Measuring successfulness is a crucial component of an employee advocacy program. Since one of the strongest, if not main, benefit is increased brand reach and awareness, tracking your efforts back to website traffic (and conversions if relevant to your business) is extremely important.
And the best method of doing this is through UTM attribution in your links. Most people administering an advocacy program don’t know how to approach this in a clean and organized way to gain true insights.
UTM parameters for Employee Advocacy
For digital marketers, knowing the referring source of the visitor to a website is crucial to their marketing efforts. They need to be able to see traffic and attribute it to the source. This is so marketers can justify existing marketing campaigns, redouble those efforts or adjust them based on intelligence gained from their Analytics reports.
When it comes to employee advocacy, the information is still important (you want to know the source and medium for proper attribution and segmentation). But now you also want to know the employee that generated the inbound traffic. The Employee becomes your campaign vector and UTM parameters are the way to track the inbound efforts of your Employee’s advocacy efforts.
Explaining UTM Parameters
How did a visitor arrive on our site? Was it from a social media link, an email, an organic Google search or a display ad?
We want to know how those visitors got to our site if we can, especially the ones that originated through our own links (on social, PDFs, third-party websites, etc.).
To track those campaigns, marketers often turn to an old analytics functionality, known as UTM encoded URLs, to pass along the necessary identifying data. In turn, immensely valuable metrics are made available through this usage. Analytics will then be able to attribute a visit to a link-campaign and make the related data available for analysis.
UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes are a long-favored and standard method of incorporating data into a URL string that can then be seen within a base-level installation of Google Analytics and other analytics software. A UTM code begins with a URL, then adds additional variable: value combinations of Source*, Medium*, Campaign name*, Term and Content.
This is then parsed and used as a starting point for session and goal origination. It enables an organization to engage in an organized URL click campaign, whether on CPC, referral links, emails, social sharing or even print campaigns.
For example, a marketer will be able to see if a specific Twitter chat campaign drove traffic to the site and how valuable that traffic turned out. Or it can differentiate the channel (Twitter) from a similar campaign being run on Facebook.
Example of a UTM-coded URL string:
You can learn more about UTMs, how to use them and handy software and reports here.
Tracking Inbound Sessions Through UTM
UTMs are comprised of the following three (primary) required fields:
- Source: The specific source that you are sharing the link to (or through) such as Twitter, NYTimes.com, email newsletter, Route 9 billboard, Channel 5 news, etc. When viewed through Google Analytics, source lets you know where the traffic originated.
- Medium: The advertising or marketing medium where the link is being placed such as social, website, email, cpc, print, or radio. To align with Google Analytics, begin with the following options: organic search, social, email, affiliates, referral, paid search, advertising, and display. If your medium does not fit well within any of those options, feel free to venture out, but try to keep it consistent.
- Campaign: Give your campaign a name so you can differentiate it from other similar campaigns. Keep it identifiable. Using these UTM-encoded URLs, we can then view the resulting traffic from them and the Return of that traffic.
Channels allow you to see organic search vs. paid search and social vs direct. You can see and compare all of your marketing channels in one location.
For example, paid search is a combination of CPC, PPC and paid advertising as mediums. Additionally, ad distribution network is not “content,” but combined, they yield the paid search channel.
Another channel, social, uses regular expressions to group the mediums of social, social-media or social media. Also, social source referral is true into a channel of social.
With this in mind, it is then important to align your utm_source and utm_medium so it conforms to these preset Channel Groupings. If you’d already aligning based on matching Mediums (previous section), you should be all set.
But it’s important to understand this alternative means of seeing the data as it’s a primary report within Analytics.
Name the channel “Employee Advocacy,” set the “source” as “is one of” and then add the following sources, one on each line: “bambu”, “sprout” and any others that you use.
Now that we have an “Employee Advocacy” channel we can have this source of traffic grouped and available for comparing against other sources like Organic Search, Advertising, Social Media and more.
Analyzing Your Efforts Within Google Analytics
In order for Google Analytics to provide real value, your reports need to be tied to the measurable goals within Analytics. You should also tie Analytics to anything that relates to your online strategy.
Each strategic goal or buyer persona aligned with goals needs to be defined. Once defined, you can then structure ways to measure the success of those goals being met.
Learn how to define and set up goals in Analytics in this guide.
Below we’re providing some hypothetic goals and goal-tracking ideas for different Employee Advocacy campaigns that you might be running:
Tracking for HR & Recruitment
For many businesses HR and recruiting occur through their website. Specifically, job postings on their website are tied to a contact form for submitting.
To measure HR and recruitment efforts as goals, we’ll likely want to identify a goal completion as a submission of the final form. This can happen through a “destination goal” occurring by having the submissions go to a “thank you” page and tracking that thank you page as a destination.
Or you can have the form send Google Analytics events to Analytics upon submission and using them to capture an “event goal.”
Once these goals are set up in Google Analytics, we’ll can see the source, medium, and campaigns that lead to these goal completions. We can also see their goal conversion rate and reverse goal path.
With a little programming, you’ll capture the campaign information (employee name) and include that into the form submission through a hidden form field. This will tie a specific application to a specific employee advocate.
Tracking for Sales & Social Selling
Who brought that new client or customer into our sales funnel? Using campaign tracking we can now attribute sales or client leads to employee advocacy and possibly even to specific employees.
If the website is an ecommerce site, setting up ecommerce within Analytics takes a bit of extra customization. But the amount of intelligence you will gain is incredible. Everything from revenue amounts per user or session to which products were purchased and how much in sales came from different products to funnel paths and drop offs will all there.
But more importantly, we can go into the campaign reports within Analytics and start seeing how these campaigns resulted in sales and goal completions.
Tracking for Marketing
For general marketing, we still want to have goal completions established such as goals for contact form completions. However, we might also have them established for things like PDF downloads, initiating a live chat or a click-to-call click.
It’s possible we would also want to measure things such as:
- Quality of traffic sent from viewing campaigns
- Measuring depth of a visit
- Time spent on site
- Number or percentage of first-time visitors
Other things to measure could be activities within the site like outbound marketing goals such as newsletter signups or shares to social.
You could also measure the effectiveness of your Google Amp pages. Not sure what to do with Amp? Read this guide here.
Employee Advocacy can be a powerful marketing and sales tool. It lets us reach new and valuable people through our own employees.
But like any traffic source, it needs to be identified and measured effectively so it can be judged against itself as well as other sources of traffic. It needs to have goals and be measured in terms of meeting those goals.
Get started now by Establishing Goals in your Google Analytics, Customize your Channel Groupings, Making use of UTM encoding best practices and create some Custom Dashboards to enable easy visualization of your traffic metrics.
David Kutcher is the co-owner of Confluent Forms LLC, a boutique firm providing web design, web development, custom software development and digital strategy. Confluent Forms incorporated in January 2002 and has worked with over 300 clients during that time, many with on-going relationships lasting 5+ years. David believes that your website should never stop innovating; it can continually be improved upon, better accomplishing your business goals. He believe that a strong content strategy, coupled with great design, intuitive information architecture, and a well-developed and managed web presence can be empowering tools to the success of any business.Find David Kutcher on Twitter @confluentforms.
The Google Analytics of Employee Advocacy
Written by David Kutcher on January 24, 2017