CareerBuilder.com Uses Web Analytics to Track Online Lift
CareerBuilder.com tracked an increase in traffic driven to its CBcampus.com Web site thanks to a testing methodology designed in combination with Google Analytics.
To promote the college-oriented site when it launched in January, CareerBuilder.com, Chicago, went directly to the campuses. And instead of simply running online campaigns, CareerBuilder initiated outreach programs on campuses nationwide by running print ads in college publications and sponsoring various campus events.
"Offline campaigns can be extremely effective at driving online traffic, but it's not always clear how effective because marketers frequently lack the appropriate techniques and tools to track offline-to-online campaigns," said Alden DeSoto, analytics product specialist and editor of Conversion University at Google. "CareerBuilder.com needed an innovative approach to online tracking, one that could link offline events to online activity."
Mr. DeSoto said CareerBuilder.com worked with Nick Mahailovski, a vertical associate at Google, to create a pilot marketing tracking study using Google Analytics. During the period of the study, CareerBuilder sponsored career fairs, athletic and social events and also organized guest speaker events to give students a chance to learn about career opportunities.
"All of these activities take time, and we needed to figure out how best to focus our efforts," said Nathan Lippe, collegiate marketing manager at CareerBuilder.com. "While the team is on the road, we want them to do whatever is most effective."
Using the Google Analytics Network Location report, Mr. Lippe pinpointed the campuses from which CBcampus.com was getting its traffic. CareerBuilder used this information to compare traffic before and after events.
In the analysis, Mr. Lippe tried to determine which type of campus activity yielded the highest percentage increase in traffic. CareerBuilder.com ran eight activities on 50 campuses. For each activity, Mr. Lippe looked at the total number of visits for more than 30 days prior to the activity and more than 30 days after the activity. Two of the activities saw a 30 percent rise in traffic, while another saw a 20 percent increase.
Mr. Lippe did not reveal the details of specific activities but said "one of them was completely off the chart."
To learn why, he dug deeper into the campaign's data. For the high-performing campaign, two print ads had been created to promote an on-campus event. The ads directed people to CareerBuilder.com.
The first ad appeared two weeks prior to the event, and the second ran one week before the event. Mr. Lippe looked at traffic over five distinct date ranges: The "baseline" period (30 days prior to the first ad), the "promotion response" period (seven days after the first ad), the second promotion response period (seven days after the second ad), an "event response" period (seven days after the main event) and the "event lift" period (30 days beginning one week after the main event).
Google Analytics was used to determine the average number of daily visits over each of these date ranges for three campuses. Mr. Lippe saw that traffic increased from the "baseline" period by more than 1,000 percent to its peak during the promotion and event.
"We had expected to see a spike in traffic," Mr. Lippe said. "But what really surprised us was that, for over 30 days after the event, there was a sustained lift in traffic. And we saw the same pattern across all three campuses."
Indeed, for the event lift period, CBcampus.com saw an average daily traffic lift of 230 percent over the baseline period. The promotions seemed effective at increasing long-term awareness and use of the site.
As Mr. Lippe studied traffic for each date range further, he noticed that traffic spikes also occurred in the promotion response periods, not just the event response period. This told him that something about the promotion was as important as the event itself.
"We found that it was the incentive to go to the site, rather than the actual event, that really made a difference," he said. "With this knowledge we plan to run more incentive-based promotions since we know they work well. You can gain so much insight if you go beyond simply comparing traffic before and after the events."
CareerBuilder.com said it would continue its on-campus marketing activities this fall. It plans to visit 80 more colleges.
"The results we've seen with certain activities have become our new baseline," Mr. Lippe said. "We're not just driving one-time visitors to the site, we're getting students to learn about the site and use it as a resource."