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Campaign URL Builders & UTM Parameters – The Insider’s Scoop [Guide]

Why Should You Use a Campaign URL Builder for creating a UTM tracking code?

 

Campaign URL Builders can save you a ton of time. They also keep campaign data organized and ensure tracking consistency across a team.

The UTM tracking code allows you to add custom campaign parameters to your URLs. This makes it possible to track custom campaign performance in Google Analytics.

 

Simply put, without Campaign URL Builders you go crazy 🤪 without UTM Parameters you go blind 🙈

 

no utm tracking code

 

You can jump to the following sections if you are looking for specific information:

 

 

Section 1

  • What are UTM Parameters and why are they so important for digital marketing?
  • How can URL Builders make you a more efficient marketer?
  • The importance of campaign tracking.

 

What exactly is a UTM in Digital Marketing?

 

A UTM (also known as UTM Parameters) is a string of characters that can be appended to a URL. Creating custom links with UTMs, tracks campaign details in Google Analytics. Doing this makes it possible to identify what campaigns, keywords or ads are working.

In digital marketing, you want to track as many campaign details as possible. This is important so you can attribute the source of conversions.

Granular campaign tagging is also important for building funnels, such as path to conversion (goal completion) or purchase journey funnels.

Tracking custom campaign details is possible when applying UTM parameters to your links. To do this efficiently across campaigns you will want to make sure to use a URL Campaign Builder.

After we go over the ins and outs of URL Parameters, there will be a section reviewing the most popular URL Builders.

 

The Importance of Campaign Tracking

 

Anytime I take on a new client, the first thing I insist on getting right is tracking, tracking, tracking.

More often than not, client accounts do not have proper conversion and link tracking in place. The reason? They are hesitant to spend a small piece of their budget on the resources to set this up.

The truth is, this can be detrimental. Without UTMs or conversion tracking in place, you have no idea what is working. There is no way to identify what campaigns, keywords or ads are converting in Google Analytics. As a result, you as a marketer have no idea what campaigns are driving results and which ones are wasted spend.

So yeah, not the most exciting topic (unless you are a data nerd like ourselves), but given its importance and that it comes with many nuances, we have put together this post.

 

Note: This post focuses on adding the UTM tracking code to track custom campaigns. Doing this will enable you to accurately track campaign efforts in Google Analytics. But, this does not negate the importance of ad platform conversion tracking. As a marketer, you need to understand tracking outside of Google Analytics last-click attribution model.

 

Before we go into the best practices for Using UTM Parameters, lets cover some of the basics.

 

Section 2

Demystifying the UTM Tracking Code

Using the Google URL Builder

I structured this section by answering common questions in a digestible sequence. If you have any additional questions please leave them in the comments.

 

What is a UTM Tracking Code?

 

UTM stands for Urchin Traffic Monitor. It comes back from the Urchin days. Before acquired by Google and re-branded as Google Analytics.

UTM tracking codes are a snippet of code you can append to any URL on your site.

 

What does a UTM Parameter Help You Identify?

 

A UTM Parameter helps you track custom campaign performance in Google Analytics.

By having the ability to segment your data you can identify which custom campaigns are most effective in producing positive or negative results so that you can optimize accordingly.

 

What Are All the UTM Parameters That Exist?

 

There are a total of five UTM Parameter values that exist.

 

  • Source = utm_source
  • Medium = utm_medium
  • Campaign Name = utm_campaign
  • Content = utm_content
  • Term = utm_keyword

 

You can use these five values to track campaigns using custom links created with the Google Analytics URL Builder.

All or some of these five UTMs can pass values to Google Analytics which will allow you to identify the campaigns driving results.

When appended the custom link looks something like this:

 

utm parameter example

 

Only three of these fields are required when using the Google URL Builder.

 

  • Source
  • Medium
  • Campaign Name

 

google url builder required parameters

 

What is URL Tagging?

 

URL tagging is when you use a UTM tracking code builder to generate custom links.

The most common way to append these parameters for URL Tagging is to use the Google Campaign URL Builder.

Outside of the Google Campaign URL Builder, there are other URL Builders you can use. They typically contain more features to customize, organize and keep your tracking consistent. I will cover these further down in the post.

For Google Ads, you do not need to manually add URL Parameters. Since they have a built-in feature called Auto-Tagging. With Auto-Tagging enabled Google Ads automatically appends campaign details for tracking. It uses Gclid (Google Click ID) Parameters and passes this to Google Analytics.

