Tracking Sales Conversion by Marketing Activity with Topspin and Google Analytics Follow

Objective

Understand how to use Google Analytics to track sales of your Topspin products by marketing activity (actions you take to drive traffic to your site: emails, widgets, links, etc.).

Prerequisites

  • You must have Google Analytics (GA) setup, installed, and have GA ecommerce reporting enabled. See this article for details on doing both: Site Analytics Through Google Analytics.
  • You must be using Topspin purchase buttons on your website.

Best Practice Walkthrough

We present this to you in two forms:

  1. Short and sweet: a very basic usage case that yields a simple, but powerful, stat: sales performance by link. Short on details, but this will get you up and running very quickly.
  2. Long and comprehensive: a full examination of how to use the combo of Topspin and Google Analytics for wide-ranging, multi-dimensional campaign reporting.

1) Short And Sweet

The usage case examined here is quite simply: I want to create a link, and I want to know how many people clicked that link and what sales activity was generated. Two very real uses of such a link are:

  • I'm sending an email with a link to buy my new album. Track that link's activity.
  • I'm creating a widget that I'm going to embed on my myspace profile. Track the activity that's generated after fans click the button that leads to my website.

Step 1: create the trackable link:

Go to this page (URL tool): http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578

For the email example mentioned above, fill in the following:

  • Website URL: the link to your website, e.g., "http://ilovemetric.com"
  • Source: "topspin"
  • Medium: "email"
  • Campaign name: a descriptive label such as "album_release"

Click "Generate URL" and you'll be given something like: http://ilovemetric.com/?utm_source=topspin&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=album_release

Copy/paste the URL into the email you're going to send to your fans. You may want to use an HTML link so that your fans see "http://ilovemetric.com" even though the underlying link will actually be the one generated in the URL Tool.

Now, when your fans click the link, GA/Topspin will be able to track their visits and sales. The embed code that is created for your offer will now contain the following parameter in the javascript (the x's will be replaced with your Google Analytics ID):

&gat=UA-xxxxxxxxxx-x


This will match the ID entered in your Artist Profile.

ProfileID.png


Step 2: Reporting on the results:

  1. Log into your GA account and navigate to your profile dashboard.
  2. Select the "Traffic Sources" link in the left navigation pane.
  3. Select the "All Traffic Sources" option in the sub-navigation.
  4. Click the "Ecommerce" tab (below the graph) to reveal traffic/sales numbers.

With the help of Topspin's integration, GA will report visits and sales by source/medium combination. In this example we chose "Topspin / Email" for our source/medium pair (using the URL tool).

In the other Myspace / Widget example, you'd simply create a different link with the URL tool and specify "myspace" for source and "widget" for medium. If you used the generated link for the button link in your streaming media widget, you'd have a line in this report that gave you visits and sales for the "myspace / widget" source/medium.

Troubleshooting:

  • My source/medium combination isn't showing up:
    • GA is not immediate. It could take up to a day for your stats to show up.
    • Make sure the source/medium values that appear in your link are the ones you're looking for in your report.
    • Make sure your link appears in your email or widget exactly as it was provided to you by the URL tool.
  • I don't see an "Ecommerce" tab in my report:
    • Make sure you've fulfilled the prerequisites mentioned at the beginning of this article.

2) Long And Comprehensive

Reading the short and sweet version above is helpful for starters here. It will help you see a fraction of the end-goal the long and comprehensive provides.

Google analytics provides a framework for multi-dimensional campaign reporting. Multi-dimensional simply means you can view performance activity from a few different perspectives. That activity, specifically, will be visits, sales, and conversion rates. This article helps you use this framework by:

  1. Understanding the different dimensions (perspectives) GA uses when reporting campaign data.
  2. Instrumenting your links (adding special information) to make them trackable by GA.
  3. Using GA's reporting tools to view campaign performance by dimension.

We cover each of these in more detail...

1) Understanding GA Campaign Dimensions (Perspectives) For Your Data.

This is mostly about understanding GA's terminology and how it expects you to interpret and use it. So...

