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Campaign Tagging Recommendations (Google Analytics)

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The post below covers why you might want to use campaign-tagging, and the mechanics of how campaign-tagging works. For more information about how to use campaign-tagging strategically in ways that work for your business, please see this post: Campaign-Tagging Strategy.

What is Campaign Tagging?

There are many ways people come to visit your website: we regularly share URLs with others in the course of business in many different ways. These could include links provided in an email newsletter, shared in a social media post, printed in marketing materials, etc.

Campaign Tagging is the practice of including additional information in URLs that you share in your marketing efforts in order to specify how/where the URLs were shared.

Why Use Campaign Tagging?

Campaign tagging gives you the ability to track the performance of your marketing efforts.

It gives you direct control of how you categorize visits to your website resulting from your marketing efforts. Without campaign tagging, some information about what marketing efforts led users to your website is lost, and some visits may not be categorized the way you would like. By adding campaign-tagging information to the URLs you share, you are providing information about what link – in what context – someone followed to arrive at your website.

It allows you to track entire marketing campaigns, rather than just click-through rates on individual links. You marketing campaigns may include communications on multiple channels: multiple emails and perhaps even social media posts, online advertising, printed materials, and other materials. Coordinated, consistent, and thoughtful campaign tagging of links will allow you to track performance of entire campaigns – and their individual components.

It give you access to information about what users who follow specific links are actually doing once they get to your website. Click-through rates will give you information on how many people are clicking, but provides no information about actions they take after that initial click. With campaign-tagging, you can identify all website activity associated with a website visit resulting from a campaign-tagged link.

How to Use Campaign Tagging

In short, you add 3 (optionally more) additional bits of information (parameters) on to the end of URLs that you provide in your marketing materials. At a minimum, you must provide the “Medium“, “Source“, and “Campaign” that you want to associate with the use of the link.

Medium Parameter

The medium parameter should indicate the type of media in which the link is provided (e.g. “email”, “social”, etc.).

Specifically, the medium parameter should use one of the following values:

"Medium" Parameter Value (utm_medium)Description
emailLinks used in email communications.
socialLinks use in social media posts
printLinks used in printed materials. These must be used with a redirect to append the campaign parameters in the redirect process.
tvLinks used in TV advertising
radioLinks used in radio advertising
cpcLinks used in cost-per-click (cpc) online advertising.
cpmLinks used in cost-per-thousand-impressions (cpm) online advertising.
cpaLinks used in cost-per-action (cpa) online advertising.

Source Parameter

The source parameter should indicate the specific location in which the link was provided. The specifics depend on the medium. For example, for social media posts (medium=”social”), the source should specify the particular social media service (e.g. “facebook”, “instagram”, etc.). For links provided in emails (medium=”email”), the source parameter should generally be the unit (and department, if applicable) which sent the email.

Campaign Parameter

The campaign parameter is used to indicate the overall marketing campaign or messaging goal which the communication containing the link supports. This is very much is up to your unit/department, but take the time up-front to plan a strategy. Remember to use something unambiguous, and to check the campaign reports on the websites to which you are planning on directing campaign links to make sure that you are not using a campaign parameter that is already in use. The campaign “mason2018” may already be taken.

Other Considerations

Capitalization

All parameters should use only lower-case characters. Google Analytics is case-sensitive, so capitalization matters. Using all lower-case will is a clear and unambiguous rule which will make it easier to keep your campaign tagging parameters consistent in the long-term.

Spacing

Avoid using spaces if possible. If you must use spaces, use plus signs (+) in place of spaces in your parameters. Plus signs will appear in GA report as spaces. Although using spaces directly will sometimes work as desired, in other cases spaces can cause display issues in your Google Analytics reports.

Campaign-Tagging Strategies

Now you know why you might want to use campaign-tagging, and the mechanics of how campaign-tagging works, but how should use use it strategically in ways that work for you? Click here for more details on campaign-tagging strategy.

Medium-Specific Recommendations

Email

You absolutely should use campaign tagging in your marketing emails. Vendor-provided metrics like open rate (not reliable) and click-through rate (reliable, but incomplete) are not enough. See more specific recommendations on implementing campaign-tagging in your email communications.

Social Media

Please use campaign-tagging in your social media posts. In some situations social media is indispensable; in others it doesn’t effectively drive traffic. You need to be able to measure the effect of your social media marketing to see which is which. Take a look at more specific recommendations on using campaign-tagging in your social media posting.

Print

Yes, you can use campaign tagging for links you share in printed materials! By combining print-specific links with redirects, you can get the benefits of campaign tagging with vanity URLs. How many visits did that marketing postcard generate. Find out by implementing more specific recommendations on campaign-tagging for print communications.

Television Advertising

TV advertising should use vanity/redirect URLs in order to provide the viewer with a short, easy-to-type, easy-to-remember URL, which redirects to the ‘real’ page you want the user to land on. The redirect should include the campaign parameters so that we can track the traffic from this ad. For more details, please see specific recommendations for campaign-tagging TV advertising.

Radio Advertising

Radio advertising should also use vanity/redirect URLs in order to provide the listener with a short, easy-to-type, easy-to-remember URL. This vanity URL should automatically redirect to the ‘real’ page you want the user to land on. As with TV advertising, the redirect should include the campaign parameters so that we can track the traffic from the ad. For more details, please see specific recommendations for campaign-tagging radio advertising.

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