In today’s post, we’re going to be talking about proper traffic attribution from sources that would otherwise be hard to track or might require back and forth from different dashboards to track. Correct traffic attribution also helps us with accurate conversion attribution.
What is Traffic attribution?
Traffic Attribution helps us identify which sources drove people to our website/app. And if you’re to work backward, you’d know someone can not make a purchase on your website/app or become a lead without landing on your website/app. That is why it’s so important to know how and from where people are coming to your web property.
Without proper traffic attribution, you would run the risk of not knowing how well your campaigns are actually doing, your true cost per acquisition, or Return on ad spent, nor would you tell if your marketing campaigns assisted if not resulted in a conversion.
“We can not tell exactly how many people converted from us managing your Instagram account.” You’ve probably heard that before, and until recently, I believed that too. Agencies that I’ve worked with (mostly social media account managers since I only run ads for my clients), all tell my clients the exact same thing. Their reports are liked to ‘likes’ and ‘followers, and I’m yet to find one that with confidence can say “our increased engagement has resulted in X number of sales”.
During my Google Analytics course for beginners by Chris Mercer, from CXL.com I learned that, in fact, you can absolutely track ‘organic’ and ‘paid’ effort separately. However, it does take a little bit of planning and effort to execute, but the best part? It’s absolutely free to do so.
In order to do so, you will require 3 things:
a. Google Analytics set up for your web property
b. A basic understanding of UTM tags
c. Organizing skills that would make your mother proud.
If you’re using Shopify, WooCommerce or Wix, or any other platform you should be able to find an article by them on how to integrate google analytics into your website. If you’re using a custom-built website, this link should be of help - Get started with Analytics
For the other 2, you can get an in-depth understanding of UTM tags and how to organize them here - UTM Parameters: A Complete Guide for Traffic Attribution
Now that you’ve set up your GA account, and understand what are UTM tags and how to organize them, we are ready to move on to the actual topic of this post which is - traffic sources you need to start tracking using UTM tags.
1. Social media channels
Social media channels, automatically get tracked in google analytics as a referral, however, what it does not tell you is if the traffic was a paid referral or organic.
Using UTM tags in your paid social media campaigns, as well as in posts your share or in your bio, you would be able to tell exactly where your traffic is coming from.
If you’re running Facebook ads, and are wondering where/how you could use dynamic UTM tags in your advertising campaigns, do check out my previous block post here – Optimizing Facebook Ads For Placement, Age, Gender & Device Post The iOs 14 Update
You can use UTM tags to know exactly how many people have visited your profile from your Instagram bio, your Facebook post, your LinkedIn Profile/article, which specific YouTube video or Podcast, etc
If you find UTM tags unattractive or too long to put in your profile bio, you can shorten them using platforms like Bitly, TinyURL, etc.
2. Email Campaigns
Sure, MailChimp or other email marketing platforms can tell you how many people opened, clicked, and made a purchase through your email campaign, but wouldn’t it be great to have all that information in one place?
Using UTM tags, you’d be able to tell exactly which campaign (depends on how you tag it) performed well and which campaigns didn’t all in Google Analytics. Without the UTM tags, most of your email marketing campaigns will reflect as “direct/none” on your GA dashboard, making it hard to keep track of.
Additionally, You could even use them in your “abandoned cart recovery” emails to see how well they’re performing and if any changes are required.
3. WhatsApp/SMS Campaigns
If you’re using WhatsApp or SMS to remind people to complete a purchase, or just informing them of new content on your website, use UTM tags. Without these tags, they will be tracked as “Direct/none”, because SMS or WhatsApp doesn’t get tracked as a referral.
Here’s an example of a missed opportunity:
As mentioned before, since SMS has a character limit, it’s best to use link shorteners here.
4. Communities and Forums
If you’re active on communities and forums like Reddit, Quora, LBB, telegram communities, etc hoping to build some backlinks, then you should definitely consider tagging the URLs with UTM tags. This will also help you understand which communities are bringing in quality traffic and which are not, you can then use this information to reconsider how you allocate your resources.
5. Offline Events
Whether you’re running newspaper ads with QR codes or handing out flyers, use UTM tags. Unlike the west, QR codes have really picked up in India. This trend has made it possible to track and record conversions that otherwise wouldn’t be possible on Google Analytics using UTM tags.
UTM tags, do take in more effort than just sharing your link, but the benefits are worth it. The CXL blog post on UTM tags claimed that by being aware and using them, you were already better than 99% of the marketers out there. As a white label freelancer working with multiple agencies in India, I do see how that could hold true.
About the Google Analytics Course for beginners on CXL.com
Prior to the course, I was aware of Google Analytics, and would occasionally set it up for clients. However, I wasn’t fully aware of how useful it could be. I found the 9hour+ course very informative as it taught me about structuring google analytics accounts, keeping the data clean, making sure to ask the right questions, and introduced me to features that I otherwise wouldn’t have known existed. I do feel I can do a lot more than I could when I started out.
I also completed the course last week and got a neat certificate :D Can’t wait to finish the intermediate course ( I honestly can’t believe how much more there is to GA).
As a marketer/ business owner, it is really important that you track your returns through your marketing activities, and the first step in doing so is proper traffic attribution. Use UTM tags every chance you get, but it's important to stay organized. There’s nothing worse and more misleading than unorganized data. You can use UTM tags to track offline as well as organic conversions, so don’t let the agency you’re working with convincing you otherwise