You’ve all seen a campaign code before (query strings as some more tech-savvy people like to call them). Any time you’ve ever clicked a link in an email or from social that led to more information about a product or service, you might have seen some weird gobbedly-gook at the end of the URL – ?sc_camp=4203940198 or ?utm=email&utc=2016-spring-collection&… etc.
If you’re a Google Analytics proficient, the “URL builder” is something you might have used to track campaign traffic in the analytics platform.
For Sitecore users, the Campaign entity inside of Sitecore is one that you might be familiar with, but it still is one of the most challenging concepts to explain – simply because not every marketer is accustomed to manually tagging a URL when they launch a particular campaign.
Also, “Campaign” is too often confused with the literal term “campaign” – so a lot of marketers think we’re only talking about the full-scale omnichannel marketing campaigns that certain industries thrive on.
Campaigns – the Sitecore entity – can really be used in a number of ways, but it also has a lot to do with the Sitecore entity “Taxonomies” and “Facets”. I know – more lingo for you to learn.
I’m here to break it down for ya and cover a few best practices. The exact techniques below are how our clients are going from “giant database, no single view of the customer” to “oh sh*t, I get it now”.
Using Query Strings (Campaign Codes) for Segmentation
Let’s say you have a big giant database of emails and contact info that’s been looming over your head for decades – could be 10,000 or 100,000 emails. You already email to this giant database a few times a month. You and your team might even send multiple emails every week. But in the end, you’d really like to be able to segment your email data.
Let’s also say that you’re often sending them links back to your website, your blog, or some property you control that is also on Sitecore.
You can actually use Sitecore’s Campaign codes (and really any campaign tag manager like what Google Analytics provides) to segment your data in the future.
All it takes is a little bit of elbow grease, a keen eye for intent, and a relatively deep understanding of your website and its content.
But really the key is making sure that for every email that gets sent out, any links inside that email have a proper campaign code – especially if it goes back to a digital property you control.
Because I can’t reveal intimate details of how we’ve worked with our own clients on leveraging Campaign codes, I can at least take someone who would be pretty sweet to work with – let’s say Bath and Body Works.
Bath and Body Works sends me tons of email promoting their products, and in some respects, they probably have a good idea of what things I’m interested in. As in, what products Asia Matos, specifically, is interested in.
But if they had no idea, they could use Sitecore’s Campaigns to get a pretty good idea and start some very simple segmentation based on website activity and links I click from email.
I know the Bath and Body Works product lines extremely well since I’ve been a loyalist for many years. They focus on 3 big product categories: Home Fragrance (think candles and wall-plugs), Soaps and Sanitizers (for the target markets who want to feel and smell clean), and the more familiar Body Care (think lotions and perfumes and fancy spa creams).
At the bottom of every email, they always link to the three main product lines and then of course, they include the “Sale” section because the word “Sale” alone trumps all rational thinking. A lot of their imagery in the email will correspond to the particular product line they’re promoting.
These are easily Campaign Categories inside of Sitecore, and each individual link to a product line could be its own respective Campaign code as shown here.
So linking the image to “www.bathandbodyworks.com/hand-soaps-sanitizers” becomes “www.bathandbodyworks.com/hand-soaps-sanitizers?sc_camp=12344567888” in the email. The recipient doesn’t know or care what the extra characters at the end of the URL mean, but you’ll be able to report that they clicked it and what they did after.
Imagine asking two things from the perspective(s) of the Digital Marketing Manger, Email Marketing Manager, and even Web Manager:
- Can we pull a list of people who clicked on the product line links below using our email marketing automation tool? For example – people who repeatedly click on imagery of hand soaps and sanitizers – or at least links associated with that particular product line – are probably really big fans of those products and should be marketed to accordingly.
- Since they clicked a link with a Campaign code that links back to the website, what did that user do on the website? And are there patterns with what people interested in “Hand Soaps and Sanitizers” do as opposed to people interested in “Body Care?”
Now we’re cooking with curiosity and we’re about to start serving some segmentation realness.
Of course, if you were using Sitecore’s Email Experience Manager (EXM) every so often, you’d know exactly who came to the site and what they did on a per-person level without even having to fool too much with Campaign codes, but if you’re not using EXM, this is a pretty simple way to start gathering info and start segmenting information now.
The report you might end up generating (or asking someone to generate) would sound something like “pull me a list of the people who clicked a link ending in ‘?sc_camp=29982749827’ more than 2 or so times” and then that would be the list of people you could segment out as “Interested in Body Care”, and so on.
But segmentation doesn’t just stop there. Pulling that list means nothing until you send something more targeted and find out what the results are. So make sure to actually use your newly segmented lists!
Using Campaigns for Annual Events
As you learn more about your visitors and what email content they’re more interested in, you can also use Campaigns to see how visitors engage over time.
If you have annual or repeat campaigns in any way, you can still use Campaigns codes to show how visitors interact with annual campaigns over longer periods of time.
Back to the Bath and Body Works example, I as a customer anticipate their seasonal launches for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Every season offers me something different, but no matter what, I must have the latest winter Home Fragrances and Body Care items.
There’s just something to smelling like pumpkin spice that makes me extremely happy.
Every season, B&BW announces their upcoming lineup and if they knew how important Fall and Winter were to me, they would be able to prioritize the Campaign over others – especially if they knew I primarily focused on Home Fragrance and Body Care as opposed to Soaps and Sanitizers.
Perhaps there’s a very special nurture for other people like me that is completely segmentable (is that a word?) on the Campaigns I click on.
Just another way to think about how to use Campaigns to send me more targeted messaging.