With a little bit of programming you can use Google Analytics to track your off-line advertising activities. There are some caveats, but I believe the process below is reliable and convenient for customers. Here’s how to set it up.
First a disclaimer. I’m not going to go over the basics of how link tagging works. If you don’t know how to use GA to track your advertising campaigns stop reading this and start reading the GA support docs :)
Now we can get down to business!
The key to tracking off-line advertising with GA is link tagging. If you can tag the links in your off-line ads with the campaign variables used by Google Analytics you can measure off-line advertising success the same way you measure on-line advertising success. I know what you’re thinking. “How am I supposed to put some long, archaic URL in my ad?” The answer is, “you’re not”. There’s a trick to the implementation.
Instead of attaching the campaign variables to the URL that you place in your off-line ads, create a custom URL or a custom landing page. When a visitor requests that custom URL or landing page do a page redirect (using your application platform) and dynamically append the tracking variables.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I’m an online retailer, www.jeans.com, and I’m getting ready for a back to school sale. I decide to purchase a number of print ads in a newspaper. Within the ads I place a URL to my website. With a normal GA campaign tracking setup the URL in the ad would look like this:
Or, if I’m using a master tracking table the URL might look like this:
Those are ugly URLs! No one will remember those! Let’s use a custom URL that’s easier for the reader to remember. Then, when they land on the custom page we’ll do a redirect and dynamically append the tracking variables. Here’s the custom URL we’ll use:
And here is the code that we’ll use when someone requests that URL:
There you have it. Your off-line ad is now tagged like your on-line ads. You'll be able to see traffic and conversion for your on-line and off-line advertising in the same GA reports.
One thing to note. If you publicize the custom URL in other locations you'll end up driving traffic to the page that is not from the off-line ad. This will skew your results.