One of the things I admire about the small business owners I work with is the amount of effort they put into marketing their businesses. Most small business owners use a variety of different marketing channels including digital, print, direct mail, etc.
Tracking digital marketing has become a fairly straightforward process, especially since online marketing and social media platforms like Facebook, Google Ads, and Twitter have built-in analytics tools. Plus, using Google Analytics to track those efforts is relatively simple to set up.
When it comes to offline marketing, tracking the ROI can be a bit trickier. The good thing is you can actually use Google Analytics to track these efforts as well. This is one thing that I find most business owners aren’t aware of — and it is a missed opportunity because it can really help to increase the success of their marketing campaigns.
In this article I’m going to show you how to use Google Analytics to track ALL of your marketing.
The first, and most attractive, reason to use Google Analytics is that it’s free! Google Analytics is an extremely powerful tool and can provide you with key information you need to keep track of your marketing and understand what’s working and what needs improvement.
One of the reasons Google Analytics is so effective is because it works well with other Google programs like Google Ads, Search Console, YouTube, and Google+. That means you’ll get all of that information in one place without the need to do any complicated tech work.
Google is also here to stay. Unfortunately, some online tools go out of business and it can be a pain to have to switch to something new. It’s a pretty safe bet that Google will be around for a long time, and I like to stick with something that will be around in the future.
In order to use Google Analytics to properly track your marketing, you need to make sure it’s set up correctly. This can be done in four simple steps.
First, visit www.google.com/analytics/ and create an account. You’ll be given a code that you then need to copy on every page of your website. Here is an example of a Google Analytics code:
It’s important to understand that traffic is not equal to sales. You can be driving a ton of traffic to your website, but if none of it is converting to sales for you business, then it’s not working.
By setting up Google Analytics Goals, you can keep track of what happens to the traffic that comes to your site. You can set up your goals to track conversions such as online sales, contact form submissions, free report requests, or a phone call request.
To do this, I recommend you use Destination Goals. The photo below walks you through the different steps needed to set this up (click on the photo to make it bigger).
Google Analytics will automatically track a lot of your marketing campaigns right out of the box. However, it’s not 100% accurate unless you take this next important step – Use a specific URL that tells Google Analytics exactly where your traffic is coming from.
Thankfully, Google’s URL Builder makes this easy to create.
To use this tool, visit https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/. Then, input the information requested for each of your campaigns so that you can easily track their success. Once Google Analytics generates the URL, you can use this in your campaigns and the URL will match fields in your Google Analytics reports.
This step is critical for e-commerce websites in order to ensure that website sales show in Google Analytics reports. To do this, visit developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/ecommerce and follow the instructions on the page.
As I mentioned earlier, Google Analytics can be used to track ALL of your marketing campaigns including print, radio, TV, and direct mail.
Doing this is fairly simple. First, add a Call to Action in your campaigns to visit a specific landing page. For example, if we wanted to advertise marketing tips on a TV ad, we might end the add saying “Visit MainStreetMarketingTips.com to get tips on how to market your business.” The URL here is a vanity URL, and makes it easy for listeners to remember what website they should visit.
Then, using URL Builder we’d set up domain forwarding to track the vanity URL.
For example, we could use URL Builder to set up the URL tracking link “utm_medium=tv” for vanity URL “MainStreetMarketingTips.com” and set up domain forwarding so that the vanity URL automatically forwards to the tracking link.
If you go to MainStreetMarketingTips.com, then you’ll notice this particular vanity URL redirects to
In this case the utm_medium is “email” because we use this URL in some of our email campaigns.
If that URL was used in a TV campaign then we would simply edit that tracking URL to include “utm_medium=tv” and Google Analytics would report on all of that traffic as coming from the TV marketing channel.
The tracking URL would obviously be impossible for someone to remember on a television or radio ad, and would look messy on a print ad. The vanity URL looks nice and clean, and by setting up tracking for your specific campaign, you can see how successful your offline ad was at driving conversions.
Once you’ve set up the proper tracking for both your online and offline campaigns, you need to start reviewing your analytics reports and analyzing the metrics. There are 3 steps I recommend taking:
To do this, you want to look at the top marketing channels by traffic, top marketing channels by behavior, and top marketing channels by conversions.
Start by using the Channels Report in Google Analytics. To run this report go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Once you run the report, you can get on overall view of your marketing by looking at each column.
Generating a report for a specific channel will show the trends for the channel over time. This will help you to determine what’s working and what needs improvement.
To do this, run the channel report above, then click on a specific channel. From there, you can choose to compare different metrics. In the example below, I created a graph that shows sessions vs. bounce rates for the display advertising channel. It clearly shows that at some point the bounces increased, which tells us that whatever happened to the campaign at that time — possibly a change to the targeting, ad copy, etc — isn’t working and needs to be fixed.
Running this report is important because it will help you to improve the top pages on your site that are visited by traffic from each individual channel. To do this, go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. Then, can click “Add Segment” and choose which marketing channels you’d like to review the reports on.
Once you generate the report, you can look at traffic, behavior, and conversions for each landing page and get a better understanding of what landing pages are working, and which landing pages need to be edited.
Tracking all of your marketing helps to make sure you’re not wasting any of your marketing budget on campaigns that aren’t work. Using Google Analytics for both your online and offline marketing is a great way to ensure success, especially as you’re working on your marketing plan for next year.
Click here to download our Ultimate Google Analytics Checklist