Google URL Builder: How to Track Campaigns in Analytics

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Amanda Gant
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You’re ready to send out your newsletter. Your main goal is to drive traffic back to your site, convert that traffic into leads, and those leads into customers.

So, how do you tell which email marketing campaigns were successful? Easy. Use the Google URL builder to track your campaigns.

Note: There are many ways to use campaign tracking. In this post, I am only going to focus on campaign tracking as it relates to email marketing.

What is Campaign Tracking?

Campaign tracking simply allows you to add special tracking code to your URL, also known as ‘tagging’ URLs, to identify how users are getting to your site. For example:

Instead of using this link in your email marketing campaigns:

https://www.orbitmedia.com/inaccurate-google-analytics-traffic-sources

You would use this tracking link:

https://www.orbitmedia.com/inaccurate-google-analytics-traffic-sources?utm_source=march7-newsletter&utm_campaign=ga-lies&utm_medium=email

See all of those extra goodies in your link? That is the campaign tracking code.

How Do I Use the Google Analytics URL Builder?

Go to the Google Analytics URL Builder and follow these super simple steps.

Step 1: Enter the link you want to use to take visitors to your website.

https://www.orbitmedia.com/inaccurate-google-analytics-traffic-sources

Step 2: Add the three main parameters that you’ll want to track.

  • Campaign Source: This tells Google where traffic is coming from: march7-newsletter.
  • Campaign Medium: This tells Google what kind of source it’s coming from: email.
  • Campaign Name: This simply describes your campaign. We are using the blog post that we wrote on Google Analytics lies, so I used ga-lies as our campaign name.

The tagged link will be automatically be generated below. Like so…

Step 4: Copy the link that you just generated, and paste it into your email newsletter instead of your regular “untagged” link.

Step 5: Repeat these steps for all of the links that you want to track in your email marketing newsletter.

Where Do I Find My Campaigns in Google Analytics?

If you want to see email deliverability, clicks, and open rates, just log into your email service provider and view the reports. If you want to see who actually converted, log into to your Google Analytics. If you haven’t setup Analytics, you’ll need to do that first. Use these videos that show you how to set up your Analytics. 

Here are some examples of conversions you should track:

  • contact form submissions
  • newsletter subscribers
  • product purchases

Once you’re logged into Google Analytics, go to:

 Acquisition > Campaigns

Here you’re going to see how many visits you received from your campaign, how long they stayed on your website, how many pages on average they visited while they were there, and the bounce rate (the percentage of people that saw just one page and left your site).

campaigns

Are My Campaigns Converting?

To find actual conversions, look towards the bottom right of the report, just below the line graph. You’ll see a ‘Conversions’ dropdown box. Select which goal you’d like to measure. In my example, I’m using the newsletter sign up goal.

conversions

Now you’re able to see visits and goal conversions for each email campaign.

If you go back and look at trends over time, you can see what types of articles people spend more time on and which ones are more successful. To find out what type of visitors your site has, you should read this post on visitor personas and 80’s video games.

Voila!

Now you’ll be able to see who is actually converting from your email marketing efforts and adjust you messaging accordingly. If you have any additional tips, please leave them in the comments below!

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Comments (114)
  • Google URL Builder is the duct tape of web analytics.

  • I hope you put that in your book, Mr. Ellis!

  • Amanda, I like all your screenshots! It’s nice to see the visuals along with your explanations. Say, do you use “utm_content” (Campaign Content) in your URLs? I use that variable to identify where users clicked in the email. The values I like to use are: header, footer, sidebar, calltoaction, bodytext, bodyimage.

    • @mattmaldre Thanks, Matt! That’s a great idea. I never use the campaign content because we don’t really need that level of analysis on our newsletters. I have seen people use it that way though.

    • Ohhh. That’s good. I’m going to have to steal that. I’ll give you credit the first ten times I use it Matt, but it’s MY idea after that! 😉

  • These screenshots are from an older version of analytics, right? Instead of Traffic Sources, I think it’s changed to Acquisitions.

