Collecting campaign data
- Recognize standard acquisition dimensions and understand how traffic sources are categorized in Google Analytics by default
- Understand the importance of correctly categorizing your acqusition sources in Google Analytics
- Become familiar with custom campaign link tagging and practice using the URL builder to create manual tags for an example campaign
- About custom campaign tagging
- Tool: Google Analytics URL builder
- How to link AdWords and Analytics
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Digital Analytics Fundamentals
In this lesson we’ll explore how Google Analytics collects and reports information about your traffic sources.
We’ll also cover how you can track your marketing campaigns.
Measurement planning and campaigns
Let’s think back to creating a measurement plan. One step was to identify the key segments for your
business. A common set of segments that almost every business needs to measure is marketing
campaigns the trafficdriving initiatives that bring customers to your site.
Being able to identify these campaigns and traffic sources in reports allows you tie your marketing
investment to conversions and revenue.
Campaign and traffic dimensions in Google Analytics
For each user that comes to your site, Google Analytics automatically captures a number of attributes, or
dimensions, about where the user came from. Two such dimensions are “source” and “medium.”
The “source” is the name of the website that referred the user to your site. For example, if a user clicks over
to your site from Google search, the source will be “google.”
The “medium” is the mechanism, or “how” the user got to your site. For example, if a user clicks over to
your site from an unpaid search result, the medium will be “organic.”
Google Analytics detects three mediums without any customization.
● The first default medium is “organic.” It represents traffic that comes from organic, or unpaid, search
● Another default medium is “referral.” Any traffic that comes to your site from another website that’snot a search engine will show up in your reports as a “referral.”
● The final default medium is “(none).” This medium is applied only for users that come directly to
your site by either typing your URL into a browser or clicking on a bookmark. In your reports, you
will see these users have a source of “direct” and a medium of “(none).”
But what about your other channels? Like social media campaigns, email campaigns, banner ads and other
programs? How do these show up in Google Analytics?
Custom campaign tracking through link tagging
To track campaigns in Google Analytics, you use a process called link tagging. Link tagging is adding extra
information to the links that users click on to get to your site. This extra information that you provide is
stored in campaign tags, and overwrites the default categorization that would normally be assigned to the
For example, let’s say that you send a monthly newsletter to your customers. The newsletter has links that
go to your website. Adding campaign tags to these links allows Google Analytics to identify that the user
came from an email campaign.
There are five campaign tags that you can use. You’ll usually use at least three when tagging links.
● The “Source” and “Medium” tags allow you to overwrite the source and medium that would ordinarily
get set by default. For the newsletter, you might set the source to “july_news” and the medium to
● Another campaign tag is called “Campaign.” Use this to name your marketing campaign. For the
newsletter, you might set this to “summer_sale."
You should always use the Campaign, Medium and Source tags when tracking a campaign.
The last two campaign tags are optional “Term” and “Content.”
● “Term” identifies the keyword for paid search campaigns.
● The “Content” tag can be used to differentiate versions of an ad. For example, if you have two
different versions of an email newsletter, you can use the Content tag to differentiate visits from
“newsletter_1” and “newsletter_2."
Why campaign tagging is importantSo why is link tagging so important? Let’s say we have two versions of a display ad. And let’s assume that
both ads are running on the exact same site. The first ad does not have any campaign tags but the second
When users click on the first ad, they will be identified as referrals coming from the website hosting the
display ad. Google Analytics will not collect any campaign information because there were no tags.
When users click on the second ad, they will be identified as coming from a named campaign, because the
ad contained the campaign tags.
So you can see, if you don’t tag your campaigns properly it can lead to incorrect data in your reports.
The Google Analytics URL builder
You can use a tool called the URL builder to learn how to construct your campaign tags correctly. The tool
can be found in the Google Analytics help center.
To use the URL builder, first enter the destination URL for your ad (which is just the URL where you want a
person to land). Then enter the values you want for each campaign tag.
Use consistent spelling and capitalization when entering tag values. Since Google Analytics is case
sensitive, a campaign named “PROMO1” in all uppercase will show up separately from a campaign named
“promo1” in all lowercase.
Also, standardize on consistent values for your specific mediums, like “cpc” for costperclick, “social” for
social media activities and “display” for your display ads.
The URL builder can only construct one URL at a time, so you probably won’t want to use it to construct
every URL for every campaign. If you have a large number of URLs to tag, you can use a spreadsheet to
simplify the process. Spreadsheets with an embedded formula can make it much easier to generate
thousands of tagged URLs quickly.
Autotagging for Google AdWords
Now let’s briefly talk about tracking traffic from Google AdWords. Google Analytics and Google AdWords
are connected so there is no need to manually add campaign tags to your AdWords links.Adwords autotagging automatically populates the five dimensions that we previously discussed: Campaign,
Medium, Source, Content and Keyword. In addition to these dimensions, autotagging also imports other
dimensions specific to AdWords campaigns, like keyword match type and the ad placement domain.
By default, AdWords autotagging is enabled for your account.
Channels in Google Analytics
So far, we’ve talked about how to tag and identify traffic from individual campaigns, sources, and mediums.
But what if you want to bundle some of these activities together to better reflect how you manage your own
“Channels” in Google Analytics allow you to organize rulebased groups of traffic based on campaign,
keyword, source or medium. For example, let’s say that your email, search and display marketing teams
have created a joint campaign strategy for a summer promotion. You could define a channel called “Summer
Promo” that groups these coordinated activities together for analysis in your reports.
Google Analytics automatically recognizes several predefined channels. Some examples of predefined
These channels are all part of the predefined Basic Channel Grouping.
You can create your own channel grouping and redefine these channels according to your own needs. And,
you can define your own additional channels and add them to the Basic grouping, or to your own custom
Campaign and traffic reporting in Google Analytics
Now let’s look at where campaign information shows up in your reports.
● To view your data by Source and Medium, use the All Traffic report. This report includes all thesources and mediums you used in tags as well default mediums like “organic” and “referral.”
● Data for your campaigns is in the Campaigns report. Here, you can see the data for each campaign
you used in tags as well as for each AdWords campaign.
● Keywords that you’ve tagged will show up in the Paid Search keywords report.
● Finally, information from the Content tag will also appear in the Campaigns report. However to see
traffic by Content, you need to change the Primary Dimension to Ad Content.
Remember, the campaign tags create standard Google Analytics dimensions. So you can use these
dimensions in many other features, like Custom Reports, Custom Dashboards, Advanced Segments, etc.
How your marketing campaign data appears in your reports impacts how well you can measure the success
of your business. Be sure to establish best practices within your organization to make sure your campaigns
are tagged consistently.