Get More From Your Analytics in 2014: Part 2

Carnegie Higher Ed Apr 14, 2014 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

In an earlier Digital Byte this year, we discussed some key Analytics metrics that can give you performance insight on a branding campaign utilizing online display. Those metrics included looking at increases in new and return visitors, monitoring pages per visit, and identifying trends in brand keyword search. Now, we’ll focus on how the Google Analytics Custom Campaign section can help you determine a campaign’s effectiveness by analyzing visit duration—and that elusive bounce rate.

UTM codes

To populate the Custom Campaign section of Google Analytics with data, the links from your ads are appended with UTM Codes. UTM codes can be created with the URL builder. I like to use at least the bare minimum (campaign, source, and medium) to track all links, but you can use more fields to get specific about your tracking. After you’ve created your UTM parameter, append them to each unique link and use that new string as your destination URL for your e-mail campaign, display ads, Retargeting, PPC text ads, blogs, or other social media posts. Then you can easily distinguish the data you get back in your analytics to see what was driven by specific marketing campaigns versus other traffic referral sources.

You can see your UTM code data under “Campaigns” in the “Acquisition” section of Google analytics. Select the campaign you are interested in viewing, and it will show you the medium/source of that effort and key metrics, like visits, associated with it.

UTM codes allow for clean, easy data analysis and are particularly helpful if you have multiple marketing initiatives you want to differentiate or measure simultaneously from one dashboard.

Average visit duration

Now that you are tracking the effectiveness of a campaign easily with UTM parameters, it’s time to examine what some of the resulting metrics mean. The length of time one spends on your site can be a key indicator that visitors from a particular campaign are the qualified audience you want to be driving to your school’s site. The time you prefer a visitor spends on a particular page differs depending on your goal. Maybe two minutes is sufficient time to learn more about a program and take a desired action, like inquire. Maybe five or more minutes is desired.

Whatever that length of time is, it’s important to determine what works for you and set benchmarks from there. Generally, more time on any .edu site is better, indicating that once a user gets there, they are engaged enough to spend some time and visit a few different pages. You should also compare the length of time people spend on your site as result of one campaign versus another; this will help you understand the type of audience you’re reaching and if you’re sending them to the most appropriate landing page—one where they can not only find more information easily but are motivated to do so.

Bounce rate

Another metric that can be measured via the Custom Campaign section is Bounce rate. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. Similar to visit duration, a high or low bounce rate can be somewhat subjective, based on the content of your landing page and what action you want visitors to take from there. For example, if you are taking them to a place on your .edu site, and with one click they navigate to another page within the .edu domain, they are not a bounce. However, if they leave that page to go to an application link that is housed off site, they are considered a bounce.

It’s important to evaluate your landing page and determine what your goals are from there, before deciding if you would prefer to see a higher or lower bounce rate as a result of a campaign. If your calls-to-action are within the same domain as your landing pages, you want to see a bounce rate that goes down as a result of a specific campaign. In this case the bounce rate can be a valuable tool to evaluate your creative and destination page, to see if they are in synch with the user’s expectations, and revise accordingly.

While these are some basic metrics, there are several other ways to benefit from the addition of UTM parameters to your destination URLs.  The most useful metric is the ability to track your campaigns’ effectiveness in reaching your goals.  For help getting started on setting up custom campaigns in Google Analytics and adding UTM parameters reach out to Carnegie Communications today!

Follow Angie on Twitter @AngieMayWard

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