So in a recent post I discussed Landing Pages and I mentioned offline campaigns and the importance of tracking these campaigns. So now that we have that knowledge and I’ve also discussed using 301 redirects on your web server to send an individual from one page directly to another we can pull these two pieces together to create a page for an offline campaign.
Update: This post has been sitting in the queue ready to go, but it looks like the Higher Education Community is starting to rebel against my recent analytics addiction. I understand it is undervalued and unappreciated in Higher Education, but that’s a post for another day… long away. Let me just assure Drew, Brad, and everyone that this is the last for a while. With three upcoming presentations on Web Analytics I’ve got something planned for all these posts, but with HighEdWeb next week luckily I’m at the end of my tank and ready to pickup my backlog of other ideas for blog posts.
Offline Campaign Types
- Television – You probably have seen one of those television commercials that say for more information visit product.com/tv10? Well that tv10 is a redirector that takes you to a landing page for the commercial. The 10 probably means they have at least 10 versions of the commercial that runs so they are comparing the success of the 10 commercials.
- Radio – A commercial, sports broadcast or even an interview can be a time to drop a URL for radio consumption.
- Print Publications – Print publications can include any sort of snail mail that you send your audience like postcards, monthly/quarterly magazines, newspaper, etc. Sometimes you might want to direct an individual to your site, but not necessarily your homepage.
Offline URL Best Practices
So if we want a visitor to go to a page deep in our website or even something then we probably don’t want to even try to tell them a long URL that might not make any sense. So we create a user friendly, easy to type, and short URL that we can give someone that then redirects them to a page deeper in our site. A great example would be the Class Reunion Gift Challenge that we have setup for Homecoming. We are mailing out postcards to four different classes and want to measure how successful the postcards are between the classes. So you tell me which URL would you rather type in if it showed up on a post card:
Because we are measuring four different classes (1968, 1978, 1988, 1998) then it’s easy enough to change the year at the end of each URL and the tracking source through the Destination URL builder and measure visitors to that page.
Two quick things to address
- I’ve begun to use a url directory on our webserver to place all my redirectors for management purposes so I’m not looking all over the server trying to remember what I setup a redirector for.
- When someone visits that URL you SHOULD attach the tracking variables onto the new URL before passing it along. So in the example above when someone types in wofford.edu/url/reunion1968 it takes them to:
https://www.wofford.edu/gifts/ReunionChallenge.aspx?utm_source=cc1968&utm_medium=snail&utm_campaign=class_challenge in this example.
Setting Up the Redirectors
I almost always use 301 redirects simply because they pass on any linkjuice that is associated with the link. Now because these links are used for offline campaigns it definitely isn’t as much a deal, but just try and get yourself in the habit of using 301 and you will get used to it. Besides it’s just an extra check box (in IIS) or three characters to add to your .htaccess file.
Setting up a 301 is fairly easy in IIS as the picture below shows.
Setting up a 301 in Apache is even easier as all you need to do is add a line to your .htaccess file like the picture below.
Go ahead give it a try. Copy and paste doteduguru.com/example into a new window.
I’ll give you a second just make sure that you come back…
Did you notice how it redirects you to the about page with tracking parameters? That’s right now I know how many people actually attempted to do that.
These redirects are all about the user experience. Your making it easier for them to reach specific targeted content so you might as well be tracking it. Besides at the end of the day when you can show your boss the success of a campaign sure makes you look brighter and talk about job security. Of course on the other end if a campaign fails then that is just as important because you KNOW not to try the same exact thing again. Remember set goals to measure your success. Finally if you didn’t see it last night I released a Free Destination URL Builder to help you create these URL’s for your campaigns.