Never advertise without being able to measure the results

If you use Google Analytics, one of the most useful measurements it can give you, as a B2B company, is information on how much traffic is coming from other websites, which ones it’s coming from, and if it’s actually worthwhile traffic. If you’re advertising on other websites, whether it’s banners, links or pay-per-click advertising, it’s essential that you set up Google Analytics to show you clearly how they’re performing.

Relying on the default “Traffic Sources” report is no good at all. So you received a certain number of visits from TheWidgetDirectory.com? Were they from your advert? From the news story they ran on you? From their directory listing? You need to know, and it’s not hard. Unfortunately, in my experience, third-party websites – even if you’re spending advertising money with them – don’t rush to help you with this sort of segmentation, so you’ll have to organise it yourself.

The key is to make sure, as much as possible, that third-party websites don’t just link to a plain web page address on your site, but instead carry a “tag” which can be interpreted by Google Analytics. The simplest way to do this is to use the Google Analytics URL Builder. Just paste in the web page address on your site which you want the external site to link to, and fill in the “source”, “medium” and “name” boxes. Now, instead of sending people to (say)
http://www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk/about/index.php
…you would get the third-party site to send them to:
http://www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk/about/index.php?
utm_source=Widget%2BWorld&utm_medium=Banner
&utm_campaign=Bluer%2BWidgets%2BCampaign

What happens in Google Analytics? Now you can see, clearly labelled, the traffic from that specific item on that specific website. If you’re mentioned in separate places on the site (such as a banner and a news story), you can see and compare the two traffic sources. Here’s an example, kindly supplied by a client of ours who advertises with Google AdWords and on a couple of well-known industry websites:

You can see with the AdWords campaign that the company is not only identifying it clearly, but it’s breaking down the traffic into different types. The same could be done with the other sites if the company chose to run different types of adverts. Easy.

Don’t forget, if you’re an Insider Programme member, you’re very welcome to contact me for advice and help with setting up this sort of thing.

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