Campaigns: GA's way for you to group a set of marketing activities under a single umbrella. For example, if you're releasing a new album and you're going to do several things like send an email to your fan list, update your social network profiles, create/deploy banner ads, buy search terms, and you want a way to group and measure performance across all those activities, you'd be creating a "Campaign" in Google's world.

To apply this to a real-world artist campaign, let's use the band Metric's 2009 Fantasies album launch as an example.

Metric uses three GA campaigns to understand performance at different stages of their album release cycle:

  • Preorder: efforts to drive preorder sales via http://ilovemetric.com.
  • Release: efforts to drive sales via http://ilovemetric.com (external link) and announce the general availability of the album at retail.
  • Followup: efforts to drive sales of a followup release at the end of the album cycle - a digital-only EP of acoustic tracks.

We label these campaigns: fantasies_preorder, fantasies_release, fantasies_followup

Now that we've got our top-level umbrellas for organization and measurement, let's dive deeper:

Medium: GA's way for you to specify the various media you will use in your marketing activities.

In Metric's example, they're going to use email, banner ads, topspin widgets, and good ol fashion links to their website.

We label these media: email, banner, widget, link

They're going to use each of these media in each of the three stages mentioned above, so there will be activity and measurement of that activity for each media for each campaign.

Source: GA's way for you to specify the origination of the media.

In Metric's example it's helpful to look at how they're going to deploy media to understand source:

  • Email: they're only sending emails to their fans from one source, Topspin.
  • Banner ads: they're using Google's content ad network, a Myspace-specific ad buy, and a facebook-targeting buy, so they've got three sources here, Google, Myspace, and Facebook.
  • Widgets: they're seeding distribution of widgets by posting them on their facebook and myspace profiles, and giving widgets to both their radio and PR teams for use in outreach. So, they've got at least four sources here: Facebook, Myspace, Radio, and PR.
  • Links: They're placing links to their site on Facebook and Myspace (among several others here we'll leave out for brevity), so they've got at least two sources here: Facebook and Myspace.

So, across all media, we've got at least six different sources, which we label: topspin, google, myspace, facebook, radio, pr

They're going to use each of these media in each of the three stages mentioned above, so there will be activity and measurement of that activity for each source for each media for each campaign.

Dimensions Summary: pulling it all together...

Looking at Metric's example, it quickly becomes evident that there are a lot of data points to collect and measure if we want to understand performance across the three dimensions of campaign, medium, and source.

Specifically, they've got:

  • 3 campaigns: fantasies_preorder, fantasies_release, fantasies_followup
  • 4 media types: email, banner, widget, link
  • 6 sources: topspin, google, myspace, facebook, radio, pr

To accurately assess the efficacy of our efforts, we'll want to know how visits and sales were generated by each of the media from each of the sources for each campaign. That's 72 different data rows (3 x 4 x 6) to collect, not to mention report upon. Some of the questions you'll want to answer are:

  • How did all three campaigns perform in total across all media and sources? How about just the fantasies_preorder campaign?
  • How did emails perform across all campaigns? How about just the email I sent out for the followup release?
  • How did myspace perform across links, widgets, and ads for all campaigns? How about just for the preorder stage?
  • etc., etc.

Google's campaign reporting framework and Topspin's sales data integration combine to give you the ability to do this in a fairly elegant manner. It requires the right link instrumentation and use of the built-in reports that GA provides, which the next sections cover.

By "instrumenting", we simply mean "add some info." For example, if we want to measure visits and sales for the email Metric sends to their fans during the preorder phase:

Use:

http://pastie.org/2292637

Instead of:

http://pastie.org/2292638 

If you a) use this link as the click-through link when constructing your email, and b) have GA installed (and ecommerce reporting enabled) on the site where the link is pointing (ilovemetric.com in this example), and c) are using Topspin purchase buttons on that site, then you'll have all the elements you need to report visits and sales that resulted by clicking the link presented above (i.e, you'll know how many of your emails converted to clicks and sales!).

Note that the instrumented link simply spells out which campaign, medium, and source combination to track.

Building instrumented links 
Google provides a simple utility for constructing instrumented links - The URL Tool:http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578 (external link).

