Explainer Public

Campaign-Tagging Strategy

While the mechanics of campaign-tagging have been discussed previously, read on for information about how to think about campaign-tagging from a strategic perspective.

Click here for background information on what campaign tagging is and why you should use it.


How do you want to organize your communications – so that you can measure their effectiveness – in ways that you can act on.

When doing campaign-tagging through Google Analytics, there are 5 fields you can use to provide information and context about where the link was used, and what purpose it was intended to serve. Three of those fields (Medium, Source, Campaign) are required, and two (Content, Term) are optional.

While you can technically use any field for any purpose, there are well-thought-out intentions for what each field should be used for.

In short, you should think about how your organize your website marketing efforts and how you want to measure them to see if they are effective.

Required Fields

The “Medium”, “Source” and “Campaign” fields are required when implementing campaign tagging.


The “Medium” field is intended to indicate the type of media in which the link was used (email, social media, etc.).

This one is pretty straightforward.


The “Source” field is intended to indicate the source of the content in which the link was found.

Ordinarily, in a Simple Case:

If the Medium is “social” the source would be “facebook”, “instagram”, etc.
If the Medium is “email”, the source should be the category of email that contained the link (monthly newsletter, inquiry follow-up, etc.).

However, in Mason’s Case:

We don’t just have one group sending email messages, we have many.
We don’t just have one Facebook page, we have hundreds.

That means that putting “monthly newsletter”, or “Facebook”, or “Instagram” in the source field is not enough to determine the actual source. We also need to know what department at Mason was behind this content. This means that the source field also needs to indicate the unit and department.

To this end, the Mason campaign URL builder has dedicated fields to indicate the unit and department, in addition to a more-specific source field. The URL builder combines these three separate fields into a single, combined source parameter in the final campaign-tagged link.

Social media example: for links posted on Facebook by the Mason Community Arts Academy, the final source would be: “cvpa-mcaa-facebook”.

Email example: for links included in the monthly email newsletter sent by the Mason Community Arts Academy, the final source would be: “cvpa-mcaa-newsletter”.

It is critical to include both your unit and department in the source field, in addition to the specific source, so that you can:

  • group all of your campaign traffic together;
  • segment the data by any combination of unit/department/specific source.


The campaign field should indicate the overall marketing effort or initiative that the communication is intended to advance: what purpose does this communication serve?

You think should in general terms as you want to use the same campaigns across all different media. If you use a separate campaign for each-and-every message, you won’t be able to easily track different communications in a unified campaign.

How you organize your campaigns depends a great deal on how you organize your business, and how you want to measure your ROI.

For example, you might organize many of your communications around specific time periods (for example, 2018 spring enrollment).
However you might also undertake specific marketing efforts for certain programs (like a specific 2018 theater initiative).

Returning to our Mason Community Arts Academy monthly email newsletter, you might use the following schema:

Campaign=[up to you]

But what if you do want/need to be able to measure the effectiveness of individual communications separately?
That’s where the two additional optional fields come into play.

Optional Fields

The “content” and “term” fields are not required and are less frequently used, particularly the term field.


The content field is intended to store information about the content of the message or advertisement. For example you may want to:

  • use two versions of an ad (perhaps a banner ad vs. a sidebar ad), or
  • two ads with identical wording but different images (cat vs. person), or
  • provide content about a particular topic in a social media post or newsletter…

…and you be able to track their effectiveness independently.

For example, let’s say that you send newsletters with content related to art, music, theater, etc.
In that case you could use the content field to specify what the communication’s focus was.

Using this schema, you would be able to slice-and-dice your reports by any combination of: medium (how are your emails doing vs.vs your social media posts), source (how is Facebook performing vs. Instagram), campaign (how is the 2018 spring campaign doing vs. the previous term’s campaign), or even content (how our our music-related communications doing across all media vs. arts-related communications).


The term field is intended to store the search term for links from online search ads. However, since ads purchased through Google AdWords are automatically tagged in Google Analytics (as both products are owned by Google), in practice the term field is only necessary for search ads on non-Google networks.

Pulling It All Together

You probably don’t need to create a separate campaign-tagged URL for every link every time you use it; it’s overkill in many cases.
But if you wanted to measure things to a high level of detail, you could use separate links for each and every communication.

For example, any two links posted on Facebook for the purpose of driving people to register for the upcoming term, could both correctly use the same medium, source, and campaign values.

But, if you wanted to be able to measure individual monthly newsletters in a definitely separate way, and still maintain info about the broader campaign, that’s where you could use the content field.

For differentiated newsletters:
Medium: email
Source: cvpa-mcaa-newsletter
Campaign: 2018 spring
Content: “june” or “music”

Bear in mind that you don’t necessarily need to specify a month/date (as above), simply because most of the incoming traffic from your links will closely follow your sending of the newsletter. If you see a spike in email-related traffic in June just after the newsletter was sent, it probably had to do much more with the June newsletter than with the April or May newsletters (though you can’t be 100% sure for every individual visit).

If you needed yet another field to keep track of another bit of data (for example, if you wanted to keep track of the month of the email newsletter as well as the ‘topic’) you could make use of the “term” field. While you would not be using the term field for it’s intended purpose, it will technically work to store whatever data you give it.

But it depends on how you think of things in your business.

Monthly newsletters could be considered to be:

  • communications in service of a particular overall campaign (e.g. one component of the spring 2018 enrollment campaign, as we discussed above), or
  • in a separate ‘campaign-of-their-own’ and not related to other campaigns (to be considered and measured independently), or
  • any given month’s newsletter may relate to a different campaign depending on the content (i.e. June’s newsletter focused on enrollment, July’s newsletter focused on renewal, etc.).

If you want to take a broader view than looking at every individual communication in isolation, that’s when you’d use the campaign field across multiple communications to tie them together more broadly into a… campaign. But of course you do want to sometimes look into the performance of individual messages, which is where the content and term fields can be used.

Ultimately it comes down to:

  • how do you want to organize your communications,
  • so that you can measure their effectiveness,
  • in ways that you can act on.