Tracking offline marketing performance in Google Analytics

Some tactics And tips For tracking your Non-Digital Marketing performance

It’s an issue as old as the internet itself - how do I track my traditional offline marketing’s (like print ads, billboards and TV) performance when it comes to converting online visitors.

The very nature of how web analytics works means that there is no foolproof way to go about it. There are however several tactics that can give you a better indication of what is happening.

In this article HammaJack co-founder, Jacob Moran, outlines some of his favourite tactics that he has found/used in his travels.

The scenario


Let’s say you are a medium-sized housing company that collects applications on its website. You’re a traditional business and you do a fair bit of offline marketing including billboards, letter drops, radio ads and print ads.

You’ve recently updated your site and now want to know the effectiveness of your marketing channels in attracting traffic and, more importantly, leads.

You suspect that your Digital efforts (that you are tracking), using things like Google Ads, Facebook Ads and eDMs, convert better than the offline efforts, but, because you can’t prove it, you are having a hard time convincing your marketers of that fact.

So what are your options?

Vanity URLs

By far the most popular method is to insert Vanity URLs into your media, that is either;;

Uber using a vanity URL to attract drivers

Uber using a vanity URL to attract drivers

  • A redirect from a completely different site and inserting UTMs

  • A unique landing page on your main site for that campaign (and inserting UTMs)

For bonus points, these URLs should be short. You can read our how-to guide for Vanity URLs here.

QR codes

Although usually spoken about in hushed tones QR codes, if used effectively, can deliver the required information to your site and then through to Google Analytics.

Just add a UTM query, much in the same way you would for a Vanity URL or a Facebook post, to your target URL and Bob’s your uncle.

Campaign-specific taglines

With this tactic you add unique campaign search terms such as “NRMA Roadshow” or similar. This often manifests itself on Print and TV ads as something like;

“Search NRMA Roadshow” on Google today.

Once a user enters the site using this search term, presumably to a specific landing page, you can tag them as coming from that specific campaign.

Annotations in Google Analytics

While this is not technically a tracking method it’s definitely worth doing. As a marketing team, you should get in the habit of adding annotations to Google Analytics whenever you do anything of note so that you can report on Direct and, presumably, branded searches and attribute any spikes.

Minimise Direct Traffic

While it’s true none of the above are foolproof, the focus with these efforts is to minimise the amount of Direct Traffic to your site.

For those of not aware, Direct Traffic is usually thought of as people coming straight to the webpage by typing it into their address bar, but this is rarely the case. The reality is that most of this traffic is literally Google Analytics saying “I have no idea where this came from”.

Because of this, the aim should be to track what you can and make the direct portion of your site’s traffic as small as possible. You’re never going to get rid of it entirely but the more of these strategies you can implement throughout your practices the better.

Where can you add tracking?

Don’t limit the above tactics to your traditional offline marketing. Below is a list of places where we have seen the above tactics implemented;

  • Print Ads

  • Employee Email Signatures

  • Banner Ads

  • Skywriting

  • Billboards

  • Social Posts

  • Presentation Links

  • Email Links

  • T-shirts (Yeah those promotional ones you wear)

  • Merchandise of any kind (think about tote bags etc.)

  • Business cards - this one is becoming more important as business card readers are becoming more in vogue


Flip the question on its head

When we are talking to a client the question usually comes in something like;

“How does my offline marketing perform?”

But, because budgets and personnel are not limitless, the unstated inverse of this question is always;

“How do my offline efforts perform in comparison to my digital efforts?”

The good news is that this question is surprisingly easy to measure. All you need to do is look at the Default Channel Report in Google Analytics that shows conversion rates of Direct vs. other sources and do a simple comparison.

If you can prove that Google Ads is more valuable than Direct and/or Organic then, again, Bob is your uncle.

For extra accuracy you could;

Most important point

You’re never going to be able to fully track your offline effort’s effectiveness for your online channels, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a Snake Oil Salesman.

The trick is to minimise your direct traffic where possible and use your analyst skills to ascertain, with some degree of certainty, the likely effect.