    • You’re correct, Sean! They just changed that a couple of weeks ago so I’ll be sure to get the post updated. Thanks!

  • Amanda, thank you for the post. How long does it take google to register the information under the “Campaigns”? I just tested this out by generating the URL and then copy/pasting into my web browser, and I don’t have any visits/campaigns for my site. However, if I go into the “Real Time” reports and looks at traffic sources, I see that it is displaying the medium/source that I just used, so it looks to be working there. Do I have to wait X amount of time for it to show up in the “Campaigns” report?

    • Hey Shane, Thanks for the comment!

      It should start showing up within 24 hours. Did you get it to work?

    • Amanda, I did get it to work, you’re right it started working overnight. I should’ve sent out the update, thanks for following up!

  • How long before the stats show up? If they aren’t showing up after 24 hours does that mean I’m doing something wrong? If there are multiple accounts on our Google Analytics which account will it connect to (in this case our main site vs. our shopify store)

    http://bandondunesgolfshop.com/collections/coffee-table-book?utm_source=google&utm_medium=email&utm_content=linksmagemail&utm_campaign=linksmag

    Great post! Bandon Dunes loves Orbit!
    -Tim

    • Well… nevermind… started working.

    • Thanks, Tim!! Glad you got it to start working!

  • Thank you! This was the best tutorial on GA URL Builder!

    • Excellent! I’m so glad you found it useful!

  • Understanding where your traffic comes from is so important, but knowing what performs well is critical. For most small businesses, implementing and buying a sophisticated tracking solution isn’t in the cards – Google Analytics is a great and free alternative. Understanding and using Google’s URL builder is so valuable in understanding where you should be spending your money and buying more traffic.

  • I have my campaigns setup properly using the Google URL Builder but in the reports I’m seeing pages appear that were not included in the email. Our organization uses Gmail and other Google products so almost everyone is logged into Google all day. Could that be causing the pages that don’t include the campaign to appear in the report? My report is set to filter on an exact match for the campaign name. Thanks for any thoughts on what’s going on.

    • Hey Sandy,

      Being logged in to a Google account should have no impact on this. If I’m understanding your question, I’m guessing that someone shared it through their network using their own tracking code on your URL that already has existing tracking code. If you want to shoot me a screenshot, I can take a look at it. amanda@orbitmedia.com.

      Thanks for dropping by with great questions!

  • How long is google able to track visitors on my site that entered the site with a campaign URL? For example: when a visitors clickss a campaign URL they are directed to mysite.com/?utm_source=…. When the visitor navigates to another page the URL query is gone. Is google able to track conversions from that visitor even if they visit other pages before converting?

    • Yes. Google will associate that conversion (if they convert) from your tagged URL even if they visit other pages on your site.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Amanda,

    We often have three articles–and three distinct links going to three distinct blog posts–in our email newsletter. If we want to be able to both see how many recipients clicked through to all of the articles (collectively in one metric) or to any of the articles individually, how would we set that up in the Google URL builder?

    Great article, thanks for writing.

    • Hey, Rafi!

      Thanks for the comment. To get the three separate metrics you’d just need to create three tagged links and then add the totals together to get the overall traffic generated by that one email newsletter. For CTR’s, you’d just need to add them up through your email service provider reports.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thanks Amanda!

        That is exactly what I did. Even so, it only tracks when recipients click on the links within the email; I haven’t been able to figure out how one can track email open rates in GA.

        Also, the native analytics in Constant Contact (and others) is very robust. I’m not quite sure that for email marketing it is worth the time and effort to track engagement through Google Analytics. Would love to hear your thoughts on what insights the URL builder provides that Constant Contact / Mail Chimp / Emma wouldn’t natively offer without additional setup.

  • Hi Amanda. I’ve tryed to setup my campaigns using Google URL Builder but Google Analytics Didn’t show any stats.

