One of the great advantages of marketing online is that you have access to more detailed and accurate performance data. Accurate measurement, through tools such as Google Analytics, allows you not only to understand what marketing to repeat, but also to tune your campaigns to perform better.
One of the easiest ways to improve the accuracy of the data you have available in Google Analytics is by using Custom Campaign parameters to links. These allow you to track visits and users that result via your marketing campaign links. Adding these extra parameters to the links that you use in newsletters, in online adverts and that you post to social networks is a quick and easy way to give you valuable insights in to how hard your marketing time and money is working.
What are campaign variables?
Campaign variables are simply values that you add to the end of a link so that Google Analytics knows how to categorise that visit. Those values are then stored in the visitor’s cookie so that you can track sales and enquiries against the marketing that you do.
Google Analytics offers five different variables that you can use to track your campaign. Three of these are mandatory:
Campaign Source: Where was this linked used? Examples might be facebook, siteWeAdvertiseOn.com, customerNewsletter
Campaign Medium: Mediums are the largest groupings of traffic. Examples might include display-ad, email, social, print (yes – you can track print… more on that in a later blog post)
Campaign Name: The campaign label is used to group marketing around a theme or event. Examples might include 2013-SummerSale or LaunchPromotion
When added to the link these look like this:
How do these work in practice?
Imagine we’re looking at a florist running a valentine’s day campaign. The first thing that we might do is to tag all of our marketing with the campaign with:
As part of that campaign we might send a newsletter out of our existing customers and tag the links in that with :
We might also flag up our valentines promotion in the signature lines of general emails that we are sending, and tag those with:
This structure would allow us to look at the effectiveness of our marketing either across the campaign or broken down in more detail. Likewise as we ran other campaigns over time we could compare how different sources and mediums were working.
The easiest way to build those links is to use Google’s URL builder tool. Just enter the values and it will create the links for you. https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en-GB
Consistency is king
Campaign variables can be used to pass whatever value you like. utm_source=newsletter, utm_source=customernewsletter and utm_source=customer-newsletter are all equally valid values. Only by ensuring that you use consistent values you can compare performance over time.
Is there an easier way?
Quite often, yes! Most email marketing solutions and social management solutions have an option to add the tags for you. For instance, Mailchimp offers the option to “Add Google Analytics tracking to all URLs”. If you enable that and tell it what values to use it will do the rest for you.
Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.