Tracking Marketing Campaigns in SiteCatalyst

My opening line in a recent post needs to be repeated here – “in order to optimise spend and time invested in marketing activity, all traffic that a company has some control over should be identified within their web analytics tool”.  That post was regarding Google Analytics but the exact same principle applies to Adobe (Omniture) SiteCatalyst.

It is simpler with SiteCatalyst to track marketing links, you only need to add a single URL query parameter to the landing page URL.  And the web analytics tool offers the potential to be much more powerful, particularly through the level of granularity that can be captured.  But with more complexity comes greater requirements for setting up and maintaining the tracking of marketing channels.

I have created a SiteCatalyst Campaign URL Builder using Excel to make all this a lot easier.  It is:

  • a useful guide to the required configuration of SiteCatalyst for tracking campaigns
  • a tool for generating landing page URLs that contain the SiteCatalyst campaign parameter
  • a tool for generating campaign data to be uploaded into SiteCatalyst via SAINT
  • a means to implementing a process that allows for marketing campaigns to be tracked and performance analysed in detail

The tool is freely available for download here in either Excel 2007 or Excel 97-2003 versions.  A full set of instructions on using this tool are included within the Excel file.  Macros will need to be enabled for the SiteCatalyst Campaign URL Builder to work.

I do request that if you use the tool, that you do not remove my my logo crediting L3 Analytics with the creation of this Excel tool and that you spread the word via a tweet or other social media.

The remainder of this blog post supports the SiteCatalyst Campaign URL Builder through describing the various steps required in tracking marketing campaign using Marketing Channels in SiteCatalyst.  I do intend to extend this further in the future with detailed instructions on the configuration of Marketing Channels and SAINT classifications.

Identifying all Channels

Through painful experience, I have discovered that your first step needs to be to identify and list out all marketing channels for your organisation.  This forms the initial stage of the planning process.  The investment in time now will eliminate the need to return and add additional fields and channels that were missed initially.

The obvious marketing channels to identify include email, display, affiliates, social media and paid search.  This needs to be extended to cover all links that you have some control over such as operational emails (thank you for purchasing/registering), social media sharing buttons, offline marketing (via QR codes or vanity URLs) and links on corporate or micro websites.

Defining Channel Parameters

Now that you have a list of channels, you need to detail out the various parameters that can be associated with each channel.  This is equivalent to the additional campaign parameters available in Google Analytics but without the limitation of only three to four parameters.  Some potential lists of channel parameters are:

List of potential field per channel

This table is required for the set up of the SiteCatalyst Campaign URL Builder, defining the channels it will contain along with the list of fields for each channel.  The structure I recommend and used within the tool is to include two common parameters for all channels.  These do not have to be populated for all channels but allow for cross channel analysis of performance and saves on space.  Note that additional channels can be added later.

Adding campaign codes

Each link then needs to have a SiteCatalyst campaign URL query parameter added to the landing page URL.  The common default for this parameter is cid but you can choose your own.  This campaign parameter is populated with a tracking code consisting of a prefix relating to the marketing channel and then a unique identifier for each link tracked for that channel.

As an example, the landing page URL for the L3 Analytics homepage for a link from an email (using the prefix of eml) would be http://www.l3analytics.com/?cid=eml_00017.  The SiteCatalyst Campaign URL Builder is an easy way to generate these URLs containing the required campaign parameter.

For some channels, this will be a one off task to generate and insert the new URLs containing the SiteCatalyst campaign parameter.  For other channels, it will be an ongoing task with new URLs required for each new campaign.  Either way, this is simply the investment in resources required to understand and improve your marketing performance.

Note that the campaign parameter can be included as part of a redirect if it is not practical to have 3rd parties change the links on their websites.  This is the approach to be used for adding campaign tracking to offline marketing via QR codes or Vanity URLs.

Configuring Marketing Channels

SiteCatalyst Marketing Channel Configuration menu

While the URLs are being added, SiteCatalyst needs to be set up to record the marketing correctly.  The first step for this is to enable and configure the Marketing Channels reports.  These reports were added to SiteCatalyst last year and are a great addition to the tool.  Further information regarding them can be found at this SiteCatalyst blog post and I have previously written on my vision for how the reports could be improved.

The set up for Marketing Channels is actually very easy and it comes with a wizard to do most of the work for you.  I was going to provide instructions for doing this here but that will be better in a separate blog post.  A few key points to note now though:

  • If nothing else, use the wizard and accept the default settings, it puts you a lot further ahead in SiteCatalyst than you are now.
  • You do need to specify the campaign URL query parameter that you (will) use with your marketing campaigns.
  • You also need to specify the prefix that you are using for each channel e.g. eml for Email, dis for Display, smc for Social Media Campaigns, etc.
  • Ensure the output for each tagged marketing channel is the campaign URL query parameter (the Channel detail becomes the campaign tracking code)
  • New channels can be added immediately the wizard is completed or at later date.

Setting up SAINT classifications

The other piece of configuration work required with SiteCatalyst is to set up SAINT Classifications for Marketing Channels.  These are linked to the First/Last Touch Channel Detail field (doesn’t matter which one) containing the campaign tracking code for all tagged campaigns.  By doing this, we are able to upload all the details of each campaign link based on the unique campaign tracking codes.