    Here you have one of my URLs.

    http://www.codigodamente.com/?utm_source=bipolaridade&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=banner_positivo&utm_campaign=CM_divulgacao_etapa1

    Am I doing something wrong?

    Thank you.

    Eurico.

    • Hey, Eurico!

      Was this a banner ad you were trying to track?

  • Hi great info Amanda,

    Let me ask you on what is the untagged link that you have mentioned in the step 4.

    Thanks.

    • The link in step 1 is an example of an untagged link. Hope that helps!

  • Hi great info Amanda,

    Let me ask you on what is the untagged link that you have mentioned in the step 4.

    Thanks.

  • Awesome step-by-step instructions. I looked all over for a clear explanation, because Google “Support” (if you can call it that) leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Thanks!

    • Glad you liked it. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment!

  • We used to use Bit.ly to track our various campaigns, but that gave us limited analytics (pretty much only the clicks). Hopefully Google’s Campaign URLs will work for us. Thanks for breaking it down.

    • Exactly. Bit.ly won’t show you conversions and conversions are key!

  • Amanda, hi! Like the others said, great post. My question is similar to the one asking how it should take before activity shows under Campaigns in GA. It’s been 72 hours now and the Source/Medium do not even show up. But, in Real-time view, it lists the Source/Medium when I paste the URL into my browser. Weird!

    http://www.thesearchmonitor.com/?utm_source=Guide&utm_medium=Guide&utm_campaign=16%20Competitive%20Tips%20-%20Aug%202014

    Thanks!

  • Odd question, but can you use the URL builder on a site that you do not own? For example a site I’m sending affiliate traffic to?

    • Are you trying to track the clicks on the outbound link to the affiliate site? If so, I’d recommend using event tracking instead. If not, can you give me some more detail?

      Thanks, Larry!

  • I’ve done everything correct, but in my google analytic account > campaign menu > under campaign in the table, no stats is shown.

    What am I doing wrong? or should I wait 24 hours until google detect my campaign link?

    I plan to track banner campaigns on my own site. kindly help.

  • You might consider using the Chrome extension (officially presented in GA solutions gallery) which does all that and much more. 15K users already:
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-analytics-url-buil/gaidpiakchgkapdgbnoglpnbccdepnpk

    • Good tip, Assaf! Thank you!

  • How about tagging urls within a PDF? For example, we have a sales brochure, getting started guide, and a user manual for each of our products and we would like to track traffic to the website from multiple hyperlinks within these PDFs. I’m having trouble coming up with a good naming convention for the source and medium. So far i’ve come up with:
    utm_source=documentname_chaptername
    utm_medium=document type (for example: utm_medium=brochure or utm_medium=manual)

    But i’m unsure how specific I should be with these.

  • I want to say thank you for being straightforward, concise while at the same tiing detailed. For a newbie like me, this is indispensable. I appreciate the free advise. Olga Castro

    • Glad you liked it, Olga! Feel free to drop by our blog anytime or hit me up if you have questions.

  • I feel like a total idiot because I created a custom url to track but I can’t find it in the reports. I looked under Acquisition>Campaigns>All Campaigns and it’s not there.

    I was trying to track a link to a different website. Can I just track clicks on the link, not the page? I want to know how many people click on this link http://outagemap.cmpco.com/?utm_source=OutageCentral&utm_medium=menu&utm_campaign=clicks from our nav menus.

    Thanks!

  • Thanks for this. In GA then, is there a process to setting up the tracking to show the conversions from this tag? Or will it be automatically setup? I’ve seen a few articles like yours that show how to set up the tag, but non that explain the back end reporting side of this. Is there anything that needs to be done further to have it easily show in analytics?

    • Once you add the tagged code to your URL, it will automatically show up in your Google Analytics report (if it’s done properly).

      I do explain above how to find the reports and interpret them under “Where Do I Find My Campaigns in Google Analytics?” above. If you have any more questions, let me know!

      Cheers!

