How to Track Links in Google Analytics

If you’re using Google Analytics to enhance your school’s digital capabilities, chances are that you frequently find yourself in the Source/Medium report in the Acquisition section. When viewing sources in this report, they often can be grouped in ways that don’t provide all of the insights you need regarding your marketing efforts. The most efficient way to label sessions in Google Analytics based on the link a user clicked is to utilize UTM tags. This extra yet simple data analysis customization will help you gather information about potential and existing students to make your overall marketing more effective.

What are UTM Tags?
UTM tags are a simple piece of code, which is added to the end of a URL and can display a variety of fields within Google Analytics. These tags are easily customizable and can be created by any education marketer that wants to track where their website sessions originated from.

Why use UTM Tagging?
Most schools run advertising campaigns across several digital platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and AdWords, in order to engage prospective students throughout the lengthy research process. Using a number of platforms allows for a school to have multiple touch points with these prospects and expand the reach of ad efforts, but it can also result in a lack of clarity when tracking sessions. Being able to sort these sessions by platform and campaign, and split them out from organic sessions, can be essential to measuring the true value of each marketing channel and how it affects inquiry volume.

Through UTM source tagging, you are able to sort marketing campaigns by name and label sessions appropriately based upon the link that a user clicked to access your website. Creating unique URLs for each ad can provide additional levels of detail within your Google Analytics reports, allowing segmentation by each individual ad and the resulting sessions.

This tracking is particularly important in education, which is based around lead generation. With proper tracking code, most education CRM systems can be set up to pull parameters into the system once an inquiry is submitted. That way, the UTM tags you utilize can be shown alongside leads that populate in the CRM, allowing better analysis of how marketing efforts are driving eventual enrollments and starts.

What parameters should I track?
To properly track you must have at least entered Source, Medium, and Campaign names when utilizing link tracking. Below you can see the additional parameters that can be tracked, with definitions and examples of each as provided by Google.

Campaign Source (utm_source) Required. Use utm_source to identify a search engine, newsletter name, or another source.
Example: utm_source=google
Campaign Medium (utm_medium) Required. Use utm_medium to identify a medium such as email or cost-per- click.
Example: utm_medium=cpc
Campaign Term (utm_term) Typically used for paid search. For example, use utm_term to note the keywords for this ad.
Example: utm_term=running+shoes
Campaign Content (utm_content) Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads. Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.
Examples: utm_content=logolink or utm_content=textlink
Campaign Name (utm_campaign) Required. Used for overall campaign analysis. Use utm_campaign to identify a specific strategic campaign.
Example: utm_campaign=spring_sale


How do I place UTM tags on my URL?
These are the three main options for placing tags onto your landing page URLs:

  1. Using the Google URL builder, which is available here.
    • This quick and easy tool requires you to provide the URL you want users to land on, the campaign name, source, and medium. It is often a quick and easy option for users who aren’t creating large quantities of links at one time.
  1. Using a plugin from the Google Analytics App Library
    • Within this library, there are options that will look at your current campaigns and Google Analytics tracking, while some others integrate link shortening services while creating tagged URLs for you. All of the apps in this library were made by Google Partners and were designed to help simplify the use of Google Analytics.
  1. Manually tagging URLs.
    • Manually placing UTM tags is a common practice for more experienced users who don’t want to open the URL builder or a plugin. This method is only more efficient for individuals who understand how to correctly write UTM tags. These tags always begin immediately after a URL with a ‘?’ followed by utm_[parameter being tracked]=[value]. To add additional fields beyond the first parameter, you use a ‘&’ character followed by utm_[new parameter]

Are there any platforms I don’t have to tag each URL?
If you’re using Google AdWords, there is an auto-tagging feature that many users find helpful. Utilizing this feature, as well as linking your AdWords account to your Google Analytics account, allows for the most complete tracking of any ad platform and enables you to use remarketing lists from Google Analytics.

To enable auto-tagging in the new AdWords UI: click the “Settings” section of the left-hand menu bar then navigate to the “Account Settings” tab of this page. Check the box under the “Auto-Tagging” section and click “Save.”

Regardless of if you want to track one ad campaign, a cross-platform marketing campaign, or all of your digital marketing efforts, if you are using Google Analytics, you should be using link tags to track your campaign and support data analysis.

Interested in more ways to enhance your education marketing tracking? Get in touch, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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