Using Google Analytics Campaigns to track clicks on links to your website in PDF files, slideshare presentations, emails, and more

Google Analytics will track traffic to your website in aggregate and break it down into broad categories like search engines and referrers. It would be great to break down that traffic even further so we know what is working and what is not in our marketing efforts. With the Campaigns feature of Google Analytics, you can do just that.

Google Analytics Campaigns

A campaign in Google Analytics is just a code you add to a link that allows Google to separately report on the clicks associated with each campaign. The traffic is still counted in your overall statistics, but you can now see the breakdown in finer detail.

This is especially useful if you want to track different marketing initiatives. What links do people click on in a free PDF file you send out? While viewing a presentation on slideshare, which links do people click on? When you send a targeted email to a list, how many people clicked on which links? Campaigns can answer all of these questions.

Parts of the campaign code

The campaign code consists of three parts:

Campaign Name: a code that uniquely identifies this marketing effort. For newsletters, I use issue 308, issue 309, etc. For a slideshare deck I might use a code like 3BigFinancialMistakesDeck. Make the code meaningful so it is easy to recognize when looking at your analytics reports.

Source: a code that uniquely identifies the link that is being clicked. I suggest numbering links if there are multiple links to the same page in a single email or document. For example, if I had two links to more information on my public workshops, I might use 2014publicslink1 and 2014publicslink2. This way, I know which of the two links generated the most action by the reader.

Medium: a code that identifies the type of campaign. This is not reported well in the reports, so I generally just use simple categories such as email, newsletter, or PDFreport.

Coding links for a campaign

To add the campaign code to any website link, follow this structure:

<link URL>?utm_campaign=<campaign name>&utm_source=<source code>&utm_medium=<medium code>

Here is a recent link to a newsletter issue on my website:

Creating slides that print well in B&W; Issue #309 April 15, 2014

The link can get long, but the link still works and it doesn’t change how fast the person sees the content on your site. It gives you additional information that allows you to make better decisions about how effective your marketing efforts are.

Google has more complete documentation on using campaigns here and a URL builder tool that you can use.

How campaigns appear in Google Analytics

After you start using campaigns, you can view the campaign statistics in your Google Analytics reports. Under the Acquisition menu, you will see the Campaigns link. When you are looking at your campaigns, the default is to organize by the campaign code first. Here is what my campaigns screen looks like.

GACampaign1

I can see how well each campaign did in terms of number of clicks, how many pages they viewed after clicking the link, and how much time they spent on my site in that visit. I have seen that visitors who come to my site via one of these links stay longer and view more pages than those that come via a web search.

When you click on a specific campaign, you see which links people clicked on. Here is my screen for the issue 309 campaign, which was issue 309 of my newsletter.

GACampaign2

Clearly, the link to my article on using Excel graphs in PowerPoint was the most popular of these links, with more than half the clicks from this newsletter on that one link. With other data from other campaigns, I was able to see that my audience is very interested in topics related to using Excel data in presentations and I was able to design further marketing efforts to reach this target market.

How I am using campaigns

Here are some of the ways I am using campaigns now or plans I have to use them soon.

In slideshare decks: In a slideshare presentation, I have coded the links back to specific pages on my website so I know which links get the most traffic. I have seen that the first link to the page has better clickthrough than the second link in this particular slideshare.

In emails: When I sent emails to a specific group of prospects for upcoming public workshops, I was able to see which group responded better and how many people actually clicked on the link for more information. This can help refine my approach to future emails.

In PDF files: For an upcoming ebook, I will be coding every link so I can track which topics are most important to the group of people who download the PDF file. Then I can develop products and workshops that address the topics they most want to know more about.

In my email signature: I have coded the link to my website in my email signature to see whether people actually look at that part of my email. A few of them do.

In my email newsletters: I code each link in my newsletters to see which topics are drawing the most interest. That way, I can write more on those topics since I know they are popular with my newsletter subscribers.

In links to other websites: I code links to other websites from my email newsletter or website so that the other site can track where visitors came from and see how valuable my links are to them. The Google Analytics for the other site will see these campaigns in their reports. I also let the other site know I am doing this so that they can see how I am helping their business.

Now that you can track clicks on links in almost any medium, how will you use Google Analytics Campaigns to help focus your marketing efforts? Let me know in the comments below.

If you want a much more in depth discussion of campaigns in Google Analytics, read this post by Annie Cushing of Annielytics (a great site on Google Analytics): The Definitive Guide To Campaign Tagging in Google Analytics.