Why you should use campaign tagging to get more useful data into Google Analytics

When looking at data in Google Analytics, you will just see traffic sources as being facebook.com, twitter.com and so on. Without using campaign tagging there’s no way of segmenting the data so you can see how well your own social media marketing efforts are doing in generating sales/leads vs all social media traffic your website is receiving. 

Would you like to be able to more accurately measure the success of your social media marketing? If yes, read on. 

What is campaign tagging?

Have you ever noticed really long URLs like this one while you’ve been browsing around on the web?


The ? in the URL indicates that the data succeeding it consists of parameters and values. The parameter utm_source has the value social, utm_medium has the value facebook.com and utm_campaign has the value Easter Promotion Discount. 

The campaign parameters capture additional information about marketing campaigns and this data gets sent to your Google Analytics account.

Campaign tagging helps you figure out things like which marketing channels are making you the most revenue and which ones are not worth the effort, which social media posts are generating the most sales or goal conversions, which affiliates are sending you the most social media traffic and much more. 

Before we get stuck into the nitty gritty, what is a campaign? 

An online campaign could be a single step or multiple sets in the promotion of a product or service in order to achieve a goal. So this could be just a single post promoting your new blog post or it could involve several posts across various channels over a period of a week or a month or even longer. You want to be able to see for the life of the campaign which marketing channel, individual posts, ads and so on performed the best at generating sales and leads. You can then use this information to improve the marketing of your next campaign.

Later on, I will show you how to add campaign tags to your URLs. First, let’s take a look at best practice tips. 

Best practice when tagging marketing campaigns

For campaign tagging Google Analytics has 5 parameters, 3 are required and 2 are optional.

For data accuracy in Google Analytics I highly recommend you stick with a consistent naming convention for the parameters utm_source and utm_medium. This means always use social for utm_medium for all links you post on social media and never Social, social-media or any other variation. This consistency will make data analysis much easier later on when looking at reports in Google Analytics. 

Required parameters

utm_source – Where is the link you’re tagging going to live? If you are publishing the link on Facebook, use facebook.com as the utm_source. If you are manually creating a link for an email newsletter, use the email hosting company’s URL, for example, mailchimp.com.

utm_medium – Think of medium as broad categories. Some examples for you to use are: social, email, feed, banner, cpm, display, affiliate, ebook, tv, print, billboard, partner, radio, qrcode and so on. Social media sites will use the medium social, your email newsletter will use the medium email. Pretty straight forward. Remember to be consistent. 

utm_campaign – This is the name of the campaign you are running, it should be short yet easily identifiable. You can use keywords, for example, Autoresponder1_free_ebook. For example, if you are running the initial campaign for a new online course, e.g. Get Fit in 28 days, you would use exactly the same campaign name every time you post to Facebook, Twitter, email and so on. The utm_source and utm_medium will give you the additional information to work out who sent you the traffic. By using the same campaign name you can look at all the activity for a single campaign as well as segment that data through the other parameters. 


utm_content – If you want to add additional information about the campaign to the link, you can add content to this parameter. 

For example, you have a sales email going out and you are manually tagging each link with the same campaign parameters, you can use utm_content to differentiate between the links, e.g. firstlink, secondlink, footerlink etc. 

Another example, if you are advertising on someone else’s website with a banner ad, you can add sidebar, footer, or banner sizes (e.g. 30×30) to utm_content. 

And here’s one more example, say you’re going to promote your new course/ebook/whatever on Facebook, use utm_content to mention if it was a post or ad. But only add this if you think this information will be helpful to you when analysing the data in Google Analytics.

utm_term – If you are running a paid search campaign, then insert the keywords you are bidding on here. It’s only necessary to use this parameter if you are running ads on paid search networks like Bing and if you don’t have Google Adwords automatic tagging enabled (which it is by default).


Campaign tagging must NEVER be used for any links that you post on your own website. If you do, you’ll make a royal mess of your data. Only use them on links you share around the web on social media, email marketing etc. 

So simply put, links that live on your website use your website’s default URLs without campaign parameters. Links that you post everywhere else for marketing purposes should have your website’s URLs with campaign parameters added. 

How to add campaign parameters to a URL?

You can use our nifty campaign tagging generation tool here:

https://gabuko.com/url or 

Add in your campaign values, click the submit button and it will generate the full URL for you with all the parameters. 

You can use the following URL shortners:


After pasting in the link, I recommend customising the URL with actual words to increase the number of people that click the URL. So instead of http://bit.ly/1O4sn7f we could customise the URL to be http://bit.ly/easterpromo2015

Other URL shortening services are offered by http://ow.ly/url/shorten-url and https://goo.gl/

What reports to look at in Google Analytics?

To look at how well your campaigns are doing, go to the All Campaigns standard report in Google Analytics. This report can be found under Acquisitions > Campaigns. 

Additional tips 

  • Explain to everyone on your marketing team how to use campaign tagging. Best to share this document or explain it in your own words. 
  • Every URL that’s had campaign parameters added and the URL shortened should be tested to see if it resolves correctly before publishing. 
  • Some email marketing service providers auto tag links in an email if you enable the Google Analytics integration. If you are not sure how to turn on the integration, please consult with the support desk of your email marketing service provider.  
  • For each social media bio/about section, create a custom URL with campaign tags, shorten it with the URL shortener tool of your choice and add it to the account. This way you can track how many people clicked the link and came to your website through these particular links.

Pin It on Pinterest