Winning the Internet

NN12 Preview: Can offline marketing efforts be tracked?

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

NN12 training preview—Leading up to the conference, we’ll be featuring guest posts from NN12 trainers. Click here to register now for Netroots Nation, June 7-10, 2012.

While grassroots marketing efforts are moving online, there are still lots of things we do to enact change and create awareness offline. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to understand how well these are working when it comes to driving traffic to our website.

You’ll notice the success of offline marketing in Google Analytics in one way:

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic does little for the analyst. Direct traffic means someone typed a URL into their web browser, clicked a link in an email or arrived at your site via a bookmark. Seeing Direct traffic increase usually means we are creating more brand awareness, but how do we know which effort was doing the most? Is it a radio campaign, a mailer, word of mouth? You may want to throw your hands in the air when it comes to traffic offline traffic, but don’t give up home, because there is a way!

Protestor holding large url

You may have seen a URL like the one above around the web. Those parameters after the URL are called campaign tags, and they give special meaning to traffic in Google Analytics. When a user goes to a URL with campaign tagging, they are no longer lumped into the Direct traffic bucket, which is why you’ll most often see these type of URLs in email. The three required parameters are:

&utm_campaign – The name of the marketing campaign

&utm_source – The specific source of the campaign

&utm_medium – The broad medium of the campaign

A good example would be a mailer sent out to people who have donated in the past. You might point them to your website, To know they came from this mailer, you’d add the following parameters:

Ok, I can see you looking into the computer screen like I’m crazy. People will never type in such a long URL right? Enter the URL shortener. Most large non-profits I’ve worked with have a Enterprise account, which gives them a special, short, vanity URL like, organizations without enterprise can still use many of the other shorteners out there like So make a memorable shortened url for your campaign:



Another option is to make a specific, memorable URL for your campaign. People will easily remember seeing the URL which then redirects to your normal website, with campaign tags:

You can even go a step further and embed a shortened URL in a QR Code, so it’s very convenient for your advocates to get to your campaign, and now you can show a much more accurate ROI on your marketing efforts.

QR Code Peace Symbol

If you are interested in learning how to get a better picture of your marketing campaigns, be sure to check out my session at Netroots Nation on Friday, 6/8 at 3pm. In “Getting Analytical with Google Analytics” I’ll answer the following questions: How can I tell which method of marketing is working the best for our cause and driving traffic to our website? Are visitors from certain sources more likely to take action then others? The session will take a deeper dive into Google Analytics and show some tips and tricks for getting a better understanding of your marketing campaigns and how to identify the most successful ways to encourage action on your website.

Click here to register now for Netroots Nation, June 7-10, 2012.

About Phil Anderson

Phil is the Director of Online Intelligence at LunaMetrics, and brings a diverse background of over 13 years in the IT industry. Phil works with customers of all shapes and sizes to understand how Google Analytics can give them a complete picture of their marketing efforts and improve conversions. LunaMetrics is a Google Analytics Certified Partner and works with a variety of non-profit and for-profit companies to improve and analyze their web traffic.



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    […] of this labor intensive marketing! Campaign tags are the best way to track this, which I already wrote about a lot on the Netroots […]