5 Campaign Tracking Mistakes that Wreck Results & Shrink Budgets
Rumour has it that marketers today are “lucky”, because there are so many promotional channels they can use to connect with their audiences. But the question is - does more always equal better?
The challenge with “multi-channelling”:
1. With so many promotional platforms already in the marketplace and new ones sprouting every day, identifying what works and what doesn’t isn’t a long-lasting constant that can be applied to all campaigns at all times.
2. What brought fabulous results 6 months ago, might well be old news today.
- This new reality doesn’t change the fact that we are still expected to continue to drive more sales.
- To minimize missed opportunities and ensure sustainable results we need to do our best to adapt fast and stay on top of the latest customer preferences.
- This pretty much means we need to push our campaigns on as many channels as we can to cover all our grounds and be very vigilant about monitoring and optimizing things.
3. With “multi-channeling” comes a big bag of budgetary and productivity challenges:
- We have to split our ever thinning budgets & resources into more spending pockets.
- To justify our spend, we need to apply consistent tracking strategies that measure effectively both channel and asset ability to promote individual campaigns.
- Campaign tracking was easy when we were dealing with fewer channels, and we could use the likes of Google’s URL builder to add a few tracking parameters to our pages manually.
- With the ever growing amounts of campaigns and channels today, adding tracking UTMs can be almost insurmountable, unless we automate. So tracking is now yet another bullet point on our long list of to-dos that needs to be planned, sourced, and integrated into our campaign implementation process.
The challenge with “multi-tracking” & how to keep the cost-benefits ratio in our favor
Given how busy we are focusing on getting all the acquisition and nurture campaigns out of the door to meet our monthly goals, tracking often doesn’t make it to the top of our to-do list. Or, we think that we are tracking all the right assets and channels, but we actually aren’t.
The truth is that campaign tracking is instrumental to a marketer's success and should be an integral part of every campaign’s rollout process. There are a number of substantial benefits that it provides - from helping you save time to helping you gain support for a bigger budget, to making sure that you are maximizing your campaign’s reach and conversions potential, to not letting you waste your money on ads and channels that are not a fit.
So here is a brief list of what not to do, to avoid losing those benefits.
Five tracking mistakes that might crash your results and cost you your next campaign budget:
1. Tracking conversions, but not which channels/assets they came from
Some marketers focus only on setting up and checking the number of online form conversions. The way they usually do it is by creating a “Goal” in Google Analytics and using the report associated with it to count the number of form fills or leads that have been generated for the period.
Why is this a mistake? Sometimes a channel just might not work, and you won't know that unless you are tracking.
When that happens you might lose some important resource and budget-related benefits:
- If a channel is not a fit, this means that you can stop using it for this particular campaign and save time by not having to create extra social posts or visual content. Time, by the way, which you can use to add more “fire” to the channels and assets that work.
- This could also mean that something might be wrong - like, the Facebook pixel wasn’t set up correctly and now you cannot re-connect with the audiences that showed initial interest.
- Or, it could mean that your PPC campaigns haven’t been setup per expectation, and you are happily getting a large number of conversions, but they are coming from the one market/geography that you are not selling to.
I have seen it happen to a client who was, luckily, able to find out early enough that all their amazing conversions were coming from leads in Russia, and their product wasn’t even designed to work there.
2. Not Tracking Social Media Separately.
Sometimes we assume that Google Analytics will automatically track and segment for us all the traffic coming from Social Media channels. Or that Buffer and the rest of the social automation tools have got us covered so we don’t need to worry about adding UTM tags to the URLs of our campaign pages.
What your Analytics & Social Media tools won't do
Google will indeed identify and segment traffic coming from Facebook versus Twitter and the rest of your social platforms. And Buffer will tell you which visits originated from its console.
What these tools won’t do though is break down your Twitter traffic by campaigns A, B, or C. They won’t split your Campaign A traffic by social platform type either (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.).
Unless you tell them specifically to track everything with the help of the good old UTM codes, you won’t be getting the granular info you need to access how each one of your social presences is contributing to the success of your particular campaign. And that might significantly misrepresent your performance on those channels and cause you to lose budget for your next campaign.
I can tell you that, for example, my “Free Trial” promotion on LinkedIn generates much more traffic than Twitter. Because I am running six concurrent campaigns at this point in time (each one with multiple ad variations across multiple channels), without tracking, I wouldn’t have been able to identify easily which platform offers a better cost per click ratio for this particular campaign.
