We are now in the era of mending relationships between marketing, upper management, and sales. It comes down to one simple factor — data. Trackable, insightful data is finally a reality. Digital marketing has become a full-fledged industry, using reportable data to completely overhaul both marketing and sales.
(There is a lot to digest in this article, so we recommend bookmarking it for future use.)
The Blame Game: A Common Problem
Scenario: Upper Management wants to know what is and isn’t working, and they hate hearing “We’re not sure.” Your sales team is the first to point fingers when things start to go wrong.
Have you ever had an awkward meeting with your manager or supervisor over low numbers that you can’t seem to explain? What about a frustrating disagreement with the sales team about who messed up? These scenarios are not new. All marketers have been there in some capacity.
One of the biggest advantages that digital marketing has is the ability to track, inspect, and report on the success of your various marketing campaigns. Organizations can avoid playing the blame game. By learning exactly what outcomes your campaigns have, teams can get on the same page. In turn, this leads to better collaborations and better work. It allows everyone to focus on the real end goal: putting customers first.
If you are in marketing today and not tracking your efforts, you’re doing a disservice to your business. Data allows you to understand what isn’t working so you can stop and change tactics. Data also helps you understand what is working, so you can do more of it.
The digital marketing community is vast and complex. There are entire industries whose sole purpose is to provide in-depth analytics, but for most businesses the solutions don’t need to be as complicated.
In this article, we walk you through the steps to take in order to get your website analytics off the ground smoothly and efficiently. We will take you step by step through the process, from installing Google Analytics to creating custom presets, and help you take your organization to the next level.
Even if you aren’t the one responsible for your company’s website analytics and PPC reporting, you’ll still want to give this article a skim. Understanding how digital marketing can benefit your company is a crucial component in overall success.
If you are the person responsible for your company’s analytics, this article will provide plenty of helpful tactics that are sure to impress.
Good Ol’ Fashioned Pen and Paper
It might sound crazy coming from a digital marketer, but sometimes it’s best to start with good ol’ fashioned pen and paper.
Before you run a single marketing campaign, take a look at your strategy and your website. Map out the steps one must go through in order to become a customer. Whether you’re trying to collect leads or generate e-commerce sales, you need to understand what your sales funnel looks like.
Do people need to click a specific button? Enter info on a contact page? Watch a video? No matter the steps, each one is key to understanding the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. You need to make sure you are measuring those going forward.
Each and every campaign starts with our team sitting down with pen and paper to make a comprehensive list of every action we would like to track on the website. Once you’ve mapped your list of actions, it’s time to get in the weeds with Google Analytics.
In order to track the ROI (Return On Investment) from your digital marketing efforts, you’ll need to install an analytics application. Google Analytics is not only an affordable option (it’s free!), it’s also a powerful one.
Configuring Google Analytics allows you to track the ROI of traffic from your adwords campaigns, social media campaigns, email marketing campaigns, and more.
Clearly seeing and understanding the results of your efforts can be transformational for your business. You can shift away from strategies that feel like they’re working and start acting on strategies that you know are working.
Installing Google Analytics is pretty straightforward. Create an account, head to the property settings, copy your website tracking code, and paste it onto every page of your website by placing it between the <head> tags. If you’re unfamiliar with website code, you may want to consult a developer.
Once you have your analytics installed, the first thing you’ll want to do is set up goals. This is a major feature of Google Analytics.
Take a look at the important steps in your sales funnel. Each one of those steps will need their own specific goal inside of Google Analytics.
For example, the most common goal is the “/thank-you” page. You may not have recognized it at the time, but you have certainly seen these goals in action. Think back to the last time you bought something online. The majority of times after you’ve clicked submit, you are quickly re-directed to a separate thank you page. The main purpose of the page is to tell Google Analytics that someone who landed on this page has made a purchase or performed another action we hoped they would.
Simply put, goals are a way to track the actions people take on your site. Once they’re set up, you’ll be able to see which types of traffic lead to your intended actions.
Combine this feature with UTM links (more on that below) and you will have yourself a basic analytic stack that gets the job done!
Knowing where your traffic is coming from is absolutely crucial. That’s why UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) links are such an incredible tool for marketers. Also, they’re free!
What are UTM links? These special bits of text are added to the end of any regular link, telling Google Analytics where the link came from. Simple, but powerful.
If you’re spending any amount of time marketing online, you’ll want to get real familiar with these special links.
Creating these fancy UTM links are very straightforward. Google has put together this resource that makes it incredibly easy.
As marketers, our job is to test new tactics every single day to try and find something that sticks. Each one of those tests should have an associated UTM link so that we can tell Google Analytics how effective that specific strategy performed.
This allows you to easily compare the value of your Facebook ad spend versus your email marketing efforts versus your Adwords spend, and so on.
Just hop into Google. Click Acquisitions. Drop down to Campaigns and then compare your data.
Here’s what a UTM link looks like:
Normal Link: symposialabs.com
UTM Link: symposialabs.com/?utm_source=facebookad&utm_campaign=ribbon-cutting&utm_medium=instagram-post
All of those bits of text beginning in “utm_…” are called parameters. They are how Google Analytics sorts your data.
This might sound confusing but trust us, it gets easier!
There are three main parameters that you need to pay attention to.
