Offline Campaign Tracking: Presentation Clickthrough Comparison

So if you have been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that in the last quarter ofI made the Higher Education conference circuit presenting at HighEdWebStamats, and Case V.  At each of those conferences I presented on the subject of Web Analytics.  As I told people at each conference there are so many other great presentations going on there really is no reason to come to mine because everything that I’m going over is posted on this blog.  Part of the presentation was was teaching how Google’s URL Builder works along with tracking offline campaigns and in doing so I used the presentation as a case study in itself.  So on many slides I had shortened URL’s that 301 redirected to the appropriate post with more information about what I was talking about.

It is time to share some interesting results and hopefully you can take this practical example away with how you can track multiple sources in a campaign including offline sources.

Setting Up Offline Campaign Example

Each presentation basically went over the same information and included many of the same slides with modifications trying to speak more specifically to each audience.  As I mentioned many of the slides had shortened URL’s linking back to content on the blog.  The difference being depending on which conference I changed the vanity URL.  Vanity URL being the short URL that is easier for someone to type instead of the whole link to a post.  So for example when discussing Google Analytics filters I used the following three URL’s depending on the conference:


In this example, each URL takes the visitor to the same Google Analytics Filters post except attaching different tracking source for each of the different conferences (note: I kept campaign and medium the same).  So being able to setup 301 redirects on these short URL’s with tracking code to the same post I could effectively test which landing pages (aka blog post) people visited the most and which source (aka conference) sent the traffic to the site.

Results of Presentation Tracking

Keep in mind this isn’t an exact science and there will always be visitors who will come to the site then search for what they want, but it does give us a significant sample of user behavior from the various venues.  So let’s look at some results.  Keep in mind I’m using Google Analytics here and applying advanced segmentation to look at my various tagged sources from a campaign page.

Now the other metric is looking at landing pages to try and figure out which subject users were most interested.  This came out a little sloppy in the reporting as 41% were directed to the homepage and this not even being a link I created shows the imperfect nature of this data.  Despite this the top three pages were:

  1. Google Analytics Filters
  2. Google Analytics Basic Tips
  3. Free Destination URL Builder

Some of the posts showing up in the data weren’t even written when the presentations were given so I have to question the accuracy of the data a little bit.  The point with this kind of data is we have to look at the trends and realize that some data is better than no data when trying to make an educated guess on what happened.


Hopefully if you aren’t using destination URL’s to track your offline campaigns this example is something you can take away and apply going forward.

So how are you using destination URL’s to track your offline campaigns?

This post was written by:

Founder - who has written 227 posts on .eduGuru

Founderis currently the Customer in Residence at HubSpot, a Co-Founder at nuCloud and  formerly the webmaster at Wofford College. Founderis an active contributor in the social media spectrum. Although his background is technical, he claims to know a thing or two about marketing, but mostly that revolves around SEO, analytics, blogging, and social media. He has spoken at multiple national conferences and done countless webinars on topics ranging from e-mail marketing to social media and Web analytics. He's definitely a fairly nice guy.

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9 Responses to “Offline Campaign Tracking: Presentation Clickthrough Comparison”

  1. Says:

    This is great stuff, Kyle.

    We’re heavily using vanities and coded URLs to track offline campaigns.

    You can take this one step further. How many of these click-throughs lead to a feed subscription or whatever success event on the site? In this scenario, the click-through could be the success event.

    Take another scenario … let’s say you take an ad out in the college newspaper promoting summer courses. In this case you’d want to measure click-through, then take it further to a success event (signing up for a course). Let’s see how many people clicked through *and* signed up for a course (the goal of the ad). This means, of course, that the course catalog or course schedule needs to be tagged as well.

    Anyway, just an illustration of how you can go beyond the click-through to a conversion.

    Great post.

    • Says:

      Yup totally agree. My question though is how would I take that onto a user successfully subscribing? How would you measure that? I know how to use vanity URL’s and tie them onto a landing page with a conversion form on them, but don’t know to tie that into an RSS subscription? Would love to hear your thoughts on how to do that.

  2. Says:

    This is where we’re spoiled where I work. We actually have an in-house application that handles this. Basically, it creates a redirect from the ‘success link’ that triggers a success event and then puts the user on the page, feed, whatever, that they clicked on.

    As far as doing this with Google Analytics, I’m not sure. I’m looking into it as I type and will post an update when I have an answer.

  3. Says:

    Hey Kyle,

    First things first, I’d expect the data is accurate and that you might be miss interpreting how the Analytics Campaigns actually work… Remember they set a cookie which doesn’t expire so if a visitor comes back (say to the homepage later on it still counts for said campaign).

    Second is the Successful Subscription option… the 301 .php file redirect is probably an option and good if you don’t want to collect the email address (possibly a missed opportunity there) or track it as an outbound link with goal. If you are getting the email address well let’s not forget it is a form and you can add tracking there too.

    Hope that is helpful.

  4. Says:

    Is there any other application available on the web to analyze the data more effectively? Or the Google analytics is the best one.

    • Says:

      Of course there are applications that are MUCH more effective than Google Analytics, but they aren’t free or cheap. Omniture, WebTrends, Hitwise… etc.

      Nothing provides more bang for your buck than GA… because it’s FREE.

  5. Says:

    Do you know free and I think best application for short url?? Thanks…

  6. Says:

    I’m a blogger myself and I found your post to be very interesting and unique so I figured I’d drop a comment. Good job on the post, and I’ve just became subscribed to your blog. Hope you do the same for me.

    Good luck on your blog, and feel free to visit and comment on my blog as well! :)

    Dino Vedo - Mindless Ramblings of Internet Markter and Affiliate


  1. Marketing Convergence | Web ManagerMcCready --> says:

    [...] The Web should be the hub in any college’s marketing efforts.  That’s not to say they should stop using the other ’spokes’, but simply that the endgame for all the offline marketing mediums should come back to the college website.  You should be leveraging the power of the Web to track how successful an offline campaign, as read in this post from .eduGuru. [...]