LAST UPDATED: 22 November 2021
5 Tools to Improve Your Online Marketing Analytics
Get on top of how people find and register for your race with these top free tools for tracking and analysing your online marketing.
Tracking the performance of your marketing campaigns online - and getting the information you need to tweak them where necessary - is a critical aspect of race marketing success.
Fortunately, there are a number of tools that can help you get on top of your traffic acquisition channels and conversion statistics, as well as make a bunch of other everyday marketing tasks that little bit easier.
Here's our top picks!
Google Analytics is a traffic tracking and analytics tool for your website and an absolute must-have for any website owner.
Like with the Facebook pixel, you can install Google Analytics on your website by adding a little piece of code on your webpages' headers. If your website runs on one of the popular website platforms, like Wordpress, Squarespace etc, you can install your Google Analytics tracking ID on your website in a matter of seconds - just check with your platform for instructions. If not, talk to your developer about adding Google Analytics on your website for you.
Once installed and tracking website visitors, Google Analytics can help answer a number of key questions:
- Visitor statistics. How many visits do you get and how do they grow or decline over time? Where do your visitors live?
- Traffic acquisition. How are visitors finding your website? Are they clicking on a listing on a race calendar or finding you by searching Google? Are they coming through Facebook or Twitter?
- Visitor behaviour. What pages do people visit the most? How do they navigate between pages once they land on your website? How much time do they spend on each page?
Besides the very valuable traffic analytics, Google Analytics also provides a number of additional website insights, such as page loading times, with suggestions that can help you improve your website's performance and visitor experience.
Google Search Console
If you want to keep your website in top SEO form and drill deeper into the search engine side of your traffic, you will need to use Google Search Console.
Google Search Console helps you understand a number of key aspects of traffic coming to your website through Google:
- Search queries. What search queries does your website rank for in Google results? What specific pages from your website does Google include in search results for specific user queries?
- Page impressions. How many times do your webpages appear on Google search results?
- Page position. How high up in Google results do your webpages appear for a given query? For example, when people search for "London 10k" does your website appear in the first 10 results (first page of Google results) or much lower? Position is a good indicator of how relevant Google considers your website for specific search queries (see the discussion on Optimising rankings).
- Click through rate (CTR). How often do people click on one of your webpages when it appears on Google results? CTR is a good indicator of how well your webpages come across on search results (see the discussion on Optimising results display).
There's a few other things you can do on Google Search Console that can help your website's SEO, such as submitting a sitemap (a list of the pages you'd want Google to index), as well as catching and correcting indexing and other webpage errors.
UTM parameters are tags you can add to links you share online that can help carry useful information about where a link was clicked or what specifically a user clicked to get to your website. Although not an actual standalone tool, UTM parameters can be super-effective in providing rich insights into your traffic acquisition.
Let's say you want to share a link to your registration page https://www.your-website.com/register/ on a number of Facebook groups and on your Facebook page feed. If you share the link above as is, Google Analytics will group all your traffic from these links under "Facebook" and you will have no way of knowing which one does better at driving traffic to your website
You can distinguish different instances of that link by adding UTM parameters to it, like so:
- https://www.your-website.com/register/? utm_source= facebook& utm_medium= groups& utm_campaign= trail-running-group
- https://www.your-website.com/register/? utm_source= facebook& utm_medium= groups& utm_campaign= marathon-running-group
- https://www.your-website.com/register/? utm_source= facebook& utm_medium= page-feed
All of these links will point to the same page https://www.your-website.com/register/. But depending on which link users follow, Google Analytics will be able to distinguish the specific source, medium and content of the link that was clicked to get to the page.
There are a handful of UTM parameters you can use, like utm_source, utm_medium etc, and no hard rules on how you can use them to tag URLs. Here's one suggestion, but the important thing is to remain consistent with your use of UTM tags across your campaigns.
Once you have started tagging your links with UTM tags, you can use UTM parameters to bucketise your Google Analytics results. Which is super cool and very very helpful in gaining additional insights into your marketing campaigns.
URL shorteners, like Bitly and Hootsuite's own Owly service, originally started out as a means of sharing trackable short URL versions of often much longer underlying links. But they have since evolved and are currently used for a number of purposes.
URL shorteners work in the following way. Let's say you want to shorten your registration link http://www.your-website.com/register/. You can feed this link to a URL shortener, say, Bitly, and get back a much shorter link like http://bit.ly/2FOfYba. When you use this Bitly link, clicks will be recorded on your Bitly account before the user being seamlessly redirected to your original page http://www.your-website.com/register/.
If you use Google Analytics and UTM parameters, there is really no reason to use short URLs on your own website links for tracking purposes - Google Analytics will do that much better. However, there are other important reasons why you may want to use short URLs in your online marketing:
- Tracking links to other people's websites. Suppose you share a link online that directs to a partner website (sponsor, race partner etc) and want to know how many clicks that partner is receiving from your campaign. You can shorten the destination URL (doesn't matter that it's not on your website) and track clicks on the short ULR you share in your campaigns.
- Sharing friendly URLs people can remember. This is really the original purpose of URL shorteners. When we wanted to share a link to our race directors group in a format people could remember we used http://bit.ly/RaceDirectorsGroup instead of Facebook's longer URL https://www.facebook.com/groups/racedirectorshq/ (Yes, short URL names, like Bitly's, can be customised if the name is available.)
If you're interested in understanding the performance of your Facebook page, groups and content, you can turn to Facebook Insights.
There are some helpful answers you can get from Facebook Insights that can help your race promotinsmarketing efforts, such as:
- What's the profile of my Facebook page followers and group members? This will add to your understanding of your audience demographics when it comes to creating audiences for advertising campaigns. You can also use these same audience demographics when discussing your audience profile with race sponsors.
- What posts/content performs best? This will help focus your efforts towards more engaging content and help you decide what type of content to boost through advertising campaigns.
- How is my page performing compared to the competition? Use the Pages to Watch tab to track pages from similar events and aim to stay ahead of them in key growth and engagement metrics.
Additionally, on Facebook Group Insights you can check out your most active members and discussions to help identify potential race ambassadors, key influencers in your community and topics your participants like talking about.