Tracking Real-World Campaigns: A How-To Guide


By now, it’s well established how you should go about tracking all your digital marketing campaigns. From UTM codes to Google Tag Manager, digital campaign analysis can be highly granular while also easy to implement. But what about those non-digital ad campaigns? How can you go about tracking real-world campaigns on your website and gauging success? It isn’t an exact science, but it always comes down to attribution.

What Is Attribution?

Attribution is simply giving a marketing touchpoint credit for action from a user. To put it simply: If I see your ad on Facebook and click on it to visit the website, Facebook gets credit as the attribution channel. This is a really simple process online, since your analytics platform will know exactly where the traffic is coming from. Where it becomes more complicated, however, is when you have to attribute wins and losses in the real world.

Tracking Real-World Campaigns

There are a lot of different ways to track your real-world campaigns. We’re going to go through the big three, but they each come down to a single idea: if you can isolate your traffic, you can more easily identify it.


Have you ever visited a site on your phone and seen a slightly different URL than you would on your computer? Think versus The “m” denotes a subdomain – an entirely autonomous website that can work alongside your top-level URL. So, let’s say you have the subdomain You only advertise this particular subdomain on your billboards. So when you look at the traffic numbers on your favorite website analytics platform, you can be reasonably certain that all your traffic is coming from that single campaign.

Dedicated Landing Pages

You don’t have to create a whole subdomain to identify the campaign. If I run an ad through a podcast and give the link, then theoretically only people who have listened to the podcast will even know that link exists. Then, once those visitors go to the specific link I provided, my analytics software will register visitors to that page. I can take the information about the number of visitors (as well as whether they purchased, etc.) and compare it to the total number of people exposed to the ad to get a metric for how effective the ad was in encouraging visits and conversions.


This might seem a bit more out there, but it isn’t the discount itself that gives you the information. It’s the coupon code your customer uses. If, as a customer, I see an ad on TV for a product with a discount code (let’s say “lvlmeup24”) I’ll use the code to get the lower price. It’s natural human behavior to expect that. As someone selling a product, however, you can use the specific codes that you hand out to gauge success. Much in the same way as described in the landing pages section, you can take the information about the total number of sales, compare it to the estimated number of people exposed to the ad, and make a calculation to determine your conversion rate.

Digital Success In A Real-World Context

So, you have the data about how many visitors from this specific source – great start! Now, how can you know if it was actually successful? You need to be able to compare the visitor information to the real-world exposure of your work. How many people heard your podcast ad? How many drove past your billboard? Typically, this information is provided by the company selling you the ad space. Depending on the platform, they can tell you how many people were exposed to your ad, and over what time period. It’s as simple as that!


Determining the results of your offline campaigns has never been simple. But the tools you have online make it much easier to quantify than it ever was before. The name of the game is simply to isolate your traffic so you can be relatively sure of the success or failure of your campaigns. Simple on the surface but, like all things marketing, the complexities can be endless.

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