Measuring Custom Campaigns With UTM Codes

Custom Campaigns give you the ability to add campaign parameters to the destination URLs of your blog posts, online marketing ads, social media content, etc. That way, you’re able to collect data about those campaigns and understand where the campaigns are performing the best.

Google Analytics logoWhat are Custom Campaigns?

Custom Campaigns give you the ability to add campaign parameters to the destination URLs of your blog posts, online marketing ads, social media content, etc. That way, you’re able to collect data about those campaigns and understand where the campaigns are performing the best.

In this post, I’ll walk through how to build URL parameters to measure the effectiveness of Custom Campaigns in Google Analytics.

Kia blog post main image

Best Practices for Building URLs

What are URL Parameters?

Parameters are snippets that you can add to the end of your URLs. There are five main parameters that must be paired with a value that you assign. Each parameter-value pair is what contains the information you want to track that’s related to your campaign.

The table below outlines the name and definition of each parameter you’ll find within common URL builder tools such as the Campaign URL Builder by Google.

Kia's blog post chart

How to Identify URL Parameters

For example, let’s take a recent blog post of mine, “Hacking the New Google Drive Features,” and add URL parameters to it. In order to measure the traffic to the post that comes from our branded Twitter account, we identify the following parameters:

  • utm_source: twitter
  • utm_medium: social
  • utm_campaign: branded
  • utm_term: n/a
  • utm_content: n/a

Our destination URL is now You’ll notice we didn’t include utm_term or utm_content. That’s because we reserve utilizing those snippets for PPC campaigns.

Why Use URL Parameters?

These parameters will allow us to effectively measure the traffic received from the specified criteria. When a user clicks on a custom URL, the parameters are sent to Google Analytics, and the data made available in the Campaigns report under the Acquisition tab.

Kia's blog post example

This gives us tons of more freedom in terms of our analysis. We’ll be able to drill down in Google Analytics and pivot this data to tell our user’s journey to the post. This type of data is actionable and can have a significant impact on the bottom line: ROI.

When NOT to Tag URLs …

Remember, though, as tempting as it may be to try and measure everything about where your traffic comes from, remember to tag only what you need for effective analysis.

Why? Because the more parameters you add to URLs, the more complicated you can make it in the end. Google Analytics automatically tracks the majority of these parameters and spending time on tagging for the sake of tagging isn’t the point.

The goal of tagging destination URLs is to differentiate traffic with more specificity than Google Analytics already does.

Do you use Custom Campaigns in Google Analytics? How has tagging helped you measure your campaigns more effectively? If not, give the Campaign URL Builder a try and follow my tips for more detailed analysis of traffic sources to your site or blog.

Does Your Content Work? Advanced KPIs for Google Analytics

You spend tons of time making sure every word in your blog posts is perfect, but are you measuring the performance of these posts effectively?

Google Cabinet MCheck out even more about personalization and artificial intelligence with FUSE Enterprise.

You spend tons of time making sure every word in your blog posts is perfect, but are you measuring the performance of these posts effectively?

Whether you’re a Google Analytics magician or a certified beginner, GA is integral when evaluating the performance of any website (including small blogs).

For many just starting out in Google Analytics, digging through your plethora of data to unearth actionable insights is no small feat. To save your soul (and your time!) this post will walk you through how to create my go-to advanced segment: Engagement/Post.

This GA segment is simple, quick and applicable to any type of blog or business with content-focused KPIs.

Without further ado, here’s how you can take advantage of the unique segment I created to measure user engagement on my blog.

Kia blog post GA segment

What Is Google Analytics Advanced Segmentation?

Google Analytics Advanced Segments isolate specific types of traffic within your reporting views for deeper analysis. Segments essentially allow you to view GA data that follows your specified criteria. There are five ways to customize segments; by:

  • Demographics
  • Technology
  • User Behavior
  • Date of First Visit
  • Traffic Source

In addition to this list, GA provides the ability to program your parameters with conditions and/or sequences under the “Advanced” tab within the segment editor. This gives you the added flexibility of setting multiple conditions (which we’ll explore later) for your segments.

Using Advanced and Custom Segments in Google Analytics

In any view, segments can be found at the top of the screen underneath the header that contains the report’s name, your selected date range and the options for sharing. To remove/edit/share segments, toggle its settings by clicking the arrow next to each box.

kia blog post GA view

GA offers pre-set segments, such as:

  • Converters
  • Non-converters
  • Direct Traffic
  • Mobile Traffic
  • Etc.

Take a look at these later on, if you’re interested in using Google’s system segments.

