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How to track digital campaigns in Google Analytics using UTM variables

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a web analytics service that tracks user activity on a website or mobile app. It was launched in November 2005 by Google after acquiring the Urchin Software Corporation in April 2005. It is easier than making a cup of coffee to install Google Analytics to a website. It works by placing a piece of Javascript code onto every page of a website. When a visitor comes to website, Google Analytics cookies collect information about visitor activity. Also, that script creates a text file in the browser called a cookie. Cookies can store a lot of information about users such as the type of user (new or returning), location and device type the user is using etc.



Why should we track campaigns in Google Analytics?

We should track marketing campaigns to optimize and calculate ROI. We can optimize Facebook, Adwords etc. ads to get leads for the best prices too.



How are campaigns reported in Google Analytics?

There are a lot of reports where you can see campaign data in Google Analytics.



1. Campaign report

Where to find?

Reporting => Acquisition (a left side menu) => All Campaigns



How to use?

You can see some basic metrics in this report:


  • Number of sessions;
  • % of new sessions;
  • New users;
  • Bounce rate;
  • Pages/Sessions;
  • Average session duration;
  • Ecommerce conversion rate;
  • Transactions;
  • Revenue;
  • Goal conversion rate;
  • Goal completions;
  • Goal value;

Also, it is possible to see specific goal completions by choosing a goal in the top right corner of the Campaign report.



Campaign report tip:

Choose Comparison in the top right corner and compare metrics to the site average.



You can compare number of sessions, bounce rate, goal conversion rate, goal completions, number of specific goal completions, specific goal conversion rate and other standard metrics with site average.


2. Assisted conversions reports

Let`s imagine a situation when you launch a great Facebook Ads campaign. After some time, you go to Google Analytics and see that the number of conversions increased. But they came from Google, not from Facebook. “How is that possible?” - you might want to ask.


It is quite possible that users first came to your site from a channel, then came again from another to convert. You will see the second channel as a source of conversion in Standard reports. That`s why it is better to use Multi-Channel Funnels reports to find out which channels play bigger role in converting users.



Where to find?

Reporting => Conversions (a left side menu) => Multi-Channel Funnels => Assisted Conversions


Choose ‘campaign’ as a primary dimension.



You can see on this screenshot that the second campaign has 16 Assisted conversions. Assisted conversions are (as defined by Google) the number (and monetary value) of sales and conversions the channel assisted. If a channel appears anywhere—except as the final interaction—on a conversion path, it is considered an assist for that conversion. The higher these numbers, the more important the assist role of the channel.


So the first campaign is efficient. We cannot see this in standard reports, because standard reports show us only Last Non-Direct click conversions.


These are just two examples of reports with Campaign statistics. You are free to use Campaign dimension in some custom reports as well.

Why is campaign tagging so important?

If you're running AdWords campaigns, clicks from your AdWords ads will automatically be bucketed into the google / cpc traffic source. All other clicks will be assigned to their respective source, usually as direct, organic or referral.


When running an online marketing campaign (non-AdWords campaigns), it is highly likely you will distribute various pieces of marketing material in many places across the web.


Let’s say you place display ads of various sizes on a range of websites, place a feature about your product in your monthly newsletter and place an article and advert in the newsletter of an online industry magazine.


Whilst it is easy to determine which channel is bringing in more traffic to your landing page (let’s say email drives more traffic than advertising), how do you determine which newsletter is more effective? Yours or the online magazines? Or what banner size is most effective? This is where UTM width: 95% come into play!


If you're running non-AdWords campaigns, you should be tagging those links so that they are not being bucketed in the wrong category and distorting your attribution analysis.


Examples of how not tagging your links could lead to misleading analysis:


  • You are active on Facebook. Besides linking to your site via posts on your fan page, you also run Facebook ads that lead directly to your site.
    • If you haven't tagged your ads, all traffic from Facebook will show up as facebook / social (or) facebook.com / referral in your GA reports, regardless of whether the user clicked on your free posts or paid ads.
    • Basing your analysis on traffic from Facebook would thus be sub-optimal. It assumes your free and paid traffic are the same, and we know the behaviour of both could differ drastically.
  • You are running email campaigns and you don’t tag every link inside emails.
    • If you don’t tag the links inside emails, all traffic coming from these campaigns will show up as {email server name} / referral in your GA reports, regardless of whether the user clicked on any link on any campaign.
    • You cannot do analysis based on {email server name} / referral information as you wouldn’t know which email campaigns the traffic is coming from and you also wouldn’t know which email campaigns more effective.

What is direct traffic?


Direct is not necessary "direct" entry to the website from a bookmark or typing in the address in the browser: it can be referral traffic that doesn't have the referrer passed through to the website and Google Analytics. This includes email, mobile apps (with social media apps), and referrals from secure pages.


For example, if you don't tag your Facebook ads and your website is HTTP (not HTTPS), you will not be able to calculate Facebook ads ROI properly. Some traffic from your ads would be regarded as direct in Google Analytics.


In addition, if you don't tag your Facebook ads, you will see all traffic from Facebook as Facebook referral traffic. In that case, you won't be able to identify paid traffic.


The same is for other Ads except for Google Adwords Ads. If your account is linked to Adwords you will be able to see Ads performance in Google Analytics reports without UTM tagging.

