How to track a marketing campaign

Marketing campaigns can take several forms. Your business may want to advertise using text ads on search engine results, banner ads placed on strategic publisher websites, or you may have social media or email campaigns that communicate your brand and products to customers. It’s common to use a combination of these marketing activities to drive sales and website conversions.

Marketing campaigns are tracked in Google Analytics through “campaign tagging.” Campaign tags are extra bits of information that you add to the URL links of your online marketing or advertising materials. These include tracking parameters followed by an equals sign and a single word or hyphenated words that you designate.

When users click on a link with added parameters, the Google Analytics tracking code will extract the information from the link and associate that user and their behavior with your marketing campaign. That way, you can know which people came to your site through your various marketing activities.

For example, the Google Store has a monthly email newsletter it sends to its customers with links back to the Google Store website. Adding a campaign tag of “email” to these links allows the store to easily identify the users that came to the website from the email newsletter in Google Analytics.

There are five different campaign tags that help you identify specific information about your campaign traffic. Medium, Source, and Campaign are required campaign tags. You can also add tags for Content and Term.

We discussed medium and source when we introduced you to Acquisition reports.

  • “Medium” communicates the mechanism, or how you sent your message to the user. You could include “email” for an email campaign, “cpc” for paid search ads, or “social” for a social network.
  • “Source” communicates where the user came from. This could be a specific web page or a link in an email. Source could also differentiate the type of medium. So if the medium was “cpc” (or “cost per click” paid traffic), the source might be “google,” “bing,” or “yahoo.” If the medium was “email,” the source might be “newsletter”.
  • “Campaign” can communicate the name of your marketing campaign such as “2015-Back-To-School” or “2015-Holiday-Sale”.
  • “Content” can be used to differentiate versions of a promotion. This is useful when you want to test which version of an ad or promotion is more effective. If you’re running a test between two different versions of a newsletter, you might want to label these tags “v1-10dollars-off” and “v2-nopromo” to help differentiate which newsletter the data is associated with in Google Analytics.
  • “Term” is used to identify the keyword for paid search campaigns. You would only use this field if you are manually tagging a paid search campaign like Bing or Yahoo!. We’ll talk about the best way to track Google Ads in a later lesson.

To add these parameters into the URLs associated with your ads, Google Analytics provides a tool called “URL builder” in our Help Center, which we’ll cover next.

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