Tracking ad conversions with recruiter IDs

Earlier this month, I wrote that one of NationBuilder’s most under appreciated features is its ability to track recruiters . At the time, I was focused on best practices for tracking recruits that come to your site via social media, but there’s another — perhaps more powerful — use for NationBuilder’s recruiter IDs: tracking conversion rates from digital ads.

But first, a quick refresher on how NationBuilder’s recruiter tracking works:

  • NationBuilder’s personalized tracking links are created by appending “?recruiter_id={{ nationbuilder id }}” to any URL on the site, where the NationBuilder ID is the numeric database ID of the supporter you’d like to credit the referral to.

  • When someone clicks the link and arrives at your page, a cookie is added to their browser indicating the NationBuilder ID of the person who recruited them.

  • When they take an action on your site (i.e., submit any form anywhere on the site), that information is logged in the database and the recruiter will be credited.

Most commonly, these flow is initiated because someone shared a link to your site while logged in. Because they were logged in, NationBuilder knew to append the recruiter tracking ID to the URL, and anyone who clicked back to the site is credited to that supporter. It’s easy, passive (i.e., it doesn’t require intentional action by the supporter), and powerful.

But what if we wanted to track new signups who were “referred” from a digital ad? How would we do that?

  1. First, we’d create a “dummy” profile in our database for our ad campaign. To do this, navigate within your Control Panel to People > + New person and create a new person whose “first name” is something descriptive (ex: Google Ad Campaign #1).

    Screenshot: Create a new “person”

    Don’t worry about giving the record an email address, etc. It’s not necessary.

  2. Copy that new record’s “NationBuilder ID”.

    Screenshot: Copy the NationBuilder ID

  3. Create your digital ad campaign as you normally would in Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.

  4. When prompted by the ad setup prompt to enter the URL that ad clickers ought to be directed to, append “?recruiter_id={{ nationbuilder id }}” to the URL, where {{ nationbuilder id }} is the number you copied in Step 2.

    Screenshot: Use your recruiter ID when creating the search ad

  5. Save your ad campaign.

Now, NationBuilder will assign anyone who clicks through from that ad campaign a cookie indicated that they were “recruited” by that campaign. If they sign up, donate, or take any action on your site, you’ll see an activity in your Dashboard that shows the ad as their recruiter.

Screenshot: Recruiter activity displaying on NationBuilder Dashboard

And later on, if you’d like to filter your database by these people — say, to build a list of supporters who responded to a given message or ask — you can use NationBuilder’s robust filtering tool to zero on them as shown below.

Screenshot: Filter your database by recruiter

Using this trick, you can level up your advertising analytics beyond just knowing the click-through rate to knowing who — exactly — you reached on a per-campaign level.

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