Setting up Google Analytics friendly campaign links
Whilst Eloqua reporting can provide you with some level of detail when it comes to reporting on your campaigns, like traffic coming in from social media, search and email it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
More often than not I find that clients soon start to ask questions about how they can achieve a deeper level of analytics. For example, they might not just want to know how much traffic came to their landing page from LinkedIn where they are running and advertising campaign, they want to know specifically which advert is creating conversions.
They they start asking if they could find easy ways to analyze which segments in their database respond to which type of adverts, etc. That is when I tell them that if they want these specifics we are going to need to go into the world of UTM parameters or they will need to purchase some additional tracking software.
What if I told you, “I can show you a way to tie all your campaign analytics together under your analytics platform AND allow to use precise campaign data to determine ROI based on campaign tactics?”
Please note that for the purposes of this guide we are going to use a fictitious client that is using Google Analytics. This guide will work for anyone, regardless of which analytics platform you are using.
How to use this guide
This guide has been broken down into four parts:
- Part 1: Setting up Google Analytics friendly campaign links
- Part 2: Eloqua / Google Analytics Integration
- Part 3: Passing GA Data through Eloqua Forms
- Part 4: Making GA Data Usable
Part 1: Setting up Google Analytics friendly campaign links
In order to get consistent tracking through Google Analytics you will need to use query strings on your campaign URLs that Google Analytics can use to detect and report on the different variables that you wish to report on.
What is a query string?
A query string is information that is added to the end of a URL in order to pass along additional information. This additional information (in the way we are going to use it) will not affect the end point URL in anyway. A query string consists of two parts:
Parameters are the parts of a query string that tell Google Analytics the type of information it about to recieve.
Variables are the actual pieces of information that Google Analytics is going to receive.
Here is as example query string:
Let’s break it down:
- www.acme.com/page – Is the landing page for your campaign
- ? – Is the start of the query string
- source= – Is the query string parameter which contains the variable you wish to pass back
- email – Is the variable of the query string parameter
- & – Is the end of one parameter and the beginning of a new one
Google Analytics (and all other analytic platforms) have a uniform set of parameters you have to use in order for the platform to understand the data that you are passing back to it. Their uniform parameters are known as UTM Paramaters.
What are UTM Parameters?
UTM parameters are tags that are appended to a URL. You will have seen them before even if you haven’t used them yet. When a user clicks on a URL that contains UTM parameters it sends the tags back for tracking in Google Analytics. Below are two links that use very basic UTM parameters:
As you can see the landing page URL has not changed but the utm_source has. Regardless of the link that is clicked, the contact still goes to the exact same page. The utm_source parameter however changes and we are going to detect the value and pass it back to Eloqua through the landing page form.
There are several different UTM Parameters that you can use to create your links for your different PPC/Banner/Etc Campaigns that you can use to determine precisely how a contact came to your landing page before conversion, all of which we will pass back to Eloqua.
Creating UTM Parameters
The easiest way to create UTM Parameters until you get the hang of it is the Google Analytics URL Builder. You simply follow the instructions and it creates a URL with all your tracking parameters for you. Once you get the hang of it and decide which UTM parameters you wish to pass back to Eloqua you will probably go on to creating a spreadsheet for this.
Here is a screenshot of the tool:
The tabs below explain which parameters you can use and what they are used for. Make note that some of these UTM parameters are required in order to make your analytics work.
(utm_source) – This parameter is used to identify the traffic source. This is typically generic so you would use search engine name for PPC adverts such as Google or Bing, social media source such as LinkedIn or Twitter or your email platform such as Eloqua. This field is required for tracking in Google Analytics.
(utm_medium) – This parameter is used to determine the medium that was used to promote the landing page, this would be email, PPC Banner, etc. This field is required for tracking in Google Analytics.
(utm_term) – This parameter is used to determine which PPC words we used in an advert. This can also be used on banner adverts that use text as well. This is an optional parameter for Google Analytics tracking.
(utm_content) – This parameter is used to determine any additional information that could be used on the link source. A use case is in the event of A/B split testing a similar banner advert. This is an optional field for tracking through Google Analytics.
(utm_campaign) – This parameter is used to identify which campaign that the landing page been accessed from. This is a required field for tracking in Google Analytics.
I want you to imagine that you are creating a simple campaign. You are trying to get contacts to download a whitepaper. To push people to your form you are going to be using a combination of email, a LinkedIn advert, a Tweet and Google PPC. You want to drive contacts to your campaign landing page which hosts the form so they will submit the form thus generating a lead. In summary your campaign consists of the following inbound links:
- Email link
- LinkedIn advert link
- Twitter Link
- Google PPC link
The diagram depicts the different channels you are using to get to your campaign page. As you can see you have one single landing page and four different tactics that you are using for your campaign. The next step is to use the Google Adwords tool to create the different links that are going to be pointing to this landing page.
If we imagine that we are running a campaign with these four different channels all pointing to an Eloqua landing page the links would look be:
In this example you can see the the UTM_Source is set to Eloqua because this is whet you are using to send your email. Some clients have multiple email systems so now we can differentiate between where this is being sent from. The UTM_Campaign is sending over the campaign information. UTM_Medium has been set to Email since this is your delivery mechanism and your UTM_Content has been set to EDM1 which signifies that it is the first email from the campaign. Obviously this will change for each email in your campaign that points to this landing page.
The UTM_Source has been set to the social media provider, LinkedIn. The UTM_Campaign has been set the campaign that you are running. The UTM_Medium tells you that this link is coming from a banner. In the case of LinkedIn you could be pointing to your landing page from posts too. Finally we have UTM_Content which tells you that this has come from a small banner. This is important because you may have different banners or even different messages all pointing to the same landing page and we need this information for analysis.
Here you can see that the UTM_Source is Twitter, the UTM_Campaign remains the same as all the others, the UTM_Medium states that this is coming from a post and the UTM_Content shows that it is version 1 because you may have multiple versions of the same post pointing to the campaign landing page.
Google Analytics follows all the same principles as the previous ones. You can see that the UTM_Source is set to Google, the UTM_Campaign remains the same, the UTM_Medium has been set to PPC as in Pay Per Click. UTM_Content shows that this is version 1 of a PPC advert that is using the keyword “Widgets” as is defined in the parameter UTM_Term.
If you follow the steps outlined in the first part of this guide then you will be feeding Google Analytics with perfect data. As such your Google Analytics dashboard should look something like this and you will have a very happy web analytics team.
In the next part of this series I will show you how to integrate Eloqua with Google Analytics so it automatically appends Google parameters to each email that you send out.