How to Use Google Analytics to Track Campaigns

Aug 16, 2013 | Digital, Web Services

We are always amazed to find that there are some companies that are not using Google Analytics. So much so, we wanted to blog about it. It’s a FREE amazing tool for learning more about the people who visit your website and is incredibly valuable in helping to decide where to focus your energy to improve your site and your marketing campaigns.

If you don’t have analytics set up on your website, stop what you’re doing and add Google Analytics right now. We’ll wait.

Google Analytics is not only a great tool for evaluating your web presence, you can also use it to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing, both on and offline. Here are some of our favorite Analytics tricks to track and improve marketing campaigns.

1. Using Annotations

They’re slightly hidden, but adding annotations to your Analytics can be really helpful when you’re looking back at your data and can’t remember why a particular traffic spike occurred or how a particular campaign you’re running affected web traffic.

To add annotations:

  • Go to any of the basic Google Analytics overviews (ex. Audience Overview)
  • Click the downwards arrow just below the graphic overview
  • Click ‘+ Create new annotation’ on the right-hand side of the page
  • Select the date of the milestone
  • Add a note that provides the details of what happened (for example, “Spring commercial aired” or “Relaunch of Facebook Page”)
  • Mark ‘Visibility’ as ‘Shared’
  • Click Save

These annotations show up across all your analytics reports and they can be great indicators for how a particular change affected your site traffic.

2. Create Goals

Goals are the foundation of reporting success (or failure) of a website, and a campaign. There are variety of different ways that you can measure those successes but it’s important to establish at least one measurable goal for your website.

For example, you can set a goal of a form submission around a particular campaign or a newsletter sign-up. Or you can set a goal to track visit duration to determine how engaged users are with your site. In general, longer stay = engaged users.

To set up Analytics Goals, visit the Admin panel and click on “Goals” under your Profile.  Google provides four templates to make it easy on you or you can create a custom goal if you’re feeling frisky.

3. Adding Campaign Tracking URLs

Use Analytics to track the success of your online (and offline) campaigns, from a latest newsletter, a tweet, a Facebook post or advertising campaign, Adwords campaigns and LinkedIn ad campaigns.

To do this, you want to set up campaign tracking.

Google Analytics has five parameters that can be used to tag a specific campaign and build a campaign tracking URL:

utm_medium: i.e. email, affiliate, cpc, etc. (required)

utm_source: i.e google, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. (required)

utm_campaign: campaign name, like “summer_promotion” (required)

utm_term: identify the keywords that drive traffic

utm_content: differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL

Look confusing? The Google URL Builder Tool makes it easy for you to create these custom URLs. Simply fill out the form with your campaign info and Google creates the URL for you.

4. Use the Campaign Dashboard

Now that you have campaign tracking set up, use the Campaign Dashboard to check out your success. To access the [Campaigns] reports in Google Analytics, go to [Traffic Sources] > [Sources] > [Campaigns].

There you will be able to see how visitors that are coming from that campaign behave on your site and also analyze your conversion rates based on those campaigns. This will help to determine your most successful campaigns and where you need to focus more efforts next time.

5. Adding Event Tracking

We’ve saved adding event tracking for last because it requires some HTML knowledge, which can be intimidating. If you know what to look for and use a few helpful tools though, it’s as easy as copying and pasting!

You can add event tracking to important offsite links like social media or email marketing subscription buttons (that go directly to a vendor like Constant Contact or Mailchimp). You can also add event tracking to file downloads like important whitepapers or when someone clicks the ‘play’ button on a video.

The basic parts of adding event tracking are:

1) get your event tracking code and

2) adding that code on your website.

Fortunately, the kind people over at GAconfig have made both parts super easy and you can simply go to and follow their instructions. We like to keep it simple.

So there you have it: five (relatively) easy steps to start tracking campaigns more effectively.