November 23, 2015 | Sarah Sullivan | Digital Strategist

How to Track Print Media in Google Analytics

Custom UTM tracking makes it possible to tag and segment traffic to your website from email newsletters and social posts so you can see the performance of each campaign. But what about when you just need an old-fashioned postcard or brochure – how do you track the effectiveness of those promotional efforts?

With a little planning, you can track your print marketing materials in the same place as your e-newsletters and social sharing as long as they point to a digital asset.

Check out the two options below and implement the one that works best for you or combine them!

Option #1: Create Unique Landing Pages

Unique, contextual, optimized landing pages are effective because they allow you to provide a highly relevant experience to your users with a specific call to action and transaction.

Consider these two scenarios that are likely to take place at a conference, event or tradeshow:

Company 1 is handing out a promotional flier created specifically for the conference. On the flier they encourage people to visit a specific page on their site to get a great offer like 25% off their first order or access to an e-book. Once their prospects visit they see content related specifically to this offer for the conference they’re attending and a place to enter their email address to get the offer.

Company 2 is handing out a brochure with a generic link to their website and encouraging people to visit their website to learn more. Prospects are sent to where there’s a generic lead capture form in the sidebar and a newsletter opt-in form in the footer.

The benefit to Company 1’s users is that they get a much more relevant user experience and some valuable information or offer in exchange for their email address. Company 1 can also track this specific audience segment (conference-goers that got their flier) with the unique URL and get people into their email list and/or sales funnel with the gated content.

By comparison, Company 2 has no way of being able to look at their data and know who visited the homepage because of their brochure. There’s no specific call to action for users and no specific incentive to get them to provide their email address.

Which scenario is likely to generate the most trust and interest in your company, the most sign-ups to your email list and the newest prospects in your sales funnel? (The answer is, of course, Company 1’s approach!)

So here are the steps:

  1. Create a unique landing page that’s contextually relevant to the event and the offer you’re providing. Use a short url extension like
  2. If you’re providing content or an offer in exchange for an email address, create the form and form thank you page. Use minimal form fields, if possible, require only the email address.
  3. Set the landing page and form thank you page meta directive tags as no index/no follow to avoid having the pages indexed in Google and potentially generating organic referral traffic to your site.
  4. Visits to this page will display in Google Analytics reports as direct referrals. You can see that data on your Landing Pages or Channels/Mediums reports.
  5. If you plan on having multiple printed media promotions make sure to set up a unique landing page and URL for each so you can segment the traffic accordingly.

TIP: Make sure your landing page and email templates are mobile optimized since people are often accessing these landing pages on their smartphones at the actual event.

Implementing this landing page strategy alone will have a positive effect on your email list and sales funnel. Combining it with option #2 kicks up your campaign promotion to near Ninja levels!

Option #2: Create a Custom URL in Google and Shorten it

Use this option for print marketing materials and/or your social shares, where character limits in posts can create problems. Once you have the marketing asset you want to promote go to Google’s URL Builder and create your custom URL.

Remember, for print media, you can indicate “print” as the Campaign Medium and “postcard”, “brochure”, “business-card” or whatever the actual asset is for the Campaign Source.

Now head over to one of the URL shortener services like Google or bitly and create your short URL by inputting the custom Google URL you just created.

Document your custom Google URL in your UTM Tags Index and associate your shortened URL with it. Not sure what this is? Hint: it’s a best practice for using custom campaign tracking URLs! Check out our blog post on Advanced Google Analytics Tracking – Custom Campaign Tracking to find out.

If you do a lot of shortened URLs, consider obtaining a branded short URL by purchasing a domain name. These URLs may look less spammy as well as promoting your brand instead of Google’s or Bitly’s!

Check out Name Mesh to quickly identify shortened versions of your primary domain. Then go to bitly and use the Advanced Settings to substitute your custom domain for the bitly domain.

Finally, include your shortened URL on your social post or printed material.

The image below shows a fictional campaign I created by following the steps above. “Test-education-summit” is for a printed postcard being handed out at an educational conference. The link on the postcard is to a custom Google URL run through bitly.

When the fictional web landing page was accessed via the shortened URL, the campaign data was correctly recorded in the All Campaigns report alongside the company’s other social and email promotions.


Here is the part that makes you a campaign promotion Ninja: Because this data is captured in the All Campaigns report instead of the other areas in Analytics that collect direct referral information, you can easily compare performance or segment data across all of your campaigns, whether they begin on Twitter, in an email or from a flier at a conference!

Want to make sure you have these steps on-hand for your next campaign promotion?

Download and email or print our distraction-free Custom Campaign 1-sheet with the steps outlined in this post! Plus a bonus step that will dazzle all your Marketing friends at Friday Happy Hour!


Stay Connected

Sign up for our eNewsletter to stay on top of all things strategy, design and WordPress