Tracking Digital Campaign Success Using Google Analytics Campaign Tagging

Now, I employ campaign tagging across all of my personal campaigns, as well as clients here at Silverbean, to great effect, but that wasn’t always the case. This article serves only as a brief introduction to the rich world of campaign tagging.

Why Bother?

“We can give you the top spot on our page for £1,546 a year and it’ll drive X amount of clicks to your website. Our customers are ready to buy when they arrive on site so these are good quality clicks.” Being a tight fisted Northern Irishman, and having only recently dipped my toes in Digital Marketing, I nearly fainted at the prospect. I was completing my teacher training and I had just founded my first online company. Money was tight.

I already ran an AdWords campaign and I could easily see my conversion rate and ROI in Google Analytics. This offer scared me a bit. Would it be worth the financial risk and how could I measure the success of the campaign?

I furiously scoured the web whilst on the phone and stumbled across Google Analytics (GA) Campaign Tagging. It sounded ideal! By simply adding some snippets of additional text to my inbound URLs I could segment my data in Google Analytics by each individual campaign I invested in.

I invested, tagged up my links and a month later cancelled my advertising as the conversion rate was shockingly low. I would not have been able to do this without segmenting my customers.

What Happens If I Don’t Tag My Campaigns?

If the above didn’t convince you Campaign Tagging is the best thing since sliced bread then maybe the following will.

Leaving your inbound links untagged WILL POLLUTE your otherwise sparkling data, thus leaving significant insight adrift in choppy waters.

Here’s a selection of some of the ways your data will flounder:

  • Your inbound traffic from email will be a nightmare. Desktop mail apps will show as direct traffic or may not have a medium at all. Customers using webmail will usually pass no referrer data due to secure servers.
  • If you’re running paid search campaigns of any kind that are not through AdWords, the traffic will show up as organic.
  • Banner ads on social sites, for example, will be pushed to your reports as referral traffic.

By not tagging all your campaigns correctly you’ll muddy the waters with your existing data as well as losing all that extra insight that you could be getting.

How Do I Get My Campaigns Tagged Up?

First of all, no coding or technical implementations are necessary for successful tagging.

Anyone from the marketing department can make it happen! The only prerequisite is a successful installation of GA tracking code that is already gathering data accurately.  However, I would STRONGLY recommend that you have some custom events and goals set up.

This could be ecommerce tracking, newsletter signups, EBook downloads, account signups, etc. When you begin to pull the data for your campaigns you’ll be able to see if the advertising is really affecting your businesses bottom line. Which, after all, is the only reason you’re spending all this money in the first place.

Let’s Get Started Then…

To tag campaigns you must add some UTM parameters to all inbound website links.

These are sort snippets of text that are appended to your site’s URL. You’ll need to create a unique URL for each of your digital campaigns. This might sound a bit technical but it’s been made really simple thanks to Googles URL Builder. It allows you to enter the campaign’s information which will then deliver a unique URL.

There are three required fields that you must specify. Each of these are useful since they allow you to slice and dice your data at a later stage. Imagine them as folders:

Source Medium Campaign

Medium: This is your ‘catch- all’ category. You want to keep this nice and broad. For example; email, social, blogs, CPC, banner ads, display etc.

This means you can segment out all of your different channels and compare their performances. You’ll quickly begin to see your big hitters and the ones that might need a little more TLC.

Source: Now we dive down another level. Let’s take the medium ‘Social’ as an example. We now specify where this advertisement is going to be placed. It might be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever other social channels your brand exists on.

You can see exactly what happens here. We can see how each of our social channels is performing. Beautiful isn’t it?

Campaign Name: Sounds fairly straight forward doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. Being too specific with your campaign names removes a layer of insight that might prove invaluable.

If you run one “Student Flights” campaign across several sources and mediums you might want to give it the same name. This will allow you to segment the entire campaign across all your different channels. You’ll be able to see ROI and customer behaviour straight away for the entire campaign and you’ll also still have the luxury of dividing up the individual elements that make it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief overview of Campaign Tagging. There’s a whole host of other features and techniques that I’ll cover in depth at a later point, starting with how we can use Google Analytics to pull all this useful information together. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch and I’d be happy to help or give us a shoutover on Twitter, @AGY47_

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