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We're pretty big on measurement on this blog, and we use analytics to identify key topics, improve our content, and prove our effectiveness.
To this end, we're big users of Google Analytics, supplemented by paid tools from Moz and others.
We use a bunch of custom reports, segments and dashboards for measurement but I've only recently come across the Google URL builder, thanks to our Head of Social Matt Owen.
So, for the uninitiated, here's a quick run through of how to use it, and a few suggested applications...
What is campaign tracking?
Campaign tracking allows you to add tracking code to a URL so that visits coming through said link can be tracked.
For example, if you look at the URL for this blog post, you'll see that the following code has been added to the address:
(Update: Econsultancy is no longer using this particular tracking code, but continues to use the URL builder to track social, email and cross-domain referral).
This is the work of the aforementioned Matt Owen, and is intended to help him to track the sharing of blog links on social media.
Nothing after the hash symbol has any affect on the link, while it can also be shortened, using bit.ly for example, and the tracking will remain.
This can be applied in a number of ways: to track referrals from a particular social source, an email campaign, online ads and more.
All that's required is to add the tracking code to the URL and learn how to measure it when the time comes. This is where the URL builder comes in.
The Google URL builder
Here's how to use the URL builder...
1. Enter the link you want to track
I've recently been using this to track referrals from this blog to our Festival of Marketing website. (Btw, it's a great event and you should definitely buy a ticket).
This is so I can identify which placements within articles work best, which posts generate traffic, where to link to on the site, and so on.
2. Add the parameters you want to track
There are five fields, but three of them are compulsory. These are:
- Campaign source. In this case the blog, but this could be an email or a Facebook post for example.
- Medium. Again, I've added blog here, but this could be email, PPC and so on.
- Campaign name. This is the text that will show up in Google Analytics, so choose something that will be easily identifiable, distinct from other campaigns, and not too long.
3. Submit the form and grab the code
This will generate the URL with the tracking code appended. Then just copy and paste into the email, tweet or blog link of your choice.
4. Shorten the URL
As you can see, the URL with tracking is quite cumbersome, so I find it easier to shorten it before using.
How to view campaigns in Google Analytics
The next step, after you've given your campaign time to generate some traffic, is to view the results in Google Analytics.
To do this, log on to Google Analytics, open the acquisition menu on the left and select campaigns:
You should then see your selected campaign name on the list, if you have had any clicks that is.
In this case, I've set up two different codes, one which sends people to the Festival site's homepage, another to the speaker lineup. This way I can tell which one works best in terms of traffic and conversions.
It's early days for us, so we just have a handful of clicks, but with more time and data we'll be able to learn a lot more about how the campaign has performed, and whether we need to make any changes.
Most importantly we can see whether campaigns are converting, but metrics on bounce rates and session duration will also give us an idea of whether we're sending the right kind of traffic.
Our Festival of Marketing event in November is a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.