30 Oct

How to Track More Than Click-Through Rates

Evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns: move beyond click-through rates

Actionable information comes from knowing what people did after they clicked your promotional offer.

Last week my friend Michael’s company sent an email blast with a special offer. I asked Michael how many people had made a purchased as a result of getting the email, or if anyone was any closer to making a buy because of his email blast.

He didn’t know. Nor could he tell me which of his web pages people had visited as a result of reading the email.

On the other hand, he was proud of the statistics his email campaign service provider gave him: a 44% open rate and a 31% click-through rate.

I asked him what actions he was planning to take because of those open and click-through rates. Michael gave me an inquisitive look then asked me what he should do.

Let’s play tag

I suggested he tag his marketing materials (email links, social media campaigns, etc.). He said he already did tag everything … he even showed me the tag in his email.

This kind of tag is from an email campaign service provider (e.g., MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.) and is only built to track clicks and click-through rates – data you can’t take action on.

Email tracking code provided by email or advertising suppliers will not provide send data to Google Analytics so you can track what happened after the click.

Example of email tracking code provided by email or advertising suppliers.

This tag does not send information to Google Analytics so you can know how many people purchased, or came closer to buying.

To learn about the buying actions triggered by your marketing materials you need to have your data-click information sent to Google Analytics. And that requires an additional tag that’s embedded into your email campaign service provider’s link.

This embedded tag is called a UTM (Urchin Tracking Monitor) tag. It contains the instructions Google Analytics needs to classify, store and track clicks. It’s the UTM tag that gives you the valuable and actionable data you need to know how much closer your marketing efforts are bringing people to buying your products or services.

Two tags work together

It’s important to understand that the two tags combine to work for you:

  1. Your email or advertising campaign service provider’s tag captures the click.
  2. The UTM tag that’s embedded in your email or advertising service provider’s tag sends the information to Google Analytics

 Here’s how tagging for Google Analytics works:

The UTM tag is instructions for Google Analytics on how you want your marketing campaign information stored so you can measure activity after the click.

The UTM and Service provider tags combine to make your link.

The UTM tag has three elements:

  • Source: a broad category of marketing activity such as email, social media, advertisements, etc.
  • Medium: a narrowing of the category focusing on something more specific, such as which email campaign, which social medium, or which advertiser.
  • Campaign: is a further narrowing of the source and campaign focusing on a specific sale, campaign date, or offer.

Here’s an example of a tag a business might use on a social media campaign:


The first part is the website address. The tag itself begins immediately after the .ca/

?utm_” identifies the start of the UTM code. This notifies Google Analytics to wake up and store the next bit of information under campaigns.

Source=banner” tells Google Analytics that we’re calling the source “banner”.

The “&utm_” says there’s more…

medium=twitter” tells Google Analytics that this is a Twitter campaign.

The next “&utm_” identifies that there’s more…

The “campaign=june” identifies that the campaign ran or will be run in the month of June.

In Google Analytics under Campaigns it would read like this:

  • Source: banner
  • Medium: twitter
  • Campaign: june

We can use the Source, Medium or Campaign to follow our marketing results with increasingly greater detail:

  • At a high level (Source) you can see how each of your advertising platforms is performing. Is email generating more leads than advertising campaigns?
  • At a lower level (Medium) you can see which email lists are performing best, or which advertisers are driving sales.
  • At a detail level (Campaign) you can see how specific email or advertising campaigns performed.

Put simply, tagging lets you know your marketing return on investment – the best places to spend your money, and best places to spend your time.

What’s in a name?

For most small businesses making tags isn’t the real challenge. The real challenge is coming up with source, medium and campaign names that will make sense when they’re later analyzing their marketing results in Google Analytics.

Make sure you use easily understood names. If the names cause confusion, you may end up making bad assumptions that lead to poor decisions.

A good naming convention requires consistency so you can keep track of each of your activities.

Once you’ve created a UTM tag, put it in your link shortener, your email blast supplier tag, etc. so Google Analytics will record all your click details.

What do you do with the data?

Google Analytics gathers your tag data and puts it in Acquisition > Campaigns. You can see all of your results there.

Or, you can use your campaign data as a secondary dimension to see which web pages your marketing campaigns are delivering traffic to and which goals they’re helping you achieve.

Tagging delivers results

Properly tagging your marketing campaigns with both your service provider tag and a UTM tag gives you an easy way to know how many people purchased or became sales leads as a result of each of your sources, mediums and campaigns. And that can help you develop and deliver more effective marketing campaigns that drive sales.

Leave me a comment if you have questions or want to know more about tagging.

