Increasing Revenue with One Simple Tracking Tweak
If you are doing business online and want to know how to accurately track return on investment from your online marketing efforts, then you are in the right place!
Whether you are a seasoned pro or just getting started this training is for you. I am going to show you how to overcome the #1 Mistake 90% of Companies Make When Tracking Revenue and the best part is you can get started right away!
I am AJ Yager, Chief Growth Officer and Co-founder of PraxisMetrics, a business intelligence agency that helps you escape spreadsheet hell, eliminate wasted resources, and get you accurate data you can trust to make better decisions! From tracking to dashboards, we help you scale faster.
We have worked with companies from e-commerce to retail, digital publishing, SAAS, manufacturers, VC Firms, mega churches and investment firms.
I am really excited to share this content with you today but first I want to kick this off with a quote you may or may not have heard before:
This is a very famous saying in business by the one and only Peter Drucker.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure!” – this is very important to understand, especially when marketing online.
Tracking or “measuring” is the foundation of everything in your business and will allow you to make better accurate decisions. My intention here is to help make sure that you understand this and avoid becoming part of the 90% of companies that keep making this mistake. I want you to grow exponentially from your data and tracking efforts.
So remember, Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.
Ok, let’s dig in.
What you’ll learn-
By the time this video is done, you’ll understand:
- The biggest mistakes when it comes to tracking
- Removing the guesswork from ROI (Return on Investment)
- Exactly what UTM’s are and how they can take your marketing data to the next level
- Where (and how) to get Started
- Why proper data tracking is critical to your business (and what valuable insights that data can provide)
- How to build a UTM link and the most effective way to utilize them
The biggest mistakes when it comes to tracking-
One of the biggest mistakes we see too often is assuming that everything is tracking properly.
What I mean is that most companies and you may be included in this, think that everything is tracking correctly in all of the different tech systems that run their business; this is NOT TRUE.
Here is why: Simply put, many technologies have software limitations. Out of the box software set-up isn’t complete or isn’t robust enough. and many times there is such a learning curve that the person in charge of it didn’t finish setting up to track everything properly.
SOPs not established or practiced by all team members and you may be missing platforms in your tech stack.
Finally, you may be lacking cross platform UIDs , which are Unique Identifiers that help connect pieces of information in one system to another.
The point is, you simply can’t afford to invest in these technologies, if you don’t take the time to make sure they are set up to track the right data/information for your business.
The #1 most under-utilized and error prone tool we see is Google Analytics; it is very powerful when set up correctly and best of all a FREE tool that should be in your arsenal.
When it comes to Google analytics, most marketing teams don’t set it up correctly to begin with because it takes a google professional or lots of time to research; or they do get it set up but then forget about it; or worst of all, they don’t validate or test to make sure everything is tracking correctly.
They may try to use Google Analytics as a dashboard to visualize their data. There are some cool reports in GA, but it really isn’t an easy way to digest information.
Last but not least, most people simply think GA is too complicated so they don’t even try… which is totally understandable.
Now this video training isn’t focused on teaching you how to set these tools up, there are plenty of free resources out on the web for that or you can contact our team at praxismetrics.com and they can help you out.
Removing the guesswork from ROI (Return on Investment)-
Ok so now that we have covered that mistake and had a quick overview of Google Analytics, let’s talk about ROI…
The best way to start off is to reminisce back to 2005 when Google Adwords was launched. it completely changed marketing and advertising as we know it.
Google Adwords had conversion tracking which removed the guesswork from ROI. It allowed marketers and business owners to pay for online advertisements, know the exact cost of each ad click, AND know whether or not a particular ad click resulted in a sale.
It was game changing … From that moment forward began the demise of most traditional forms of advertising. And it wasn’t that online ads with conversion tracking were better marketing, it was just the simple fact that you could calculate your exact ROI that mattered.
But if you could track your ROI accurately with AdWords, why not other online marketing activities?
- Blog posts?
- Display ads?