You simply need to plug in the page, campaign, source, and medium, and it will generate the properly instrumented link for you.

You'll see that the tool also allows you to specify "content" and "term" dimensions. These are ways for you to go deeper on your analytics if you so desire. For example, in the Metric scenario, we could measure results of different ad creatives by specifying a value for the "content" dimension. GA would report results by campaign by medium by source by content.

Important point: extending this to all your links 
The answer is yes. If you want GA to build reports that show you detailed performance by campaign by medium by source, you'll need to create unique links for each marketing activity, adjusting the campaign, medium, and source values in the link to match the marketing activity you're measuring.

In Metric's example, they're sending out three emails, one for each campaign phase. This means they'd use the URL Tool to construct a different email link for each phase. The only difference in each link is the value they specify for the "campaign" dimension:

 http://pastie.org/2292645

http://pastie.org/2292647

Their example for their banner ads is a little more detailed as it involves changing both the "campaign" and the "source" dimension for each link (9 different combinations):

http://pastie.org/2292650

They'd assign a link to the matching campaign/source combo so that when a fan clicked the banner, their click and follow-on sales activity would be attributed to the right campaign and source.

To round out the example, here are the links they would need to create to track activity across their other media types: "widgets" (click-through link) and general "links."

 

Widget links across the sources: facebook, myspace, pr, and radio

 http://pastie.org/2292655

 

General links (normal links back to your site) across the sources: facebook, myspace

 

http://pastie.org/2292661

 

Ok, so we've covered link instrumentation. Now, how does this data get surfaced in GA?

3) Using GA's Reporting Tools To View Campaign Performance By Dimension.

If you've instrumented your links properly, GA makes the reporting part pretty simple:

  1. Log into your GA account and navigate to your profile dashboard.
  2. Select the "Traffic Sources" link in the left navigation pane.
  3. Select the "Campaigns" option in the sub-navigation.

Ensure the date range selected reflects the reporting period that interests you.

Beneath the graph in the displayed report, you'll notice a set of tabs that should include "Site Usage" and "Ecommerce." If you do not see an Ecommerce tab, ensure you've met the prerequisites listed at the top of this article.

Top level view of each dimension:

Click the Ecommerce tab.

You should now see a table that displays visits, transactions, revenue, and conversion rates by campaign (see example screenshot below; mock data).

This is your top-level view on the campaigns dimension. It answers the question, how did each of my campaigns perform across all other dimensions (source and medium)?

top_level_view.png

You can also get top-level views of your medium and source dimensions. To do so, click the selector tool, directly above the campaigns listing (shown in screenshot below). There are several options in here, but we're focusing on two:

  1. Choose "Source": this refreshes the page and shows you how each of your sources performed across all other dimensions (campaign and medium)...e.g., you could tell how effective myspace was across all campaign phases and media (banner, widget, link) that had myspace as a source.
  2. Choose "Medium": this refreshes the page and shows you how each of your media performed across all other dimensions (campaign and sources)...e.g., you can tell how effective email was across all campaign phases.

selector.png

Drilling down to view performance by medium by source

Now the fun really starts...for each campaign you can drill down to get specifics on how each media/source combo performed.

Make sure you are at the top-level campaign view described at the beginning of this section. When you're at the right spot, the campaign names will be links. Click the campaign name you want to examine. You'll notice it presents you an overview of the campaign. To drill into the campaign:

  • Select the "medium" dimension in the selector tool.
  • You'll notice that a second selector tool is displayed (see screenshot below). Select the "source" dimension in that second selector tool.

medium_source.png

You'll then be displayed a table that shows you performance for each media across each source...a flexible way to allow you to drill-down on the campaign dimension and compare any two dimensions against each other - a lot of reporting power to get for free when you instrument your links.

And that my friends is how you can get some pretty comprehensive performance data by marketing activity using the integration that Topspin provides with Google Analytics.

In addition to "sales by marketing activity", you can also track sales by referrer (much simpler I might add): 
Tracking Sales Conversion By Referrer With Topspin And Google Analytics

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