Online ‘rooms’ (for webinars, webcasts, or virtual classes) make that a whole lot easier with a feature called “source tracking.”
In this two-post series we’ll look first at the fundamentals (what, why, who, and how), and then share a pile of tips for getting more out this feature of your webinar platform.
What? Source tracking answers, “How did you hear about us?”
Source tracking is simply the ability for you to know where a registrant came from…digitally. Without having to ask them directly (e.g., with a question on your webinar’s registration page.
Why? Source tracking enables better decisions and engagement.
The objective of gathering more data isn’t to fill up databases. Knowing where a registrant came empowers you to better connect with participants and/or improve decisions made after the webinar.
One other benefit: accuracy. Asking an invitee how they heard of you on a registration page is open to error or deceit, and if you were to use a poll during the live session, they simply might not remember.
How you benefit, of course, will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Who? Nearly everyone could benefit by using source tracking (not just marketers).
Marketers, of course, are typically asking that question so they understand how their promotional efforts and investments are paying off.
But knowing where someone first saw your invitation might be useful to others, too, such as
- A presenter might use this information in advance to adjust and improve the relevance of their content.
- Internal communicators who similarly want to understand where to better ‘get the word out’ (Are employees reading the emails you send? Do they find the session on an internal site/intranet somewhere, perhaps a calendar of events? If posted in a social collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams or Slack, is it noticed more?)
- Sales reps may have more insight about a lead before follow up with them.
- Partner organizations may wonder if their co-promotion efforts yielded results (you might wonder that, too!)
The list could go on.
How? Source tracking works by passing a “code” embedded in the invitation URL into your webinar reporting database.
Source tracking is a simple idea:
- Once you have created your virtual event, you generate variants of the URL you will use in the various places you promote your event.
- When someone registers for your event, the unique “code” embedded in the URL automagically passes into your webinar’s database. The registrant doesn’t have to do anything.
- You end up with a report that improves your ability to understand how various communication channels performed for you.
At least one implication of all this is that this means you’ll have at least two different URLs to share, but could potentially need a lot of them.
How? The best webinar systems will let you customize both quantity and identity.
Not all webinar software enables you to track sources. Some systems do, but they
- limit how many unique URLs you can create and/or
- give you generic, system-generated URLs.
The downside of the latter is that you don’t have the choice to make the value passed into the database what you want. For example, if you simply wanted to track “Twitter,” imagine looking at the “Source” column in your report and seeing, “Twitter” versus “J28n2MnL.”
In the next post we’ll talk about common pitfalls and best practices so you can figure out what’s right for you.
The bottom line
If there’s one big takeaway here, it’s that a little bit of creativity can turn source tracking into a seriously useful data point. And it’s so easy and useful, it always amazes me that more people don’t use it (heck, if you’re getting help with your webinar, you don’t even have to do it…just ask!).
Next week: A pile of tactical ideas to get the most out of source tracking in your webinar program.
P.S. As you might imagine, we here at EventBuilder wouldn’t be talking about source tracking awesomesauce if we weren’t proud of how our software does it.