- Email Marketing?
- Social media posts?
These are all digital forms of marketing you SHOULD be tracking.
The reality is most marketers either don’t know how to do it or are too lazy to set up the systems required to do the tracking correctly. Fortunately, there’s just one tactic you need to know about to track most of your online marketing activities and own your niche.
We’ll also look at how you can apply this approach to a variety of marketing channels and how you can use various analytics tools to drive insights from your data.
As I mentioned earlier, after watching this video you’ll know how to calculate the ROI of an online marketing campaign with precision, so that you can double down on your wins and quickly cut your losses.
Now let’s talk about Why Modern Marketing Makes ROI Calculations Difficult.
You’d think it’d be easy to track the ROI of an online marketing campaign, there’s a digital “paper trail” for every click, tap, and dollar earned…right? You would think that Advertisers and online marketers already have this stuff figured by now, right?
It turns out, that’s not exactly the case. And when you dig deeper, you quickly learn that calculating ROI isn’t as easy as it seems; which is a shame, because ROI used to be really easy to calculate.
But Let’s take a minute to make sure we understand the basic ROI calculation:
If I spend $100,000 and I make $300,000, I can calculate easily, that I’ve made a 200% return.
Money out minus money in. That’s your typical ROI calculation. But ROI equations just aren’t that simple anymore. Especially when you consider all the marketing channels offered these days.
You’re not just going to do one form of online marketing, like just content marketing. You’re probably already doing SEO, video marketing, and affiliate marketing. You may even throw in some Facebook advertising as well. You’ll likely even give influencer marketing a try. And you should!
With modern online marketing, we have to be able to prove a return on investment for each one of those individual channels, you can’t just bundle everything into one neat figure.
If you’re spending $100 across 3 different marketing channels and you’re generating $200 – it doesn’t mean all marketing channels are ROI positive.
It could just be that one of them is dramatically over delivering, while the rest are losing you money. But if you’re not tracking marketing channels individually, you won’t be able to work out whether this is the case or not. You won’t know which steps you need to take to improve your marketing ROI.
This brings us to the #1 Mistake 90% of Companies Make When Tracking Revenue : Not using UTMs for all online marketing efforts.
Exactly what UTM’s are and how they can take your marketing data to the next level-
With all that being said, now we’re going to focus on a specific tracking model that’ll work with any number of marketing channels and analytics tools: Content marketing, social media, Instagram campaigns, emails, newsletters, drip campaigns, etc. whatever it is.
No matter what channel you’re focusing on and what analytics tool you’re using, this tactic will help you work out how people are reaching your website.
This approach works with every single analytics tool, which means that all of your analytics tools will be able to use this approach to collect data. Just remember, we MUST be able to prove an ROI from all of our channels.
UTMs – The Tracking Tweak That’ll Work for Anything and Everything-
UTM parameters (or UTMs for short) are the only way that you can track your marketing campaigns uniformly across most analytics tools. UTMs work with Google Analytics and many other tracking tools.
UTM is an abbreviation for “Urchin Tracking Module”. And “Urchin” happened to be one of the very best website analytics tools that used on-page scripts to collect visitor data.
Like a lot of great web software, Urchin was eventually acquired by Google.
A UTM is made up of five variants of URL parameters used by marketers to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media. It is simply an encoded suffix that you append to a URL (A URL being a website link). The suffix can be quite long and is made up of various ‘parameters.’
Each parameter provides specific information about the link in question. And by stringing parameters together, you can track your online marketing campaigns with a tremendous amount of detail and granularity.
This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to track your marketing, your sales, or any activity you’re doing online.
For a real life example, I have an email campaign from an affiliate of ours named Justin Goff. All the links within that email used specific UTM parameters so that we could measure the effectiveness of that email campaign once the traffic from that email hits the website.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how UTMs work by examining our example URL that has a UTM appended to it.
Initially, this URL might look really complicated, but once you understand the various parts, you’ll find it’s not too difficult to understand.
