By Kathy Powers
In our recent webinar, ‘Focus on Message; Not Machinery: 7 Tips for Working Smarter with Data’, Frakture’s Chief of Client Development, Michael Cervino, offered a tip of ‘Being a Source Code Fanatic.’ This led me down a reminiscent path of many different source code schemas I have seen in my career and their effectiveness (or lack thereof). I’ll write another post about that soon. For today, and in the spirit of the upcoming NFL Super Bowl XLIX – that is 49 for those not following – I thought it would be good to provide some instruction on how to be a Source Code Fan. While the Packers didn’t make the cut this year (sigh), I’ve included ample ‘cheesy’ sports references for your enjoyment.
Eight Things YOU can do to be the Ultimate Source Code Fan
1. Learn the rules and know your game – Source coding online messages and revenue is a tricky game. One with history reaching back as far as the Super Bowl – maybe further. Much of what we know of source coding came from original print direct response marketing and a need to track revenue back to a specific mailer or ad. If you’ve never paid attention, take a look in the bottom corner of your next mail solicitation and you’ll find a sneaky little code there somewhere. The game has evolved since the early days but the concept remains the same. A source code is a compilation of letters and numbers that matches a key and helps you identify the specific message that generated the action or revenue. In a perfect world, each link you send out would have a unique source code. At the very least, each unique message (unique being one for email, one for Facebook, one for Twitter, etc.) would have a unique code. The best rule is to know your codes, code religiously and treat this like a game you mean to win.
2. Pick your team and stick with it – A good source code fan will give considerable thought to the structure and strategy of your code schema. Each placeholder should have a purpose and should provide valuable information. Don’t waste your time on useless information or tracking data that will only be used once. When you have nailed down your structure (your team), stick with it.
3. Know your players and positions – These days there are many players in the messaging field – these are your channels. Know their purpose and how to use them. Know the positions or message techniques for each channel and how to best code discretely by channel and message. It’s ok to sometimes dial back for channels that the level of effort isn’t worth it. Treat some players and channels like special teams – they are not necessarily needed for every play. But when playing they should be coded properly.
4. Don’t waffle if the going gets tough – Sometimes its hard to follow your team when it seems like they can’t win or don’t perform. Don’t get sloppy or bail when the going gets tough or you are busy. The goal of being a source code fan is not just to be able to better measure response to one message or link – it is to see the big picture of your outreach and revenue. The more you code the more detailed that picture becomes.
5. Overdressing in team gear is a good thing – It is not just acceptable but encouraged to overdress in your team’s gear! Your source code team wants you to code every single link in every single message – and uniquely. Including links in stationery headers and footers. That is just what a good fan does.
6. Drinking is not required – Despite popular belief, you don’t have to drink while attending the event – even if source coding makes you want to have a drink. In fact, it may be discouraged in your office.
7. High-fives all around when you score – When you see the results of a well-coded message series you can see things like number of people who clicked on your email AND your Facebook and Twitter posts. You can see if those people gave money to support your cause and where they came from. You can see return on investment for things like social media? Yes. When you source code well and you finally see this (score!) – be sure to give a high five to your team.
8. You should totally storm the field – If you follow all of these steps and download your data at the end of the year to run detailed analytics you will be able to see true cross-channel engagement and revenue. For the entire year. Think of what a game changer that could be for planning for next year. If you made it that far, consider yourself the Ultimate Source Code Fan and it is now acceptable for you (and your human and source code team) to storm the field after the win!
All sporting references aside, you get the idea. Develop a good source coding strategy, stick with it and be fanatical about coding as much as you can. The results will be worth the effort. If you need any tips on how to source code or how to extract and analyze that information we are here to help. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.