Let’s be honest, people love to give advice. (They do not typically love receiving it, but that’s a topic for a different blog.) One of the most pervasive cliches you will hear when starting a new project is “have the right tool for the job” and while this piece of advice rings true, it implies you know and have all of those right tools. Marketing Automation platforms are often referred to as toolboxes, which got me thinking about how to identify some of those right tools for those right jobs. Specifically, in this blog we’ll talk about the right tools to unlock SharpSpring campaign performance metrics.
One of the most impactful metrics a marketing platform can offer is understanding what’s working. Constructing reports that will provide this type of insight starts with understanding what you are measuring. Typically, marketers tend to think of their marketing efforts in a very broad context. While themes such as Email, Social, Paid, and Organic are all great examples of how to organize your efforts, I’d suggest diving deeper.
In the digital world, the more information you have the more options are open to you. Instead of generically documenting all the exciting new directions you are taking in 2021, try documenting every single way you are saying them. By creating a marker for each individual post, ad, content piece, etc…you can really begin to understand what’s moving the needle. It’s always easier to get bigger than smaller, so when conceptualizing your roll out, earmark everything. This way you can truly begin to understand all aspects of the outcome.
Whether you are using digital markers such as UTM codes, touchstones like referral sources or proprietary insight such as site pages you are tracking, documenting individual engagement points is where you can really find success. Let’s walk through one to help make this more tangible.
Imagine for a moment that a new tactic your agency is offering is free website audits as a way of initiating lead generation. The methods being used to drive interest in this new service include paid efforts in Facebook and Linkedin, direct emails to a known contact base, and some SEM investment in the form of a Google Ads campaign. While it would be much faster to create one large document to illustrate each of these engagement points, creating unique campaigns for each avenue will empower you to see what is actually driving the engagement. Create unique UTMs for a boosted message in Facebook and another for a specific call to action in an email. Now, let’s walk through exactly what that would look like in SharpSpring.
SharpSpring Campaign Performance Metrics in Action
If you have never constructed a UTM code, Urchin Tracking Module, it is one of the most approachable accomplishments you will have in marketing software. Typically these snippets are used to denote everything from source, medium, campaign, term and/or content individually — but in SharpSpring you really only need one snippet to represent all of the aforementioned elements. The actual format of a UTM is two values on either side of an = sign. Remember this code is resulting in Campaign membership, so for ease of use I like to recommend using utm as the initial element and the name of the campaign as the second. If we were to draw on the website audit example of sending direct emails to a know content base, the actual hyperlink under the call to action in the email could take this form:
By clicking on this link, the lead will be automatically added to the Direct Email campaign membership in SharpSpring that was created as a part of this more specific approach!
There are a few other best practices to take into consideration when leveraging this approach. First, in SharpSpring there is no specific requirement for the UTM codes other than they have to be unique. So in our example, utm=Q1directemailaudit, works great for this, but if we were using multiple emails we might want to consider making a different campaign for each email or email series. If we were using utm codes, perhaps you would change it to: utm=Q1directemailauditseries1 or utm=Q1directemailauditseries2.
Second, when you are adding the UTM codes to your calls to action you will need to add in a ? at the end of your link, prior to the snippet. This allows the browser to ignore anything after it thus not impacting the destination. Lastly, you will need to ensure that everyone that is engaging with you digitally is individually tracked. The only way SharpSpring can recognize and utilize that UTM code is via a cookie that is attached to a device associated with an email address. In our example of the direct email, the call to action needs to land on a tracked page, either primary domain or landing page. In this case it’s the connection of the email link hitting the site page script that causes tracking and allows for the UTM to be recognized, resulting in campaign assignment.
Even More Ways to Track Campaign Performance
There are three additional ways to establish tracking (forms, API, chatbot), and depending on what the campaign is you should take this into consideration. If you are attempting to track social engagement, the act of someone simply clicking a call to action in your boosted message will not result in tracking. In this case best practice would be to have a form on the page the link is referencing. Anyone that responds to the content on social, clicks to the page and fills out the form will be assigned to the corresponding campaign, based on the utm affixed to the initial source. While not everyone will complete this entire cycle, as long as the lead’s browser history stays intact, any recognized UTM code will always be honored. A tangible example of this would be if someone were to click on a social message, come to your website and not fill out the form in that session, but return a week later and complete the action (ie. form fill); they will still be assigned to the social post they engaged with a week prior!
Taking this type of extra step will produce the reports that you are really looking for. Increasing the more granular aspects of campaigns does not mean larger groupings are not impactful, but again it’s easier to expand and than contract. If you create a separate channel for each engagement point you can still configure them under a large umbrella which allows you to see patterns over time. Large pairings such as Paid or Organic should still be applied to each effort but if we stop at those types of levels the idea of A/B testing or leveraging marketing automation becomes much more challenging. Also by incorporating this type of thinking from the beginning it will enable execution as opposed to attempting to retroactively excavate where the positive feedback actually came from!
Sometimes utilizing the right tool is as much about understanding the job as it is the way you go about completing it. Using UTM codes in the strategic way described above will help you better understand your SharpSpring campaign performance.