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Blog > Campaign Tracking Using Google’s Campaign URL Builder

Campaign Tracking Using Google’s Campaign URL Builder

affiché le 25 juil 2018

by Maria Lahiffe

Do you know how many people click on links you share out on social channels like Facebook or Twitter? Or how many people click on links in your emails?

Data absolutely must be at the heart of your decision-making. There is a wealth of evidence to show that our gut instincts lead us astray, [1] [2] and that data-driven organizations are more effective. [3]

Google Analytics is an essential, free tool which will allow you to gather data you need, to make informed decisions about your communications strategy. Read here for a blog post about why Google Analytics is important, and here to learn how to set up a Google Analytics account.

You can greatly aid your analytics by using UTM parameters. What is a UTM Parameter, you ask?

What is a UTM Parameter?

Good question! UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. [4] Basically, a UTM parameter is a little piece of code which gets tacked onto a URL, which gives you more detail about a click. Here is an example of a URL with no UTM parameters:


Here is an example of the same URL with a couple of UTM parameters tacked on. The italicized part is the UTM code. If you click, you’ll notice that it sends you to the same webpage as the above URL. The UTM parameters do not change the user experience at all.


Okay, how do I add UTM codes to my URLs?

Google has a free tool which will do this very easily for you.

1.      Decide on what you will track.

Data is useless without context. You need to decide what you are tracking, and how it links to your communications strategy. The Campaign URL builder allows you to track five different things per URL. See below for an explanation of what each thing means. It is up to you to decide how the information you gather will help you decide if a campaign is successful or if it needs tweaking.

If you are not sure, then just dive in, gather some information, and then decide if it is useful. Then, if the information does not help you make strategic decisions, modify the data based on what you have learned.

2.      Navigate to the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder

You can find it here.

3.      Enter in the Parameters

The URL Builder looks like this:


a.      Website URL

This is the URL you want people to visit when they click. In the example, I want people to visit the Volunteer Ottawa event calendar.

b.      Campaign Source

This is the other required information to build a campaign URL. The campaign source should be something like the search engine, newsletter name, or other source of clicks – i.e. where will people encounter this link?

c.       Campaign Medium

The medium tells you how people travelled to your URL. By default, Analytics tracks

  • “Organic” (unpaid search) or
  • “Direct” (someone entered in the URL, or clicked on it in an email, to open up a browser window).

Other media you may want to track are

  • cpc – cost per click, i.e. paid search engine advertising. (Click here to learn about Google AdGrants for Non-Profits)
  • Email – if the link is in an email
  • Referral – if you send a link to stakeholders, and ask them to share the link with their networks, that counts as a referral

d.      Campaign Name

Us this to identify a specific promotion or strategic campaign. Examples could include

  • 2018_spring_sale
  • Membership_campaign
  • Membership_campaign_Nepean

e.       Campaign Term

This is intended to be used for paid searches, to note the keywords you used for this ad. Examples include:

  • youth+sports (this means the ad had two keywords: “youth” and “sports”)
  • children+autism+social_skills_development (three keywords: “children”, “autism”, and “social skills development”)

f.        Campaign Content

Use this for A/B testing or for content-targeted ads.

g.      Share the URL

Click the Copy URL button and paste it into your campaign where you want people to click it.

Whoa, that URL is super long. Can I shorten it?

You can absolutely shorten any URL. There are a number of free URL shorteners online, including Google, Bitly, and TinyURL.com. You can also just click the button Convert URL to Short Link in the URL builder itself. Here is a good article about URL shorteners.

Campaign tracking is one of the ways you can derive better insights from Google Analytics.

Want to learn more? Come to an upcoming workshop.

Click here for more information, and to register.

Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to all aspects of running a non-profit or a charity. Click here for our event calendar. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.

Like what you've read? Subscribe to our RSS feed so you never miss a post! We have a general RSS Feed for all VOices blog posts, as well as a Communications RSS Feed which will focus on topics related to communications.

Related blog posts:

[1] L. Garrad, "The Problem with Gut Instinct and Intuition," Human Capital Leadership Institute, [Online]. Available: https://www.hcli.org/articles/problem-gut-instinct-and-intuition. [Accessed 12 April 2018]. [2] P. Hudson, "Why You Shouldn't Always Trust Your Gut Instinct," Elite Daily, 16 Aug 2013. [Online]. Available: https://www.elitedaily.com/money/entrepreneurship/why-you-shouldnt-always-trust-your-gut-instinct. [Accessed 12 April 2018]. [3] M. Lebied, "Why Data Driven Decision Making is your Path to Business Success," The datapine blog, 6 July 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.datapine.com/blog/data-driven-decision-making-in-businesses/. [Accessed 12 April 2018]. [4] P. Agarwal, "A complete guide to the new Google URL Builder," Intelligent Economist, 24 December 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligenteconomist.com/google-url-builder/. [Accessed 12 April 2018].
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