30 Sep

The Safe Way to Upgrade to Universal Analytics

Don't miss the Universal Analytics Train

Don’t miss the Universal Analytics Train

To keep our Google Analytics current, we all have to upgrade to the new Universal Analytics.  Not upgrading will leave us behind as no new features are being added the old version.

We should all want to upgrade because as so many on the have pointed out Universal Analytics is just a better product.   From my experience there are two approaches to the upgrade and which one you choose depends how heavily you are invested.

Two Universal Analytics Upgrade Approaches

My experience upgrading customers to Universal Analytics have been all pretty smooth.  There are two types of clients that approach me for assistance on their upgrades.  Those that are:

  1. Lightly invested in Google Analytics – these customers have not set up or configured their Google Analytics. Historically they have been passively observing their page views and traffic statistics like a spectator at a sporting event.  That attitude is changing and they want to become more involved with their data and wants help getting started.
  2.  Heavily invested in Google Analytics before the upgrade – they have custom code, goals, and rely on their Google Analytics to make business decisions.

Each group needs a different approach to their Universal Analytics upgrade:

Cold Turkey Upgrade to Universal Analytics

This is for the “Lightly invested” in Google Analytics.  The Cold Turkey approach just replaces the code and just like that you’re on the full Universal Analytics platform.  It’s complete in just a few hours.

These customers generally do not know very much about what is in their Google Analytics so any changes in data presentation will go largely unnoticed.  They want to get the upgrade done, and then turn over a new leaf and bring data into their decision making.

Here’s a guide that will make it easy to upgrade your Google Analytics using the “Cold Turkey” approach.

Parallel Property Upgrade to Universal Analytics

This approach is for those heavily invested in their Google Analytics.  The Parallel Property approach is the exact opposite of the Cold Turkey.  It’s a project that needs to be managed over a few months so there can be careful evaluation of what is changing in the data so they can adjust to the “new normal”.

What is the “New Normal”?

Moving to Universal Analytics is a permanent change, there is no turning back.  Things will be different under Universal Analytics because it collects data differently than the old Google Analytics and your organization may need time to understand and adjust to the new realities.

Initially the differences between the old versions and Universal Analytics may be <10%, but over a few months you will see everything even out.

How do to the Parallel property approach

  1. The first step is to create a new property within your Google Analytics account. Call this property “Universal Analytics Test”.  Google will automatically assign the property a Universal Analytics tracking code that will have to be inserted onto every page of your website right before or right after the Classic Google Analytics tracking code.
  2. Configure the new property with the same goals, filters and settings as your Classic Google Analytics property. Comparison of the old and the new will be easier when both properties have identical configurations.
  3. If you have custom code for tracking PDFs, videos, outbound links, or any other on page asset, seriously consider installing Google Tag Manager. Tag Manger will save you having to create new custom Universal Analytics tracking codes for each of those assets.
  4. Let a month or pass by so traffic can accumulate in the Universal Analytics property. When there is sufficient data, compare the two and investigate differences as you see fit.
  5. Once you are satisfied with the Universal Analytics property’s performance, it’s time to say good bye to your Classic Google Analytics.
  6. Make sure the Classic Property has been transferred to the Universal Analytics platform. Your goals, filters and settings will remain intact.
  7. Insert the Universal Analytics tracking (from the Classic property) across your website
  8. Remove both the Universal Analytics test property code and the Classic Google Analytics code from your website.
  9. Remove any custom code associated with Classic Google Analytics – ecommerce, remarketing, etc. and replace with Universal Analytics versions of those tags.

An extra word about Universal Analytics Enhance Ecommerce Tracking Code

Universal Analytics has two versions of e-commerce.  One that offers the same functionality as the Classic version; this code can be place on your e-commerce pages alongside your existing e-commerce code.  There is also an Enhanced version of e-commerce for Universal Analytics only.  The enhanced version tracks a lot more about customers’ pre purchase journey such as promotions.  Be careful not to install the Enhanced version of e-commerce tracking alongside the Classic or even the standard Universal Analytics e-commerce tracking.  The Enhance e-commerce tracking code does not play well with others.


If you have invested heavily in your Classic Google Analytics with goals, custom tracking, filters take the slow and steady approach over to Universal Analytics, create a parallel property.

If you have minimal investment and have been using the default settings in Classic Google Analytics and not regularly using it for decisions take the fast route to Universal Analytics – go Cold Turkey, but take the time to set-up your Universal Analytics with goals, filters and settings.

27 Sep

Small Business guide to upgrading to Universal Analytics

It's time to move from Classic to Universal Analytics

Upgrade to Google Universal Analytics

If you have been using Google Analytics since before April 2014, you need this article.

