In order to optimise spend and time invested in marketing activity, all traffic that a company has some control over should be identified within their web analytics tool. For Google Analytics, this requires adding three to five URL query parameters to landing page URLs – the exception is Google Adwords traffic that can be automatically tagged. These campaign parameters identify the source of the visit, allowing for performance to be analysed and understood at various levels. The more detail that is included in the campaign parameters, the more granular any investigations can be. Note that it is possible to include the campaign parameters within a redirect if they can’t be added to the original landing page URL.
The GA campaign parameters are:
- Medium – the traffic source or channel
- Source – website/network of originating click
- Campaign – a cross channel parameter identifying the purpose of the marketing
- Content – an optional descriptive parameter allowing for a further level of detail to be captured
- Keyword – only to be used to capture the search term with paid search advertising
So, (for a hypothetical example) a link from the large version of a display ad that is on the Econsultancy website for a Christmas promotion directing visitors to the L3 Analytics homepage would use the landing page URL:
This would identify any visits from clicking on the display ad as:
- Medium – display
- Source – econsultancy
- Campaign – christmas promo
- Content – large
Google Analytics URL Builder Tools
Google has provided a URL Builder tool to create these URLs and other organisations have built their own versions such as this URL Builder from ROI Revolution. An issue that can be faced is that these tools generally only allow you to create a single URL at a time where you might have a lot of campaigns that require GA campaign parameters. For these situations, Excel tools like the URL Builder from Justin Cutroni are more useful.
I tend to the Excel approach myself and have been using my own Google Analytics campaign URL Builders for my website and with clients over the past few years. These are now freely available for anyone to use. I do ask that if you download a copy to use, that you repay me with a tweet.
There are three Google Analytics URL Builders available for download, one for Social Media, one for Paid Search and a version for all marketing channels. To use, simply enter details in the relevant fields and click on the Generate URLs button (macros must be enabled).
More complete instructions are provided within the tools themselves including details on how lists are used to standardise the values for particular parameters. They all include a worksheet to store historical campaign URLs that have been used.
Optimising Campaign Performance
Of course, these Google Analytics URL Builder tools are only tools. You will still need to develop a campaign naming convention across all marketing channels. And once the tracking is in place, you will need to develop approaches to evaluate their performance.