Digital Marketing

Campaign Tracking Guideline with Google Analytics – The What, Why & How to

Google Analytics (GA) is able to track all visitors to your website. However, by default, there are only four channel groupings, also called Mediums – referral, direct, organic, paid.

What is campaign tracking in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics (GA) is able to track all visitors to your website. However, by default there are only four channel groupings, also called Mediums – referral, direct, organic, paid. What GA doesn’t track by default is campaign tracking which refers to a method of identifying how users discover your site. Specifically, you use campaign tracking in Google Analytics to accurately track online advertising campaigns sending traffic to your website, such as Bing and Yahoo, your email newsletter, social campaign, and other online activity you want to track separately from the pack four (mediums that are tracked by default). You want to track these campaigns separately so you can measure the performance of every different marketing campaign you are running.

Why setup campaign tracking in Google Analytics?

Setting up campaign tracking for your non-Adwords advertising campaign is essential if you want to have accurate monthly reports like this:

Campaign Tracking Setup Correctly - All Traffic Display | IMA Interactive

If you don’t set it up, the Banners and CPC campaigns would be labeled as referral traffic and emails would be labeled as direct traffic. This is problematic when you launch a campaign and want to be able to measure the effectiveness and its impact on your overall online marketing campaign.

Traffic Attibution with and without Campaign Tracking | IMA Interactive

An Example of how messy your reports can get?

Referral Traffic without campaign tracking - Google Analytics | IMA Interactive

This is one of my client’s Referral traffic report from January 1, 2012 through July 23, 2013. A referral traffic report is meant to give you data about external websites that link to your website, not paid advertising campaigns. For instance, when seeing this report, I would think that 1,696 visits came from external websites but unfortunately it is not the case. The 95 referral websites that are listed in the report (only the top 10 are listed) have a recorded 1,217 visits coming from paid advertising campaigns which represents 71.8% of the entire referral traffic. Unfortunately this data is skewed and the only way to solve this issue is to use campaign tracking.

How to use campaign tracking?

To start setting up campaign tracking, you need to create a dynamic URL. It sounds complicated but it isn’t because Google offers a great and easy tool to use to create those campaign URLs and here is an easy checklist to setup Destination URLs for every ad campaign:

1. For destination URL Creation go to: https://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1033867&rd=1

2. Make sure to fill out these required fields: Website URL, Campaign Source,Campaign Medium. The Campaign Name and Campaign Content fields are optional.

3. Finally, click on Generate URL and you are good to go, you’ve just created your new Destination URL!

This URL will ensure that your campaign is tracked in the campaign tracking report instead of Referrals. Let ‘s take an example and say that I want to track my BING ads:

Campaign Tracking URL Builder - Google Analytics | IMA Interactive

Click submit and here is your new Campaign Tracking URL: https://www.example.com/coupon?utm_source=BING&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=Coupon&utm_content=Version1&utm_campaign=Promo+Code+on+Coupon

You’re ready to get started!

If you are running many online marketing activities via social media, email marketing, and non-Adwords ads, campaign tracking is the way to go, otherwise you won’t be able to see the impact and the effectiveness of each one of your campaigns. There you have it, a great tool for measuring your campaigns’ success. Any thoughts? Feel free to share them with me below.

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