Medium = The overall medium for a specific marketing effort (i.e. Social Media, Email, Guest Blog).
Source = The specific source within a medium that tells us where the traffic will be coming from (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Newsletter).
Campaign = The specific campaign that this effort was a part of (i.e. Monthly Promo).
Pro Tip: In order to avoid using links that are extra long and unappealing to the eye, use a URL shortening tool like bit.ly or Google’s URL shortener. This won’t change the way Google Analytics interprets your UTM link, but it will make it look better aesthetically if your links are customer facing.
In order to help make things easy, we’ve put together this free UTM link generator template for you to use. Just click the button below, and make yourself a copy. We have found this template to be incredibly helpful. It has made it easy for us to be consistent in the way we name our campaigns, which is helpful when your looking at your data for insights.
Once your campaigns have ended, it’s easy see within Google Analytics which UTM link performed best. Just follow these steps:
- Log into Google Analytics
- Click Acquisition
- Click Campaigns
- Find your specific campaign, then scroll to the right and sort by your “Goal”
- Compare and contrast the data.
- That’s it!
Now that you know how to track and view your campaigns, it’s time to set up Facebook Pixel.
Many businesses have attempted Facebook advertising, but fewer have taken the next step towards advertising effectively on Facebook. The first step is installing the Facebook Pixel.
The Facebook Pixel is very important. It allows you to build lists of people who have been on your website and performed specific actions. Then you can serve “retargeting” ads directly to those people inside of Facebook.
This is incredibly powerful.
Even if you’re not ready to advertise on Facebook today, it’s important to at least get the Facebook Pixel set up as soon as possible.
- Jump into your ads manager and click on the little hamburger (three lines) in the top left
- Click “Pixel”
- Click “Create New Pixel”
- Name it (i.e. “My Business’s Facebook Pixel”)
- Copy and paste the snippet of code and email it to your developer to place in the <head> tags of your website
- All done!
The Pixel puts all of your website visitors into something called an “audience.” As an advertiser, serving ads to that audience is one of the lowest hanging fruits out there. The sooner you install that Pixel, the larger an audience you can serve ads to in the future.
Again, even if you might never run Facebook ads, do your future self a favor and take the 15 minutes to set up the Facebook Pixel.
Setting Up Facebook Custom Conversions
The concept of Facebook custom conversions is advanced, but setting them up is actually straightforward. If you’ve successfully installed your Facebook Pixel, setting up custom conversions is a piece of cake. Once complete, you really start to see the power Facebook holds.
Jump into your ads manager and click on the little hamburger again in the top left.
Click on custom conversions. Then, create custom conversions.
On this page, you can create “custom conversions” that match the goals you laid out in Google Analytics, i.e. “/thank-you”. This impacts three key areas:
- Tracking — When you create custom conversions, Facebook will show you how well each ad does at reaching those goals.
- Optimizing — Now that Facebook knows what these actions look like, it begins optimizing them. For example, showing your ads to people more likely to take those specific actions.
- Retargeting — When you create custom conversions, you’re also creating pools of people who have performed those actions. You can include (or exclude) these people in your future ad campaigns.
Once you have Custom Conversions all set up, it’s time to build a few presets that will help speed up the reporting process.
Making Customized Presets Within Facebook Ads Manager & Google Analytics
If you’re looking to save time (who isn’t?), making customized presents are a great way to go.
By its very nature, Facebook advertising can be quite confusing. There are hundreds of metrics to choose from and, unless you’ve taken the time to master all of their nuances, it can quickly feel overwhelming. Because of this, customizable presets are a great way to see only the metrics that matter most to you and your business. Navigate to your ads manager. Click columns, and scroll down to customize.
For most campaigns, we pay attention to these core metrics.
- Amount spent
- Cost per result
- CTR (click-through rates)
- Relevance score
- Any “custom conversions” you have set up
It’s all right if you’re not familiar with all of these metrics. Most are useful for auditing the effectiveness of a campaign. The most important metric is always ROI.
There are also endless combinations of presets within Google Analytics. Visit the Google Solutions Gallery for free templates.
For beginners looking to track social PPC efforts, we like to use something simple that captures all the metrics we need from a high-level view. We like to make sure we are tracking:
- Where users are coming from
- How often they return
- If they find what they’re looking for
- If they a purchase was made
One of our favorite free templates can be found here. There is a bit of a learning curve here, but it has everything you need to monitor your social efforts. You can even break down how people behaved on desktop, mobile, and tablets.
The best insights are found when you really look under the hood, but most often the best reporting is the simplest reporting. Always look to answer the question, “Is this working?”
Let’s Wrap This Up!
The beauty of digital marketing comes from the ability to track and report on all of your efforts. If you are responsible for driving results and adhering to a strict budget, relying on intuition, hope, and luck in your marketing efforts are luxuries you can’t afford.
Social PPC can be one of the most cost-effective strategies to deploy today, It’s essential to put the right pieces to help track and report on your efforts. If you follow the tips and tools above, you and your team will be well on your way to uncovering the marketing campaigns that work.
If you’re team doesn’t currently have an in-house digital marketing person, feel free to get in touch with us. We have a team of experts who are well versed in this world. We are happy to help in whatever capacity that may be.