up as direct visits to the site, which are relatively untraceable and hard to report. At this point, the reporting is tough, and you have no way to see how well each tactic is doing side by side. To solve this reporting dilemma, each digital avenue (email, banner ads, releases, etc.) should be using a customized link relative to the tactic. In doing so, each tactic can target the same page on the website, and you can easily filter traffic from news releases vs. banner ads vs. email campaigns, all in Google Analytics.
Pretty neat? It’s really easy to implement as well. Here’s how you can accurately measure a multichannel digital PR campaign.
Each campaign will have different goals, but knowing what page(s) you are trying to drive traffic to is a must. Setting these goals up front is really important to make sure everything runs smoothly and is accurately reported. Now that you know what pages are targeted, you can begin to figure out what digital tactics are truly needed to drive traffic to the website. Once those tactics have been assessed and approved, you can then create custom urls for each avenue.
2. Create Custom URLs
The core point of this blog post is pretty much this step here. You may be targeting the same page across multiple channels, but creating a custom url for each avenue will make your life a lot easier. These custom URLs are actually called UTM tags, and they allow you to integrate your source (i.e.: email), medium (i.e.: banner ad) and campaign (i.e.: spring outreach) name into one unique url. Using a UTM tag allows Google Analytics to easily filter out visits that use this specific and show you exactly what you’re looking for. By utilizing a unique url for news releases vs. banner ads vs. email, you can easily see how much traffic each medium is providing without the hassle of manually going through analytics data. You can even take this a step further and make more customized tags based on the type of release, etc., to really see what drives the most traffic.
Creating UTM tags is super easy and takes less than a minute to create. Google even has a site that builds them for you. Simply enter in your credentials, and you’ll get provided your custom URL. With a set of tactics in place, make all of the custom urls you need for your campaign. I’d recommend keeping all of your custom urls organized in a spreadsheet for easy access.
With all of your custom urls built, it’s time to work them into the planned out tactics. Just as you would insert a hyperlink into a release, make sure you use the right news release specific url. Nothing about your approach will change just the type of link you are using.
Helpful hint: UTM urls are really long, feel free to use a url shortner to make them more manageable.
The joy of UTM tags is that they are designed to easily work with Google Analytics. To see the traffic for the custom urls you created, you’ll need to set up some advanced segments in Google Analytics. It’s really easy to do and John Haydon from Inbound Zombie has an excellent video below and can walk you thorough this step.
I’d recommend watching the whole video start to finish as well.