Setting Up and Analyzing Campaign Tracking in Google Analytics

Google Analytics gives you lots of information about the visitors to your website, such as how they got to your site—organic, social, referral, direct, and the like, (although it often gets this wrong). It also gives you other useful information, such as the geographic location of the visitor, as well as the browser and device they used. This is all helpful, but it is also very generic.

Campaign tracking allows you to take control of the way that Google Analytics reports visitor data so that you can analyze your advertising and marketing efforts. As an example, you could have a campaign that has a specific landing page designed to sign up users for a free trial of a service you provide. To get traffic to that page, you use a variety of advertising methods such as:

·         Organic search

·         AdWords

·         PPC ads on another search engines, like Bing

·         Banners on industry specific websites

·         Affiliates

·         Email marketing

·         Social media

·         Printed magazines

Using standard analytics, the information you get will be limited, but with Campaign Tracking you will be able to track which of the above methods brought you the most traffic, and which of them has the best conversion rate. With that information, you can determine the method that offers you the best return on your investment. You can also use the information to improve your campaigns in the future.

Step 1 - Understanding Campaign Tracking

Campaign tracking involves building custom URLs that includes campaign parameters. For example, your standard landing page URL might look something like this:

YourWebsite.com/free-trial

A URL with campaign tracking built in would look something like:

YourWebsite.com/free-trial?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=nov-promotions

This particular example will record traffic from Facebook that has come via posts and ads labeled as November promotions.

Step 2 - Setting Up Campaign Tracking

You first need to decide on the three main parameters for your campaign:

·         Medium - This should be the broadest category. In the example above, it is "social", so that covers Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

·         Source - This is the specific source of your campaign. In the example above, it is Facebook.com. It could also be email, a newspaper ad, or any other platform where the ad appeared.

·         Campaign - This is the specific campaign. In the above example, it is "nov-promotions" to specify the November promotions.

Content and Term are two other parameters that you can use in Campaign Tracking. Unlike the other parameters, these are optional.

Content allows you to differentiate your ads. An example would be when you are running banner ads of different sizes on a Website. You might have an MPU and a leaderboard, and it is good to know the time period that one performs best. Or you might have two different versions of a leaderboard that you are split testing. Instead of using separate campaigns to split up this data, you can use content. That means you give both ads the same value for medium, source and campaign, but different values for content.You can also use this on an email campaign where you want to compare the conversion performance of a text link, an image link, and a button.

Term is used on PPC campaigns on search engines. If you run AdWords campaigns and have auto-tagging enabled, you don't need to worry about this as it is automatic. If you don't have auto tagging enabled, you should consider changing that. You have to use the Term parameter, however, whenever you are running PPC ads on other search engines such as Bing.

Step 3 - Creating Your URL

You can create your URLs manually by adding utm_ then the name of the parameter followed by = and then the value of the parameter, but there's an easier way. Google has created a tool that makes it simple to create Campaign Tracking URLs. With this tool, you don't have to worry about the structure of the URL. Simply put in your identifiers and click Generate URL. You can then use this URL wherever you need to.

To use it follow these steps:

·         Go to the URL builder form

·         Enter your website URL—this is usually your landing page

·         Enter the source of the ad

·         Enter the medium that the ad is running on

·         If you are running PPC ads on Bing or another search engine other than Google, enter the keywords

·         If you need a content value to separate data for different ads, enter it in the Campaign Content field

·         Enter the Campaign Name

·         Click Generate URL

Step 3 - What about Offline Sources?

With an online source for your ad or marketing message, it is easy to use the long and complicated Campaign Tracking URL. This is not suitable for offline ads, however. Can you imagine trying to give out that long URL on a radio ad, or print it in a magazine or newspaper ad?

The solution is to create a shortlink. The shortlink is what you display in the offline ad, but all the information from the Campaign Tracking URL is still passed onto your Analytics Account.

Step 4 - Analysing the Data

You will find the data from Campaign Tracking in your Google Analytics dashboard. Go to Acquisition on the left menu and then Campaigns.

This option displays a summary of all your campaigns with the all-important ABC data—acquisition, behaviour, and conversion—and allows you to see which campaigns are performing well. It wil also show you which campaigns aren't doing so well.

You can click on each campaign to see more data, or sort the top line information by source or medium. This allows you to see if, for example, social performs better than email, or whether banners work better than affiliates.

Setting up Campaign Tracking is not a complicated process, but it does take a bit of time. It also takes some planning, particularly if you run a lot of advertising campaigns promoting different things on various media. If you want the Campaign Tracking data to be useful, it should be well-structured. But when it is set up correctly, the information that it gives is invaluable.

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