Coding Series: Part 5 – Event Tracking

This is the fifth and final post of our coding series. I’ve enjoyed being your resident geek and informing you about the array of Google codes that will make your online advertising life a breeze. Coding Series: Part 5 is all about micro-conversions–those small but still significant steps that contribute to the main conversion process. Micro-conversions can be tracked in Google Analytics with the Event Tracking tool.

Benefits: Event Tracking

Event Tracking is an object or data-oriented model that allows you to understand how users interact with certain web page objects, such as file downloads, Flash videos, page gadgets, buttons, the Google +1 button, links, and the like. All interaction with these web page objects can be tracked, including load times, downloads, and clicks, meaning the names you assign to user actions or behaviors is highly important and must be unique for reporting purposes. Event Tracking is useful for tracking user activities that don’t require visiting a new page of your website.

How It Works: Event Tracking

Event Tracking is another layer of data wherein you attach a method call to a particular website element in the Analytics JavaScript code. Then the UI (user interface) information can be tracked and recorded in the Events section of Google Analytics. In order to set up Event Tracking, you must have the ga.js tracking code installed on the pages where the event to be tracked is located.

How about a real-world example? Let’s say wants to track when people click the “Find a Store” button after entering a zip code in the store search box. Clicking this button runs a query and opens a popup window rather than changing the page URL. This action cannot easily be tracked with traditional Google Analytics script, making it a perfect candidate for event tracking.

Here’s the code for the “Find a Store” button:

<div style=”margin-top:10px”><input src=”” class=”mainSpriteBTN FindBtn” type=”image” alt=”Find a Store” onclick=”WALMART[‘widget’].G0041s3DropDown.clickSafeOn()”></div>

Let’s define some Event Tracking parameters:

Category: Form

Action: Submit

Label: Store Search

Using these parameters, the Event Tracking code would be:

onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Form’, ‘Submit’, ‘Store Search’]);”

And the revised submit button code is:

<div style=”margin-top:10px”><input src=”” class=”mainSpriteBTN FindBtn” type=”image” alt=”Find a Store” onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Form’, ‘Submit’, ‘Store Search’]);” onclick=”WALMART[‘widget’].G0041s3DropDown.clickSafeOn()”></div>

Where you place the Event Tracking code isn’t crucial as long as it’s within the list of parameters for a given object.

Code Implementation: Event Tracking

Follow these steps to set up Event Tracking on your website:

  1. Confirm you have tracking of Google Analytics installed on your site. If not, refer to Coding: Series Part 1.
  2. Then, call the _trackEvent() method in the source code of a page, video, or widget.
    • Category (required) – The name assigned to the group of objects being tracked.
    • Action (required) – A uniquely paired string that’s used to define the user interaction.
    • Label (optional) – A string used for additional dimensions of the event.
    • Value (optional) – A number used to assign numerical data to the event.
  3. Once Event Tracking has been set up and running for a day, view Event Tracking reports in the Content section of Google Analytics.

Event Tracking goes beyond what other tracking tools provide, giving you insight at a more granular level into how users are interacting with your website and what steps are being taken before the ultimate conversion is made. To find out more visit:

Event Tracker Overview.

If you have any other questions about Event Tracking or how to set up links in the Google Analytics code snippet, Leverage Marketing’s Google certified team is ready to help!

Google Offers

In my opinion, if you are familiar with Groupon, you are familiar with Google Offers.  At least this is the feeling I get from the limited information currently available on the beta version of Google Offers.  A few items that are uncharacteristic of Google’s usual level of support are that Google will write the content for your offer, they will help you create an ‘attractive offer,’ and they may even send a photographer out to your business to take some photos of your business.

Google mentions that they will highlight your offer on their ‘main site,’ so if they are putting the offer on or even a geotargeted version of, that would be amazing and could mean tons of potential traffic and buyers for a business. Depending on how the Google Offers program is rolled out (of which Austin is one of the soon to be beta cities), I wonder how this will influence different businesses to use offer type text/ landing pages in their paid search marketing.

More info can be found here:

Also check out Google Latitude, which allows you to unlock offers in the Austin area:

As the Video Spreads

Back for another installment of ‘As the Video Spreads.’ Sorry, that was bad even for me….

