The Well Tracked Digital Campaign – Offline Tracking

Posted on March 29th, by Jay Murphy in Analytics, Digital Marketing, Display Marketing, Online Strategy. No Comments

We are not at the “Minority Report” eye tracking stage and hope we do not get there! But how can we tell who is responding to our off-line campaigns?

You have seen and heard the snappy URLs on a TV spot, billboard or radio ad.  Inviting you to take the next step to learn about a mortgage, college, charity…  These links are called “vanity URLs” – something like this:

We put this in all our billboards when kayak season comes around.  And for our radio campaign the announcers say:

Now we can tell who is responding to our two campaigns when people type in these URLs. Within Google Analytics we could track them as landing page, but we cannot use the acquisition reports or conversion reports to see how people interact with our offline and online campaigns.  Because our visitors will appear as a source/medium of ‘direct/(none)’ or in the ‘Direct’ channel.

How do we set up these domains so we can answer acquisition and conversion questions?  Back to our friendly – UTM Tagging that we looked at earlier. Again we can setup a campaign, source and medium for our offline campaigns that will be communicated to Google Analytics.  Now all the campaign reports will be available when people type in these vanity URLs into their browsers.  But we have to add the UTM Tags to our URL and then create a redirect to our website.  A redirect tells your website to switch what you type into the browser to a new URL.  The most common way to do this is to use your webserver and the most common webserver is Apache.  Using Apache we update our .htaccess file to this:

Note that we had to ‘escape’ the ‘&’ using the ‘\’ – if we do not do this Apache will replace the ‘&’ with the text ‘/redirect’… (If you use the IIS webserver here are the complete directions –
To show how this works click on this link:

This will redirect to a new domain where you can buy a yellow kayak!

This same technique will work for any of your offline campaigns – use a memorable domain name and redirect it to your intended landing page.

You can also use sub-domains, like this (all the links below are fake…): or

Or sub directories:

Now all your reports will present a wealth of data about both your online and offline channels.  Up next how to tag your landing page so you can tell what happens when you get visitors to your website!

As always please ask any questions and let us know what topics you are interested in learning about.

More Reading

Why Should I Put UTM Tags on 301 Redirects? by Logan Ray

Summary on redirection from Moz –

And a link to the URL builder –

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