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We're pretty big on measurement on this blog, and we use analytics to identify key topics, improve our content, and prove our effectiveness. 

To this end, we're big users of Google Analytics, supplemented by paid tools from Moz and others. 

We use a bunch of custom reports, segments and dashboards for measurement but I've only recently come across the Google URL builder, thanks to our Head of Social Matt Owen.  

So, for the uninitiated, here's a quick run through of how to use it, and a few suggested applications... 

What is campaign tracking?

Campaign tracking allows you to add tracking code to a URL so that visits coming through said link can be tracked. 

For example, if you look at the URL for this blog post, you'll see that the following code has been added to the address: 

#i.uxbbzl7fpfssuh

(Update: Econsultancy is no longer using this particular tracking code, but continues to use the URL builder to track social, email and cross-domain referral).

This is the work of the aforementioned Matt Owen, and is intended to help him to track the sharing of blog links on social media. 

Nothing after the hash symbol has any affect on the link, while it can also be shortened, using bit.ly for example, and the tracking will remain.

This can be applied in a number of ways: to track referrals from a particular social source, an email campaign, online ads and more. 

All that's required is to add the tracking code to the URL and learn how to measure it when the time comes. This is where the URL builder comes in. 

The Google URL builder

Here's how to use the URL builder...

1. Enter the link you want to track

I've recently been using this to track referrals from this blog to our Festival of Marketing website. (Btw, it's a great event and you should definitely buy a ticket). 

This is so I can identify which placements within articles work best, which posts generate traffic, where to link to on the site, and so on. 

2. Add the parameters you want to track

There are five fields, but three of them are compulsory. These are: 

  • Campaign source. In this case the blog, but this could be an email or a Facebook post for example. 
  • Medium. Again, I've added blog here, but this could be email, PPC and so on. 
  • Campaign name. This is the text that will show up in Google Analytics, so choose something that will be easily identifiable, distinct from other campaigns, and not too long. 

3. Submit the form and grab the code

This will generate the URL with the tracking code appended. Then just copy and paste into the email, tweet or blog link of your choice. 

4. Shorten the URL

As you can see, the URL with tracking is quite cumbersome, so I find it easier to shorten it before using. 

How to view campaigns in Google Analytics

The next step, after you've given your campaign time to generate some traffic, is to view the results in Google Analytics. 

To do this, log on to Google Analytics, open the acquisition menu on the left and select campaigns: 

You should then see your selected campaign name on the list, if you have had any clicks that is. 

In this case, I've set up two different codes, one which sends people to the Festival site's homepage, another to the speaker lineup. This way I can tell which one works best in terms of traffic and conversions. 

It's early days for us, so we just have a handful of clicks, but with more time and data we'll be able to learn a lot more about how the campaign has performed, and whether we need to make any changes. 

Most importantly we can see whether campaigns are converting, but metrics on bounce rates and session duration will also give us an idea of whether we're sending the right kind of traffic. 

Our Festival of Marketing event in November is a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.

Graham Charlton

Published 23 July, 2014 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (17)

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Dipesh Shah

Dipesh Shah, Digital Consultant at Data Translators

I am still suprised to see how many people still get it so wrong consistently without understanding the affect it has on reporting and analysis

almost 2 years ago

Alexander Lund

Alexander Lund, Digital Marketing Manager at Study Group

One of the most obvious means of tracking your online campaigns. In large organizations it can be a challenge to ensure respective owners implement the correct tracking code across various channels in social, email and other digital channels.

almost 2 years ago

Mark Fleming

Mark Fleming, Digital Marketing Manager at Kuoni TravelEnterprise

I would also recommend attempting to increase your CTR by personalising your bit.ly link to be keyword relevant.

almost 2 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

I think the Google URL Builder is good for teaching the concept to people and for ad hoc use. But it doesn't scale for big campaigns and where you need to ensure different people/depts/agencies involved in different elements of a campaign are consistent in their parameter usage.

Luna Metrics and others have produced free shareable spreadsheets that make the process easier to add parameters en masse to links - or paid services like Terminus can enforce consistency and discipline.

Also worth noting that Hootsuite has a neat (but little known) feature that allows you to easily add GA tracking parameters on the fly within Hootsuite - spares you the need to have to add parameters outside of Hootsuite as well as allowing you to capture additional links in campaigns that hadn't originally been planned.

almost 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Andrew - thanks for the comment. I'll check out the alternatives.

almost 2 years ago

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Tobi O.

Great post. I believe anyone using goggle to run campaigns need to understand analytics. I attended a course at http://wdc.com.ng/ to learn this and more.

almost 2 years ago

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Gerry White

" Medium. Again, I've added blog here, but this could be email, PPC and so on. "

See - no .

Sorry for this minor rant, but if you put it in as PPC then it will be tracked differently to ppc and this will be tracked differently to cpc (and CPC)

By using consistent mediums it makes the reporting way easier! and the correct one, or at least the way Google PPC reports it is cpc - lowercase!

almost 2 years ago

Dipesh Shah

Dipesh Shah, Digital Consultant at Data Translators

Gerry i agree with your rant and it is very annoying and eats out time that could be used on other projects which more interesting potentially

almost 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Gerry thanks - I wasn't aware of that. I've been using this for a specific reason, which wasn't PPC related so hadn't come across that issue.

almost 2 years ago

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Linda

Hi..

Thanks for sharing this....it was really useful...Keep going

almost 2 years ago

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ali

402

almost 2 years ago

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ali algamai

alheezber74

almost 2 years ago

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CBennett

Great post but there's no explanation of what to do with the shortened link. It just jumps to ' How to View Campaigns...'

almost 2 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Graham,

A key thing that people need to be aware of is the critical importance of defining the parameter structure and dictionary before creating any URLs.

As Gerry/Dipesh point out, the accuracy and consistency of the parameter values is so so important and very often ignored, with lots of people across the business being encouraged to add tracking with no brief. What ensues is a cluster **** of mangled data in Campaign reports that takes ages to align and clouds analysis.

Key pointers:

1) Create a table of known values for the 3 required parameters: medium, source and campaign
2) Create a brief and communicate to everyone who will use URLs (internal and external people) - get them to submit a test URL so you can check it's been understood
3) Align the campaign values with the campaign naming conventions in the business
4) Put everything in lower case (avoid having duplication due to capitals)
5) Assess what depth of tracking is needed at channel & campaign level e.g. blog - do you want to track individual authors (if so can add this value in Term)
6) Test every extended URL from an IP that is filtered from your customer reports - got to be sure it resolves correctly.

I'd like to point out that every now and then i am a shameless hypocrite and blatantly flout 5) by getting distracted by a campaign, then regret it. Amen.

Thanks
james

almost 2 years ago

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Matt D, Marketing Executive at Allianz Digital Learning PlatformEnterprise

Thanks for the article.

What I don't quite understand is how econsulatancy are using;

#i.uxbbzl7fpfssuh

..for example.

Is this still GA or some other service?

When compiling a GA campaign URL i'm put off by the size.

Thanks.
Matt

over 1 year ago

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Kamal El Agha, Data Analytics Director at Havas MediaEnterprise

This is why I developed AnalyticsURLBuilder.com :)
Makes tracking campaigns a lot easier and more consistent.

over 1 year ago

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manzar masood, CEO at Dolphin Advertisers

Can u please confirm that after bitly shortcut where have to put the link in Google Analytics?

Waiting your prompt reply...

Thanks
Manzar

over 1 year ago

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