How to set up Custom Campaign Tracking in Google Analytics

Published on 6th February 2017

What is more frustrating that under performing campaigns? Not having any data to tell you  how a campaign is performing…

In this post, we are going to look into how you can track clicks or visits from specific links or sources in Google Analytics using Customer Campaigns/UTM Tracking.

Below is an overview of the sections, in case you want to jump straight in to a specific area:

    • What is UTM Tracking/Custom Campaign Tracking?

 

    • Example of Google Analytics UTM Code in action

 

    • Google Analytics UTM Tags and Uses

 

    • Example of different UTM Set Ups

 

    • Google’s Campaign URL Builder

 

    • UTM Tracking in Mailchimp

 

    • UTM Tracking in Facebook

 

    • Can I use UTM Tracking in an e-book?

 

    • How to track Offline Campaigns with Custom/UTM Tracking

 

    • Where can I find the campaign data in Google Analytics?

 

    Useful Custom Campaign Links

What is UTM Tracking/Custom Campaign Tracking?

To help explain what it is, we’ve included an example of a real life problem a marketing manager is faced with and what they are looking to achieve:

Scenario 1:

“We know we’re getting traffic from Facebook, but we would like to know how to set up tracking for individual Facebook posts and understand how well specific posts are doing. In particular, for posts on a page called ‘Travel in London’ as we pay the page owner for these to be posted on the page and want to track engagement and ROI.”

Scenario 2:

“Alice has sent out a few email marketing campaign recently. They seem to have good open rates, views and clicks, but she’s not sure what happens when users get to the website.”

In every traffic situation, we need to make sure we understand (accurately) where the traffic is coming from, and what happens when people get to our site. Unfortunately, this isn’t always clear or straight forward.

Thankfully, the solution to this problem is very very simple:

Google UTM Tracking AKA Custom Campaign

Simply put, UTM tracking is the process of tagging links back to your website with additional information that tells Google Analytics where it came from. Once this has been done, the rest of the visitor data can be captured and correctly attributed.

Example of Google Analytics UTM Code in action

In this example, we are sending out an email/e-shot to existing clients that contains a link to our offers page:

http://www.domain.com/my-offer

If we wanted to be 100% sure that Google Analytics identifies any traffic from this email and attributes it to this source, we can append the following URL parameters to our link:

http://www.domain.com/my-offer?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=spring_sale&utm_medium=email

When the visitor lands on this page, the Source, Campaign and Medium data will be passed over to Google Analytics and recorded accurately. By doing this we can now accurately identify exactly who came from a specific campaign, and most importantly, what happened next in the journey.

Google Analytics UTM Tags

Below is a table that helps you understand and learn more about the different UTM codes available and their uses.

Campaign Source

utm_source

Required.

Use utm_source to identify the source of which the traffic came from.

Google Analytics defaults:

Search Engines (e.g. “google”)

Referring website (e.g. “xyz.com”)

“direct”

Examples you might consider:

“spring_newsletter”

“billboard_a12”

Campaign Medium

utm_medium

Required.

Use utm_medium to identify a medium of the traffic. Think of medium as top-level channels that group  different sources.

Google Analytics Defaults:

none” for Direct traffic

“cpc” for paid search

“organic”

“referral” 

Examples you might consider:

banner or display

social

print

direct-mail

Campaign Name

utm_campaign

Used for keyword analysis. Use utm_campaign to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.

Example: utm_campaign=spring_sale

Campaign Term

utm_term

Used for paid search. Use utm_term to note the keywords for this ad.

Example: running+shoes

Campaign Content

utm_content

Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads. Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.

Examples: logolink or textlink

Example of UTM Campaign Variable Set Ups

The following screenshot provides some example setups which might be useful in choosing the right configuration for your tracking URL:

UTM campaign variables examples

UTM campaign variables examples

All this UTM code stuff looks very technical, HELP!

Fear not, if this looks a little bit too technical or confusing, Google has a tool to make generating these tracking URLs a breeze.

Google’s Campaign URL Builder Tool allows you to set up your links without the worry of getting the syntax wrong. Just click the link and start tracking!

UTM Tracking in  Mailchimp

If you’re using Mailchimp, it’s even simpler. UTM tracking is integrated within the MailChimp system, all you need to do is make sure that it is turned on.

To do this go to:

Setup > Tracking > Google Analytics link tracking

Mailchimp - Google Analytics link tracking setting

Mailchimp – Google Analytics link tracking setting

More information on Integrating Mailchimp with Google Anlayics

If you use MailChimp and haven’t done this already, we would strongly recommend reading Mailchimp’s additional tracking options guide,  integrating MailChimp with Google Analytics and even download this PDF guide “How to use Google Analytics with Mailchimp“.

UTM Tracking in Facebook

Again, as UTM tracking is so valuable in gaining greater understanding of traffic sources and outcomes, even Facebook have generated their own version of the tool to help marketers. It essentially does the same thing, but automatically has the campaign source set to Facebook.

UTM Tracking in Facebook using their Google Analytics URL Builder Create URLs for custom campaigns for website tracking.

UTM Tracking in Facebook using their Google Analytics URL Builder Create URLs for custom campaigns for website tracking.

They also have some helpful information on how you might want to assign the other UTM variables/settings:

Facebook - Helpful Information on Google Analytics URL Builder

Facebook – Helpful Information on Google Analytics URL Builder

Can I use UTM Tracking in an e-book?

Yes! Using custom campaign tracking is a great way to establish how many people are visiting your website through your e-book.

Imagine this, someone gets sent a PDF of your e-book by a friend. They open it up in Adobe Acrobat, read the content and click a link with the document that goes to your website. As the link was clicked in Adobe Acrobat, this automatically opens a browser with the URL loaded. Without UTM parameters, Google Analytics thinks that the user has come directly instead of from a click within the PDF. All of a sudden, you have a better understanding of where the performance of your e-book and a truer picture of where your audience originated from.

How to track Offline Campaigns with Custom/UTM Tracking

Question: Can I track use custom\UTM tracking to measure offline campaigns?

Answer: Yes.

The best way to do this is to set up a vanity URL (a short & easy to remember URL) that redirects the user to the actual URL with the campaign parameters included.

For example, in a magazine or print ad you may send users to “www.domain.com/magazineoffer/ ”  and this is configured to transparently redirect them to our tracking URL.

http://www.domain.com/my-offer?utm_source=themagazine&utm_campaign=spring_sale&utm_medium=print

Using QR codes? Great, just embed the UTM URL as the destination.

Where can I find the campaign data in Google Analytics?

So you’ve set up the UTM tracking URLs and run the campaign, now where can you find the data in Google analytics?

To access the campaign data, open Google analytics and navigate to:

Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns
Google Analytics > Campaigns > All Campaigns Report

Google Analytics > Campaigns > All Campaigns Report

Useful Custom Campaign Links

Google Analytics Custom Campaigns

Google URL builder tool

Best Practices for creating Custom Campaigns

Campaigns and Traffic sources (A detailed look at how Google Analytics collects and measures campaigns and traffic sources)