Using Redirectors for Offline Campaigns

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:

https://www.wofford.edu/gifts/ReunionChallenge.aspx
or
wofford.edu/url/reunion1968

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Final Tips

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.

This post was written by:

Kyle James

Kyle James - who has written 227 posts on .eduGuru

Kyle is currently the Customer in Residence at HubSpot, a Co-Founder at nuCloud and  formerly the webmaster at Wofford College. Kyle is 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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4 Responses to “Using Redirectors for Offline Campaigns”

  1. Avatar image
    Paul Prewitt Says:

    Wow! Talk about being on the same wave length. I just released my post on Get More by Tracking URL Redirects.

    I’ve taken the tracking one step farther and developed a simple script to track “External Redirects”. I’ll be making it more robust in the near future so please let me know what you think we should be tracking on it (I’ll offer a download once its done).

    https://www.draftmotif.org/2008/10/get-more-by-tracking-url-redirects.html

    Reply

  2. Avatar image
    Kyle James (author) Says:

    @Paul - I really like that idea for tracking external URLs. Let me ask you this… I’ve noticed real inconsistant results from the onClick javascript command in GA. Have you noticed that?

    Otherwise your php mail function call looks like a really interesting way to track those results. I really like that it’s a clean URL that you are sending them.

    Reply

  3. Avatar image
    Paul Prewitt Says:

    On the GA tool option (I’d say no problems for me) but have no way to determine otherwise.

    Although the external tracking is more for print/phone/videos it could be used instead of the onClick feature.

    I’d say a test is in order, use both and see what you get.

    Reply

  4. Avatar image
    Kyle James (author) Says:

    I think your right, if in doubt test. Just seems like results for onClick are low…

    Reply

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