  • I tag quite a few URL’s on a daily basis. I use this spreadsheet now as it’s much quicker:

    http://www.trackify.co.nz/google-analytics-bulk-url-builder.html

  • Hello Amanda,

    Do you have a suggestion of tracking urls from Display Network – meaning that there is a display campaign which is spread across massive network without possibility to tag each placement and the goal is track them in GA.

    • Hey Boris,

      That’s a good question. Are you referring to remarketing campaigns?

  • After you create a campaign, can you find the created & used URL in Google Analytics? if so where is it displayed (I understand I could recreate it using the same steps, but a brainless way to copy paste) Thanks, great post!

    • Howdy, Luke!

      Great question. There are two ways to find it.

      1. Through the campaign tracking report: Go to Acquisition > All Campaigns > click on the actual name of the campaign. Go the “Secondary Dimension” dropdown box and type in landing page, select landing page. This will give you the URL you used for that campaign.

      2. Through the behavior report: If you know what URL you used, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. Find the URL you’re looking for (you can use the search box if it’s faster), click on it. Then from the “Secondary Dimension” dropdown, type in Campaign. This will give you your URL and any campaign that was associated with it.

      Did that answer your question? If not, let me know!

      • Hi Amanda,

        Great article! Quick question for you. I set up a URL using the URL Builder which I am tracking in a Facebook Ad. My analytic report in Facebook is telling me the URL has been clicked on numerous times. I do not see the campaign showing in Google Analytics anywhere. It has been over 24 hours and I am seeing no results. Any help/thoughts would be appreciated! Thx!

        • Hey, Lee!

          Can you shoot me the link?

          • Hi Amanda!

            Here is the link I set up in Analytics:

            https://www.picacreditunion.com/loans/mortgage?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Banner&utm_campaign=pfcu_cpn_mort_050515

            It should take you to:

            https://www.picacreditunion.com/loans/mortgage

            Thanks for the help!

          • Hey, Lee!

            Did you set up a redirect from the tagged URL to the landing page URL? The tagged URL (when clicked) should still be the same.

            It looks like you’re redirecting the tagged URL to the landing page URL. If that’s not the case, let me know.

          • Hi Amanda!

            I did not set up a redirect from the tagged URL. I have had sucess in the past tracking campaigns, but for this particular case I am not seeing any data.

            Thanks!

          • Not sure why that’s not working then.

          • Is it possible this link doesn’t work because it doesn’t like https over http?? I have a couple of file links to Drive with https and GA does not track them. Is this something you have seen too?

          • Are you linking to a document in Google Drive? If so, you’d have to have event tracking code on that link since it’s going away from your website.

            If that’s not the case, can you give me some more details?

          • Hey, Lee!

            The link looks right to me. Is it still not working?

      • Thanks Amanda – But what I was looking for was the built URL – ie http://www.sitename.com/?utm_source=source&utm_medium=medium&utm_content=banner&utm_campaign=thiscampaign — without having to painstakingly recreate it —

        • Got it. GA strips out the query parameters so the entire tagged URL doesn’t show up.

  • Thanks alot
    But Google has changed for Analytics, It is really hard now
    |
    Jibran SEO

  • nice

  • In an email campaign, rather than customize each link is there a way to embed the tracking code in the email’s HTML code so any link in the email will trackback to that campaign? Trying to save myself time of building each link.

    • That, I’m not sure about. I’ve never heard of that.

      However, if you’re using an email service provider like Mailchimp, Express Pigeon, or whomever, there’s an option to connect Google Analytics to your email marketing campaigns and it’ll automatically tag them for you. That’s probably the fastest route for you. Hope that helps!

  • After generating one of these tags and using it in a social media post (after being converted to a bitly), how long does a click take to register in my analytics account?

    • A little late on the response, Eric, but you should be able to see them right away in real time analytics. Did the tracking work?

      • thank you very much for this value able post. I just want to ask you can we use analytic url builder for back-linking purpose or just for paid campaigns? I will be thankful to you if respond me ASAP.

        • Back-linking Purpose mean to track our all back-links traffic????