What Is A UTM Parameter?


UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module; the format used by Google to track your unique URLs.


A UTM parameter is a tag added to the end of a URL which, once clicked, sends data back to Google Analytics allowing you to track which elements of your online marketing strategy are most effective.


There are 5 key UTM parameters used for campaign tracking within Google Analytics, 3 of which are required, 2 which are optional.


Required

  • utm_source – Used to describe where the traffic is coming from, for example the name of the website displaying your adverts or the newsletter name.
  • utm_medium – Used to describe the specific element, for example you may refer to banner placements or sizes dependant on which aspect you are split testing. Or it could be a product image in the newsletter case.
  • utm_campaign – This refers to the overall campaign you are running. For example, if the new campaign you are launching is for a new phone (e.g. the K00z) then your campaign may be called ‘K00z-launch’

Optional


  • utm_term – This is used for paid search to determine the particular keyword you were bidding on for that specific ad. For example, an ad for the term ‘SEO services’ would be tagged ‘utm_term=seo+services’
  • utm_content – Used for split testing to differentiate the performance between different ad copies (ex: ad A and ad B).

Here is the visualization of utm parameters in link


Source


It is just a traffic source. In other words, the referrer. For example, google, facebook, bing.


Medium


It is just a channel. For example, cpc, social, email.


Campaign name

The name of the campaign. For example, ‘promo email’


Term


Used to store keywords for Search ads.

Content


Usually used for PPC campaigns to store an Ad's content. For example, an Ad headline or a banner description. But it is possible to use it for other channels as well. For example, you can put in there the Ad set parameter from your Facebook campaigns.


It is essential to tag urls in your campaigns. Let's see how to do it.


You can tag campaigns manually by adding utm parameters at the end of each url, but it isn't handy and takes a lot of time. We will give you some examples of more convenient ways to tag campaigns using Analytics URL Builder .


Let's imagine you want to launch a Bing Search PPC campaign and need to configure utm parameters for your Ads. Just go to Analytics URL Builder and fill out the form.


The Ad Group name and the keyword are automatically filled in for Bing.


It should look like this:


Instead of http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com enter the website address where you will be sending traffic to.


Then press Build URL button and you will get url with utm parameters - http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Puppies&utm_term={QueryString}&utm_content={AdId}


You can copy that url and add to your Ad.


Let's imagine you want to launch a Yahoo Search PPC campaign and need to configure utm parameters for your Ads. Just go to Analytics URL Builder and fill out the form.


The Ad Group name, the keyword and the Campaign name are automatically filled in for Yahoo.


It should look like this:

Instead of http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com enter the website address where you will be sending traffic to.


Then press Build URL button and you will get url with utm parameters - http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com?utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign={OVCAMPGID}&utm_term={OVKEY}&utm_content={OVADID}


You can copy that url and add to your Ad.


Display campaign example

Let's imagine you want to launch a Google Display campaign and need to configure utm parameters for your Banners. Just go to Analytics URL Builder and fill out the form. It should look like this:


Instead of http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com enter the website address where you will be sending traffic to.


Then press Build URL button and you will get url with utm parameters - http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com?utm_source=google&
utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=Puppies&utm_content=Brown+puppy

Social campaign example

It is recommended to tag all link in your posts in social networks. Let's imagine you need a tagged url for a promoted post on Facebook.


Just go to Analytics URL Builder and fill out the form. It should look like this:


Instead of http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com enter the website address where you will be sending traffic to.


Then press Build URL button and you will get url with utm parameters -


http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com?utm_source=facebook&
utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=Friday+discount&utm_content=promoted+post

Email campaign example


In the case of an email campaign, you need to tag all urls in a campaign email body.


Just go to Analytics URL Builder and fill out the form. It should look like this:


Instead of http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com enter the website address where you will be sending traffic to.


Then press Build URL button and you will get url with utm parameters - http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com?utm_source=Best+customers&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=April+discount&utm_content=Newsletter

Offline campaign example


Let's imagine you make an offline promotion with a link. For example, a newspaper Ad. You can track it in Google Analytics using shortened url with utm parameters.


Just go to Analytics URL Builder and fill out out the form. It should look like this:

Instead of http://AnalyticsURLBuilder.com enter the website address where you will be sending traffic to.


Then press Build URL button and you will get a short url with utm parameters -


http://bit.ly/1NPrqFd


Campaign with QR code


Let's imagine you decide to include QR code in your print marketing.


Just go to Analytics URL Builder and fill out out the form. It should look like this:


Then press Build URL button and you will get a QR Code with a link:


Things to watch out for:


1.Be consistent. If you use cpc medium for one of your PPC campaigns, use it for other campaigns as well.


Otherwise, it would be hard to analyze channel efficiency in Google Analytics.


2.Remember that tags are case sensitive. So cpc, Cpc, сPc are not the same thing. If you tag one of your campaign with cpc medium and another with Cpc medium there would be 2 different rows in your Acquisition report.


3. Use the source tag with name of the channel: facebook, google, mailchimp, linkedin


4. Don't use long campaign names. It would be hard to see them in Google Analytics.


Good example: April discount


Bad example: April discount, that we discussed last week


5. Don`t use meaningless campaign names. Make sure other people can understand them as well.


Good example: April discount


Bad Example: AprDis