An online customer journey – creating a basic audit trail with Google Analytics

So you’ve got an email campaign in development (or an ad campaign, PR, PPC or social marketing activity etc.) and you are asking recipients of the email to click on a link and go to your website to interact/convert? There is an easy way to tag this inbound traffic with Google Analytics and create a campaign audit trail – right through to determine ROI. It’s free and takes a few minutes to add instructions to briefs.

It basically involves 3 things:

  1. A Google Analytics account and base tracking code installed on your website
  2. Set up of key conversions to record as either 1) Goals or 2) Events in Google Analytics
  3. Inbound traffic (links) tagged with Google Analytics campaign code


1. Setting up Google Analytics on your website

Firstly, you must have Google Analytics base code implemented on your website. An easy way to check if it has already been implemented, is right click on a page of the website you are looking at, choose ‘view source code’ and when the page of html text opens – hit control(pc)/command(apple) & ‘F’ (find) and search for ‘Google’. Look for an identifier that starts with UA- followed by bunch of digits (see example Google Analytics base code at bottom of page). If you see the code installed, then start asking who has the administration login to this account. Once you find this out, you can then request that you be added with access to ‘view reports only’. You’ll need to send a valid/current Google email address that you have access to/know the password to (this way you only send your email address). This is common practice across agencies and clients, so unless they don’t want you to see the reports, getting basic reports access should not be a problem.

If you can’t see the base code on the site, then you will need to brief the webmaster to add the base tracking code. This is easy – but you will need to nominate the Google Account in which you want the google reports administration to be associated with. Best practice is to not set up GA on your personal google email address. Nor should you set up shared clients/businesses on the same account. Always request the ‘master Google Account for the client’ be used or if they don’t have one, then set up a new Google account under the client’s name. This way you can add up to 50 more sites/accounts to the client account (or if you have more than that you can set up a group name for an account and add multiple profiles under that account). To be safe, check your desired account set up with your web systems administration team, client and planning department before briefing it in.

Once you have done this, and you have seen the reports from Google Analytics are tracking correctly, then you are ready for the next step.

2. Set up key conversions to record as either 1) Goals or 2) Events in Google Analytics

Basic site activity such as page views, visits, time on page, bounce rates, traffic sources/volume etc we can gain from the standard reports in GA. However, there is usually a bunch of outcomes you may be looking for (see some examples in this article) that determines the success of your website and marketing activity. (NB: not including eCommerce as GA has a separate product for this). It is best to ensure these are tagged up independently via goals and event reporting in GA. Both options are to record ‘counts’ of a desired customer on-site activity (conversion).

Where there are different page URLs for the steps in a goal (for example: … /newsletter-sign-up.html and /newsletter-sign-up/thankyou.html), you can set up goals without a developer/webmaster. This is pretty straight forward. Here is a good video on you tube that takes you through the steps to set up this type of goal. When your goal does involve Javascript & Ajax (i.e. the page URL doesn’t change when the page is submitted) then check this video out that describes how to implement goals on this type of web page builds.

Where certain actions can not be tagged as Goals (for example the length of play of a video as a determination of brand engagement), these actions can be implemented via ‘event-tracking’. This again will involve code added to the page via your webmaster/developer. This is also covered in the video above how to implement event tracking.

We are currently investigating setting up events as goals, so stay tuned and I’ll update this space as soon as we’ve finished our tests.

3. Inbound traffic (links) tagged with a Google Campaign code

This is the easy part. Basically anytime you have the opportunity to drive customers to your website (that is using Google Analytics), then the link should contain the GA campaign code wrapper. You can create wrappers via using the Tool: URL builder page provided by Google or you can use this GA_campaign_links_generator with prompts and auto URL builder in Excel. This is handy if you have a lot to create and you would like to keep a record of them perhaps to share with client or other agencies. Make sure you test to ensure your campaign source codes are reporting correctly in your GA reports – before it goes live.

Below is an example of what the report in GA looks like, when you start by viewing your Campaign traffic source and then display the goals that have been recorded against this incoming traffic source.

A simple determining ROI is the basic calculation of cost of marketing activity divided by number of conversions (as shown via goals and/or event tracking). You can go further to determine goal values and add them to your goal set up, for quick sales/bottom line reference when reviewing dashboard reports. As we have been talking non-ecommerce the value of our goals tends to be in lead generation – for example take the amount of new business generated via your website over the last major statistical interval (eg. last two quarters) and divide it by the number of leads for that time period. For example, if you generated $100,000 from your website last quarter and had 1,000 leads, your goal value for a new lead is $10, and that’s what you enter for goal value.

So there you have it – three easy steps to set up the basic campaign audit trail.

More good articles on setting up google analytics goals & goal values:
Excellent Analytics Tips #19: Identify Website Goal [Economic] Values

How to Setup Goals in Google Analytics

How to set goals and goal value in Google Analytics

Example GA base tracking code (using the newer GA asynchronous syntax):

<script type=”text/javascript”>

var _gaq = _gaq || [];  _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-19396970-1']);  _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
(function() {    var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;    ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘’;    var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);  })();


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