Anyway, we left off last week by taking a closer look at how important emotion is to viral videos. Last week’s exercise in making the user feel something is a great reminder of Advertising 101. Here is another reminder: Have something novel to say! Or at least deliver the message in a novel way!

The concept of having a unique message is one that most advertisers support. Though the concept is admirable, most do not actually pull this off in their video content.  Let’s take a look at another viral video that is actually a commercial for a popular men’s product:

Analysis of Video

I chose this video because a common objection to creating great video content is production budget. Many will say that this is the ‘worst commercial ever.’ I say to those people, “7 million views” and countless residents of Montgomery disagree. With obviously little budget, this advertiser delivered his message in one of the most novel ways, a furniture rap.

The message here is simple.

(Funky rap beat)

Standout, be novel.

Don’t put you message in a bottle.

It’s just like, the video, for a Mini Mall!


Pandas Bite

The recently unleashed, and then even more recently rehashed, Google Panda algorithm update works at identifying low-quality pages and sites that are deemed not useful to searcher experience. These sites include “content farms” – sites that generate robust amounts of content about various topics that are designed to exploit search engine algorithms. The primary objective of content farms is to produce advertising revenue from searchers that navigate to these pages through search results. These sites blatantly place search engine optimization goals over factual relevance; and therefore, Google sees them as less relevant to the user, and thus, penalizes them in the search results. These are some signs as to what Google may deem a low-quality site (from Search Engine Watch):

  • Lots of ads
  • Lack of quality content
  • Lots of content but low traffic
  • Lack of moderation

SEO must always focus on quality, rather than quantity, when it comes to link building. The links that we seek for our clients are typically high-level links from legitimate sites, not the types of sites that Google would be prone to penalize. That being said, Google is by no means perfect, and some useful sites with high amounts of traffic have seen drastic degradation in search visibility. With Panda in the wild, optimizers should shift focus more to incorporating unique content into client sites as much as possible while making sure to only pursue quality links from legitimate and authoritative sites.

Panda has not had much of an impact on our practices as an agency, as we have always used strictly white-hat, authentic SEO techniques. Panda is simply an effort by Google to crack down on improper exploitation of its search engine algorithm, and those companies and sites that do not use unscrupulous methods should not be affected.

Coding Series: Part 4 – Remarketing

Once your primary coding is properly installed and you are finally tracking conversions, analyzing website performance, and gauging return on advertising spend, it’s time to launch a Remarketing campaign. Remarketing is a unique advertising technique that allows you to reach people who have previously visited your website but didn’t purchase your product or convert into a lead.  This advertising feature also allows you to cross sell, up sell, and promote other relevant products to your customers.

Benefits: Remarketing

Remarketing campaigns allow you to stay in front of your audience as they continue to shop around on the Internet.  Instead of advertising through the search network, remarketing advertisers will integrate the Google Display Network into their online marketing strategy through the use of image and text ads that are delivered through Google’s partner sites.

How It Works: Remarketing

To launch a remarketing campaign in Google AdWords, you will need to add an additional piece of code to those pages of your website that are associated with certain categories or goals. This code is called a remarketing tag. Once the remarketing tag is embedded on relevant pages, the code directs AdWords to save visitors who reach these pages to the audience list you’ve built within your remarketing campaign.  AdWords then attaches a cookie ID to the visitor.  This cookie will allow AdWords to identify your audience members even after they leave your site.  As these users browse other sites in the Google Display network they will be targeted by AdSense, which will read your remarketing cookie ID and determine which ad to show. Depending on the remarketing lists you want to create, you may need to embed different tags on different pages.

Code Implementation: Remarketing

To get started, you need to determine who you would like to show your remarketing ads to. As a default, it’s a good idea to target any visitors to your website who do not complete a conversion action. From there, you can create more targeted lists or even include visitors who completed a purchase and target them differently with relevant promotions or up sell / cross-sell opportunities.

* Disclaimer: Before the remarketing advertising campaign can begin, you must accrue a minimum of 500 cookie IDs. Due to this limitation, be sure the webpage on which you are creating an audience list receives enough traffic for you to meet this requirement.

