Web Analytics And Campaign Codes

February 27, 2006

Even if you do a great job of search engine optization, you may find that the site that sends you more traffic than any other is called None.

Who is None? None includes all the visitors who type your website address into the address bar on their browser, or those who use a bookmark to access your site. None usually includes everyone who comes to your site from your email marketing, and even people who click on your website address in a personal email.

So what’s a web analyst to do? One simple option is to create new landing pages on your site for each way of finding you. So your January email marketing has one set of new pages, your February email marketing has another set, etc. Then you can use your web analytics to trace actions from that page.

There are three problems with this solution:

  • The search engines may find those pages on your site and lead other visitors to that page, polluting your results.
  • It’s a lot of work to create new pages (and/or you may not have permission to change the site.)
  • You will still want to have www.yoursite.com in your email marketing (or just in your personal email).

Alternatively, you can use a campaign code. Campaign codes require three elements:

  • A code that you make up and put into a link that you want to track
  • A decision on your part as to what page you want the user to land on when they click on that link. No changes need to be made to the page URL.
  • A way, within your analytics, to track your campaigns (you have to tell the analytic software what you’re doing).

Here’s an example. I had to use square brackets [like this] instead of the correct html brackets

, so that my blogging software would know this is only sample HTML.

If Jane Doe’s email signature currently includes a line like this:


then the actual html (no campaign code added yet!) looks like this:

[a href=”http://www.thejanedoecompany.com”]www.thejanedoecompany.com[/a]

Jane can track how many people go to her site from her personal email with the addition of a campaign code:

[a href=”http://wwww.thejanedoecompany.com/?emailsig=Jane”]www.thejanedoecompany…]

Jane doesn’t have to change the home page at all. But she does have to alert her web analytic software that emailsig=Jane is a campaign, so that it will grab that text after the question mark and start tracking those emailsig=Jane visitors.

Unfortunately, how you tell your web analytic software to shake hands with the campaign code is different for every package. With Omniture, you have to be a supported user and ask them for special code to put in a special file. (Anything that’s expensive is hard to use, right? Adam Greco from Omniture Best Practices asked me to point out that it is a one-time set-up.)

If you don’t already know how to do this, you are probably wondering how you can set up a link with a question mark and some tracking code in it without changing the page on the website that it references. So go ahead — type in www.lunametrics.com/?anything-you-like. Or use your own site as the example site instead of mine. Either way, you’ll see that the site ignores everything after the question mark. It is only valuable to your web analytics software.