Three Essential URL Parameters for Marketers

One for your marketing team this: special URL parameters. URL parameters can be efficient ways to transfer information from the user's device to NetSuite, without the user having to do it.

In NetSuite, we have a number of URL parameters but there are three you may not know about, which can be used for marketing purposes:

  1. Partner
  2. Promotion code
  3. Lead source

Part of the benefit of using these is that it enables you to track their effectiveness direct in NetSuite. When one of these URL parameters is used, it is tracked against the user and their activity (such as placing an order), which can then be used for future reference or as part of a wider report.

The trick is to attach them to the end of the links that you encourage them to click, so, for example, you could attach them to the end of the links you use on social media or in emails. Let's take a closer look at these three.

Partner Parameters

If you operate a referral scheme, then you will want to track the performances of your partners. You can track this using the partner URL parameter. Using it creates a cookie on the shopper's so that all their transactions on the site are marked with the ID of the partner. When they complete an order, it is marked with the partner's ID so that it is traceable.

To test this, you'll need to set up a partner. In NetSuite, go to Lists > Relationships > Partner > New. For test purposes, you only need to pay attention to two fields: the Name and Partner Code. As you add a name, the partner code will be automatically generated, but you can override it if you want (eg with something shorter or anonymous, such as a number).

After creating the partner, go to the Marketing tab on the record and click on the Referring URL to go to your site. When your site loads, you'll see that the URL has a parameter and the partner code tacked onto the end. Check in your browser's developer tools to see if the cookie was created.

This cookie lasts a year.

To continue testing, browse around the site and then place an order. You'll notice that while the URL parameter is no longer present, the cookie still is — even when you transition to the checkout domain.

After placing the order, look it up in the NetSuite backend: you'll see that that the partner you just created is associated with the order.

You can then use this information to build up reports and track how much your partners are contributing to your sales.

Promotion Code Parameter

In my article on customizing the header I talked a bit about URL parameters, in the context of using them to build a navigation menu. In the context of marketing, it's worth reiterating its usefulness.

This URL parameter allows you to automatically apply a promotion code when a user visits your site. This is extremely useful if you've created marketing links, for example on social media or email newsletters. Running a sale promising 20% off jackets? Make sure that when you link through to your jackets, you tack on the URL parameter that automatically applies the promotion.

To create the promotion code, go to Marketing > Promotions > New. After creating the promotion, set the Coupon Code and make a copy of it. Head back to your site and apply it as a URL parameter as follows: ?promocode=<coupon code>.

Similar to the partner parameter, this creates a cookie, which you can inspect in your browser's developer tools. Unlike the partner cookie, this one is billed to expire after one week.

Add one of the applicable items to the cart and visit the shopping cart page. If you've set up the promotion to show line discounts, the discount will be shown just as if the user had typed in the promo code themselves.

Promo codes are also available to report on as well.

Another cool thing to keep in mind is that you can combine those two parameters and disperse various promotional codes to various partners, and then stitch them together in the URL, for example: ?promocode=20offjackets&partner=SALLYPARTNERSON.

Lead Source Parameter

If you run marketing campaigns for your site then the lead source parameter can be used to track whether they contributed to any sales.

Go to Lists > Marketing > Marketing Campaigns and create a new campaign. Add in a name and ID and save it.

This time on the frontend of your site, and log out. Append the leadsource parameter to the URL, for example: ?leadsource=newsletter1016. Unlike the other two parameters, no cookie is created and the parameter is removed from the URL as the page loads. Thus, there is no immediate way to track its success.

Add an item to your cart and go to check out. Create a new user and then place the order. When you go to look up the sales order, you'll see that the Lead Source field will be populated with the campaign name you just set up.

When the shopper creates a new account through this way, a new lead will be generated. Go to Lists > Relationships > Leads and view the user you just created. As you've placed an order, you'll need to search for customers (rather than leads). Under the Marketing tab, you'll see the marketing campaign you set up as the Lead Source value.

Like the others, you can report its usage and see how successful a tool it is. Again, also like the others, you can chain this parameter together with the others and track, for example, a marketing campaign targeted at the customers of a partner with a promotion code.

Summary

Next time you run a campaign, offer a promotion code, or reach out to a partner, consider using URL parameters. Not only do you offer your shoppers a seamless way to participate, but you also make it far easier to record this interaction in a meaningful way. With this information, you can build up reports and, in time, a broad picture of how effective various channels are.

I think there are some innovative ways you can use these things. Want to see how effective your social media accounts could be? Why not track this channel and offer a promo code along the way? Want to know if a partner is really helping your sales out? Give them their own tracking code.

Do you use URL marketing parameters? What clever ways have you used them?