To set up the remarketing list:

  1. Click the Campaigns tab in your Google AdWords account. In the sub-navigation menu, click the Audiences tab to add a new audience group.
  2. To create the remarketing list, click the “create and manage lists” link toward the bottom of the page.
  3. Complete the new remarketing list form by entering a list name and membership duration.
    * Google recommends starting with a 30-day period.
  4. To add the new tag to your website, select “create new remarketing tag” in the tags section. You can even create a custom combination tag to exclude visitors from     your remarketing campaign who have already completed a purchase by using the current conversion tag that was created when you installed conversion tracking.
  5. Finally, click [tag] under “Tags/Rules.” In the Page security drop-down menu, select HTTP or HTTPS depending on the security level of your webpage. Then, copy the code and paste it into the relevant pages within your site between the <body> tags, closer to the </body> tag.
  6. To target ads to your newly created audience list, you will want to add the list to a current campaign or create a new AdWords campaign dedicated to your remarketing efforts.

Whether you are running a branding or direct response ad campaign, remarketing is a great tool for increasing your return on investment by driving traffic back to your website for a sale or website registration. You can create a remarketing campaign to target all visitors, those viewing a specific product category, non-converting visitors, abandoned shopping cart visitors, converting visitors for up sell or cross-sell promotions, and users who converted in the past. There are a lot of variations for your remarketing list, which means a lot of opportunity to target your end consumer and stay relevant in their minds.

To find out more visit:

If you have any other questions about Remarketing campaigns or how to install the code, Leverage Marketing’s Google certified team is here to help!

Coding Series: Part 3 – Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking

Conversion tracking is important, but if you are selling multiple products at multiple price points to customers who are purchasing multiple units, it is much more tangible to track actual revenue generated from these purchases in order to determine return on advertising spend (ROAS). Ecommerce data is tracked through Google Analytics. The reporting functionality allowed with Ecommerce Tracking provides critical information into the behavior of your website visitors and is the only way to measure the sales cycle, including how many visits or days it takes for a purchase to take place.

Benefits: Ecommerce Tracking

Ecommerce reporting in Google Analytics will provide insight into which traffic sources are resulting in purchases, such as paid search or organic traffic, as well as the average value of a purchase, ecommerce conversion rate, purchases by day, revenue by geographic region, and the value of each website visit. This data can help you determine what marketing efforts are resulting in the most revenue for your business, which keywords convert best and are most cost effective, and who your target customer really is.

How It Works: Ecommerce Tracking

Ecommerce tracking works similarly to page view tracking in that data is sent to a Google Analytics server via a JavaScript Code. When a visitor submits a transaction to your server, the data is then processed. Once the transaction is processed, your server prepares a receipt to send back to the visitor. With the code correctly installed, the server will receive and process the transaction data. As the receipt is being prepared, some of the transaction data is extracted from the server and submitted to Google Analytics by way of the Google Analytics JavaScript. Simultaneously, a receipt is sent to the visitor’s browser while the ecommerce data is sent to Google Analytics. Google Analytics tracks both transaction data (transaction ID, purchase total, tax, shipping, etc.) and item data (SKU, product name, unit price, quantity).

Code Implementation: Ecommerce Tracking

There are two necessary steps in order to start tracking ecommerce transactions.

  1. Enable ecommerce reporting for your website's profile in your reports.
  1. Configure your shopping cart's receipt page to send ecommerce data to Google Analytics.

The first step is to simply enable the ecommerce reports within Google Analytics. In the profile settings of Google Analytics, you can edit the website information to specify that you have an ecommerce site, which activates the reports. There are other settings to consider if you have an international ecommerce site.

Double check that the Google Analytics code is correctly installed on your receipt page. Without this, you will not be able to track transactions because the ecommerce code is placed right within the Google Analytics JavaScript code. The JavaScript can be installed anywhere on the receipt page as long as it’s placed after the main Google Analytics page tag.

  • Sample Ecommerce Tracking Code

<script type="text/javascript">
      "order-id", // required
      "affiliate or store name",

      "order-id", // required
      "product name",
      "product category",
      "unit price",  // required
      "quantity"  //required


Technical Details: Ecommerce Tracking

If you take a close look at this code, you will see that there are three parts to the JavaScript. There are three distinct methods or actions for each section.

  • _addTrans() creates and stores all of the information about the transaction.
  • The _addItem() method adds an item to the transaction. You will need an _addItem() section for each product or SKU in the transaction. The order ID must match the same order ID in the -addTrans() method; otherwise, Google Analytics can’t tie the item to a transaction.
  • _trackTrans() method sends the data to Google Analytics by requesting the _utm.gif file once for the transaction and another time for each item in the transaction.

Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking provides reports on total revenue, conversion rate, average order value, product overview, product SKUs, categories, transactions, visits to purchase, and time to purchase. One of the main benefits to online marketing is being able to track all of your results, and with Ecommerce Tracking, you can tie sales revenue to performance and determine the return on investment for your marketing efforts. To find out more visit: If you have any other questions about Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking or how to install the code, please feel free to follow up with your Leverage Marketing account manager.

StarStar Numbers

Adage’s B.L. Ochman wrote an interesting article, “Why Apple, Ford and Zappos Have All Invested in Branded Mobile Codes,” in which Ochman discusses that these companies, plus a few others, are at the leading edge of the next mobile marketing trend.

Why you ask? They all have branded StarStar Numbers, or vanity short codes, which enable consumers to connect and interact with a brand by linking to games, contests, videos, registering, making mobile payments, amongst numerous other applications.

What is it? StarStar Numbers are simply common short codes (CSC), which are customized five- or six-digit numbers that people request information from by sending a text message.

Ochman continues by arguing that these CSC’s will become very common in mobile marketing campaigns over the next two years and that all mobile campaigns should include the following:

1.       Messaging Strategy

2.       Mobile Website

3.       Mobile App

Unfortunately, these StarStar Numbers can be quite costly, ranging from $1,500 to $7,500 per month.

The following quotes Ochman’s top eight reasons, explaining why mobile campaigns should include a CSC:

  1. Both inherently offer the holy grail of marketing: precisely measurable ROI statistics including consumer participation per the dollar spent.
  2. Branded vanity codes and StarStar codes are easy for consumers to use and understand.
  3. Texting is mainstream. I think vanity text codes will become the dominant marketing technology. In fact, according to a January 2011 Nielsen study, text message use continues to grow while mobile phone calls (remember them) have been relatively static for the past five years.
  4. Mobile marketing is here to stay. Today, people not only have text-enabled phones, but in the U.S. and Western Europe, 90% of mobile subscribers have an internet-ready phone. Gartner last year predicted that in 2011, over 85% of handsets shipped globally will include some form of web browser.
  5. “Text messaging is the key communication tool of the modern era,” said Neil Strother, practice director at ABI Research in Oyster Bay, NY. “It is a great place for marketers to communicate with consumers.”
  6. Both technologies are brilliant ways to unify internet, print, TV, and billboard ads, making them more interesting and actionable for the consumer.
  7. An advantage of a dedicated vanity short code is that you have unlimited keywords and you maintain control over routing inbound and outbound messages. Since you own the code and all of the data captured, you can map directly into your existing database without having to input information from a different source. (A keyword is the first “word” that is sent in a text message, for example “Go” or “Join.”)
  8. Both technologies are cost-effective. They include web-based content management system that brands can use to upload their digital assets for their campaigns, and they provide metrics on call volume, etc. Because consumers want and request brands’ information, engagement is generally exponentially higher than with more traditional forms of advertising and marketing.

To learn more about how to attain a StarStar Number, continue reading here:

Show me the Reviews

Customer reviews are becoming more important for online marketing. Consumers rely heavily on reviews from peers when evaluating various products and services. Businesses that showcase reviews on their web sites reap the benefits of displaying honest consumer commentary, and honesty is often a preeminent criterion in brand choice and loyalty. Bazaarvoice has built a business around customer reviews and their customer content software continues to see increasing demand.

Bazaarvoice will soon be extending its product line into advertising. More specifically, Bazaarvoice will allow clients to advertise on its extensive list of client websites, using particular customer reviews as the ad itself. In a similar fashion to Facebook Stories, using peoples’ likes and comments in ads, Bazaarvoice will display actual customer reviews about a specific business’s product as an advertisement. This is a brilliant way to extend the value of compelling, honest, and genuine consumer feedback into paid testimony for businesses.

This innovation underscores the surging importance of social commentary and interaction in the online marketplace. Just as consumers depend on word of mouth when shopping, consumer reviews are a pertinent factor in the online purchase decision. Essentially, Bazaarvoice is creating its own advertising display network, similar to the millions of Yahoo and Google partner sites that make up their respective display networks. Search engines already take social mentions and reviews into account when ranking organic results, and I expect this Bazzarvoice-esque reviews for ads experimentation to spread into paid search in the near future.