Campaign Tracking in Google Analytics

To track your custom marketing campaigns into Google Analytics, you need to use campaign tags (which are also called UTM tags), these tags allow you to see your marketing reported separately in Google Analytics. And when you combine campaign tracking with conversion metrics, including goal completions and transactions, you can pinpoint what’s working (and not working). This means you can adjust your future marketing campaigns, inform your strategy and even reallocate your budget to campaigns that are delivering the best results.

The more inbound marketing campaigns you track into Google Analytics, the better. This is because you will have more accurate data and a clearer picture of the sessions associated with your marketing activities. When someone comes to your website from one of your campaigns and they aren’t tagged correctly, you lose the ability to clearly see how your campaigns are performing.

It’s critical to only track your inbound marketing using campaign tags. Now you might be wondering – ‘Why just inbound marketing?’ This is because campaign tags work in a very particular way. If we were to use them within our website to track promotions, we would be impacting our data (and not in a good way). So if you want to measure promotions within your website, then you should read my post on tracking internal campaigns.

Campaign tracking can be confusing if it’s the first time you’re using campaign tags and that’s really because they’re specific to your organization. You can name your campaign tags anything you like. We’ll look at some recommended naming conventions for your tags, but it’s also important to understand if someone else has already been using campaign tags, you might see some unexpected names showing up in your reports.

What are campaign tags?

Campaign tags are extra parameters that you can add to the end of URLs used for inbound campaigns. They allow you to capture details about where the link was seen and how it was shared. This allows you to understand and compare the performance of different marketing campaigns.

Here is an example of a campaign tagged URL:

And here is the same link without the campaigns tags:

You will notice that there are extra parameters at the end of the tagged URL. The Google Analytics tracking code automatically captures the value of each of these parameters and presents them in your reports. The parameters are:

  • utm_source which is used to define the source of the campaign. The best way to think of source is to ask – ‘Where is the message seen?’ For the example above, the link was posted on Twitter, so the source becomes
  • utm_medium allows you to define ‘how the message was communicated’ (in our example this was set to social). I will talk about why I have used ‘social’ in a moment, but for now, this allows me to understand that the link was shared on a social network.
  • utm_campaign is used to define the overarching marketing campaign. In our example, this is twitter ads which quickly allows me to see that this was a paid marketing campaign.
  • utm_term and utm_content are two optional campaign tags. They are designed for tracking keywords and headlines of non-Google Ads CPC (Cost Per Click) campaigns. For example, if you’re running ads on Bing. Although you can make use of these for other types of campaigns, I would recommend avoiding them unless you know what you’re doing as they can have unintended effects.

                                                                                                                                                                                 How do I add campaign tags to URLs?

There are a few different ways to add campaign tags to your links. The most common method is to use the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder. This tool allows you to quickly see the different tags that can be used and you can create a tagged URL which you can then copy and paste into your campaign.

Once you’re comfortable with the different campaign tags available, you can add them directly to the end of the URLs within your campaigns. Or you might decide to use another tool, for example, a spreadsheet to add campaign tags and keep a record of all the tags you’ve previously used. There’s no right or wrong way to add tags, so go with whatever works for you.

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