For non-Google platforms, the set up is less automated and varies for each ad platform. But, if you are looking for a way to automate this process for Facebook Ads you can use EasyAutoTagging (Yes, that’s us).

 

Note: EasyAutoTagging works the same as Auto-Tagging in Google Ads but for Facebook Ads. EasyAutoTagging automatically detects new ads within your Facebook Ad Account then appends your pre-defined UTM Parameters.

 

How do I create a tracking code?

 

To create a tracking code you will need to append UTM Parameters to each link you are sharing or linking to from an ad.

You can use a UTM Builder or take the manual approach and create UTM tracking codes using a spreadsheet.

Appending the five default parameter values will allow you to track:

 

Source = utm_source

Medium = utm_medium

Campaign Name = utm_campaign

Keyword = utm_term

Ad Content = utm_content

 

Once you input values for each UTM Parameter the tool will build a custom link. You can then copy and paste the custom link in each one of your ads.

 

Note: The string of characters following the question mark is the URL Parameter. See the highlighted portion of the custom link.

 

google campaign url builder

 

Can I use UTM Tags in a Creative Way?

 

Yes, you can use UTM tags or add custom parameter tags to track any relevant campaign or user information. For example, audience or placement.

Custom URL Parameters are also used for enterprise accounts. Enterprise accounts have analytics and BI teams to pull and analyze large data sets. Hence, they need to pass a lot more information outside of the five standard UTM Parameters.

The question I often get is: Do I need a programmer to add UTM tracking codes to my links?

The answer is no you do not.

But, if you are looking to push custom URL parameters and track these in Google Analytics or if you want to extract UTM parameter values via Javascript, you would require basic developer skills using a combination of the Google Tag Manager and/or Javascript.

 

Note: To learn more about custom URL parameters using the Google Tag Manager check out  Tracking Custom Parameters as Custom Dimensions.

 

What is the Google Campaign URL Builder?

 

The Google Campaign URL builder is a tool that allows you to easily add URL parameters to track custom campaigns in Google Analytics.

 

How do I use the Google URL builder?

 

The Google URL Builder is a simple tool for creating custom links.

 

  1. Go to the free Campaign URL Builder here
  2. Past your link In the Website URL [this is a required field]

 

google url builder

 

3. Enter a value for source. The source could be google, facebook, twitter or any ad platform depending on where you are sharing your link. [this is a required field]

 

google url builder

 

4. Next, fill out the medium field. The medium for a paid ad would be ‘cpc’ or a social post would be ‘social’

 

google url builder

 

5. Campaign Name should reflect the campaign you are running, for example ‘Running Shoes Retargeting’ or ‘Spring Sale’

 

google url builder

 

6. Not all ads are running on platforms that serve keywords, if you are using keywords you can enter them in the Campaign Term field. However, if you are not using keywords you can use this field to track other values such as audience.

 

google url builder

 

7. Tracking the success of different creative can help identify what messaging is working. The Campaign Content field is typically used to identify this and you can enter a value such as ‘Spring Sale Lifestyle’ or ‘Spring Sale Animated’.

 

google url builder

 

8. That’s it you are all set. You can now copy and share the generated campaign URL.

 

google url builder

 

When setting up ads make sure that every single link to your site has respective UTMs attached. This can quickly become a tedious task and the right URL Builder can be a lifesaver.

You can review the pros and cons of the top seven URL builders below. If you want to automate the process you can use a tool like ours.

 

How to create Utm Codes in Google Analytics?

 

You don’t actually create UTM Codes in Google Analytics. But you can view campaign performance in Google Analytics.

You can create UTM Codes with the Google Campaign URL Builder. The UTM Builder generates custom links to track your campaigns. After a user clicks a custom link the UTM Parameter values will be passed to Google Analytics.

Let’s take a closer look at what we can see in Google Analytics. Since UTMs enables marketers to identify the most effective campaigns.

 

Section 3

Finding your custom campaigns in Google Analytics

Leveraging built-in Google Analytics campaign reports

Tracking campaign Goals and Conversion in Google Analytics

 

Where do I find my Campaigns in Google Analytics?

 

To find campaigns in Google Analytics go to Acquisition and then Campaign reports.

If you are reading this post I am assuming that you have activated digital campaigns. If so, you quickly realize the importance of UTM parameters.

