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Archive of ‘Tracking’ category

How to use Self-Referrals and PayPal Referrals in Google Analytics

A self-referral in Google Analytics means that your website is indicated as a referral source to your website which could have something to do with your installation.  Like with spam referrals, it’s frustrating to site owners if it happens a lot because it throws off your data as a whole.  You don’t know the true source of that great conversion traffic.


A lost referral is similar and occurs when there is a third party tool involved, such as PayPal for collecting payments off your website. Once you send visitors off your site to complete a task, like a purchase, the website where they complete the action is the one that receives credit for the conversion. I call it a “lost referral” because you don’t know if the originating traffic source was organic, paid, email or something else because Google sees the visitor coming back to your site from PayPal and assumes PayPal should get the credit for the conversion. Google Analytics also records that return visitor as a new session even though they only left your site for a moment to process payment.


You use the Referral Exclusion List as seen below when you do not want traffic from an external site to be a referral source or record a new session when the visitor returns from that site. Using the PayPal example, you would add to your Referral Exclusion List.


But this isn’t a perfect solution, although it does at least prevent a new session from being created when the situation described above occurs.  Simply adding a website to exclude list does not enable you to see what site visitors do on the third party site.  You want to see the full journey the user took which is when you would set up cross-domain tracking AND add the site to your exclusion list.



To have a picture of the full user path, you need to implement cross-domain tracking if the back and forth happen across website properties where you can implement tracking code. Cross-domain tracking then would allow you to track your website visitors to the third party site and requires assistance from your web developer for this set-up.


Note that once cross-domain tracking is set-up, you may still have conversions credited to your own website because of cookies. Returning visitors who were tagged with a cookie before you set up the exclusions and cross-domain tracking will still have conversion credit given to the original referral.  Expect to see this in the short-term after making this change, but this shouldn’t be a problem long-term.


When you don’t have access to the outside website property and cannot implement cross-domain tracking, with as a solution such as PayPal, you will instead edit the Website Payment Preferences on their website. In these preferences, you will turn ‘Auto Return’ to on and enter the URL of your ecommerce post-purchase page, such as  A the end of the URL for your post-purchase page, include ?utm_nooverride=1. Doing this gives credit to the original source of traffic rather than giving PayPal the credit for the purchase.  This Website Payment Preferences screen was a bit tricky to find in PayPal’s help files, so go directly to this link to make this change rather trying to hunt for it.


You can start addressing referral issues by going to the Admin area of Google Analytics and adding relevant sites to the Referral Exclusion List.  Then, if you have web properties that you can add tracking code to, you will want to use cross-domain tracking to properly record the shopper’s journey. With PayPal, follow the above steps. Every vendor is going to be a bit different so check their help files or contact customer support to ensure you have this set up right. Especially if you are using multiple digital marketing channels to sell products or services, you want to give credit to the right place so you know what to do more or less of.

How to Write PPC Ads that Convert

It can be frustrating to create a paid ad campaign and receive a number of clicks, but not see many conversions on the site.  These conversions may be direct revenue, such as a purchase, or a micro-conversion where someone fills out a form or downloads a file. You may also feel good about your ad copy and see a lot of impressions, but unfortunately discover that very few people even click on the ad.  Below are some tips to consider when writing your ad to increase your chances of conversion.

Keep it simple

You may do a lot of things well.  If you are an IT company, you may sell software and hardware.  Maybe you also offer support for different product lines.  One ad should not attempt to highlight everything you do. If you want to promote the page on your site with desktop computers, write an ad that is only about desktop computers.  Keep it very simple so people are not distracted by multiple offers.

Have a valuable Call-To-Action (CTA)

Is your call-to-action ‘learn more’ or ‘buy now’?  Although the ability to learn more or buy is not a bad call-to-action, it does not set you apart from other advertisers. Is there an offer you can include, such as free shipping, overnight shipping, or a time-limited discount? Find something that sets you apart from other advertisers in your industry.

Include a countdown timer

With Google’s countdown customizers, you can speak directly to people’s fear of missing out on something. With a little bit of code, your ad will include a real-time countdown by the day, hour, and minute.  Two words of caution with a countdown.  If you continually run ads  with the same deal and just change the end date, customers will catch on to you quickly and will know it’s not a real deal.  Also, if you always run a deal, customers will know that discount prices are your standard operation and will then buy from you only when you offer a deal.  When countdowns can work well is if they are used occasionally, such as around holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day.


Write for the customer… not you

You may think your products or services have great features which is, of course, important.  Customers will be curious about your features, but they are much more concerned with the benefit to them.  Always remember, you are not offering your products or services, you are selling the customer’s solution and ensure your ad language reflects that.  Include words such as “you” to make it clear that you are customer focused.

Include numbers

Numbers can really stand out in an ad. Is your price $99 or do you offer “free shipping for purchases over $50”? State that in an ad.  It can make your ad stand apart from the ones that have text only.

