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How To Tell If Your Online Marketing Is Working

How To Tell If Your Online Marketing Is Working

There’s nothing worse than spending money on marketing and not being able to tell if it’s working, so here’s a simple way to tell if your marketing is working.

When we start work with a new client one of the first thing we put in place is a way to show the client that the marketing we’re doing for them is making them money. This (as you can imagine) is extremely important as our fee of $4000 – $5000 per month must be offset with FAR more money in the bank for our clients.

So one of the easiest ways to tell if your online marketing is working is to use Google Analytics event tracking,

You probably have Google Analytics installed on your site. You check various statistics you hope are relevant.

You can set it up to track two different triggers a visitor makes on your site: Tracking for Goals and tracking of Events.

Why do you want to track these?

Once these triggers are set up, you won’t have to search through your Analytics reports wondering what’s going on. You’ll have a quick way to measure the movements of your visitors and find out what’s working.

To me, Goals are “big” things. These are the things affecting the bottom line of your business. These can be customer conversions/sales, opt-in conversions, people who request to be contacted for a consultation, etc. Goals are the endpoints I want my visitors to reach while visiting the site.

Events are smaller details. They’re not critical to the bottom line, at first glance. With Event Tracking you can monitor human behavior on your site in ways goals don’t. Events allow you to grasp what’s working on your site – what’s moving visitors from one page to another, and ultimately to your goals.

Customer Segmentation

Many businesses are changing their homepage from a traditional blog layout, a listing of most recent posts, to a more traditional homepage. This allows them to better segment their visitors.

For our newest client, successful resumes of Australia, we’ve set up various events from time on site to downloading their free report and watching the videos. All designed to get a better understanding of what it is that their customers and prospects want. For instance we can see who favours watching a video vs reading a PDF and which group of people is more likely to convert to being a customer.

I don’t see many sites Tracking Events. When a business approaches us, it’s one of the first things we check, as it’s easy low hanging fruit we can implement and get great fast results for our clients with. Most businesses (if they do any analytics reporting at all) find how many people clicked through by creating cumbersome custom reports inside Google Analytics. It’s a lot of work. Events make it simple.

Other Events You Can Track:

Outbound Links – If you frequently link to other sites, you can use events to track how many people click away.

Affiliate Links – How do you know what links are working to make you money? If you have three different affiliate links in a blog post, you can set up tracking for each individual link. This will allow you to test and adjust links to maximize your income.

Downloads – You can track downloads of eBooks, free reports, videos, white papers, whatever people are downloading off your site. This is a good way to learn about a problem in your distribution or if a free, no opt-in required download is becoming popular.

Now you have a few ideas for things you might want to track. Here’s how to set up the tracking code so you can pull the reports.

Setting Up Events: Google Analytics Event Tracking Tutorial

Setting up the tracking code is fairly simple. If you want to read the technical details, you can find more information in Google’s Event Tracking Guide. My instructions below will solve 97% (made up statistic 😉 ) of the uses you have.

The Event Tracking code looks like this:

onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'category', 'action', 
'label', 'value', 'noninteraction']);"

In a second I’ll show you where to place this on your site. But I want to go through the definition of each option you have available.

In each Event you have an option for the following information:

Category (required): This is the name for a group of Events.

Action (required): This is an additional detail for grouping each Event inside each Category.

Label (optional): An additional description to help you detail each Event triggered.

Value (optional): This has to be a number. This can be used to identify a value for a click or other number value you ascribe to the Event.

NonInteraction (optional): This is either “true” or “false.” It’s used for you to tell if the Event will be used in your Bounce Rate calculation. True is yes, false is no.

Category and Action are the only two pieces of data you need to track. You don’t have to include a Label, Value, or NonInteraction.

Placing The Event Tracking Code

To use the Event Tracking code you place it with the HTML code of the link you want to track. Like this:

<a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 
'category', 'action', 'label', 'value', 'noninteraction']);" >text</a>

Think of the events you want to track and lump them into different categories. For example,  I track all downloads from this site. The Category I use for this is “download.” The Action is the URL of the download. I don’t have a Label, Value, or NonInteraction on each download link. So, my Event tracking code only needs to look like this:

<a href="" onclick="_gaq.push
(['_trackEvent', 'download', '/download-url.pdf']);" >Download Here</a>

For my affiliate links I use tracking code like this:

<a href="" onclick="_gaq.push
(['_trackEvent', 'redirect', 'affiliate-link', ‘Affiliate 
Product Name’]);" >Affiliate Product Name</a>

If I had a value for this affiliate link, I could add it to the code like this:

<a href="" onclick="_gaq.push
(['_trackEvent', 'redirect', 'affiliate-link', ‘Affiliate 
Product Name’, 5]);" >Affiliate Product Name</a>

This would give it a value of “5” whatevers. Because it’s an affiliate link I would say it’s a dollar value. I don’t track Values and only show this to give you an idea. A Value is not required.

