If you run an ecommerce site, you probably use email to announce sales, engage customers and drive repeat purchases.

But now that the vast majority of your customers use smartphones, you can follow the lead of most large ecommerce sites which are using SMS just like email to drive repeat visits and purchases.

If you collect mobile phone numbers and have permission to text them, include links in your SMS back to your site (also known as Smart SMS) and grow sales through one of the most direct and engaging marketing channels available.

This blog post isn't to convince you of the value of SMS for driving ecommerce sales, most smart businesses are doing it already. Our goal is to answer a key question: how do you measure the effectiveness of SMS and track the sales from each campaign?

There are two things you need to do, both of which will be covered in this tutorial. The first is to set up Google Analytics so that it can recognize the links you’ll be creating. The second step will be to use Google Link Builder to actually create the links you’ll put inside the SMS messages.

Let’s jump right in.

Setting up Google Analytics

The first thing you need to do in order to be able to track your SMS ecommerce links is to make sure your website is set up with Google Analytics.

This analytics service is free to use, easy to use, and easy to install. If you don’t have it ready to go, or need a refresher to make sure you’ve got it right, you can view this tutorial here.Screen_Shot_2013-11-01_at_6.21.53_PM-8

You need to have Google Analytics installed on your website in order to track your ecommerce sales. This means going through the entire process at the tutorial above, including installing the tracking code on all the pages of your site.

If you’re using software like Shopify or WordPress, this can be done easily.

Building the links with Google Link Builder

Once you have Google Analytics set up, you need to set up link tracking for your SMS. This is done by adding some code to the end of the URLs you share via SMS. For example, normal URLs will look like this:


When you build your trackable link it will look like this:


It used to be that you’d have to create a custom campaign directly inside Google Analytics in order for this to work, but now all you have to do is create the link with the variables you desire using the Google Analytics Link Builder tool.

Here’s how to do it. First click this link to get to the Link Builder. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 6.48.29 PM

In this form, there are four things you have to fill out in order for the URL to work correctly. First is the website URL. This is the URL you are going to be sharing via SMS. So for example: http://yourwebsite.com/therealfriggendeal.

The second part you need to fill out is the campaign source. The best bet for this is to name it SMS, since that is the source of the links you are creating. It could also be a particular list name, so if you have a list called SMScustomer1, that could be the source as well.

This will tell Google Analytics to create that source the first time it sees an incoming visitor from a link with that source attached to it.

Third, you need to fill in the campaign medium. This will probably also be SMS, since that is the medium you’re using.

Next, is the Campaign Name. You should create something unique that will tell you when this link was created, and what product it relates to. So for example: juneshoes.

Chances are over time you’ll want to create more than one campaign on this URL/product, so creating a campaign that is unique to the time, is the best way for you to keep track of which campaigns are the most successful.

If you were to stop there and click Submit, you’d be done, and that is really all you need. However, let’s talk a bit about the other options you have here:

  • Campaign term. This is more suited towards keyword marketing, which more pertains to advertisements than it does with SMS marketing.
  • Campaign Content. This is a handy little tag that will allow you to distinguish between two or more links. So if you have two links that are exactly the same except for their location in the text message, but need to differentiate between them, add a descriptor here and you’ll know which link was clicked on. This can be as simple as toplink and bottomlink.

Once you have the required fields filled out, hit the submit button.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 6.58.45 PM

When you hit that button your URL will appear underneath it:

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 6.59.48 PM

Simply copy and paste that into your SMS message and hit send.

Note: It should be noted that all the fields are case sensitive, so there is a difference between a source of 'sms' versus one of 'SMS'.

Drive more sales from SMS

This is a great way to find out who is clicking on your links, where they are clicking from, and when. So for example, say you have two different ideas for a Smart SMS newsletter - a "Happy Thanksgiving" and a "Cyber Monday" theme.

Using the campaign method above, you can create two different URLs that will be tracked when someone from one of those SMS campaigns clicks on one of your links. This will help you determine which of your marketing campaigns are bringing in more sales, which bring window shoppers and which get ignored.

Measuring like this (or using advanced tools like Kissmetrics or SparkPage) will help you get much smarter about your SMS marketing and help you use it to grow sales over the long term.

Peter Tanham

Published 6 November, 2013 by Peter Tanham

Peter Tanham is CEO of SparkPage.com and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect on LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Twitter.

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Comments (8)

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great post, is there any SMS services that are well regarded in the industry and at what sort of cost per message

almost 5 years ago

Peter Tanham

Peter Tanham, CEO at SparkPage.com

Thanks Ian!

Really depends what you're looking for. If you're the programming type, check out Twilio or Nexmo to embed sms into your website or application.

If you want something cheap and cheerful, try clickatell or textlocal at €0.065 (I think around 8p in the UK)

SparkPage.com will do all of the above for the same price as textlocal and automatically integrate tracking on sales, phone calls and leads that SMS generate. We're only working with select companies right now as we roll out the service, but if you want to click "request a demo" on the home page I'll get in touch.

almost 5 years ago



very crisp and very innovative.. great post

almost 5 years ago



As has already been mentioned, there are plenty of professional SMS marketing services that will give you accurate results in a much easier way. However, it's better to go for one of the more established companies. The one mentioned above "SparkPage" contains very little information about services on offer or price etc.

Try someone like www.redsms.co.uk. They give you the cost up front, have lots of features to help with marketing compaigns, the ability to monitor you campaign performance and have worked with both big companies such as DW Sports Fitness and small, local companies and organisations.

almost 5 years ago



Great to see this article, we've been doing this for two years at www.firetext.co.uk and have seen lots of successful campaigns.

We go one step further in terms of tracking response by providing the technology to track URLs which are unique to each recipient, so not only will we tell you 'how many' but also who, what and when.

almost 5 years ago


Andy Smith, Marketing Assistant at Esendex

Very interesting article and something we have tested ourselves, as an SMS provider - http://esendex.com.au/

I would add just a couple things to this article.

You can use a URL shortening service like http://bit.ly (tested) as this hides the details and shortens the number of characters needed, it also allows analytics to capture all the details you stored in the original URL.

Also, make sure you know the SMS laws of your country, in Australia you must include an OPT-OUT on all marketing messages, regardless of whether you have permission to send.

almost 5 years ago



Very interesting post Peter.

Just one thing I noticed in the post that might confuse readers. You mention the "Google link builder" where I believe it's called the "Google URL builder". People might confuse it with link building, the SEO technique of building backlinks to your site in order to rank better in search results.

almost 5 years ago


Saya Augustin, Social Media Executive at Mara Online

Hi there! Great post but I have a doubt... I understand by creating different URLs we can understand which of our SMS campaigns is working well for us in terms of clicks to the websites but can we fathom which one resulted in app downloads?

over 3 years ago

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