Include “free” only if it is

Have you clicked on an ad with a free offer and learned that it was a 3-day trial, or “free” with some type of initial payment? This is why you need to be very careful about using that word. It could simply attract people who have no intention of ever paying for what they’re seeking, such as software. But if you have a “free 14-day trial”, that’s more honest and clearer to the searcher.  When they click your ad, they know it’s not something that’s free forever.

Reinforce your offer in the Display URL

The Display URL does have to include your domain, but can include any text after that.  So, if your domain is, after the .com, you have room to reinforce your message.  It could be or  It gives you some extra space for your message, so don’t give away this free space in the Display URL by only including your top level domain.

You will never find a 100% conversion rate on your ads and there will always be searchers who visit your site and choose not to make a purchase.  However, with some of these suggestions above, you can at least increase the number of people who do convert after clicking.

How to Set Up Conversion Tracking in Google AdWords

In a previous post, I discussed the need for AdWords users to think behind clicks to conversions. Let’s move to a step by step on the how-to for setting up conversion tracking on a web site.

What is the action?

Some potential actions are signing up for a service or email newsletter, or buying a product but what your actions are depends on your site and what these actions are is a question you answer outside of AdWords. Make sure you know what the conversion is and understand where this is recorded on your website.

Once you’ve done this off-line piece, you can go into AdWords and choose Conversions under the Tools menu. Choose the red Conversions button to get started and follow the below steps.


Naming a conversion is so easy that people may not realize how important it is. This will be used in your reports so make sure it is something that makes sense to all account holders – not just you.



How to Create a Google Analytics Account


I’ve been doing a lot of blogging lately about the ins and outs of Google Analytics.  Specifically, why it’s important, how it works, how to create a measurement plan and then how to measure conversions. But I realized I hadn’t even covered the most important part – how to create a Google Analytics account. So, let’s circle back around to the beginning and go over, step-by-step, how to create a Google Analytics account, and then once that’s done, how to understand your account structure.

Setting Up Your Google Analytics Account


How to Build a Google Analytics Tracking Code

by Traci Lester, Digital Marketing Specialist – ASPE, Inc.

What is a Google Analytics Tracking Code?

Tracking codes can be known by several different names including custom campaigns and Urchen Tracking Model (UTM) codes. They are web addresses with custom parameters that communicate to Google Analytics very specific data about how people are interacting with your content and calls to action. These custom tracking codes and the information they collect help analyze specific traffic that results from banner ads, email newsletters, social media content, catalogs, brochures, printed QR codes and more.

For a long time, a large percentage of the traffic to our site was tagged as “Direct” traffic in Google Analytics.  For those of you who do not know what direct traffic is, it’s the number visits to your site from people who typed in the complete web address in their browser OR it is referral traffic coming from somewhere you are unable to track.  Once our team started using UTM tracking codes, we were able to significantly cut down on the number of untrackable visits being tagged as direct traffic and directly correlate those visits to marketing efforts. (more…)

4 Hot Google Analytics Tools You Need to Know About

This blog was originally posted on

Although it was rolled out to the public in 2005, Google Analytics remains – for many people – a mysterious marketing tool considered too cavernous for every day use. Well, keep your distance no longer, because with these four relatively new Google Analytics tools you can interpret data more easily and with much less trepidation.

Custom Dashboards (more…)

Marketer Profile: Chris Moody, Senior Marketing Manager at Red Hat

How long at Red Hat?

I joined Red Hat in December of 2011. Before that I was the Senior Marketing Manager for Phonebooth, part of


Career accomplishment you’re most proud of:

I’ve been fortunate enough to bring several successful products to market, but the launch of Phonebooth has been the biggest yet. We had a variant of our product that was due to release and we needed to make a major splash at SXSW with tons of competition. Our plan and execution allowed us to attract over 10,000 SMBs to our product in less than four months. It was named the third best launch at SXSW behind Twitter and Foursquare.


Decision I wish I could do over:

I wish I would have been more involved in marketing from an early age. In college, I focused on getting my work done, doing some web design to pay the bills and graduating as soon as possible. If I went back to do it again, I would have offered to work for free at several targeted companies to broaden my experience and network as quickly as possible. My advice to young marketers is to put yourself out there before you have more financial burdens. If you’re fortunate enough to not have to work a full-time job, use your free time to sharpen your skills and make yourself more marketable.



Size of team:

Currently, our marketing team consists of 4 folks (soon to be 6) within the Cloud Business Unit at Red Hat.


Top initiative:

Launching a new cloud product.


What is a typical day like for you?

Several conference calls and meetings, time spent on creating and improving content, working with vendors and partners to push things forward, planning and scheduling, and any other general fire fighting.