Sure, there are a number of other ways to figure out which chunk of the traffic was part of which campaign - you can use multiple analytics tools, separately extract data from your individual social platforms, mix and match reports, export numbers in Excel and process everything there… But all of this takes time and prevents you from having a singular view of your campaign’s performance across all channels.
And it’s matter of pricing, resources, and your cost/benefits ratio too. Wouldn’t it be so much easier and simpler just to go to Acquisitions>Campaigns in Google Analytics and view all the insights you need - grouped and stacked nicely together?
3. Not including email in your tracking efforts
Most marketers spend a large amount of their time creating or updating emails. That is why it is very important to measure this channel consistently and efficiently.
In her awesome guide to campaign tagging in Google Analytics, Annie Cushing specifically warns that unless you set up UTM-based tracking for the URL links in your emails, all of your traffic might end up clumped up into your general “Direct” traffic. Good luck proving that your email tool is actually an invaluable revenue-pushing resource.
According to her, these are the most likely culprits for this issue:
- Visits from desktop apps, such as Outlook and Mac Mail, show up in analytics as direct — or medium = (none) — because no referrer data gets passed.
- Visits from webmail providers that default to a secure server (such as Gmail and Hotmail) don’t pass referrer data.
- Visits from mobile often show up as direct because of issues with referrer data getting passed.
At the end of the day, your email manager will probably be able to give you the most exact numbers, down to the last cent of the revenue that your individual email generated.
But it all boils down to being able to have a productivity-focused single campaign view so that you can compare easily how your promotional channels and assets stack up against each other without the need to resort to multiple back and forths between tools, reports, and hours-long calculations.
4. Not tracking printed materials
Collateral materials including printed flyers, agendas, and calendars can be a great traffic and conversion driver, especially at trade shows and other in-person events.
My experience is with sales catalogs that have brought significant traffic to my web campaigns in the past. Tracking has been the only way to prove that a seemingly expensive ad can deliver a good-sized double-digit ROI.
Whether you are using a QR code or a simple short link like bit.ly/cool-discount, they need to have the right tracking UTM tags to account for the role that this channel is playing in the success of your entire campaign.
Because print materials tend to be viewed as pricier than other creative collaterals, not tracking traffic coming from this channel might effectively preclude you from securing budget and reaching a substantial slice of your audience next time around.
5. Not tracking traffic coming from partners, affiliates, support, and inside sales
Partners and Affiliates
Partners and affiliates are a great way to give your campaigns a few extra running wheels. If you are spending the time to re-purpose your promotional content and share it with your partners or affiliates, then you will definitely need to justify budget spend and resource allocation. Without tracking, you won’t be able to see how your campaign has been impacted by these important traffic sources.
Another important source to track is your support team.
Based on my experience, the support guys know everything and spend a lot of their time helping customers find their way around your website. Some individuals are even great at generating traffic and driving conversions.
If your campaign offers extra value or cross-sells to your existing customers, engaging your support team and tracking their efforts is an excellent way to showcase that Marketing is all about teamwork that drives results. It can also help gather more intelligence about specific audience segments and collect invaluable feedback about the performance of your assets.
It’s a good rule of thumb to involve inside sales before your implementation stage. Confirming scoring or lead handover exceptions and clarifying what supporting materials, such as scripts, collaterals, and web pages, will be made available to the sales team is an important part of the process. While there is always a clear understanding that Sales becomes the legal owner of the lead after they accept it, I have had cases where the sales person might find out that the prospect is better suited for an upgrade or a different solution. In this case, they will probably provide the potential customer with a link to a different campaign page or asset. Additionally, some sales representatives can generate a lot of traffic to the website via their personalized emails. Tracking the visits and conversions that have resulted from sales activity is imperative. It could signify that a campaign targeting, promotion mode, or verbiage has to be tweaked. It could even identify a whole new segment that marketing can go after. It also gives acknowledgment where it is due.
The main benefits of tracking your marketing efforts include intercepting potential lose ends, optimizing campaigns, and making sure you have enough data to prove the value of your marketing and showcase the fabulous job you are doing.
If you avoid the 5 UTM tagging mistakes above and integrate campaign tracking into all your inbound nurture and acquisition campaigns, you guaranteed to be able to showcase your stellar results effectively, justify spend, and secure more budget for your next campaign.