Creating the ‘Engagement/Post’ Segment

My go-to segment, Engagement/Post, is unique because it gives you a refined look at the performance of specific content rather than an overall peek at website traffic.

Kia blog post Engagement/Post segment
Here’s how I define Engagement when creating the Engagement/Post segment

Next, you’ll create a condition that excludes traffic from your categorical website pages (example: home page, about us, etc.). Because it’s super-important to analyze these separately. This is because user intent and behavior varies, depending on where they are on your site. Bundling all activity without distinguishing between the pages that matter most is a sure-fire way to fudge up a good GA analysis.

Of course, this can all be done in a variety of ways without using advanced segments (think: filters, views, content groupings, etc.). But segmentation in GA is a foolproof way of validating this type of traffic data without getting your hands too dirty.

Kia blog post Engagement segment detail
Your GA segment should look something like this now

This advanced segment will allow you to better understand which content drives the most engaged users on your site. Compare it against other segments for best results.

Explore the Solutions Gallery

Kia blog post GA gallery

The GA Solutions Gallery is for those interested in importing dashboards, custom reports and segments into their own GA accounts. Essentially, this platform serves as a forum for sharing user-generated GA solutions.

The Solutions Gallery is perfect for beginners, because there aren’t any major commitments or heavy setup involved with importing. For pros, check out the GA Solutions Gallery if you’re looking for specific, detailed segments that align with common KPIs.

Feeling lucky? Upload or create your own solution to share publicly for reuse in the gallery.

Recommended Dashboards for Content Marketers

  • The Content Analysis Dashboard provides you with insights that help evaluate the efficiency of your content. The dashboard widgets show the pages that are underperforming or overperforming so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • The Engagement and Loyalty Dashboard helps you analyze traffic growth over time to improve loyalty and engagement with your content.

You can also create your own dashboard in Google Analytics under the “Customization” tab. The tab is great for everyday GA users who wish to make shortcuts, craft custom reports and receive alerts.

Marketers, what’s your opinion on my Engagement/Post segment? Did you implement it, or did you find another segment that matched your needs in the Solutions Gallery?

Learn even more about the convergence of technology and branded content at the FUSE Enterprise summit. Artificial intelligence and personalization will be featured among many other techniques and technologies.

Go Ahead, Watch the Cat Video

Let’s all be honest about something here. As a matter of course, each and every one of us, at one time or another, will put off an important assignment in order to watch one, two or 36 cat videos on YouTube. There’s no shame in it. Cat videos are what make us human, after all. (I think that’s Shakespeare … Thoreau, maybe?)

Let’s all be honest about something here. As a matter of course, each and every one of us, at one time or another, will put off an important assignment in order to watch one, two or 36 cat videos on YouTube. There’s no shame in it. Cat videos are what make us human, after all. (I think that’s Shakespeare … Thoreau, maybe?)

The question is, what’s the significance of all this? Why am I writing about it on a blog that’s meant to chronicle the life and times of a copywriter? The answer is … because cat videos are important to me. But also, because science says I can, that’s why.

This entry isn’t specifically about copywriting or subject lines or email design… but it is about a proven way to bolster creativity, rejuvenate a tired mind, and make you an overall happier worker.


This is an actual picture of my cat watching a cat video. I feel like a better writer already.

A study published earlier this summer in the journal Computers in Human Behavior surveyed over 7,000 people on their emotional and practical responses to viewing “cat-related media” online, as well as the motivations behind seeking out the videos. The study resulted in the following conclusions:

  • Participants overwhelmingly reported fewer negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness and annoyance after watching cat videos
  • Participants were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media
  • Often, participants sought out cat videos while at work or while studying
  • For the majority, the pleasure resulting from watching these videos significantly outweighed guilt felt about procrastinating

“Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward,” said the study’s author, Indiana University assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick, in a press release.

And hey, that bit about feeling more energetic and positive? Here’s a quick little video explaining more of the science-y stuff behind that, complete with words like “oxytocin” and “cortisol.” The gist: watching cat videos is proven to help your brain release more happiness hormones and suppress stress hormones, thus giving you a natural boost of energy and motivation.

Basically, what I’m taking away from all this is that if you’re having one of those days at work when you just can’t fight the writer’s block or it’s 2 pm and your brain feels like mush and the coffee machine is just too far away, and you’re feeling a lot like Grumpy Cat, watching a cat video could be exactly the creative caffeine (creative catffeine, if you will) that you need to get back in gear.