All in all, this example URL tells us 6 different things:
- The URL
- The campaign source
- The campaign medium
- The campaign name
- The campaign content
- The campaign term
Let’s drill down into more detail:
- URL – The website that’s running the campaign
- Campaign Source – Where the clicks come from (ex: search engine, specific website, newsletter #202, etc.)
- Campaign Medium – How the link was presented to them (in a search engine result, pay-per-click ad, email, etc.)
- Campaign Name – The marketing campaign the link belongs to (traditionally, marketing is done in a succession of campaigns, “Black Friday 2018” would be a campaign)
- Campaign Content – The specific part of a marketing campaign got them to take action (Optional. Good for testing different ad copy or A/B testing two different emails.)
- Campaign Term – The keyword used in a pay-per-click advertisement that generated the click and subsequent visit or what specific words were clicked on in an email (also optional)
This breakdown could possibly make your eyes glaze over the first time around. So stick with me.
This example URL tells us 5 different things.
- The campaign source: JustinGoff
- The campaign medium: email+send+LTVdashboard
- The campaign name: JustinGoff
- The campaign content: JustinGoffEmail
- The campaign term: N/A
And honestly, there are many ways to design a system of parameters that work for your organization. The trick is sitting down and designing it – and sticking to that design from here on out. We’ll get into more on that later.
The Website URL-
The Website URL is simply the site we’re tracking.
A word of caution: The above URL is an ‘HTTPS’ URL.
Before you start creating UTMs, determine whether or not your website is secure. If it’s secure, then all your URLs will be “HTTPS” by default. If they are not, then your website is not secure (HTTP). Whether your website should be secure or not is a whole other discussion for a different video.
The important thing is whether or not your website redirects from HTTP to HTTPS. If it does, that’s a good thing, but you’re going to want to make sure that you build all your URLs and respective UTMs as secure links. Otherwise, when the redirect happens, the URL might be stripped of the UTMs and this can have a negative impact on your ability to track data.
The Source Parameter-
This parameter is identifying the traffic source sending clicks your way. In the case of the example URL shown, the source is JustinGoff. The parameter happens to be designed for an affiliate of ours, but the source website is the same whether it’s organic traffic, affiliate or paid traffic.
In the particular case of Google AdWords, we sometimes recommend making the source “AdWords” because it will make it easier for you to analyze your analytics reporting later on. If you’re just going to stick to using AdWords as your only online marketing channel, then setting your source to “Google” is fine.
If I posted this link to Facebook, the URL would have Facebook (facebook.com) as the source.
Here’s an example of the different ‘source’ parameters you can use.
- Banner ad
- Article Link
The Medium Parameter-
This, in essence, is how the person got to the website in question. Or in what medium the link was presented to them.
Let’s say you’re spending money on cost-per-click ads (CPC for short). The CPC ad then becomes the medium. In our example here it is email.
Here are some more examples of mediums:
The Campaign Parameter-
Campaign name generally refers to your overall marketing focus that day, week, month, season, etc. This nomenclature is derived from the fact that traditional marketing is thought of in terms of campaigns. – something that the world should know about or even an idea your marketing team would like to test.
Let’s say you’re having a summer sale. Every link you create related to that campaign should have the campaign name “summer-sale-2019.” If you have a new product release, the campaign name could be something like ‘vitamin-drink-special-2019.’
A slight word of caution:
There are two routes to go down when naming your campaigns. For seasonal campaigns, you might want to be somewhat specific and use a date based format like “summer-sale-2019”.
However, for a webinar series, you might want to keep it simple like “praxis-webinar-series” and not use a date based convention.
The reason why is because when you go back to review your data in your analytics tools, it can be helpful to see ongoing campaigns in one reporting batch instead of having them spliced up into smaller campaigns.
Going back to the Summer Sale example, you could be posting the summer sale on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even on LinkedIn. You might send out emails promoting this sale. You may even publish different pieces of blog content for it as well.
