This Thursday I’ll be presenting How to Track All of Your Marketing Results with our partner, LogMyCalls. During the webinar, I’ll walk through our process for tracking both online and offline marketing campaigns so you can measure your return on investment (ROI). If you’re not sure how to track every marketing campaign in your business, and you wish someone would just walk through the steps one by one, then go here to register.
To give you a taste of what I’ll be covering, I’m going to explain in this article one of the most powerful tracking tactics you can start using immediately. It’s called “Vanity domain tracking.”
What is a Vanity Domain?
A vanity domain is another domain that you’ll own for the sole purpose of tracking a particular marketing channel, or individual campaign.
For example, if you watched the Super Bowl, then you may remember Dannon’s Oikos commercial with the old Full House cast. The commercial teaser was on YouTube well before the Super Bowl to build anticipation, and Dannon used a vanity domain, www.oikosbromance.com, to track all the traffic generated from this particular campaign.
So rather than send people to the main domain, oikosyogurt.com, Dannon’s marketing team purchased and used a vanity domain, oikosbromance.com. That was very smart because now it’s 100% clear in Google Analytics (yes, even a big company like Dannon is using Google Analytics) that all traffic to the vanity domain was generated from this campaign versus all the other marketing Dannon has going on in the background.
Can you see how you could use this concept in your business? Are you advertising on TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, or any other channel with a call to action to visit your website? If you are, then you can use a vanity domain like Dannon did to track all of this traffic separately from your other website traffic.
Now that you understand vanity domains, lets dive a little bit deeper to further improve your tracking and reporting in Google Analytics.
I was surprised to see that Dannon’s marketing team failed to use the technique I’m about to share. As you’ll see it’s very easy to implement, and it makes your Google Analytics reporting much easier and more accurate.
How to Improve Google Analytics Reporting
The tool I’m referring to is called Google’s URL Builder. For some reason, this tool is buried in Google’s help center, which is probably why few marketers use it regularly. The URL Builder tool looks like this:
To illustrate how it works, I completed the URL Builder form using the Dannon Oikos example.
And when I click submit the URL Builder gives me the following tracking URL: http://oikosyogurt.com/bromance/?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=video&utm_content=Oikos%20Bromance&utm_campaign=Super%20Bowl%202014%20Teaser%20Videos.
Now, whenever someone goes to this long URL, Google Analytics will categorize the traffic as coming from the campaign, “Super Bowl 2014 Teaser Videos” so that Dannon’s marketing team can easily run reports on that particular campaign. For example, they’ll see total website visits, % new visits, bounce rate, and most importantly what that traffic did on the website (i.e. completed a contact form, purchased a product, etc).
OK, there’s one more step and we’ll have the vanity domain tracking setup.
Redirect the Vanity Domain to the Tracking URL
The final step is to redirect the vanity domain to the new long tracking URL from the URL Builder tool. Technically speaking, this is called domain forwarding. Every domain registrar, like GoDaddy, will allow you to set up domain forwarding so that a domain will automatically redirect to another URL.
For example, if you go to mainstreetmarketingtips.com, then you’ll automatically get redirected to a page on MainStreetROI.com. That’s vanity domain tracking in action. In our Dannon example, their marketing team would have to set up domain forwarding to the long tracking URL above so that anyone who goes to oikosbromance.com would automatically be redirect to the tracking URL.
See how this works? If you follow these steps, then you’ll be able to quickly and easily run reports in Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of each of your marketing campaigns.