Unfortunately the age old saying of "marketing and advertising works, I just don't know what half", is still one that rings true for many marketers and business owners. And while our ability to track important metrics has increased ten fold in recent years, in today's hyper connected world there are still gaps. Today we're going to help you close the loop on the interaction between two very important channels - web and SMS.
The world's most popular tool for tracking web usage is undoubtedly Google Analytics, thus today's tutorial is going to focus squarely on how you can integrate this powerful tool into your regular SMS campaigns.
1. Understand Google Analytics Tracking Parameters.
2. Decide what you want your SMS campaigns logged as in Google Analytics.
3. Shorten those URLs.
4. Get sending.
1. Understand GA Tracking Parameters
For those of you who are fully up to speed with Google Analytics tracking parameters you are more than welcome to bypass this section. However for those of you who feel the need to brush up, please read on.
Right. So. Let’s go… Google Analytics is a tool to view your website activity. Now this includes several characteristic about the traffic on your site but the most important one for this post is that of ‘where did this traffic come from?’
Google Analytics (I’m going to use the abbreviation GA from now on) splits web traffic within its reports into various traffic “sources” and “mediums”. A source may be ‘google’ and the mediums would either be ‘paid’ or ‘organic’. Direct traffic, i.e. people who directly typed your website into their browser, do not have a referring traffic source however GA understands this and assigns the source as ‘direct’ leaving the medium blank.
See examples below.
Now the majority of these categorisations are automated. They are built into the product in the background and you don’t have to do anything to see these reports.
What you can do though, is manually determine alternative sources and mediums and these would then appear in the GA reports.
Now it gets interesting right?
This is an exciting prospect when you first hear about it because it means that the possibilities are pretty much endless. Knowing that you can manually determine the traffic sources that appear in your Google Analytics’ reports means that you have a powerful new way of categorising traffic.
The Google Analytics tracking parameters are called UTM parameters. (It stands for Urchin Traffic Monitor but remembering that would put you above most digital marketing experts!)
Let’s see a breakdown of a tracked URL:
https://www.mysite.com/autumn-offer/?utm_source=[insert campaign name]&utm_medium=[insert medium name]
…And filled out with information:
The bolded up text contains the parameters and their values. This would tell Google Analytics that whoever entered the website via this link has come from the source ‘SMS Campaign’ and the medium ‘SMSGlobal’.
Let's break down the elements of the URL:
2. Deciding on the Information Passed to GA
There are 5 parameters that can be passed in a URL. These are:
Now it is up to you on how you utilise each parameter but we have our recommendations…
Always use the source, medium and campaign.
One of the primary questions people want to answer is “where did those customers come from?” and this is the best way to do it.
Give the ‘medium’ value ‘cpc’.
We mentioned earlier that GA does some of the heavy lifting in terms of defining source and medium for the standard channels. Well within this, the medium given for paid channels is ‘cpc’ and we find that when we conduct any paid activity it is best to align with GA. Also, we can then apply the filter ‘medium = cpc’ and view the performance of all traffic we have paid for.
Use the ‘content’ parameter for split testing.
If you plan to send several variations as a split test then this is a good place to describe the different content. This way you can report on one campaign and then segment by the content.
3. - Use a shortened URL
So, you’ve learned that you can manipulate your URLs in order to can see certain traffic in GA. You’ve also decided on the Source, Medium and Campaign name you want to assign to your SMS campaign and have created a tracked URL. But wait, there’s not enough characters left after your text!!
It is important to note that there are character limits in an SMS message – 160 to be precise. Therefore once tracking is appended you may have very little information about why the link is actually presented to the receiver. Not good.
Now, there are several good, reliable sites that offer a quick service where you can paste in a URL and it will give you a replacement link with much fewer characters. More importantly, when you append tracking to the end of the URL and stick them in, they will ensure the tracking persists on landing. Put simply, if you insert “https://www.travelsite.com/the-next-autumn-offer/?utm_source=SMS+Campagin” into a URL shortener and then paste the new URL into your browser, the end result would be the exact URL above.
Here’s a list of URL shortening tools:
Also, if you use HubSpot or some kind of CRM integration platform, they normally come with such a tool. If you do use one of these services we advise you to use their URL shortening tool because it will perform lots more tracking functions than just shortening.
4 - Get Sending
All in all, containing a web link is a great way to get people onto the website directly from an ‘offline’ source. Furthermore, tracking such a link correctly will open up a world of possibilities for reporting on an SMS campaign, possibly mapping revenue generated and therefore an ROI too!
Anyway, we hope you’ve found this useful. If you would like to add to this way of thinking or want to share your own experiences of what works best for you then please comment below and share with our community.