Any method you use to promote this sale online, it will all be grouped under the same campaign.
Having strict campaign names is important because it allows you to segment your data in Google Analytics via campaign names (and in other analytics tools). You can then easily assess the success of a specific campaign and gather insights for future campaigns. Most importantly, you can begin to understand the ROI of your marketing campaigns!
The Content Parameter-
This parameter identifies the specific content or written copy used in a campaign that led to someone clicking on your link and engaging with your brand.
The obvious benefit here is that it allows you to identify which copy is performing best for an individual campaign. Any conversion rate expert will tell you that testing copy alone can have the biggest performance insights when it comes to improving future marketing campaigns.
Additionally, the content parameter is helpful if you’re running a webpage A/B test. If you’re sending out multiple emails for a specific campaign, the content parameter can help you figure out which email converted better.
Suppose you send out two different emails, for the same campaign, each of which has a unique subject line. We could use the parameter ‘utm_content=a’ for all links within one email and the parameter ‘utm_content=b’ for all the links in the other email. In doing so, we can see which one of those subject lines drove the most conversions for a particular campaign. In my case here we just used JustinGoffEmail which was repetitive but it our own system.
Here are some examples of ‘content’ parameters.
- Email subject lines
- control or variation
- content a
- content b
It’s worth mentioning that this parameter isn’t mandatory, but in certain circumstances, it’s definitely worth using. The above example, representing such a circumstance.
The Term Parameter-
The term parameter, again, isn’t mandatory. But it can be helpful in a number of circumstances – notably PPC (pay-per-click / cost-per-click) campaigns.
This parameter can help you understand the word somebody queried which in turned served your online ad to them. In most cases, it relates to the keyword used for a specific advertising campaign.
This is helpful if you’re running a advertising campaign. When people click an ad and come back to your website, you can actually see which keywords are driving the most conversions. This scenario is probably the purest and most ideal tracking process when it comes calculating accurate online marketing ROI there is – so use them!
As mentioned, using utm_term isn’t mandatory. But by having it there, you can make use of even more segmentation and be even more specific with the marketing campaigns you’re running.
For example, you may have several links within an email that you’re promoting. By identifying each link within the email with its own unique utm_term parameter, you can know which link received the most click-throughs. You’d simply make the utm_term parameter the specific link text you’re tracking.
In our situation we didn’t use the TERM parameter so I left it blank.
Important Note regarding Revenue vs. Vanity Metrics-
There are a lot of marketers in charge of email marketing campaigns that’ll say — “hey, I got a 34 percent open rate. I got a 52 percent click-through rate. This email did amazing!!”
If one of my team members in the marketing department said that in my business – I’d look at them and be extremely concerned.
Yes, I do want to know how many people opened the email and I do want to know how many people clicked on the email… but let’s be real, we are in business to make money and deliver great value to our customers, so we MOSTLY care about how many people purchased. How effective was this campaign!?
If I can’t connect email clicks back to actual purchases, that’s a problem. If I can’t connect email clicks back to monthly recurring revenue, I’m even more concerned.
If you take one thing from this video, let it be this:
Make sure you’re using UTMs to measure important business metrics so you can know the actual return on investment from your online marketing activities. Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics.
How to build a UTM link and the most effective way to utilize them-
At a quick glance, UTMs look really complicated; so complicated in fact, that you might be worried about how you’re going to go about creating them.
Fortunately, they’re not that hard to create.
For starters, Google has their own built in tool you can use. There are also some other tools we suggest which you can go check out at praxismetrics.com/tracking-tools
Back to the Google URL builder…. This tool is really easy to use and all you have to do is put your chosen parameters in the relevant fields. Notice all the elements that we talked about are all here ready for you to fill out.
Links that use UTM codes can look pretty messy. UTM links also reveal a lot of information about your marketing, this can mean competitors have access to vital campaign data. Some customers can also be wary of links that are long and complicated. Because of this, it’s a good idea to hide the UTM parameters.