As stated above UTM Parameters consist of five fields:

 

  1. Source
  2. Medium
  3. Name
  4. Term
  5. Content

 

Only the Source, Medium, and Campaign fields are required. All five fields display as primary and secondary dimensions in Google Analytics. This allows you to segment and filter performance data so you can track the impact of your campaigns.

 

So how do I find UTMs in Google Analytics?

 

Let’s take a look.

Below is a basic report with a:

Primary Dimension of source/medium

Secondary Dimension of Ad Content

 

tracking custom campaigns in google analytics

 

To give you another example. Let’s use the Google Campaign URL Builder. Below we define the source, medium, campaign and content (aka ad).

 

Note: Notice how your generated custom link updates dynamically once you input parameter values.

 

google url builder generated campaign url

 

I am using a custom link that I can track. If you want to try this out create a custom URL parameter for your website. Next, Paste the link in your browser. This will pass the campaign parameters to Google Analytics. Now you should be able to segment your data in using Primary and Secondary Dimensions.

In this case, we are looking at the Campaign as the Primary Dimension and the Ad as the Secondary Dimension.

 

Note: Make sure your IP is not excluded in Google Analytics. You will be able to see your activity in real-time reports once you access your site from the custom URL. However, there can be a minor delay in data populating UTMs in Google Analytics reports.

 

utm campaign and utm content breakdown

 

Another way to slice up your data is to segment by source/medium as your Primary Dimension and the Ad as the Secondary Dimension.

 

utm source/medium and utm content breakdown

 

Note: The only drawback with UTMs is that they are visible in the URL string and that UTMs are sticky meaning that if a user does not remove the parameter values when sharing a link it will continue to register as those values.

 

Ok, now that you know how to find your campaign data in Google Analytics I want to quickly touch on Campaign tracking in Google Analytics.

 

What is Campaign Tracking in Google Analytics?

 

Campaign tracking is when you breakdown reporting to specific channels or campaigns. You don’t need to build custom reports to do this. There are built-in reports you can leverage to quickly identify campaign performance.

 

Source / Medium Report

 

The Source/Medium report in the Acquisition section is a great place to get a quick overview. Unless I have Channels customized I prefer to look at the source/medium breakdown.

You can access the report under Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium

 

google analytics source medium report

 

Google Ads Campaign Report

 

The Google Ads report displays all Google Ads data in Google Analytics. This is great for analyzing site user behavior outside of conversions. To leverage this report make sure you have Auto-Tagging enabled. This feature will track and sync Google Ads with Google Analytics.

 

Note: EasyAutoTagging provides the same Auto-tagging feature for Facebook Ads. Allowing analysis of Facebook Campaign Performance in the Google Analytics Cost Analysis report.

 

You can access the report under Acquisition > Google Ads > Campaign

 

google analytics google ads report

 

Campaign Report

 

If you want to get a birds-eye view of all campaign performance you can access the Campaign report. The Campaign report will display all campaign traffic.

Campaigns are defined using the utm_campaign parameter. Campaigns can include paid traffic such as Google or Facebook Ads. They can also include non-paid traffic such as organic social or PR campaigns. This report is valuable if all links have been properly tagged with UTM Parameters.

 

Note: Make sure to always create custom links. For ads or any link, you share with partners and influencers.

 

You can access the report under Acquisition > All Traffic > Campaign > All Campaigns

 

google analytics all campaigns report

 

Cost Analysis

 

The Cost Analysis report is specifically intended to measure performance for PPC campaigns. To maximize this report you will need to import cost data for non-google campaigns. For example Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn or Snapchat. If you are importing cost data this is a great report to see how your paid ads are performing across all channels.

 

Note: You can use EasyAutoTagging to automate data imports for Facebook.

 

You can access the report under Acquisition > All Traffic > Campaign > Cost Analysis

 

google analytics cost analysis report

 

Where Can I See if my Campaigns Are Converting?

 

You can see if Campaigns are converting using Events, goals, and Ecommerce conversion tracking.

Acquisition reports in Google Analytics allow you to view conversion data by campaign. All Acquisition reports display Goal and Ecommerce purchase performance. You have three primary columns available in each report. They consist of conversion rate, conversions, and revenue or goal value; if you have a goal value assigned.

 

Note: Events are used to track events that occur on your site and you can assign a value to these, but you cannot view events in Acquisition reports using the three default columns. As a result, you have to create Event-Based goals to access conversion rates and values.

