What you can learn from campaign tracking and how you should use it?


Us testers here at Digital Natives don’t just spend our time testing. We’re often involved in the different phases of the product lifecycle, like conception (imagine, specify, plan) and design (describe, define).

I’m a member of the Nostromo team, and right now we’re working on our Project Management tool.

This tool, and Nostromo itself are growing in popularity so it’s vital that we understand which direction to move in both with tool development and the marketing of its new features. As a relatively early stage company acquiring users is our biggest focus right now and our goal is to maximise the traffic to our website.

To be able to reach this goal we have to know which online marketing campaign is driving the most traffic to our website. And that’s where UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) and campaign tracking comes into play.

By tagging the URLs with UTMs, you can get a good understanding of how your visitors interact with your website.

But first take a look what are the tracking types

  1. Page tracking: Allows you to measure the number of views you had for a particular page on your website.
  2. Campaign tracking: This is what we use, check details below.
  3. Event tracking: Events are user interactions with content that can be tracked independently from a web page or a screen load. Downloads, mobile ad clicks, gadgets, Flash elements, AJAX embedded elements, and video plays are all examples of actions you might want to track as events.

We use Google Analytics campaign tracking to measure that how many people clicked on our blog posts/newsletters, and which social network/device/browser did they used. Of course you can measure other activities like:

  • The most popular keyphrases being used across major search engines
  • A/B testing when you’re comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better.

What will You need?

You will need a URL builder tool. There are a wide variety of them so you can choose one which best suits your needs. We’re big fans of the Google URL Builder and the Google Analytics URL Builder extension. We also use a UTM template to create and manage our UTM tag links.

Once you know the values/tags you want to track, you can simply go to Google’s URL Builder, enter these values into the parameters, click “generate URL,” and tadaaaa, you are all set.


Ok, so maybe it’s not quite that straightforward if you’re new to all of this, right? You probably have a few questions like, what are tags, how should my URL look and how can I change my URL at a later stage? Let’s go through these questions together.

Urchin Tracking Modules aka UTM tags or UTM tracking parameters:

A UTM code is a simple code that you can attach to a custom URL in order to track e.g. a source, medium, or campaign name. This enables Google Analytics to tell you where searchers came from as well as what campaign directed them to you. A common use of UTM code is to create a vanity URL for each campaign, and then redirect that URL to whatever address you assign to it — most likely your main domain. There are also some other values you can add to your code to monitor the terms you want to own, or even specific content.

However, the Google Analytics URL Builder extension works on the same principle.

And of course you can add or change tags whenever you like.

The URL Builder allows you to add up to five elements to your website URL:

  1. Campaign Source (utm_source)
  • This tag is mandatory. That can be a specific portal name, social network name or similar.
  • Example: utm_source=facebook
  1. Campaign Medium (utm_medium)
  • This tag is also mandatory. Use utm_medium to identify a medium such as email or cost-per- click.
  • Example: utm_medium=cpc
  1. Campaign Term (utm_term)
  • Used for paid search. This should be the keyword you use for identifying your ad.
  • Example: utm_term=running+shoes
  1. Campaign Content (utm_content)
  • This tag is usually used for A/B testing, but it could be used for ad type, market, website language version or any other similar info that will help you distinguish one ad version from another.
  • Examples: utm_content=logolink or utm_content=textlink
  1. Campaign Name (utm_campaign)
  • The last mandatory tag. Used for keyword analysis. Use utm_campaign to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.
  • Example: utm_campaign=spring_sale

Want to see a quick example?

When we post a new article to the Digital Natives or Nostromo blog we always share it on different social networks. So if the user clicks on the url on Twitter, the blog post url should look like this:


In detail:

  • Campaign Source: clicktotweet
  • Campaign Medium: blog
  • Campaign Term: –
  • Campaign Content: –
  • Campaign Name: become qa

UTM template

We collate all our UTM links into one spreadsheet, which really comes in handy when you have to generate different links for one piece of content.

Screenshot 2016-08-02 13.28.47

Grab a copy of the spreadsheet here >>

Also, once you’ve generated a custom URL, you can shorten the link with for example http://bit.ly/ or https://goo.gl/. This can be useful if the URL is too long, because a long and bulky URL does not improve the user experience. But also there is a risk that the user may believes that this shortened link is spam and therefore they won’t click on it.

How does all of this look in Google Analytics?

In Google Analytics, you can find your traffic from UTM codes by looking at Behaviour > Site content > Landing pages. Then select the page you want to check, set the secondary dimension to source/medium and there you are.

Screenshot 2016-07-28 14.21.04

Here you can see how many visitors your page had listed by the source and medium parameters you set before.  With this you’ll be able to tell which channel works best for your content.

From a testing and development point of view the most important is making sure the values are being sent to Google Analytics correctly. When someone comes to the site and the URL has some UTM tags the page view measurement request is sent to Google Analytics, then Google Analytics starts to process the UTM values of the URL.

And how you can check it?

You can use the Google Analytics debugger extension to test it, which is available in Chrome and Firefox.

  1. First, open a browser, add an URL which has UTM tags. I’ll use this link:  https://blog.digitalnatives.hu/how-to-become-a-qa-tester/?utm_source=clicktotweet&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=become+qa
  2. Open the console in the browser and go to the GA Debugger tab.
  3. You have to start the debugger then reload the page (otherwise it won’t do anything).
  4. If you do everything right you’ll see this:

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 13.43.45

What are we seeing there?

On the left hand side you can see that there are three different measurements on this page, these are the tracking IDs. These are not connected and they can be found separately in Google Analytics. If you click on the “pageview” link in the middle column, you can check the stored campaign data.

Mixpanel’ event tracking

Google Analytics is not the only platform we use, we also implemented Mixpanel which is an analytics platform for mobile & web. It helps you analyze the actions people take in your application. An action can be anything – someone uploading a picture, playing a video, or sharing a post, for example.

If you interested in learning more about how we use Mixpanel then let us know in the comments and we’ll pen a blog on the topic.



UTM parameters provide invaluable insights into your traffic and you really don’t have to invest that much time in them. You can get a ton of data about your audience’s behaviour which if used right will help you grow your business.

So just create one, share it and see the rich data flow into your analytics system.

Don’t forget: One UTM code per day keeps the analysts at play! – credits to http://www.mequoda.com/articles/subscription_websites/the-mysterious-utm-code-explained

Which tracking tools do you use?


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