How We Use The Google Campaign URL Builder Tool
Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

Google's Campaign URL Tool is a simple, free tool that helps you build a campaign specific tracking URL. These tracking URL's are URL's that contain additional information that will be passed to your Google Analytics account, allowing you to report on and understand how successful your marketing campaigns are.

We use use tracking URL's for things like; links in our company auto signatures, email campaign links and links provided to third parties that link back to our content. This way, we can track the clicks in my own Google Analytics account and not rely on reports from anyone else.

Why you should be creating campaign URL's

Utilising referral and campaign tracking URL's enables you to obtain a better understanding of your website visitors journey through your website as well as how successful your marketing and promotional campaigns are or are not.

A tracking URL can be quite long. Here is an example:

www.example.com?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=footer-banner&utm_campaign=June-promo

Implementing some simple UTM parameters onto a URL enables Google Analytics to tell you where visitors came from as well as what marketing campaign directed them to your website.

At the end of this post we will look at a neat way to make this URL shorter and prettier.

Wait, what are ‘UTM' codes you ask..?

A UTM code is a simple query that you can add to any URL to pass additional details to your reporting software, in this case, Google Analytics.

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module.

Urchin was the software Google bought way back in April 2005 and turned it into Google Analytics.

Anyway, back to the Campaign URL Builder. Let's take a look at the steps involved in creating a campaign URL. Below is a screenshot of the Campaign URL Builder page.

Google Campaign URL Builder page
Google Campaign URL Builder page

Campaign information overview

Website URL
This is the full link you want to send the visitor to once they click the link you will be sending them or using in your campaign. This could be a link to your subscribe landing page for example if the goal of your campaign is to have the user subscribe to your newsletter.

eg. yourdomainname.com/subscribe

Campaign Source
This is the referring medium. It helps Google Analytics identify the source of your referral link. An email newsletter for example.

eg. email-newsletter

Campaign Medium
This is essentially the form or medium the URL takes and helps narrow down the specific elements of the campaign. Like a banner or auto-signature.

eg. header-banner

Campaign Name
Keep this specific to the actual campaign, product or promotion.

eg. june-promo

All these elements above are mandatory when creating your campaign URL. There are a couple of other elements such as Campaign Term and Campaign Content but these are more specific to tracking paid ads and are not a mandatory part of building your link.

How to view your tracked campaigns in Google Analytics

Once you have started using campaign tracking URL's and they have had some clicks (at least one), you will be able to view the data in Google Analytics. If a campaign URL has not been clicked, it won't show up.

Google Analytics snippet
Google Analytics snippet

To view your campaign URL data, log in to your Google Analytics account, go to your Dashboard and then: Acquisition > Campaigns. Under All Campaigns, you will see the links that have been clicked and their supporting analytical data alongside them.

Let's make it pretty

A downside of UTM parameters on your tracking links is that they make the link very long. Adding one of these types of links to an SMS message or an offline advertisement is very difficult, if not impossible.

In most cases, particularly for embedded links, the long campaign URL that is created is fine and does not cause any problems. However, I personally like to make them look more trustworthy and friendly. To do this, I use the Pretty Links plugin for WordPress. This lets me take a long campaign URL and convert it to something custom to both my domain and how the link is used.

For example, if I was to send out an email with a link to my email newsletter, I could use:

https://thewebmonsters.com.au/subscribe

I would be able to report on visits from within Google Analytics of course, however, if I wanted to make the email part of a campaign and report on how many clicks the link to subscribe got in my email, I would create a campaign URL. This URL would look like:

https://thewebmonsters.com.au/subscribe/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=autosignature-link&utm_campaign=june-subscribers

However, if I wanted to make the URL more friendly, I could create a nice link using Pretty Links for WordPress and make it something like:

https://thewebmonsters.com.au/june-email

This URL would be a pretty link to my campaign URL that contains the campaign fields.

A cool feature of Pretty Links is it also tracks clicks on the Pretty Link URL's. You can export the data or view on the plugin dashboard. Total clicks and unique.

If your website is not powered on WordPress and you don't want to use the Pretty Links plugin, a great alternative is Bit.ly. Bit.ly lets you create convenient short links for free and also provides click data.

Taking this all a step further, we can easily tie this all in with conversions and goals. We will cover that in a future post!