Just for the record, it’s not like I wrote this blog entry specifically to excuse my own habits or convince any co-workers of anything. Scout’s honor, I swear. And if I just happen to have a list of the 14 greatest cat videos of 2014 bookmarked, as well as a livestream showing about a dozen kittens live on camera 24/7/365, well, it’s all in the name of better writing and motivation.

Can’t thank you enough, Science, this is exactly the kind of progress and discovery I’m here for.

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I always knew Lil Bub would help me get ahead in the workforce.

SEO Audit Checklist: Why Aren’t You Ranking Number 1?

SEO (search engine optimization) is undergoing rapid changes as Google rolls out new updates, and it can be tough to stay ahead of the power curve. However, the basics remain the same as they always were. Before you start chasing the latest SEO tricks, take time out to audit your existing SEO. Tweaking the basics can have a dramatic impact on boosting your rankings. Follow this SEO audit checklist to find out what you need to change to rank first.

Website Content
The core of your SEO rankings is your website content. Ensuring that it is of high quality, properly tagged, and well integrated should form the basis of your SEO improvement plan.

  • Title Tags: A title tag is a short snippet of text that describes your webpage in search results. This is where you need to convince both Google and the human searcher that your page is relevant and useful, so every word needs to count. Make sure that each page has its own unique title tag that includes your target keyword phrase for that page.
  • Meta Descriptions: A meta description is the text that appears below the title tag in search results. Although it does not affect the Google algorithm directly, it is what entices a prospect to click on your page. The click through rate, in turn, does affect your Google rankings. Think of the meta description as a short ad of approximately 150 to 160 characters. It should be unique and descriptive, and include your target keyword.
  • H1 Tags: Think of the H1 tag as the webpage’s headline, or the title of a paper. It is usually the first piece of information a prospect sees when she visits that page. It should be clear and concise, and contain some variation of your keyword phrase. This will convince the reader that she has reached a useful page that is worth reading.
  • Webpage Copy: In the old days of SEO, keyword-stuffing was rampant. The idea was that it didn’t really matter what the copy looked like, because it would rank highly as long as the keyword was inserted all over the place. Naturally, this led to a lot of poor quality junk pages. Google revamped its algorithm to combat this practice, and today, high-quality copy is essential. Long-form content of at least 500 words, written in a natural way that is easy to read, is an absolute requirement. Polish your copy, ask others to read it and make comments, and then polish it again. Make sure it is the best it can be.
  • Duplicate Content: If a webpage is duplicated, Google will only rank one of the pages. That’s why it’s important to create unique, original copy for each page. To ensure you do not have duplicate pages on your site, use an online tool such as Siteliner or Copyscape.
  • Image ALT Tags: An ALT tag describes an image to a prospect who cannot view it. More importantly for SEO, it also allows Google to understand the image. Use 5 to 15 words, including one of your target keywords, to clearly state what is in the photo.
  • Blogging and Social Media: Increasingly, integrating a blog and social media into your webpage can improve your rankings. These items let Google know that your website is regularly maintained. They also improve your chances of receiving link-backs from other sites. To be effective, however, you need to stay on top of both the blog and the social media presence, creating frequent, high-quality new content. Make sure your webpages have links to your blog and your social media accounts, possibly in the header or footer, and provide a way for readers to share your blog articles on their social media.
  • Separate Webpages: A very common mistake that business owners make is trying to optimize one webpage for multiple keywords. Create a separate, well-optimized page for each core keyword, making sure that each page follows all of the best practices for SEO.

Local SEO
Local SEO, or optimizing your webpages for your local area, is absolutely essential for many types of businesses. If you provide a hands-on service or sell products of local interest, local SEO is essential to improving your rankings.

  • Claim and Complete a Google+ Local Page: This will get you ranked in the map-based results that appear in the upper right corner of the Google results page. Make sure your contact information is entirely accurate, and ask your current customers to write reviews.
  • Webpage Contact Information: Review your contact information on each webpage. Every instance should match precisely, and they should all match what you have listed on your Google+ Local Page. This gives Google confidence your information is accurate and up-to-date, and deserves to be listed in their results.
  • Citation Consistency and Schema Markup: Citations are mentions of your name, address and phone number on other websites like directories and blog posts.   Over time it is easy for outdated or erroneous information to appear, which can negatively impact your local rankings. Moz Local is a great tool to check if your citations are 100 percent consistent across the Web. Schema markup is a type of code, available at, that helps search engines understand the data on a webpage. Using it on your contact information can help Google find important information to display in the search results.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimizing your website, but it all starts with the basics outlined above. Focus on making your website content and local SEO the best they can be, and you should see a dramatic jump in your rankings.