Before you start setting up Event Tracking, think of what you want to track and how you want to categorize it. This will keep your reports clean later and save you time down the road.

Quick And Easy Event Tracking For Outbound Clicks In WordPress

If you’re using WordPress on your site, install Yoast’s Google Analytics For WordPress plugin. In the settings section there’s a checkbox to “Track outbound clicks & downloads.” When you enable this option it will automatically add the Event Tracking code as your page renders.


Each of these events will show up in your Google Analytics reports nicely laid out. Your category will be “outbound-article” with the action listed as the domain or full URL of the outbound link.

You’ll still have to set up Event Tracking for other events (segmentation, affiliate links, etc) but this will save you time tracking outbound links and downloads.

Setting Up Events As Goals

Yes, you can set up Google Analytics to track Events as Goals. This may be a little confusing at first, but it’s really simple.

As I said before, Goals and Events in Google Analytics are two different things. I use them for two different purposes on this site.

However, if an Event is an important piece of information for your business, you can also set up Analytics to treat certain Events as goals too.

This is great for affiliate marketers. If your goal is to get someone to click an affiliate link, you can set up Google Analytics to track these clicks as Goals.

Why Track An Event As A Goal?

As an example, when i did a lot of affiliate marketing i was able to beat most of the other affiliates promoting a product and get preferential commissions and updates because i tracked everything. I knew exactly what the visitors to my affiliate offers did and I could make educated guesses (and then test those guesses {hypotheses}) about why they did it. This gave me a HUGE edge online and I quickly became one of the top 100 affiliates in the world.

If you have a reason for setting up an Event as a Goal, here’s how.

How To Set Up Events As Goals in Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, click the Admin button in the top right of the site profile you want to track.

analytics-admin-linkThen, click on the Goals Tab

How To Tell If Your Online Marketing Is WorkingThen, click on “+Goal” to set up a new goal.

How To Tell If Your Online Marketing Is WorkingGive your goal a name.

Change the “Goal type” to “Event.”

In the Goal Details section choose which option you want from the Event to trigger as a goal (Category, Action, Label, Value). You don’t have to fill out each field. Or, you can fill out a combination of the fields that match for your goal.

In this example I used the Category “redirect” from the affiliate link code example above. This means any Event with the Category “redirect” will count in my Goals Reports.

If I want to limit it to only affiliate links in the “redirect” category, as opposed to other links in the “redirect” category, I can change the goal to look like this.

How To Tell If Your Online Marketing Is Working

This will only count Events with the Category “redirect” and the Action “affiliate-link” as the Event. Other events won’t trigger the goal.

The flexibility here allows you to track goals as broad or narrow as you need. Simply set up the field(s) you want to trigger this goal.

Last, if you’re not using the Value option in your Tracking code, choose the “Use A Constant Value” option. If each click has a value to you, like a sale, put the Value here. If not, give it a value of “0.”

That’s it. Hit save and you’re done.

You’re allowed 20 goals per domain profile, so don’t go too crazy. You can’t delete a Goal once it’s set up. You can set it as inactive, or change the triggers, but it cannot be deleted. Use them wisely and only track goals important to you.

Event Tracking And Goal Tracking Reports In Google Analytics

How To Tell If Your Online Marketing Is Working

To find the events in your Google Analytics reports, go to the content section. In there you’ll find many ways to filter and manipulate the data to analyze how people are using your new events.

I like to take a quick look at “Top Events” page. This will list the Events by Category. Then you can add the “Secondary Dimension” of either “Event Action” or “Event Label” to filter and see what’s happening.

How To Tell If Your Online Marketing Is Working

Install These Dashboards and Reports For A Quick Glance

With the rollout of the new Google Analytics platform last year there are some new features most aren’t fully utilizing yet. Mainly the Dashboards and Reports.

These will save you a lot time. You won’t have to click through pages of the Standard reports for a quick overview. Simply choose the dashboard you created and it will give you a quick report.

You probably don’t want to spend time trying to figure out how to create and customize a group of Dashboards and Reports. Once you know what you want it’s fairly simple, but it takes time.

You can click on the following links and automatically install each of the Dashboards and Reports into your own analytics account. Some of these I created. (A couple I took from Avinash Kaushik over at Occams Razor.)

My Shared Dashboards


Now Get To Work

You have more than a few actionable items to start on now.

When I started my direct mail pieces, I hated guessing and waiting for postcards and phone calls so I could figure out the results.

Tracking Events in Google Analytics will give you another way to slice your data. It’s another way to take the guesswork out of your site results.

And you may be surprised at the results. Have fun.

Now, take a moment and share this post on your favorite social network and sign up for updates.


P.S Want us to look after your online marketing for you? Then get in touch for an informal chat.

P.P.S TONS of this material comes from matt fox over at persuasion theory, he has an awesome blog that you’d be crazy not to read! go there now and sign up to his newsletter

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