  • Very nice article. Well done, it helped me a lot. Karel Koes Hiranjgarbh Missier Paragh

    • This article helped me a lot, thank you. Regards, Karel Paragh

  • Hi, how do I track visits I send via email to a url I don’t own to see how many people clicked on my affiliate link? I have an analytics account.

    • Hi, Travis!

      Your best bet would be to use a shorted URL like bit.ly or goo.gl. This will only show you clicks though. You can’t track visits to a site that’s not yours in your Analytics. Bit.ly has some good reporting though. Good luck!

  • Can you please give me a step-by-step example on how is this setup in Google Tag Manager V2?

  • When i build my UTM codes where should i paste them on Google Analytics exactly? I didn’t get step 4 in this section of the article:

    How Do I Use the Google Analytics URL Builder?

  • Amanda, Google Campaign Links are a snap to create and paste into an email campaign. However the setup and integration required for meaningful — aligned to your specific marketing purpose — analytics data can be more tricky. A post going into the depth of campaign links and email engagement tracking would illuminate the comparative advantage of some setup choices over others, including 1. ESP’s tracking links turned on/off 2. newsletter archive and signup forms (all list maintenance forms) hosted on your domain or on ESP’s domain 3. to count or not separate sessions for referrals between “your” web properties (e.g., between primary web site and forms/archives hosted on ESP) 4. goal tracking in Google Analytics or in ESP or both, and when/how firing occurs 5. affiliates program tracking in links 6. for email signup goal, whether to use a Thank You page with separate URL or a dummy query parameter to differentiate the URL. I’m dreaming about reading that post.

  • I needed some advice on this topic again, and just came bac to this article. Thank you again, Karel Paragh

  • Hey @amandalgant
    thank you very much for this value able post. I just want to ask you can we use analytic url builder for back-linking purpose or just for paid campaigns? I will be thankful to you if respond me ASAP.
    Back-linking Purpose mean to track out our all back-links traffic????
    Thanks.

    • Hey, Zack –

      Any link that’s pointing back to your site can be tagged and tracked. But you should be able to find this information in your referral traffic report or by using opensiteexplorer.org. Hope that helps!

  • I still use this article average monthly for back up!

  • Great article! I am tracking email campaigns via Constant Contact. Every week we have series of webinars held for prospects or current clients. I am trying to track the traffic source. previously I tried Google URL builder on a GoToWebinar link and it didn’t work since it was not a direct domain. I tried to put in a campaign name in the Google Analytics piece on the email to see if it will show up in my reports – nothing. What am I doing wrong? I get the concept, I just need to start tracking our campaigns. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi, Dianna!

      Thanks for dropping by. Quick question…

      Are you sending people to a certain page on your website from your newsletter or are you sending them directly to a gotowebinar page where they can sign up?

  • Great advice!

    campaign tracking: I generated a tagged url by using google url builder. I tested it by clicking it in the email. But the “campaign” is not shown in the Google Analytics > Acquisition > Campagin. Any comment?

    • Hey, Sam!

      If it was tagged properly, it should be showing up in your GA campaign reports. If you haven’t already, I’d have a few other people test it by clicking the links and see if it works.

      Let me know if you get it working!

  • VERY impressive tutorial — great writing, Amanda.

    • Thanks, Bob! Appreciate the feedback.

  • Sorry I’m a little late to this party but wondering although the tracking URL takes 24 hours to show up in analytics, Is it still working in that 24 hours even though I can’t see it? Just wondering if I can send this out and then I get all the tracking info tomorrow, or if I should just wait till tomorrow to send it out.

    Thanks!

    • Hey, Megan –

      Welcome to the party!

      It’s still tracking even if you can’t see it immediately. Also, be sure that you’re looking at today’s date in GA. The calendar defaults to the day before.

      Hope that helps!

      • Hey Amanda, Thanks! That’s great to know. How do I get to today? That’s interface is not the most user friendly 🙂

  • i like the article. thanks for sharing.