We can do this using a link shortener like Bit.ly. And goo.gl
This is a really simple tool you can use to shorten your URLs. Bit.ly also provides click tracking, which provides further data on your campaigns.
Here’s a simple example of how Bit.ly works:
Once you put a link through Bit.ly, you’ll notice that the links a lot shorter and neater. This is all possible without harming the UTM parameters and your ability to track UTM data within analytics tools.
One of the most often asked questions is… How do you make sure to stay organized so everyone uses the same UTM tagging system?
This is a common problem. Especially if you’re on a team of several people and everyone is working on a specific campaign.
Let’s look at a classic example of where this becomes a problem: Valentines campaigns.
Valentines campaigns are wonderful at driving marketing managers insane. It’s an annual marketing campaign and of course you’re going to want to use UTMs to track your ROI and performance.
Then the inevitable happens: One team member spells the full word “valentines” out for the campaign parameter. Another team member spells it “Valentines”. Another team member spells it “vday”. So you’d have:
All of these would appear as separate UTMs. Meaning the campaign data would be segmented into three different campaigns by your analytics tools. Don’t let this happen.
How do you prevent this?-
What we recommend is to build out an organized spreadsheet that your team uses and follows carefully!
Remember, your output is only as good as your input! – this is where your tracking SOPs really matters!
The end result is reporting or seeing your data in dashboards:
Your dashboards and reporting will NOT BE ACCURATE
Your dashboards and reporting will NOT BE CLEAR
When you shouldn’t use UTMs-
There’s one specific case where you should never, EVER use UTMs: when creating internal links on your website.
Most website analytic tools like Google Analytics are designed to help you understand what’s happening on your website by default. There is no need for you to code up unique UTMs to help you understand what’s going on.
If you start using UTMs to link to various parts of your website, you can artificially multiply session counts and trigger all kinds of negative elements that will corrupt your analytics reporting.
Alright well we have covered a lot of ground so far, now it’s time to wrap up and give you actions to go and do!
UTMs are the only way you can know the true ROI of your online marketing activities. If you’re doing business online, you have no choice but to use them.
And you should be really grateful that UTMs exist! It’s a blessing to be able to finally get this critical information. It doesn’t cost anything really, it’s just a matter of taking the time to create a UTM system that works for you. It can be challenging to design a perfect UTM system that will work for your organization right out of the box. It’s an iterative process.
You may make some mistakes along the way in order to figure out a system that works well for you.
It may take hours looking over your analytics reports and dashboards for you to finally see what conventions make sense for your monthly reporting.
There’s no way around this reality other than getting your hands dirty. So go do it!
We recommend getting a whiteboard and begin mapping out your UTM system with your team.
Determine your sources, mediums, how you want to use the content and term parameters.
Ask yourself, how do you want to incorporate UTMs for running A/B tests? Do you want to use utm_term for specific text within emails?
This will help collaboration will help you chisel out a great ROI tracking system that you can use for years to come.
Get started now and use a UTM link with your next post or in your next email and test it out!
UTMs Can Take Your Marketing to the Next Level-
All channels and all analytics tools work with UTMs.
When you start doing this you’ll have better data on your marketing campaigns.
You can then use this data to track the return on investment for any of your marketing campaigns.
Without UTMs, it’s going to be a lot harder to make definitive claims about your marketing campaigns, I know that for a fact.
Sure, you’ll make some mistakes at first, but once you get the hang of things, you’ll wonder what the heck you were doing before using UTMs.
If you’re interested in learning more about UTM’s and how to build them, we have a wonderful course (https://datarich.thinkific.com/) that will teach you exactly how to create and utilize UTM’s in your marketing efforts.
Again my name is AJ Yager at PraxisMetrics.com and thank you for investing your time here with me today. Please connect with me on Linkedin and Facebook for more resources to help you scale. We love to help companies like yours grow and achieve their goals faster, so please reach out to me at my email as well if you have any specific questions.
Good luck on your journey!