Most of us use Google Analytics or similar tracking script to see where our traffic is coming from. This works well at a high level, as it show us which visitors are coming from Google, Twitter, Facebook, email newsletters, and any other source our site may get traffic from.
There are times though, it would be more useful to drill down further, and see which specific tweet, Facebook post, or email message is sending us traffic. Like when you are promoting a product and you want to see which traffic source is giving you the best ROI.
What is Campaign Tracking?
Luckily, Google Analytics and most other popular analytics software support something called Campaign Tracking links. By tagging your links in a specific way, you can create different tracking links that will help your analytics software break down exactly where your traffic is coming from.
Ana recently wrote a post titled Does Bribing Your Readers and Twitter Followers Really Work? In it, she writes about her experiment with trying to bribe her followers to tweet her post, and to see if there was any resulting traffic spike from it.
The problem is, the traffic from the tweet is mixed in with the rest of her twitter traffic so she couldn’t show exactly how many visitors was coming from that specific tweet.
If she had used a campaign tracking link though, that information would be easily accessible in her Google Analytics report. So lets see how to create one…
How To Tag Your Links
Tagging a link is relatively simple. Essentially, it’s just a normal link with few added parameters at the end of it that allow your analytics software to figure out exactly where your visitor came from.
Here’s an example.
Lets say Ana wants to promote her post How to Build a List: Rich Man, Poor Man List Building using Twitter and an email broadcast. So she could create two tracking links like this:
Looks kind of ugly right? But let’s break it down.
There are five possible variables that can be used in a tracking url, but the three I’m using here are required. (You can read more about the campaign variables here)
utm_source – Identifies the specific traffic source where the visitor came from (google, hubpages, list-building-tweet )
utm_medium – Identifies the medium (search engine, email, twitter)
utm_campaign – A name to use to group associated traffic sources together (list-building-campaign)
Now all Ana would need to do is tweet the first link and embed the 2nd link in her email broadcast.
When she starts receiving clicks on her links,she can look at her Google Analytics report under Traffic Sources > Campaigns and see exactly whether her tweet or her email broadcast was the one sending her the most traffic.
Sounds Good… But Is There An Easier Way?
Now you may be saying to yourself, “It’s too much trouble to create one of these tracking links by hand”.
… And you would be right.
It’s error prone, and who’s going to remember all these weird variable names?
All you need to do though is bookmark the Google URL Builder tool. Then just fill out a few fields and it will generate the tracking url for you.
Not only are campaign tracking urls supported by Google Analytics, it also works with most of the other popular analytics scripts out there that I’ve checked, including Clicky, Woopra, and Piwik.
While campaign tracking is a slightly more advanced topic, I highly recommend you use them if you can since they are so powerful.
By taking advantage of campaign tracking, you can learn all sorts of interesting stuff about your traffic. This will help you optimize your effort and allow you to focus on the sources that actually send the most traffic to your site.
Not only that, but try using campaign tracking together with Google Analytics’s Goal Tracking. You can setup different goals on your site and then figure out the ROI for each particular traffic source.
This is super powerful stuff, and it can really increase your profits if you set it up right.