  • Amanda. I just completed this, but now want to see where I go to see the results. Can you let me know where I would go to do this? Thanks,

    • Hey, Alan –

      Thanks for stopping by! If you go to Acquisition > Campaigns your campaigns should be in that report. If you scroll up in this post, there’s a step-by-step under “Where Do I Find My Campaigns in Google Analytics?”

      Hope that helps!

  • Hi, I have created a few links using URL builder but they are not showing in the analytics where you say they should, could you advise? Do i need to enable anything? I use URL Builder and then shortern the link using Doogle shorterner and the use those links in emails. Thanks

    • Hey, Kevin –

      It could be a number of reasons, but usually when that happens it’s due to manually adding parameters incorrectly in one way or another. Are you sending them to a page on your website? Have you triple checked the tagged URL?

  • @ Amanda,

    Thank you for the great post:)
    I am facing an issue with GA. I have used the Google URL builder to track my email campaign executed in mandrill.

    In GA, the URL is show in Conversion > Goals > Goal URLS “/confirmation.html&user_id=an411YH80KYA3840vlB3920zgN41602yUl&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=notif-registration”.

    But the same url is not tracked in Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium OR
    Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns. Can you help me know why this happened?

  • Are there guidelines on when/how campaigns will appear? For our site, it seems like the campaigns are irregularly showing up. I’ve tried directly copying/pasting the link into browsers, into email messages, adn sent around. And I also am not seeing it in real time when I do any of those.

    Would love to know if there are specifics about how the traffic appears, as well as whether it matters if GA is open while doing the testing.

    Thanks!

  • I use t,he URL builder for various things but how do I sort results by source or medium. I know how to find campaigns in GA, but want all the info. Say I submit the same article to several soc media sites so campaign is the same but medium is Facebook, Twitter, etc? How do I view conversions of that article by medium? Thx

  • great article, its amazing that it was written in 2013 and is still so relevant today, utm tracking empower marketing campaigns when people get their head around the utm tags.

  • How long does it take before the data is available in Google Analytics? I set mine up about 4 days ago it’s still showing nothing in campaigns. Thanks

  • Hey. I thought this was very helpful. But I have a question. So if I had utm link made, but I did not made a Google Analytics account until now, how am I able to track people clicking on a banner or email?

  • This is great – I’m wondering how you can see which specific products people are buying from a campaign? I want to know if I’m posting about a product, are they converting on that or are they buying something else?

  • Thx for this useful article.
    Wondering how to track the complete conversion path from A to Z?
    User visits page A, will be guided to page B, then C and so on… On page Z he will click the CTA “buy”.
    How to setup and how to measure?

  • How do you track the source URL if you have added the link generated by the URL builder on all single posts?

  • Here’s how to track the previous page path for a link added to multiple pages/posts http://webmasters.stackexchange.com/a/104727/75923

  • As a Google Analytics newb, this was beyond useful!

  • It is great articles. However, running an online e-commerce, business need to act quickly for each of the campaign and need to build their own tracking instead of relying on google analytic tracking. By doing this, e-commerce website can see the conversion from the platform which will show the number of click through, number of orders are converted from the campaign and the average conversed value according to the number of email sent out. This information will quickly give the e-commerce website the estimated $ for each email, and this will enable the platform to calculate the ROI on each campaign based on the total emails sent to customer.

  • Hi Amanda, you may find https://utm.plus intersting – it’s a free UTM builder for teams. Like Google UTM Builder on steroids 🙂

  • wonderful.

  • Thanks for sharing about UTM Builder…just checked it out!

  • Do not be tired and greedy … the information is excellent and informative. I really enjoy reading and learning from them every day. Thanks so much for sharing this information. Thanks a lot
    https://www.baneh.com/

  • I’ve enjoyed reading the post. It is very supportive and useful post. I would like to visit the post once more its valuable content. Because google analytics is very important part of business website. I found this much useful information on your blog. Thanks for such post and please keep it up.

 
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