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by Gemma Holloway on 13th February 2014
Last month I wrote a blog post on how to Enhance your Content Marketing Strategy with the use of Google Analytics but one thing that wasn’t covered in the post was offline content marketing. It is still important to be able to monitor the success of your offline marketing campaigns to understand what works and what doesn’t. The good news is, Google Analytics can help you with this too, and here’s how.
There are four main ways to track your offline content marketing;
One method of tracking offline content marketing is to use a customised domain which differs from your overarching company domain. When the user visits this URL they are then redirected to a specific landing page on your existing website. You can then track the success of any offline content marketing material displaying this domain by analysing the visits to the specific landing page on your existing website.
For example, if sponsoring a particular event, let’s say the World Cup (I wish!), Koozai could buy the domain koozaiworldcup.com. This domain would then be provided in any offline content marketing we put out for this campaign. A redirect could then be set up so that when users type in this domain they land on koozai.com/worldcup. We would then analyse visits and user metrics to this landing page. The data collected for this method can be viewed under the Landing Pages report in Google Analytics.
There are several instances when this is likely to be the preferred method such as; the most likely being when you wish to segment your business based on branches, locations or any other factor. For example, Harvester, which has various restaurants across the UK could use a specific domain on the content marketing in each restaurant i.e. harvesterlondon.com, harvesterportsmouth.com etc. Each of these will then redirect to a specific landing page on harvester.com i.e. harvester.com/London. You can then determine which locations around the UK your offline content marketing has the most impact in by viewing the data for each landing page.
There are just a couple of pointers I would like to add before you implement this technique..Redirected domains tend to be longer standing offline content marketing techniques, for example, it is not cost effective to purchase a new domain for every campaign which you only intend to run for a week or two. Because of this, it is important to make sure that the domains are memorable so that you can see the lasting effect of the offline content marketing in a particular campaign. Secondly, it is important the landing pages are excluded from the search engines, this will stop them from being indexed and will help limit the amount of traffic they receive from sources other than direct (as well as avoiding several SEO issues).
However, it is likely your custom domain will still get shared on the internet in one place or another. Therefore, to get a true picture of the offline content marketing in isolation it is important to view direct traffic only within the landing page report. Other traffic sources will be useful to analyse the knock-on effect of the offline content marketing material but will not show you a true view of the success of the offline marketing material in isolation.
A simplified version of the redirected domains method is to use custom landing pages. This is essentially the same technique without the need to implement a redirect. For example, the offline content marketing will simply display the URL koozai.com/worldcup and when typed in, will deliver users to this page. Again we can then analyse the success of this campaign by viewing the landing page data for the customised URL.
As with the redirected domains method, it is important to predominately carry out your analysis focused on direct traffic only, bringing in the other traffic sources only when you are looking to carry out a wider analysis. One main thing to consider when choosing a URL for you landing page is it’s length. Customers are going to have to type in the URL manually, so it is important to make sure the length of the URL is not too long to deter users from bothering. One thing I would suggest is using the URL to clearly differentiate between the sources of offline marketing. i.e. a campaign which results in offline marketing being distributed to Superdrug customers could have the landing page URL Koozai.com/Superdrug.
Using promotional codes in offline marketing is probably one of the most commonly used methods in offline marketing, however, tracking this in Google Analytics can be one of the more difficult methods to set up as it requires the use of custom variables. By setting up a custom variable on your promotional code field, you can easily determine how many times each promotional code is entered and as a result, which pieces of offline content marketing were most successful. If you are unfamiliar with custom variables, please refer to the Google resource.
The biggest downfall with this method is that promotional codes tend to be shared on various websites such as; hotukdeals.com, promotioncode.org and so on; making it difficult to attribute the success of a promotional code to the offline content marketing material in isolation. For this reason, I would recommend against using this method, however, if you insist, just be careful to analyse the data collected with caution.
Shortened URLs are an alternative to using landing pages of any sort. By using a shortened URL you can direct users to any page on your website and incorporate UTM parameters into the URL so that you can easily differentiate which source of offline content marketing sparked interest. Once shortened, this information will no longer be visible and will not cause irritation to the user by having to type an extensively long URL. Information collected via this method can be viewed within the Campaigns Report in Google Analytics.
One good tip with this method is to use a customised shortened URL. For example, Koozai uses kooz.ai/string-of-random-characters. This not only enforces your brand but also makes the shortened URL easier to remember for those who will not be accessing the URL immediately at the time of viewing the offline content.
With all of these techniques it is important to keep what the user has to type as short and memorable as possible; we want to make it easy and hassle-free for them. Also, when carrying out your analysis, be sure to consider what it is your data is actually measuring; pay attention to direct traffic when analysing the offline marketing material in isolation and all traffic sources when analysing the campaign as a whole.
So there you have it, four easy ways to track the success of your offline content marketing success in Google Analytics. I would be particularly interested to hear from you if you have any other ways of measuring these efforts, in Google Analytics or otherwise, so let me know in the comments.