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.

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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 https://st-tech.blog/new-google-drive-features-2017/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=branded. 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.

Author: Kia Street

"Riding the Trend Waves" helps techies conquer the tech world. Street provides best practices for incorporating advanced tech into organizations' marketing mixes and more.

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