In April 2014, Google introduced a completely new version of Google Analytics: Universal Analytics. It’s a much better product with some valuable new features that make it easier to do things like:

  • follow your customers’ journeys with cross-device tracking
  • see traffic from Canadian search engines
  • see the contributions PDF files, videos, and other calls-to-action are making to your goals
  • track ecommerce activities

Phasing Out the Old Product

Google announced that “Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics. All accounts will soon be required to use Universal Analytics.” Google.

“The New Operating Standard”?

That’s code for “we won’t be adding any new features to Classic Google Analytics.” Upgrade now or you’ll get left behind at the next feature release, which could be anytime. Google has promised your old (Classic) Google Analytics will remain compatible with the new Universal Analytics until March 2016. But why wait? Things aren’t going to get any better. And you’re missing out on some great new capabilities.

How to make the move to Universal Analytics

It’s been my experience that customers take one of two approaches to their upgrade. One is a quick move, or cold Turkey where the upgrade is pretty quick.  The other is more of a project.  Here’s an article on how to determine which approach is best for you.

Google describes the upgrade as a simple two step process: (1) Transfer the property and (2) Insert the new tracking code. You won’t benefit from Universal Analytics’ additional functionality until you complete both steps.

Step 1 Transfer your Property

To transfer your property (website data), you need to move all of your existing Google Analytics data from the Classic Google Analytics platform to the Universal Analytics platform. Don’t worry about this transfer; your existing data is safe and compatible with Universal Analytics.

Google has already transferred many of my customers’ data automatically, often unbeknownst to them. In a few cases we were ahead of Google and initiated the transfer ourselves.

How do I know if my site data has been transferred?

To find out if your website property has been transferred to Universal Analytics go to the Administration section right at the top of the Property column. You’ll see one of these two (self-explanatory messages):


This message will appear at the top of your Google Analytics property setting if your property has been transferred to Google Universal Analytics

Figure 1:This message will appear at the top of your Google Analytics property setting if your property has been transferred to Google Universal Analytics


Message you will get if your property has not been transferred to Universal Analytics

Figure 2: Message you will get if your property has not been transferred to Universal Analytics


If the message in Figure 1 looks like yours “Transfer complete”, Google has already transferred your data and you are ready for Step 2 (Insert the New Tacking Code).

If you see the message “Transfer not started”, you can either start the transfer manually (once you hit that button, there’s no turning back) or wait for Google to do it for you.

Step 2 – Your Action Item:  Insert the New Tracking Code

For this step you actually have to go into your website’s HTML code and insert your new Universal Analytics tracking code – the big yellow area shown below:

Google Universal Analytics Tracking Code.

Figure 3:  Universal Analytics Tracking Code.

You need to swap out the old code with the new code on every page you want tracked. For WordPress sites, just swap the codes from the Header.php file (a UA plug-in). For SharePoint sites, it’s in your Master file.

Technical warning: If you don’t understand that last sentence (Header php file, Master file, etc.), get a professional to insert the code for you.

Upgrade Complete

Once you’ve inserted the new Universal Analytics tracking code in your web pages, your upgrade is complete. You’re ready to take advantage of the new Universal Analytics features.

The Perfect Time to Make Google Analytics Really Useful — SET IT UP

Instead of passively looking at your page views and the traffic statistics available with Google’s default settings, take action. By configuring some goals, filters and settings you’ll actually be able to make decisions about which traffic sources trigger the most conversions, and which pages are most valuable (not popular) to your website visitors.

Spend a few minutes creating some goals, settings, and filters. You’ll be glad you did.


Time To Upgrade Image:  Thank you to www.koozi.com.

29 Aug

10 Google Analytics Settings to Look For in a WordPress Plug-in

WordPress Plugin IconThe default settings in Google Analytics do not provide data you can really take action with.  After all what actions can you realistically take with page view and traffic source statistics?  Google Analytics is software, and like most software to be valuable it must be configured. Thankfully for WordPress users there are a wide variety of plug-ins available to help you configure a few of Google Analytics’ settings.  Here are a few of my favorite settings”:

Site Search (a personal favorite)

Read More

18 Aug

Google Analytics – Training You Will Use

Training Certificate

Google Aanlytics Training certificate

e-Nor has announced it’s 2015 Google Analytics training schedule.  When it comes to picking Google Analytics training we have a lot of choices from online to instructor lead.  Here is my review of an Instructor lead training I took in October 2013.

I know this training is good because I have applied what I learned.  But most importantly I have the confidence to work well beyond Google Analytics default settings and make real decisions with the data.

What makes this training so good?

Lots of training offers to coach and help you after the course is over, but such promises are often empty because of last minute cancellations, unreturned emails, and the general run around trying to get help.