 

google analytics all campaigns ecommerce metrics

 

Google Analytics also gives you a wealth of Goal and Purchase data in the Conversion section.

You can access the report under Conversions > Goals or Conversions > Ecommerce

 

google analytics ecommerce shopping behavior report

 

As you can see, Google Analytics built-in reports provide valuable insights into campaign performance.

Before we move on to Google URL Builders, I want to briefly touch on customizing URL parameters to use UTM Tags in a creative way.

 

Section 4

Understand the value of URL Builders.

 

What is a Campaign URL Builder? [Not Google]

 

A Campaign URL Builder is a tool to easily build custom links. These custom links make it possible to track campaigns in Google Analytics. The URL Builder adds UTM Parameters or Custom URL Parameters to any links based on your input. But why can’t we just stick with the Google URL Campaign Builder?

 

Note: A common question I get is. What is the difference between a URL Builder and a UTM Builder? They are essentially the same thing. However, a UTM builder is restricted to the five UTM Parameter values. For example, the Google Campaign URL Builder. Whereas a URL Builder can build tracking links containing any custom URL parameters.

 

Why You Should Use Look for other Campaign URL Builders

 

URL Builders makes the task of scaling tagging across campaigns easier. Applying the right URL Builder improves efficiency through automation. It also has the ability to customize settings specific to your needs. All while ensuring consistency across a team.

The Google URL Builder, also a UTM tracking code builder, makes it easy to generate UTM parameters. However, it does not solve for doing this well across a large set of campaigns.

Fortunately, there are more robust URL Builders available. We will cover seven of the most popular ones below.

 

A quick recap on the Google Analytics URL Builder

 

The Google URL Builder is the most used and familiar Campaign URL builder. It’s a free and straightforward UTM Builder but there are some limitations.

Try to apply granular UTMs to a large ad account. You will quickly realize that applying UTMs and maintaining consistency is a time consuming and tedious process. Without a URL Builder, you cannot scale tagging efficiently.

With the Google URL Builder, you can only create one UTM at a time. This also compromises consistency. And you restricted to the five default parameter values they provide.

 

Section 5

Popular Campaign URL Builders.

Will subject each URL Builder to a rating looking at:

  • Automation/Scaleability
  • Customization
  • Consistency
  • URL Shortener
  • Click Tracking
  • Cost Import and Session Mapping

 

Available Campaign URL Builders

 

This section of the post is a roundup of Campaign URL builders to stop you from pulling ‘some’ of your hair out.

I will review the following tools compared to the Google URL Builder tool as a fixed variable:

 

  1. Raven URL Builder
  2. BestURLBuilder
  3. Terminus App
  4. UTM Builder
  5. Terminus App
  6. UTM.io [Effinamazing UTM Tracking Code Builder ]
  7. EasyAutoTagging – Facebook Only

 

If there are any Campaign URL Builders you would like to see added, please let me know in the comments below.

 

How I am rating Campaign URL Builders

 

Automation/Scaleability – Is it possible to generate UTMs with minimal manual input across many ad campaigns?

Customization – How flexible and customizable can you get with dynamic values and custom parameters?

Consistency – Is it possible to manage a clean UTM implementation across a team. When applying UTMs across a large set of ads consistency (given human error) is practically impossible.

URL Shortener – Can you shorten the URL either natively or with a tool like bitly

Click Tracking – Does the platform provide click tracking stats? I don’t see the value in having an additional view for click data since the primary objective is to see session data that is available in Google Analytics. However, click data can be useful for content curation or sharing third party links.

Import Mapping – Does the tool provide an option to import cost data into Google Analytics. Also, can it match UTM Parameter back to cost data so that the imported cost data blends with session data? This is an important feature for analyzing PPC Campaigns in Google Analytics using the Cost Analysis report.

Raven URL Builder

 

Raven URL Builder

 

The Raven URL Builder is a super simple free UTM Parameter builder. It functions similarly to the Google URL Builder. The Raven URL Builder does not have an advantage over the Google URL Builder since both Campaign URL Builders take the same manual approach.

 

Raven URL Builder Google URL Builder
Automation No No
Custom Parameters No No
Consistency No No
Click Tracking No No
URL Shortener No No
Data Mapping No No

 

Best URL Builder

 

Best URL Builder

 

With Best URL Builder you can build and store UTMs. They offer UTM templates. Templates help standardize naming conventions and quickly apply consistent UTMs across a team.