Would you like more SEO tips? I created a simple checklist that walks you through specific actions you can take to improve your rankings and traffic. Click here to get my SEO Checklist.


Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: What the IBM/Coremetrics Deal Means for Marketers

Arguably the biggest news of the week in the online marketing world was the announcement that IBM, the granddaddy of technology companies, will acquire Coremetrics, a leader in web analytics software.

Arguably the biggest news of the week in the online marketing world was the announcement that IBM, the granddaddy of technology companies, will acquire Coremetrics, a leader in web analytics software.

The acquisition will enable Big Blue to help its customers gain intelligence into social networks and online media sources through a cloud-based delivery model. Then, they can incorporate this insight into their processes to create smarter, more effective marketing campaigns.

“With this acquisition, we are extending our capabilities to give clients greater insight about customer behavior and sentiment about products and services, and give true foresight into their future buying patterns,” said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM WebSphere, in a press release.

This isn’t the first time a large technology company catering to enterprises has purchsed a web analytic company in an effort to expand their online marketing offerings. A few years ago, Google bought Urchin, for example. And last year Adobe bought Omniture.

But what does this all mean for marketers? For one, it validates the growing importance of digital channels and online marketing.

“Less than a year after the acquisition of Omniture by Adobe, IBM’s announcement today represents overwhelming testimony to the value of online marketing technology as a core piece of an enterprise strategy,” said Alex Yoder, CEO of Webtrends, a Coremtrics competitor. “In today’s world, the growing importance of data-driven decision making is not a luxury, but a minimum requirement to competing in today’s markets. Businesses, governments and nonprofits all realize that facts and insight let them point their innovation and resources in the proper direction.”

While Yoder went on to say that Webtrends leads the market in open standards and detailed customer information — and that his company has seen a 51 percent increase in new business bookings year over year — he added that it will be interesting to see how the acquisition “ultimately impacts enterprises looking to understand data across the multiple digital channels that comprise today’s marketing landscape.”

Responsys, a partner of Coremetrics, said in a prepared statement that the web analytics firm has taken an innovative approach to managing and leveraging the vast amounts of online customer data that today’s companies generate, and that “IBM, as the largest business technology company in the world, is sending a strong message that these capabilities must be considered part of the core ‘stack’ required to be successful in an increasingly digital world.”

Responsys went on to say that this acquisition is “raising the bar” for the industry by helping make advanced online data and marketing solutions a central and established aspect of running a business.

What do you think about the acquisition? Let me know by posting a comment below.

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: Two Signs That ‘Traditional’ and ‘Social’ Online Marketing Are Becoming One

Two announcements were made this week that in my eyes signify a true integration of traditional and social marketing.

Two announcements were made this week that in my eyes signify a true integration of traditional and social marketing.

The first was the announcement that Omniture and Facebook have joined forces to provide online marketers with solutions to optimize Facebook as a marketing channel. The partnership builds on the Facebook analytics and Facebook application analytics capabilities Omniture announced last year.

This alliance is designed to help companies integrate Facebook as a marketing channel and connect to relevant conversations with the site’s 400 million active users.

Initially, “the two companies will focus on the most fundamental needs of online marketers today: the ability to automate Facebook media buying and access analytics that measure customer engagement on Facebook,” according to an Omniture press release.

The solution, for example, will enable advertisers to buy media and track media on Facebook through Omniture tools such as SearchCenter Plus. It will also enable them to generate reports designed to understand ad effectiveness of Facebook pages and other Facebook applications.

The two companies will continue to expand their partnership as marketers increasingly use Facebook to optimize visitor acquisition, conversion and retention, Omniture said.

The next announcement came from email marketing provider ExactTarget, which announced this week that it has acquired CoTweet, a web-based collaboration platform that allows companies to manage multiple Twitter accounts from a single dashboard, support multiple editors, track conversations, assign roles and create follow-up tasks.

The acquisition will enable ExactTarget to offer marketers a solution for managing communications across all interactive marketing channels, including social media, email and mobile.

A key reason for the acquisition was because ExactTarget was finding that while “organizations are moving quickly to try to capture the potential of social, they’re also discovering that it’s siloed and not integrated effectively with other forms of digital communications,” said Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget co-founder and chief executive officer, in a press release. “By combining the power of ExactTarget and CoTweet, we can provide businesses with a complete solution to tie together all forms of interactive communications and drive deeper customer engagement online.”

I’ll bet there’ll be more announcements like these to come in 2010, as digital marketing software and service providers really begin to understand the impact social media is having on consumers and marketers alike.