That’s not the case here with Instructor Eric Fettman, who manages the Blog Google Analytics Tip of the Day and e-Nor the Silicon Valley marketing consulting firm who manages the course.

Post Training Follow-up and Consultations are for Real

It’s been almost a full year since I took the training and I have had at nine one-on-on follow-up Skype sessions with the instructor Eric Fettman.  Development planning and coaching is one of the course features – but these guys mean it.  They follow through and really help you apply what you learned.

Training With a Bias to Action on Data

The core philosophy of this course was: marketing data is useless without action.  So in addition to showing demonstrating how to find data, there is a lot of discussion about how to use the information for active website management.  These discussions had the most impact on me:

Google Analytics Implementation

One of the best outcomes of this training for me is confidence with the GA installation and set-up of accounts, properties and views.  Even better, I now have the knowledge to speak intelligently to website developers about how to implement correct GA code and what information will be tracked.

Measuring Against Goals

This training emphasizes the proper use of goals in Google Analytics including how to set them and then develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance in achieving each goal.  For example, by monetizing all of your goals it is much easier to identify each webpage’s contribution to a goal.  Even non-monetary goals like generating a sales lead can be applied this principal.  Just put a $1.00 value on the goal and GA will report how each pages contributes its achievement.

How to Make Things Happen Because of the Data

Google Analytics produces a lot of data and reports that can be used to cause adjustments in web design.   I learned new techniques to quickly find information within Google Analytics and structure the information into a useful report.   Even more valuable were the discussions about what actions to take based on the data.

For example using:

  • Site search for keyword research.
  • Advanced segments, table filters and view filters to identify missed opportunities.
  • Secondary dimensions and weighted sorts for comparisons to solve problems.
  • …. A whole lot more.

Extra Resources to Augment Website Marketing

The course also covers how to integrate some Google tools that augment Google Analytics:  Web Master, Tag Assistant, Tag Manager, and one of my favourites, Google URL Builder.

Now They’ve Added A Workbook

Eric has created and refined an interactive format where participants work with the course leader to complete a workbook instead of staring at a bunch of PowerPoint slides. The workbook method is beneficial as it allows course participants the hands on experience in working through the analytics process with the guidance of the instructor.  I was fortunate to give feedback on a draft version of the workbook and, yes, it is excellent at showing you how to apply the principals you learn.  When I did the training last year in Washington DC, we had the PowerPoint version, but I envy those who get the workbook version.


If you are looking for Google Analytics training, seriously consider attending one of Eric Fettman’s analytics training courses.  You will find Eric to be an engaging, patient and knowledgeable instructor who understands how marketers need to use Google Analytics for website performance.

The training is planned across North America.  If you can get yourself a seat there it’s worth the money and time.

16 Apr

Track your marketing results with this free tool

Do you have data on your marketing activities like your newsletter links, banner advertisements, paid links, social media?  A technique called “tagging” each call to action link enables tracking of these results.  Google Analytics URL Builder (it’s free) makes tags for you and then puts the results in Google Analytics.

What is a “Tag”?

A “tag” HTML code that places a unique identifier on a link.   Every time that tag is clicked it is counted because of the tag.  Every tag needs to contain identifying properties; source / referrer, medium, and campaign.

To understand a tag’s value take how to build them take a look at the post How to Move Beyond Open and Click Through Rates.

HTML coding NOT required with Google’s free URL Builder

You don’t have to know HTML to create your own tags.  Google Analytics URL Builder is a free tool that creates a custom tag to track results for marketing activities like display / banner ads, newsletter links, email blasts, affiliate links, tweets and more.    It’s a great way to get accurate and objective feedback on what was done well and what needs improvement.

How to make your own tags with Google Analytics URL Builder

Let’s assume you place an advertisement in an online publication and that ad contains a link back to your website.  To track the advertisement’s performance attach a unique tag to the link that takes viewers of your ad back to your website.   Take these steps:

  • Go to Google Analytics URL Builder
  • Fill in the blanks; campaign source, medium and name are mandatory
  • Click the button “create URL”
  • Immediately below you are presented with your tag that is pasted into your advertisement.

Here is a sample of what a link with a tag for my website might look like:

Track Marketing campaigns in Google Analytics with UTM Codes

Google URL Builder makes the tag for you!


All your results are in Google Analytics

For those with Google Analytics Accounts the clicks on each tag are identified under “traffic sources” > Search > Campaigns. All activity where a tagged link was used is captured in this single, which place which makes for easy comparisons.

I have a tag on my email signature so I know if email recipients are using it to access the website.  Figure 2 shows how it is displayed in Google Analytics.






Let me know how about your tagging experiences.