Using Campaign URLs to Track Important Metrics in Google Analytics

By Joli Skow | July 2014

Using Campaign URLs in Track Important Metrics on Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a treasure trove of data about your visitors and their visits to your website. The trick is in knowing how to set up and arrange that data in the way that's most useful to you! If you haven't yet used custom campaign URLs, you'll want to give it a try.

Custom campaign URLs are an incredibly useful tool to have in your marketing toolbox. Put simply, campaign URLs are a way to track where traffic comes from in a very specific manner. They're ideal for tracking traffic coming in from offline campaigns such as direct mailings and commercials, or from other online campaigns such as emails, social posts, videos or paid advertising on affiliate sites.

Using Campaign URLs in Email Marketing Campaigns

Let's take an email marketing campaign, for example. Let's say you own a dog grooming shop called Muddy Mutts, and you're sending out an email blast that prompts recipients to do one of two things: visit your coupons page or your "Enroll my pet" page, which will enroll people in your frequent visitor points program.

You want a way to easily see how many clicks you get on either of those two calls to action. Campaign URLs to the rescue! By using campaign URLs, you'll not only be able to see how many clicks your two calls to action accumulated, but also see a breakdown of how many visitors clicked what, how long they stayed on your site, conversion rate and more, all in one spot in Google Analytics.

To get started using campaign URLs, visit the Google Analytics URL Builder. Follow the directions provided, using unique parameters (words) for each required field. Here's an example of how we could set this up for our Muddy Mutts "Enroll My Pet" CTA example:

Website URL: http://www.muddymutts.com/enroll-my-pet
Campaign Source: augustnewsletter
Campaign Medium: email
Campaign Name: enrollCTA

When you enter those into the URL Builder, what Google spits out is this:
http://www.muddymutts.com/enroll-my-pet?utm_source=augustnewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enrollcta

Now, we change the Enroll My Pet CTA in our newsletter to link to this long, custom URL. Then, do this all again for your coupons page. Campaign Source and Campaign Medium would be the same, but the Campaign Name you'd want to change to "couponsCTA".

When our email CTA clickers are referred to these long URLs on your site, the "utm=" parts tell Google Analytics that these are campaign URLs, and it arranges them as such. To find the accumulated information in Analytics, you'll go to acquisition > campaigns. There you'll be able to see sessions organized by the name, medium and source you used when you set up your URLs.

Tracking Direct Visits

Campaign URLs are also useful when you want to use descriptive shortened URLs. For instance, let's say you want to print an offer in your local newspaper that sends people to your website to sign up in your Enroll My Pet program for a special percentage off through the newspaper. You need to send people to muddymutts.com/enroll-my-pet/newspaper-offer, but that's too much for people to type in.

To fix this conundrum, you'll want to set up a 301 redirect. In your ad, direct people to muddymutts.com/special (or whatever shorter URL you'd like). Create a custom URL using the URL Builder, then redirect muddymutts.com/special to that URL. For example, you'd probably do something like this:

Website URL: http://www.muddymutts.com/enroll-my-pet/newspaper-offer
Campaign Source: printad
Campaign Medium: newspaper
Campaign Name: newspaperoffer

Which gives you:

http://muddymutts.com/enroll-my-pet/newspaper-offer?utm_source=printad&utm_medium=newspaper&utm_campaign=newspaperoffer

Now to make this work as intended, just set up muddymutts.com/special to 301 redirect to your campaign URL. Now not only are you giving visitors a shorter URL to type in, but you're also taking advantage of campaigns. These visits will now be reported as campaign visits from your newspaper ad rather than just direct traffic.

This is really only scratching the surface of all the ways in which you can use campaign URLs to enhance your Google Analytics tracking abilities. So get in there and try some things!

Need help setting up campaigns or have questions? Get in touch with an ArcStone Internet Marketer!

Topics: Digital Marketing