What are Query Strings?
A query string is any piece of URL data that comes after the main part of the URL. Web addresses are like sign posts to specific locations on a website, but they don’t store any data about the particular user who is visiting. Appending parameters to the end of a URL can let a website know what a user has done before or where they have come from depending on how they are set up. The result of this? Websites can be personalised per user depending on their activity in a session, and tracking between different sites can be accomplished!
For example, when building a Facebook ad, you might append the following query string UTM parameters to the url you wish to drive traffic to:
When a user clicks on your Facebook ad which is driving traffic to that URL, the UTM Parameters would be appended, and the link would appear like this:
This link provides data to Marketers to understand where their traffic has originated, allowing attribution to that ad. Understanding the routing of your traffic allows you to design and optimize effective campaigns. If you can measure it, you can improve it!
How are Query Strings Used?
Creating segments – Query strings allow Marketing to build segments based on visitor and referring source parameters.
Reporting – There are a number of different reports in Eloqua Insight that are based upon query string data (UTM Parameters). UTM Parameters make it possible for marketers to identify the portion of website visitors that come from social media and email as well as identifying the search queries that have brought the visitor to the site.
Blind form submits – Blind form submits allow us to remove the gate from an asset and still track the click. At Sage, we use query strings to create blind form submit links, which can be used on many types of assets (email CTA’s, landing page CTA’s). Our blind form submit links are special URLs with query strings that post predefined responses into an Eloqua form.
Query Strings to change Page Behavior
Take a look at an example of one way in which we use query strings creatively to solve business challenges. Sometimes, we want to vary page behavior, depending on where a visitor comes from.
The marketing team created a Guided Tour for the Sage Financials product. We consider visitors to this page as high value leads, and require a form submission before we grant access.
You’ll note that after you arrive on the page, you are presented with a required form. It is not possible to enter the Guided Tour without filling in this form. Gating the tour works well for contacts who land directly on the website. But what if a contact lands from another page where the Campaign Manager has requested a form submission so they can track their conversions to the Guided Tour?
What would happen in this situation, is:
- User arrives on Landing Page 1 (containing CTA to Guided Tour).
- User fills out Guided Tour access form on Landing page 1.
- User clicks access button.
- User lands on Guided Tour (Landing Page 2) page and is presented with a second form.
- User doesn’t want to fill in two forms and might leave page.
In this instance, the user experience is not good. We noted a drop in conversions. We needed to find a way to remove the gate for campaigns that brought contacts to the Guided Tour.
The ideal user flow was identified as follows:
- User arrives on Landing Page 1
- User fills out Guided Tour (Landing Page 2) access form on Landing page 1
- User clicks access button.
- Guided Tour (Landing Page 2) opens - ungated!
- Tracking is maintained.
An example of a nurture journey that utilised the non gated Guided Tour was the Sage Financials BOFU journey. The Sage Financials team wanted to remove the form when a contact clicked through to the Guided Tour directly from nurture. By using query strings it was now possible to do this. As a result, the user experience was improved. The contact no longer needed to fill in two forms in order to view the Guided Tour. This approach also helped the team assess the effectiveness of other campaigns feeding traffic into the Guided Tour page. It was now possible to assign attribution to the nurture campaign rather than have all Guided Tour form fills attributed to one campaign. The Sage Financials team were able to analyse the campaign and identify 36 new MQL's that accessed the Guided Tour through this nurture and the team concluded that the conversion rate had increased by removing the gate on the form.
The impact on the business was that higher conversion rates were achieved by being able to remove the form on the Guided Tour. The impact on the business for the future is that the marketing team can now remove gates for high value content in order to accelerate conversion.
Oracle University courses that were relevant to this campaign
- Develop and design
- Relevance and retention
- Profile and target
- Prioritize and proces