Track SMS marketing campaigns with Google Analytics

When it comes to tracking SMS marketing campaigns, most businesses use Google Analytics. Yet despite its popularity, GA sometimes needs a helping hand to correctly attribute where sales or leads are coming from. Cue the answer…

The problem with tracking website visitors from a link in business text messages, is that Google Analytics doesn’t always recognise where the recipient of the message came from and almost always classes them as coming ‘Direct’ to your website.

Although Google Analytics will correctly categorise and report on those visitors who typed the web address of your site directly into their browser, SMS traffic will be swept up into ‘Direct’ traffic because it cannot determine the true referrer that sent the visitor to the site (which is your phone).

Tracking SMS visitors as a ‘Source/Medium’ in Analytics

One way to correctly allocate SMS marketing traffic, is to make it its own source in Analytics by adding tagging parameters to your text message links. Google’s URL building tool makes SMS campaign tracking a very easy process, with clear guidance for even the most technophobic marketing manager.

You tag the links you place into a text message with UTM tags (source, medium and campaign). A UTM tag is a simple code that you attach to a custom website address (or URL as it is known).

Each UTM has a different role:

  • utm_source: this tells Google Analytics where your traffic has come from – i.e. “SMS
  • utm_medium: like a Tweet or LinkedIn post this would be “referral
  • utm_campaign: identifies the specific promotion or campaign you send – e.g: “Valentine’s Day Promotion
  • utm_content: differentiates between message variants – e.g: SMS (A) “£10 free promo” | SMS (B) “Free express delivery

The UTM code allows Google Analytics to identify where visitors arrived from and what campaign led them to your website. And if you’re worried about tracking parameters and their values eating into your character limit, you can relax in the knowledge that Textlocal has its own URL shortening tool.

What are the benefits of UTM tagged links?

A UTM tagged link allows you to measure user attribution and identify which groups of users carried out which actions. This then enables you to build segmented audiences and target specific customers with personalised offers, based on their attribution and profile.

Your business can use SMS to directly communicate with your customers quickly and easily. Online platforms like Textlocal and Google Analytics can track your customers’ response, so you can measure how successful your SMS campaign is. You can then quickly see what percentage of customers responded to your text message and took action.

So, if you’re scratching your head wondering why most of your sales or leads are coming through as ‘Direct’ traffic on Google Analytics, try adding UTM tagged links in your next SMS marketing campaign. You might be surprised.

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