How to Track Custom Campaigns With Google Analytics

Check out our newer July 2015 post on social media campaign tracking!

Have you ever seen a jump in your website’s traffic that you just couldn’t trace to a source or campaign? If so, you may have wondered to yourself: “where did those users come from, and how can I get more?” This article was written to help you pinpoint those successful campaigns so that you can continue to expand on their success.

We’ll show you how to begin collecting user data through the use of UTM tracking codes, then we’ll go on to show how you can create reports within Google Analytics to make sense of the data you’ve collected.

What are Google UTM Parameters

UTM tracking parameters are bits of text that you add to the end of a link’s URL in order to track visits that come to your site through that link. UTM tags are specific to each link that you create, and will collect data that will give you information on where that user came from. You’ve probably seen these parameters in URLs before and just not paid them much attention.

To create URLs with UTM parameters quickly and effortlessly, without having to always remember which parameter you need to use with what tag, you can use the Google Analytics Link Builder, as shown in the image below.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 3.08.31 PM

This application also includes a handy reference of what each UTM parameter means along with examples of how to use them. Here are the UTM tags that are available for use:

  • Campaign Source (required): Use this to tag where a user would have came from (Google, Facebook, etc).
  • Campaign Medium (required): This is the marketing medium used to find the link. (CPC, email, organic, etc).
  • Campaign Term: If you’re using paid search, this is where you can identify the specific keyword.
  • Campaign Content: This can be used to differentiate different ads within the same campaign.
  • Campaign Name (required): This is used to identify which specific efforts are producing results.

For example, let’s say that I want to track visits that come from the Facebook advertisement here:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 3.17.10 PM

I would use the following URL: sproutsocial.com?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=CPC&utm_campaign=Segment+1&utm_content=laptop

The source and medium tell me that this user is coming through a paid Facebook ad, the campaign tells me which targeting I used, and the content tells me which image brought them in.

Some great ideas of when to use a custom campaign URL with UTM parameters include:

  • Email Marketing: Use UTM parameters in URLs for email marketing, such as your newsletter, to see which newsletters get the most clicks from your readers. This is a great way to test things like whether your buyers are more apt to shop during weekends or weekdays, or if they’re more likely to click on a product link that’s in a text or a banner format.
  • Social Media Marketing: You can use the source UTM parameter to denote which social network the user came from, and the medium parameter to designate whether it was a paid or organic advertisement.
  • Offsite Advertising: If you have different sized banner ads on multiple websites, you can use the UTM parameters to track the campaign theme of the banners. This will let you see at a glance which sites are sending the most visitors to you and which banners have the best results.
  • Different Areas on Your Own Website: If you’re marketing your latest product on your About page, on your blog, and through a variety of banner ads throughout your website, you probably want to know which one of these methods is most effective. Use UTM parameters to distinguish which product link is driving the most traffic to your product page.

Google Analytics Campaign Tracking

Organizing Your Custom Campaign Data

Once you’ve gotten the hang of adding UTM parameters to your URLs, you will probably want to do it almost everywhere and often. The challenge at that point will be keeping track of your custom URLs and creating reports to view the data they pull in.

Once people have interacted with the custom campaign URLs you’ve created, you can view their data in your Google Analytics account. Log in to Google Analytics, navigate to the “Traffic Sources” section, click “Sources,” and then click “Campaigns.” This will show you how much traffic you’ve received on the campaigns, using the various custom UTM parameters you created.

Creating a Report for Custom Campaigns

It’s also possible to create a custom report that will look specifically at the parameters that you’ve set up, here’s how:

  1. Navigate to the “Customization” tab on the top menu bar.
  2. Click “+ New Custom Report”.
  3. Add metrics that you’d like to look at (visits, new visits, goal completions, etc).
  4. Choose dimensions that you’d like to look at (source, medium, campaign, content).
  5. Add a filter that will look at a specific campaign. This is based on the name of the dimension you want to look at. For example: “Include Campaign Containing ‘Lead Gen'”.

[Image Credits: Daniel Lackey Takashi, Talk Radio News]