Internal campaigns are marketing efforts that are run on your site and promote your products and services. Here’s an example from the Boton Red Sox site. They’re using ads on the homepage to promote ticket sales.
Companies should track how people react to these campaigns and which ones are most successful. But what’s the best way to do this with Google Analytics?
Some people use the standard campaign tracking to track internal campaigns. THIS IS INCORRECT AND SHOULD NEVER BE DONE. Using the standard campaign tracking for internal campaigns will cause problems with your source data. So don’t do it!
What? You’ve never seen or used the GA’s internal campaign tracker? It’s in the profile settings and it’s called Site Search tracking! Did I fool you ;)
Site Search can easily be configured to track internal campaigns. Let’s walk through the steps to set it up and then the data and analysis.
Step 1: Create a New Profile
Because we’re using Site Search for an unintended purpose it’s best to configure these settings on a new profile. It’s not possible to use Site Search for both tracking internal campaigns and internal site search within the same profile. You need to have a separate profile to track internal campaigns.
Step 2: Tag your Internal Campaigns
Once you’ve created your new profile it’s time to tag your internal campaigns. Internal campaigns need to be tagged in a similar manner to external campaigns: you need to add query string parameterrs to your internal ad.
However, unlike external campaigns you do not use the standard link tagging parameters (
utm_medium, etc.). You get to make up your own parameters!
You can use one or two parameters for internal campaign tracking and you can name then anything you want. The reason you can use one or two parameters is that GA’s site search configuration uses two parameters, one for the search phrase and one for the search category.
Whatever you choose, make sure the parameters are not used for anything else.
TIP: Check your Top Content report for a complete list of your site’s query string parameters. Verify that the parameters you create are NOT in this list.
For the sake of this post I’ll use the parameter
icn (shor for internal campaign name). This parameter will holds the name of the internal campaign. I’m going to use the following format for the value of the campaign name parameter
I mentioned that you can use two paramters. You don’t need to use two, but GA’s site search can be confiugured to track the internal site search phrase and a site search category. We’ll use the category paramter to track the internal campaign name.
I’m going to name the second paraeter
ici (short for internal campaign info). Again make sure the parameter you’re using does not already exist. This second parameter let’s me collect details about the ad the visitor clicked on and the location of the ad.
Here’s a basic format:
You can see that I’m stuffing a lot of information into the parameter. You can put whatever you want and GA will gladly suck it in. By adding more information we’ll get a granluar view of how the internal campaigns perform and which locations and variations lead to tbe most conversions.
If you don’t have different types of internal ads, or just don’t care about this level of detail, then you can ignore the add internal campaign info parameter. It blank, it’s up to you!
Now you need to define the values for all the ads. Thic can get messy if you’re running a lot of internal campaign. But you can do it, just be organized! Use a spreadsheet to keep track of all the values you use.
Once you’ve got al your parameters it’s time to tag your links. The exact process depends on your site. You may need to change static links, like this:
< a href=”/internal-page.php?icn=2010-spring-sale&ici=stubs_home-roller >
Or if you have complicate flash ads you may need to get inside the Flash code. It depends on your site.
The bottom line is when somone clicks on an internal ad you want to see your internal campaign parameter on the next page. If you don’t see the parameter in the URL then you did something wrong.
You can use the sample spread sheet below to track the different parameters you use for your internal campaigns. The spread sheet also has a formula in column D to automatically add the parameters to your URLs.
Once youe’ve got the parameters added to your links it’s itme to configure the Site Search settings.
Step 3: Configure Site Search Settings
Remeber, we’re configuring these settings on a new profile so we don’t break the site search in our main reporting profile.
Site search has three settings. First, turn site search on.
Next, tell GA the name of the paramter that holds the site search phrase (in this case it’s out internal campaign name) by adding the parameter to the ‘Query Parameter’ filed.
Next, choose Strip Query String Parameters. This setting will remove the parameter from the URL after GA processes the data. This is a good idea because it reduces duplicate pages in your top content reports.
TIP: You probably want to exclude your internal campaign name parameter, and internal campaign information parameter, from your other profiles. It can really mess up your pageview data.
If you’re using an internal campaign information parameter configure the Site Search Category settings the same way. Just make sure you use your internal campaign info parameter in the ‘Category Parameter’ setting.
Here’s how the settings look using the parameters from my example:
That’s it! Let’s look at the data.
Let’s start by answering a simple question: do people who respond to internal camapigns convert more or less than those that do not respond to internal camapigns? To answer this question use the Content > Site Search > Usage report. Here we can see that there were only eight visits that clicked an internal campaign. Sad! But it’s just test data.
Now let’s drill deeper ad identify which inernal camapigns are most effective. Use the Content > Site Search > Search Terms report. Rather than search phrases this report contains the names of all internal campaigns. Again, what was the response to the campaign? Was it worth the effort? Don’t forget to check the Goals tab and the Ecommerce tabs (if applicable) to measure outcomes!
But let’s drill deeper to understand which ads within those campaigns are working. Click on a campaign name and choose Category from the Analyze drop down.
Now we’re looking at all of the information that we put into the
ici query string parameter for this particular campaign name. If we had multiple internal ads we’d be able to differentiate ad placements and creative variations.
Don’t forget to use the Goals and Ecommerce tabs to measure outcomes! This is what most people want to know: did internal campaigns, and specifically which internal campaigns, generated revenue and conversions?
But we can do more. Now change to the Content > Site Search > Start Pages report. Now you can see which page people were on when they click on an internal ad. Again, more insight into where visitors responded to an internal campaign.
And for all those marketing folks that are so concerned with internal campaigns, how about creating a nice custom report and automating the delivery or, better yet, use the Custom Report Sharing feature to share this report with others. People will love this because you can change the wording so it does not say Site Search it says Internal Campaigns Report.
But wait, there’s more! What about using a secondary dimension to view the external marketing campaigns (or sources, or mediums) that drive visitor to react to internal campaigns. Perhaps the extrnal creative has some influence over how visitors react to the internal campaign creative. The data isn’t so hot in the image below, but you get the idea.
And finally, the ultimate in analysis, internal campaign attribution. We can use the Search Term Refinement feature if visitors click on multiple internal campaigns. Google Analytics will track all subsequent site searches, but in our case follow up site searches are actually additional internal campaigns that the visitor responded to. Honestly, I have never found any insights from this type of analysis, but you can do it if you want!
Ok, I’ve officially entered nerdville.
I think you get the idea. By adding all this data you can do many different kinds of segmentation and analysis. More than enough to understand the behavior of your site visitors and how your internal campaigns perform.
Last but not least, I’ll mention that you can track internal campaigns using events and custom variables. But both of those solutions require coding. And that requires working with IT. Using Site Search, in most cases, will not require any code changes to your site.