Marketing Campaign Tracking with Google Analytics

Marketers always need to know the performance of marketing channels and cost of acquisition, that’s where campaign tracking comes to play. Almost all analytics tools let you track campaigns, and more or less use the same method for that purpose.

Before we go further, let me note that Google Analytics allows you to track AdWords and non AdWords campaign, while this post will only be focused on non AdWords campaign tracking, I have added a few other sources at the end which covers both.

To track a campaign, Google Analytics uses a technique called link tagging. In this method, before posting the url, we add three campaign variables and values to campaign url.

To make it simple, let’s assume you want to market your website, which in our example will be www.mywebsite.com, through two different campaigns, say campaign 1 and campaign 2, via email and on facebook page subsequently, and you would like to know which one sends more traffic to your site.

I have put the information I need to track those campaigns in following table.

Campaign Source Campaign Medium Campaign Name
Email Campaign email content Campaign 1
Facebook Campaign facebook page Campaign 2

 

Second step is to tag your website link using campaign tracking variables and defined values in the table above, to the end of website url following this format:

/?utm_source=”Campaign Source”&utm_medium=”Campaign Medium”&utm_campaign=”Campaign Name”

In our example, for email campaign we will have:

http://www.mywebsite.com/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=Campaign1

And for facebook campaign, we will get:

http://www.mywebsite.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=page&utm_campaign=Campaign2

 

In those examples, I have used variables starting with utm, and for that reason I call them utm variables. Those variables are campaign variables, and will be carrying campaign information to Google Analytics.
I have provided a brief overview of utm parameters in below table.

Variable Meaning
utm_source This is where you post your link, like email, or facebook
utm_medium This shows how the url is being delivered, like email content, or facebook page
utm_campaign It is simply the campaign name, pick what makes it easier to refer to it in the future, like Campaign1, or EmailCampaignJun2011

Note that I am not using space in the values, however there is no limit on Google Analytics for adding that.

Playing with variables like this is very time consuming, error prone, and can be frustrating. That’s why most of analytics tools provide a URL builder for their campaign tracking efforts. In our case, we will use Google URL Builder, which can be accessed here:
http://support.google.com/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578

 

When you go to the page, you will get a simple form that contains exactly the same fields that we discussed earlier, simply enter your website url, and values, and press “Generate URL” button to get your campaign url.

Google URL Builder

Google URL Builder

There are two other variables in the form that are being used for other purposes, and are out of the scope of this post, so for now, let’s forget about them. After starting campaigns, and in a short time, you will see your defined campaigns and values in Google Analytics report under Traffic Source > Source > Campaign.

You May click on Source, Medium or Source/Medium to get different view of your campaign activities.

 

More reading:

Campaign Tracking and AdWords Integration on Google Analytics IQ Lessons

Email Marketing: Campaign Analysis, Metrics, Best Practices on Avinash Kaushik Blog

 Using other Analytics tools? Check this out

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