Online marketing can be really complicated. You have to manage accounts on many advertising networks, take care of your databases, as well as set up integrations, workflows and email campaigns. Your customers are coming from absolutely everywhere - online and offline ads, newsletters, remarketing ads, referral sites and organic searches. Properly tracking all of these sources can give you a serious headache. How to make it easier?
HubSpot aims to track all of sources automagically, but it has its own quirks which might not be very clear at the beginning (at least it wasn’t for us). Paid Search is full of antipatterns and is probably the most confusing.
First of all, Paid Search in HubSpot is everything with “adwords, “ppc” or “cpc” utm_source tags. Facebook Ads and banner networks are usually tagged as PPC and you would put them into Other Campaigns in HubSpot, right? Nope, you have to look at Paid Search here.
Another interesting “feature” by HubSpot is its table of Detailed URL and referral rules for visits. The first rule that is matched will determine the source of a visit. Let’s see which rule is just above Paid Search:
If utm_source OR utm_medium OR utm_campaign OR source contains the word “email”, set source as Email marketing.
Now, try to tag your Adwords utm_campaign as best email templates.
That’s not all. Paid Search loses your utm_medium tag. HubSpot just drops it when saving the contacts source. It saves keyword/term, though. We had a little problem with tracking when setting up utm_medium for our ads and we ended up duplicating utm_medium and utm_term to keep it well sorted in Analytics, but also to not lose info in HS.
One of the features which makes Google Analytics so powerful are its attribution reports. Usually conversion cannot be attributed to only one channel and GA basically tells you which channels are contributing, so you can divide conversion value between them.
HubSpot does not support attribution reports. If your contact’s first visit was from organic search, but they converted directly thanks to your remarketing ad later – you will not be able to see this in reports. Only the first visit source is saved in “original source” fields and subsequent visits are ignored.
However, it's possible to manually check the URL of these visits if you are using UTM tags in all your links. Just hover over the page name in the contacts timeline and look at the destination URL (lower left corner of the screen). You might ask “Why not automate this? Just create a list of people who visited from remarketing ads”. Not really - creating a list with a Page view URL containing for example “utm_source=facebook_remarketing” (see image below) will not return any results even if your contacts visit you from this source.
I didn't really look for a solution to this problem – we are able to track conversions in remarketing tools. It's not that convenient, but works and we have all the data. I guess it could be done using HubL and some custom code in templates by extracting utm tags from the URL and sending them as HubSpot events. This requires the Enterprise plan, though, so it might not be a viable solution for you.
Bonus: offline tracking
Talking with other marketers, I was always surprised that many of them had no idea how to track offline sources such as posters, leaflets, banners etc. It's actually pretty simple, but requires a little trick.
Take the Netguru website as an example. We'd like to know if our presence at job fairs is resulting in more applications on our netguru.com/career page. We hand out leaflets to participants and put up a poster with the netguru.com/career URL on it. The only thing we will see in HubSpot is an increase in Direct Visits – so we are not sure which ones resulted from this particular job fair. The solution is pretty simple: use netguru.com/jobs on marketing materials.
Netguru.com/jobs will redirect to netguru.com/career?utm_source=offline&utm_medium=leaflet&utm_campaign=job_affair_XYZ. Easy! Works with every other marketing tool, too :)