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,   and that data-driven organizations are more effective. 
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?
Good question! UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module.  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.
Google has a free tool which will do this very easily for you.
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.
You can find it here.
The URL Builder looks like this:
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.
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?
The medium tells you how people travelled to your URL. By default, Analytics tracks
Other media you may want to track are
Us this to identify a specific promotion or strategic campaign. Examples could include
This is intended to be used for paid searches, to note the keywords you used for this ad. Examples include:
Click the Copy URL button and paste it into your campaign where you want people to click 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. 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.
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