5 Tips to Using Analytics Tools for Offline Measurement

Many of us, search marketers, have been using some type of the analytics tools to measure the performance of web sites as well as online campaigns, but can we use these same tools to get reliable data for other marketing efforts, such as social and off-line marketing?

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with Brian Clifton, who was the head of web analytics for Google EMEA, and an author of several analytics and metrics related books. He explained to me how I could effectively track offline marketing activities using analytics tools.

The big question: How do you track “Non-Search” and “Offline” campaigns?

The quick answer is, “Same as online campaigns”, but depending on the types of the campaign, there are several ways to approach this.

1. Tracking Social Media Campaigns

First you need to create a unique URL with the tracking parameters identifying the variants such as “source”, “medium” and “campaign”, and use different URL for each campaign. This way, if a visitor clicks on the link, it will show up in the analytics tool.


Original URL: www.mydomain.com/product123

Three campaign tracking parameters:

utm_source = twitter
utm_medium = social-network
utm_campaign = product-123-awards

Campaign URL would be: www.mydomain.com/product123/?utm_source=twitter&urm_medium=social-network&utm_campaign=product-123-awards

2. Tracking Email Campaigns

The idea is the same. You need to create a unique URL with the tracking parameters for the email campaign.


Original URL: www.mydomain.com/product123

Three campaign tracking parameters:

utm_source = SECustomers
utm_medium = email
utm_campaign = product-123-awards

Campaign URL would be:


You can hide the long campaign URLs with parameters by using the original URL or campaign phrase as a visible text with the campaign URL in the hyper link.

[Text Message Examples]

Vote for your favorite products for 2011 Product Awards.

Go to: http://www.mydomain.com/product123

3. Tracking Banner Ads

You can apply the same parameter structure to track the banner ads performance.


Campaign URL would be something like:


By following above examples, you’ll get the data in your analytics tool like this.

4. Tracking Display Ads and Other Print Ads

We use URLs in many offline advertising and campaigns such as TV, newspapers, magazines, and billboards. The fact is that many ads are still pointing people to the home page of the website such as “mydomain.com”, and not using a unique URL.

*The ad is pointing people to home page.

By mapping the campaign URLs with tracking parameters to display URLs, we can get the performance data in the analytics tool, too. Since no one will really see the campaign URLs with parameters, the key is to create a unique parameter set for “source”, “medium” and “campaign”. If you’d like to dig deeper, you can create a unique parameter for each medium such as “newspaper-a” and “newspaper-b”, and “magazine-1” and “managzine-2”.

The display URLs must be memorable. Especially the ones you use on the TV ads and billboards should be easy to remember since people won’t be able to go online at that moment.

*These ads are using campaign URLs.

[Display URL Examples]


By using the campaign URLs, you’ll get the performance data in the analytics tool as shown below.

5. Tracking with URL shortening

URL shortening is a great tool to track the performance of each link embedded in the content. Many of us are already using the tools such as “bit.ly” for Twitter and other social media applications to track links. Why not use it for print media and content such as newspapers, magazines and whitepapers. Since these are short URLs, it’s easier for people to type them into the browser to access the pages than the regular URLs.

Some printed media such as “The New York Times” are already using shortened URLs in articles. The image is from an article in March 2010. They are now using personalised shortened URLs with ‘nyti.ms’.

Creating a shortened URL with bit.ly is easy. In order to track the links, open an account, sign in, and then enter the long URL to shorten.

Everyone is expected to track and measure the success of search campaigns. At the same time, measuring the performance of social activities is believed to be much harder, and it seems to be impossible to track the offline campaign against the online campaigns. However, by following the methods explained above, you can obtain very good insights of how both online and offline campaigns perform. Just because it’s an offline campaign no longer means that you spend money against the mass audience and hope for the best. You’ve got to love the power of data!

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