Tracking Codes: Let Them Tell You the Story

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Dave Behr
11.07.18

We have it pretty good these days as marketers. The advancements in technology over the last 20 years has given us an incredible wealth of knowledge about our customers.

From Google Analytics to Facebook ads to email reporting, there are myriad ways for us to interact with our audience and watch the buyer’s journey for each one of them.

Audience targeting has been a huge boon for the marketing industry. Thanks to sites like Google and Facebook we can target the exact person we’re aiming for on the day and time they’re most likely to convert. The amount of time and money saved not having to cast huge nets like our predecessors gives every organization, big or small, an opportunity to find ways to maximize its marketing ROI.

While everyone is enamored with audience targeting and segmentation, one aspect of digital marketing’s growth that doesn’t get as much love is user tracking. Knowing exactly which message brought a specific user (or group of users) to your page is priceless.

No longer are the days when a marketer should ever wonder which tactic worked and which didn’t during a campaign. Adding simple tracking codes to our websites and shareable URLs gives us the opportunity follow any user from the moment they engage with our content. No guessing if the ad you ran on some website was more effective than the Facebook ad or vice versa.

At Masonry we track everything. From emails to social to ad buys, there is not a link to a client website that doesn’t tell us something about the user. We want to know it all.

And not only can utilizing tracking codes at every turn help you refine which message and channel to double down on, it can also let you know when something falls flat.

Just recently one of our client’s held a fall event to attract potential customers. Along with advertising through email and social platforms, we took out ad space in a few local digital media channels. The ad buys all went live the same week, and the event registrations came pouring in.

If tracking links hadn’t been set up (for this instance in Eventbrite) we would have had no idea which of the ads performed well and which didn’t. Because we added tracking codes to the links we sent the media outlets, we were able to decipher two very important things:

  1. Of the traffic we received from the three different ads, 100% the people who bought tickets all came from the same ad placement.
  1. After three days of being live, one of the ad placements still showed zero visits. Not conversions. Visits.

In this one example alone you can see the incredible value in using tracking links. First and foremost, we contacted the outlet that wasn’t showing any site views and found out they forgot to place the ad! Holy wasted money, Batman. If we hadn’t used tracking links, we could’ve paid for an ad that never ran.

We also learned that we have a new best friend in the digital media space. The site that registered a significant number of page views and 100% of the conversions through these campaigns will no doubt get our business again.

Without the tracking codes we would have seen an influx of site visits and registrations. We would have assumed our campaign was successful, and showed up to our event waiting for a pat on the back from our client when they saw the turnout.

Instead, we got the pat on the back for the turnout, got them a portion of their ad spend back (the company that didn’t run the ad profusely apologized and refunded us), and discovered an effective channel that we will utilize for all future events.

You never know when a simple tracking code will tell you the story of the successes or failures of a marketing campaign. Sometimes the information gleaned isn’t as obvious as the example above, but if you put the time into dissecting the data from your completed campaign, you’ll always find hidden clues that will help you when you’re creating your strategy for the next one.


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