How do you measure success:

Share of voice is a big thing we’re focusing on as we’re in a market niche with a lot of noise. We want people to know who we are and what sets our solutions apart. Additionally, we’re focused on bringing in new business (as everyone should be). Personally, I measure my success as never being comfortable. Red Hat is a fast moving and collaborative culture,and it really helps facilitate personal growth and development. There are opportunities to make an impact and stretch yourself past your comfort zone to do great things. I believe that is really important. If you aren’t challenged in your work, you aren’t growing or further developing your skills.


One thing you’d like to do better:

Focus. It’s easy to get sucked in by emails, calls or other diversions when it isn’t always the most important thing to focus on. I continue to work at getting better at saying no and spending time where it adds the most value.


Business professional you’d most like to have lunch with:

Mark Cuban. He’s worked really hard to get to where he is without ever losing himself. I’m also thoroughly impressed by his ability to make quick and precise decisions. Shark Tank is a popular show in our home and Mark Cuban always seems to be the first to put his finger on the pulse of the issue or driver of any potential investment decision. Having that laser-like focus is really fun to see. I’m also a huge basketball fan, so that would be cool to chat about too.


Emerging trend you are most interested in:

Marketing measurement. There are some things as marketers that we know we must do. Some that we have to do. Others that we file in an experimental category. But, it is extremely important to know how to frame any decision or what you’re working on to show success. This isn’t always dollars, as it could be a decision that simply improves company perception (which could drive more leads and more dollars). It is alarming that many marketers aren’t able to take a project, campaign or initiative and structure it in a way to report on its success after a given period of time. I wouldn’t say it is an emerging trend, but one that it really important for any marketer. Great marketing will only get you so far if you can’t present what you’re doing to a C-level executive.


Pet peeve:

That many marketers can’t measure their success, and that many view social media as a new thing on its own island. Social media is a set of tools that allows marketers to do the things they’ve always done in new places – communicate. It is much easier to do this, but it isn’t new at all. It also fits into larger business and marketing objectives. We have to get away from the silo approach and figure out how everything fits together to make our businesses better.


If I weren’t a marketer, I would be…

An entrepreneur / work at home dad. Having an 8 month old has given me lots of perspective about what is important, and I’d love to spend even more time at home. I’m really passionate about bringing new ideas and products to market and would probably try to do more of that if I wasn’t a professional marketer. I was very close to being both an architect or a teacher at different points in time, but everything led me back to marketing. It’s in my DNA I guess. I ran a Nintendo game rental business when I was 5 years old and even came up with special bundled deals to rent more games… I guess I ended up in the right field.


Web Seminar Recap: Google Analytics: Track Everything with Parameter Tracking

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool, but we all drive traffic to our sites with marketing channels beyond just search engines and pay-per-click ads. More of your traffic than you realize is driven by things like trade shows, your sales team, direct mail, banner ads, TV, and maybe even radio. Unfortunately, you probably have very little data about the performance and success of those sources outside of what a third party vendor might provide to you. That’s where parameter tracking comes in to save the day.

On Wednesday, November 2nd, ASPE Director of Marketing JT Moore presented the free web seminar “Google Analytics: Track Everything with Parameter Tracking.” In this web seminar, JT discussed how to create links with parameter tracking the easy way and track website traffic driven by your sales team, website traffic from trade shows, banner ads and links on third party sites, website traffic driven by direct mail, and traffic driven by TV and radio.

Listen to the recording of this web seminar in its entirety by clicking View Event Recordings (at the top right).

Do you have more questions for JT? Leave your comments or tweet us! Follow @ASPE_ROI on Twitter and use hashtag #ASPEEVENTS.

Web Seminar Recap: Google Analytics: Making Sense of the Data

So you’ve installed Google Analytics, but what does all of this data mean. What the *&^# is a Bounce Rate? Why is it so high? What is Direct Traffic? How are people getting to my website? What are they searching? On Wednesday, September 29th ASPE Marketing Director JT Moore and MedThink Communications Senior Digital Strategist Brian McDonald presented the free web seminar “Google Analytics: Making Sense of the Data.”  In this web seminar, JT and Brian discussed the basics of Google Analytics to help get you started making decisions based off of the data, explained the high-level data in Google Analytics, and showed viewers how  to take the first steps towards slicing that data even finer to get even more out of Google Analytics.

Listen to the recording of this web seminar in its entirety by clicking View Event Recordings (at the top right).  Learn how to assess the quality of your current website, how to look for the common red flags, and how to utilize the campaign and keyword data to get a better understanding of how people are getting to your site and what they are doing once they are there.

Do you have more questions for JT and Brian? Leave your comments or tweet us! Follow @ASPE_ROI on Twitter and use hashtag #ASPEEVENTS.

New School vs. Old School Marketing Ideology – You Make the Call: Direct Mail

In the second video for our New School vs. Old School Marketing Ideology – You Make the Call! series we look at direct mail. David Mantica (@davidmantica) again takes the old school position, while JT Moore (@j_t_moore) provides the new school position. They discuss topics like cost, deliverability, targeting, integrated marketing, and much more.

You make the call!