Details of SAINT classifications, how to set up and upload data can be found in another SiteCatalyst blog post.  Again I do intend to provide detailed instructions on how to do this specific to Marketing Channels and my Excel tool but it will need to wait on a separate blog post.  Key points to note here are:

  • Classifications for SAINT are set up through the Marketing Channels menu option in Report Suite Manager as per the screenshot above.
  • Ensure the classifications are linked to the First or Last Touch Channel Detail.
  • The classifications to be entered can be found in row 5 of the SiteCatalyst Campaign URL Builder tool.

Uploading SAINT classifications

SAINT Classifications upload menu

The final step is to upload the SAINT classifications file to SiteCatalyst.  Details on how to do this are included within the SiteCatalyst blog post previously referenced.

The SAINT data to be uploaded is generated within the SiteCatalyst Campaign URL Builder.  When you wish to do an upload (either as soon as a new set of URLs is generated or on a periodic basis), simply press the Update SAINT Classifications button in the SAINT Classifications worksheet.  Copy all the new rows of data (old rows are greyed out) to your SAINT Classifications data file, save and upload.

Your Thoughts

Please, do send through your feedback and thoughts.  Will this be a useful tool for companies to manage their marketing campaigns with SiteCatalyst?  Are there any missing features you would like to see included?  I admit that I haven’t set up much error handling so there is a risk of issues there, particularly if users don’t include two classifications fields per channel.

Please get in touch with L3 Analytics if you would like some help with any of:

  • configuring Marketing Channels in SiteCatalyst
  • implementing a process for tracking campaigns within your organisation
  • reviewing the performance of your marketing and optimising spend/performance

I can be contact via phone on 07843617347 or through emailing peteroneill@l3analytics.com.

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12 Comments

  1. Melissa Shusterman October 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Great post. Have you done anything similar with UNICA? Our agency works with Google, Omniture and Unica clients, and I have a Unica client right now with a very convoluted set of campaign source codes. May try to use a similar approach to rationalize them.

    • Peter O'Neill October 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

      @Melissa – Thank you. I have never worked with Unica but the process should be similar. From a quick piece of research, the set of campaign variables sounds similar to Google Analytics – have you checked out my campaign URL Builders for Google Analytics? You should be able to modify those to work for Unica. Let me know if you would like some help, although I would need some assistance with the structure for campaign tracking for Unica.

      Cheers

      Peter

  2. Stephen G. November 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    Hi Peter, great post!

    How do you suggest using campaigns to track social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter? I see the parameters you’ve suggested above in the table but they seem very specific, as if each link/post would have a unique CID. That’s a lot of work to maintain!

    • Peter O'Neill November 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      Thanks Stephen,

      I see there being a couple of alternative approaches possible here.

      If you want to understand the impact of each Facebook/Twitter link, then yes, you do have to track individually. Let’s say you have a team of ppl, they get a sheet of paper each containing a unique list of campaign codes. They need to get into the habit of adding < & OR ?>cid=sml_000XXX to each URL they post. Then noting on the paper which network, topic, type of link, etc. At the end of each day/week, collect the pieces of paper, enter into the spreadsheet and upload via SAINT. Then distribute new lists of unused campaign codes.

      A simpler approach would be to track the type of link, not the specific link. Then each person might get a list of 10 campaign codes to choose from for each URL depending on the platform and topic e.g. customer service, competition, brand, promotion, etc. Each person would get a different list so linked to each user too. This would only require a one time SAINT upload until a new Social Media person, new type of link or new platform gets developed.

      How does all that sound – do you think it is manageable? Yes it is additional work but that is what is required to get the insights and improve business performance. Should only be half a minute per tweet/facebook post.

  3. Tony Zara April 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Wow! This really hits the spot. We are in a transition from Coremetrics and trying to shoehorn a bunch half solutions. This will speed up our process. Thank you!

    • Peter O'Neill May 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

      Thanks Tony, great to hear the tool is useful – let me know if you have any questions about using it or setting up Marketing Channels in SiteCatalyst

  4. Ricky October 25, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Hi Peter,

    I have been on the lookout for a spreadsheet like this for some time now. This is perfect, thanks for sharing! I have one more question. If I want to add the cost data to the SAINT file, how would I add this? Would I just add columns to each channel, or should this be done before creating the SAINT file?

    Thanks,

    Ricky

    • Peter O'Neill October 25, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Hi Ricky,

      Great to hear you find this useful. It would be possible to design the template to incorporate cost data but the easiest way is to:
      * set up the spreadsheet without cost data
      * add it as a new column at the end of the SAINT Classification tab
      * add the cost data manually after the campaign data has been transferred into the SAINT Classifications tab

      Cheers

      Peter

  5. Ricky October 25, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Thanks for the quick reply Peter. That sounds like a good way of doing it.

    Also, in the SAINT classification sheet, is it possible to set it up so that one gets four “global” columns instead of just two (campaign and sub campaign)?I would like to add campaign owner and division as “global”/across channel classifications.

    Again, thanks!

    - Ricky

    • Peter O'Neill October 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      Hi Ricky – yes it would be possible, just a question of how difficult to set up. Let me have a look at the code behind the spreadsheet and see if it is a quick change. Guessing you would like cost to then be the fifth global column. Will get back to you.

  6. Michael Reeps March 27, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    I am wondering if I can reuse a generated tracking code across multiple URLs rather than having to have one per URL. So for example, I have a Twitter campaign that is going to involve links to multiple pages. But everything else is in common (campaign, platform, topic, etc.). Just the destination URL differs. Can I not just make one unique tracking code and append it to any link on my site? SiteCatalyst already tracks this.

    • Peter O'Neill July 27, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      Can definitely reuse the same tracking code for multiple landing pages. Just need to ensure the campaign information is truly identical for each link.

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