Need to generate some campaign-tagged URLs for use in printed materials? Please try the Mason Campaign URL Builder Application.
How To Use Campaign Tagging in Printed Materials
Yes, you can use campaign tagging on links used in printed materials. Since links found in printed materials have to be typed in manually by a user, you should try to provide as short and concise a URL as possible. Often this will mean that using a URL redirect. You provide your user with a short, easy-to-type link that redirects to the full URL with campaign parameters included. These can be called short links, redirect links, vanity URLs, etc.
For example, let’s say that you have a link that you want to share on a printed postcard: https://www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/how-apply/accelerated-masters. This link is somewhat long and unwieldy, and users may be dissuaded from typing in the full link. Instead of using this long URL, you could set-up a short redirect link like gmu.edu/accelerated-masters-2018, which is much easier for the user to remember and type-in, and which redirects to the full longer URL.
Simple Redirect: gmu.edu/accelerated-masters-2018 (nice URL) -> https://www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/how-apply/accelerated-masters (real URL)
Implementing campaign tagging just takes this concept one step further by adding your campaign tagging parameters to the redirect URL.
Redirect with Campaign Tagging: gmu.edu/accelerated-masters-2018 (nice URL) -> https://www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/how-apply/accelerated-masters?utm_medium=print&utm_source=vse-ait&utm_campaign=apply2018 (real URL with campaign tags added)
If you designate a redirect URL for use in printed materials, make sure it is only used for that purpose. If you have a redirect set-up as described above, and you use the same short link in an email, social media post, or elsewhere, the campaign tagging parameters added by the redirect will overwrite the real source/medium information.
Campaign Tagging Recommendations
The following recommendations apply to the campaign tagging parameters on the full URL – not the short link.
For links used in printed materials, the medium parameter should always be “print”.
The source parameter should indicate what unit/department is sending the email.
You should indicate your unit (and department, if applicable) in the source parameter, in order to disambiguate the analytics data of sessions resulting from campaign link clicks from your emails other departments on campus. The recommended method is to use the abbreviation for your unit, delimited by a hyphen, followed by the department or group withing that unit (if applicable), delimited by a hyphen. For example: “chss”, “chss-psychology”, “admissions”, etc.
This enables you to easily filter the data in a few different ways:
- If you filter for just the unit and department (i.e. “chss-psychology”), you would see all of the aggregated data for all the Psychology Department’s email links.
- If you filter just the unit (i.e. “chss”), you would see the aggregated data for all of CHSS’s email links.
The campaign parameter is up to the you, but remember to use something unambiguous, and to check the existing campaign reports to ensure that you are not using a campaign parameter that is already in-use.
Content Parameter (optional)
The content parameter may be used to provide additional data about the context of the printed link.
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 our campaign tagging parameters consistent in the long-term.
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.