Best URL Builder also offers reporting in their platform. This feature is great for tracking click stats of third-party links.

As previously mentioned I don’t know how useful that is for first-party links. Typically I add UTMs to identify performance within reporting platforms not click data.

 

Best URL Builder Google URL Builder
Automation No No
Custom Parameters No No
Consistency Yes No
URL Shortener Yes No
Data Mapping No No


Terminus UTM URL Builder

 

Terminus URL Builder

 

Terminus is built to manage UTM consistency across larger accounts. This dynamic feature is great as opposed to managing UTMs in a messy spreadsheet.

If you are managing a large digital media team and want to provide consistency across your campaign initiatives then Terminus might be one of the better Campaign URL Builders for you.

Terminus also provides a chrome extension (similar to Effin Amazing). The extension enables you to build UTMs and use presets directly from your browser.

 

Terminus Google URL Builder
Automation No No
Custom Parameters Yes No
Consistency Yes No
Shortener No No
Data Mapping No No

 

UTM Builder

 

UTM Builder

 

There are some similar features between the UTM Builder and Terminus (mentioned above). Such as UTM management for consistency and their chrome extension.

UTM Builder does have a super intuitive tagging system. Although they only utilize the five standard UTM Parameters, they can dynamically add additional information. The additional information is then stitched together as custom values for each parameter field when creating links.

UTM Builder also seems to have a decent track record given that they have prominent brands on board as compared to the other Campaign URL Builders.

Also, UTM Builder supports parameters for additional reporting platforms such as Adobe or Piwik.

 

UTM Builder Google URL Builder
Automation Partial No
Custom Parameters No No
Consistency Yes No
Click Tracking No No
Shortener Yes No
Data Mapping No No

 

UTM.io [Formerly Effinamazing UTM Tracking Code Builder]

 

UTM.io

 

UTM.io known for its Effin Amazing chrome extension. A pretty neat tool. They do have the basic UTM Tag builder available here, but that is pretty much the same as the Google URL builder.

However, with the chrome extension, you can define presets for consistency. You can also automatically save all of your links in a google sheet, including notes, and bitly links if your bitly account is connected.

All of this can be done right from the extension when you are on any webpage.

 

Note: Some of the features above require the paid version.

 

Effin Amazing Google URL Builder
Automation Partial No
Custom Parameters No No
Consistency Yes No
Click Tracking No No
Shortener Yes No
Data Mapping No No

 

EasyAutoTagging (Yes that’s us)

 

 

pasted image 0 3 1024x688

 

EasyAutoTagging gives users the ability to define rules using ‘data connectors’. You can assign a data connector to any Facebook account.

Within these data connectors, you define campaign filters and assign custom parameter definitions. EasyAutoTagging will then automatically detect new ads in your Facebook account. Once detected it will populate your tag field with URL Parameters.

The automation removes the manual process of creating and pasting UTMs into Facebook. In turn, you have a scalable and consistent UTM process. Easyautotagging also supports adding custom URL parameters so you are not restricted to the five default values.

 

pasted image 0 29

 

You can define URL Parameters for Facebook Ads in your UTM Profile. You can then assign one profile for each data connector.

UTM consistency can be a nightmare from a management standpoint. This is where UTM Profiles come in to make your life easier

UTM Profiles allow you to define parameter values. You can define these either:

Dynamically using campaign values or

Statically entering the text value.

Creating UTM Profiles ensures consistency across accounts and teams removing the human error factor that occurs with manual Facebook URL Builders.

 

pasted image 0 22

 

As an optional feature, you can choose to enable  Automated data Imports. This will import Facebook Campaign cost, impression and click data into Google Analytics. EasyAutoTagging does this matching your UTM Profile for seamless data blending. Enabling the data import feature enables you to leverage the Cost Analysis report. You can then monitor paid campaigns across channels in one place.

 

pasted image 0 13

 

You can access the step by step set up here.

 

EasyAutoTagging Google URL Builder
Automation Yes No
Custom Parameters Yes No
Consistency Yes No
Click Tracking No No
Shortener No No
Data Mapping Yes No

 

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, tracking and reporting with URL Parameters in a fragmented landscape can create moments of [extreme] frustration. However, the use of a URL campaign builder can streamline building and managing a consistent tagging process.

What is your favorite URL Builder? Let me know in the comments below.

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