Using UTM Parameters for Campaign Tracking

Wait. What? UTMs?

Google Analytics campaign tracking (occasionally referred to as a UTM) allows you to track and measure your marketing efforts by attaching query parameters to a URL. These query parameters provide information about the traffic the URL is sending back to your website.

Before you instant message your web developer — this process is not as technical as it sounds!

We will talk more in depth about the actual setup later, but in the meantime!

So what?

As a marketer, you may be thinking “I have a lot on my plate already. Why would I want the hassle of appending parameters to URLs all day?

Answer: Campaign tracking gives you the ability to better understand traffic, compare traffic from different sources in one location (Google Analytics), and measure campaign success.

For example, you are creating a series of emails for lead generation. Your emails have a link leading back to a landing page trying to get people to sign up for a demo. How can you tell which email is performing the best (ie, generating the most demo requests)?

Without campaign tracking, you’d be left scratching your head, trying to pull data out of your email marketing platform, and likely, pulling at straws to decide a winner (okay, just kidding about that last part).

The bottom line is, without campaign tracking query parameters on a URL, clicks on a link in an email will show up in Google Analytics as Direct, making it hard for you to measure success.

How do I use campaign tracking?

Anyone can generate the query parameters for a URL in a matter of seconds using Google’s URL Builder Form.

Don’t believe us? Give it a try — we’ll time you.

Here you’ll enter the following parameters:

Listed as “Required” or “Optional” fields.

Website URL (required)
 This is the page you want to send users to.

Campaign Source (required)
 This is specifically where traffic is coming from (ex. Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter, etc.).

Campaign Medium (required)
 This is the channel generating the traffic. Think of it as a category that your different sources fit into (ex. social, email, blog).

Think of it like this: (Examples)

Facebook/Twitter = source (where specifically the content is shared)

Social/Email = Medium (The general platform you are sharing your content)

The medium is the key value Google Analytics uses for assigning default channel groupings.

Default channel groupings include:

  • Direct
  • Organic
  • Referral
  • Email
  • Social
  • Paid Search (cpc, ppc)
  • Display

In most cases, you will want to choose one of these for your medium. For more on default channel groupings see:

Campaign Term (optional)
 Use this field if there is a specific keyword associated with the campaign (ex. in the case of pay per click campaigns).

Campaign Content (optional)
 Use this field to distinguish between multiple types of ad content pointing to the same URL for the same ad campaign.

Campaign Name (required)
 This is the name of your campaign (ex. a slogan or product name).

Pro tip: In Chrome, install the Google Analytics URL Builder plug-in to make building query parameters faster than ever.

What’s in a name?

…that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; — that may be so but before you go wild and start tagging every URL you come across with query parameters, take a minute to consider your naming convention.

It’s important to tag things appropriately to be able to extract valuable data versus winding up with piles of numbers that don’t correlate with anything.

For example, you are running a social campaign across multiple channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) so you set your campaign name as summer_sale and your medium as “social” but you set all of your sources as “facebook” well now we can’t tell any of those different sources (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) apart.

It just looks like all the traffic for the summer_sale campaign came from Facebook. Kind of defeats the purpose, right?

In addition, if you set your source as “Facebook” for some campaigns and “facebook” for others It will show up as two separate sources in Google Analytics, unless you are using filters to automatically convert all sources to “lowercase”. See #2 in the article Get Rid of Noise With These Fundamental 9 Filters.

With that in mind, here are some campaign tracking best practices:

  • Lowercase everything (ex. cpc not CPC)
  • For multiple words (ex. summer sale) use an underscore (ex. summer_sale) instead of spaces, camel casing (ex. summerSale), or stringing everything together (ex. summersale)
  • Be consistent
  • Plan and make sure everyone is on the same page
  • Keep a record of your parameters (because Google doesn’t store this information when you generate it using their form or plug-in)

You can plan your query parameters and keep track of them with the free InfoTrust Google Analytics Campaign Tracker & URL Builder Sheet.

The second tab of the InfoTrust Google Analytics Campaign Tracker & URL Builder Sheet allows you to enter your desired parameters and automatically generate a tracking URL. This is a great place to keep a record of all the parameters currently being used for various campaigns.

When deciding what parameters to use, go with something simple and logical. In other words, if you saw a list of your parameters you should be able to identify what they correspond to.

Great…so, now what?

View how great all your campaigns are performing — of course!

Once you have set up and launched campaign tracking, it is time to take a look at and analyze those numbers in Google Analytics.

To find campaign tracking:

1. Login to Google Analytics and select the appropriate account, property, and view

2. On the left-hand side, select “Acquisitions”

3. Click “Campaigns”

4. Choose “All Campaigns”

By default, you will now see a list of all of your campaigns (listed by the parameter you entered for “campaign”). You can easily toggle between what you entered for campaign, source, medium, or see source and medium by selecting the options above the campaign list.

Need more helping with campaign tracking?

This pensive campaign tracking stick-person will be more than happy to help research your errant campaigns.

…but in the case he’s unavailable, or (more likely) frozen in thought, check out this Custom Campaign article from Google or post your question in the comments.

Happy Tracking!

This article was originally published on the InfoTrust blog. Visit our website for more Google Analytics insights!