In this article, we will cover the necessary tracking setup you'll have to do to be able to measure success, before starting any advertising campaigns.
This article is part of a series of articles for founders, marketers and anyone interested in the display advertising world. If you need to market your product or service you've come to the right place.
You can read the previous article of this series "How to Plan and Define your Advertising Strategy" where you'll learn why planning you Ad Strategy will save you time & money.
Why the need for your own tracking
You might ask: isn't ad performance automatically tracked by advertising platforms?
Sadly the answer is "Yes"and "No".
Advertisers DO track ads performance on their side, they retrieve the data on things like clicks, impressions, purchases etc...then compile the information in your campaign's dashboard for you to analyze.
Sometimes great ads don't convert, not because of the copy of the ad itself, but rather because of other factors: landing pages, checkout experiences, images and obviously prices.
The truth is you can't really trust the data they are showing you because they don't have the full picture of what happens after an ad is clicked on.
The lifecycle of an ad is quite difficult to track. With the introduction of ad-blockers, ad-fraud, services interruptions, erratic users and many other external factors. It is a real challenge to aggregate all this data and have a report with a 100% accuracy score.
That’s why you need to install additional tracking to measure the effects of your banner strategy
Tracking which ads are driving what actions on your website is critical, if not done correctly it could result in inefficient Ad spending (bad Return On Ad Spend, or ROAS for short).
We listed below some of the most important aspects you'll have to setup in place to efficiently track your ad-performance, an and user-behaviors on your website.
1. Web analytics and Event-tracking tools
Web analytics and event-tracking tools are a great way of figuring out what works and what doesn’t. They will also help you determine if your visitors are successful in achieving their goals with your product or service, by setting up conversion funnel trackers.
List of great web analytics and even-tracking tools:
- Google Analytics (Thanks captain obvious)
Whichever analytics tools you decide to go with, using Google analytics is a must have and is one of the basics before using anything else.
- Fathom Analytics
Fathom is a simple and private website analytics platform focusing on user privacy.
- Simple Analytics
Simple analytics is a lightweight alternative, it does not use nor collect any cookies ensuring privacy and GDPR compliance.
2. Link your Google Analytics & Google Ads accounts
If you plan to advertise on google ad-networks, it is strongly advised to link your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts, this will help you analyze users activity on your website after an ad-click or impression.
You can find a tutorial made by Google to link these 2 services here.
3. UTM parameters on tracking URL’s
For every single ad you create you will need a unique and specific URL that carries UTM parameters. Having these will help track down which ad & acquisition channels are sending your best leads.
>>> What's the importance? Do we need to explain in details? Or just say, use it?
- Google UTM builder
Google provides a URL Builder giving you the ability to manually create them.
An alternative to the Google UTM builder, does more or less the same thing.
UTM.io is a great to the other tools since it enables you to share and sync your UTMs with your team, create UTM templates, and comes with a handy Google Chrome extension.
4. Heat Mapping and session recording tools
Session Recording tools enable you to track entire visitor sessions. They allow you to play-back all of the interactions your visitors took on your website.
These playback sessions are very valuable and hold a lot of information that standard tracking & analytics can't give you. These tools help you see with your own eyes where your visitors are struggling while navigating and determine how you could fix it.
List of great behavioral analysis tools:
Hotjar is a lightweight solution combining both analysis and feedback tools, it includes heat-maps, visitor recording, conversion funnels, polls, and survey. It is one of the best solution to start sessions recording and behavioral analysis.
Our friends at Joinsecret.com have a great deal for Hotjar:
6 months free on the Plus plan (save 174€)
- Fullstory (What we currently use at Abyssale)
Getting a lot of love from UX designers, Fullstory is one the best behavior analysis tool out there, packed with a lot of features such as conversions tracking and analysis, data visualization, session recording and replays, dev tools, and many more...
heavily focused on mobile app UXCam captures every micro interaction on your app, allowing you to replay, analyze and optimize the User Experience.
Smartlook records users on websites and in mobile apps. Coming with more or less the same features as Hotjar, it could be another alternative if you have a mobile app.
There are of courses a lot more tools available out there. Based on our professional experience and what we've used, these tools picked above are the most reliable ones available.
What's next ?
Purchasing ALL the tracking tools seems like a good idea, but they can get very expensive. Start small and then scale accordingly: usually the more expensive ones give you more functionalities and easier goal/tracking set-up.
Tools such as Google Analytics are great and free, but come with a learning curve. After setting up your minimum viable tracking and running a few ad campaigns you will have a better understanding of what else you might need in terms of tooling. At this point, you might opt to purchase more sophisticated tools than Google Analytics.
In the next part of our blog series, we’re going to cover Search Engine Advertising (SEA) and why you should consider spending your ad budget on it, before diving in display advertising, and more importantly we will cover the strategies, the “what, how and why” you should consider when setting up your first SEA campaign.