You can do this by leveraging URL Parameters to:
Real Quick What is a URL Parameter?
Note: If you are on this page you most likely already know what URL Parameters are. If that is the case skip to the next section.
URL Parameters are also known as a Query String or URL Variable. A URL Parameter is a set of values appended to a URL preceded with a question mark.
Anything highlighted after the question mark is part of the URL Parameter. A URL Parameter can contain UTMs. UTMS are common parameters for marketing campaigns. These are typically generated using the Google URL Builder.
Outside of UTMs, URL Variables can contain user or session information that you want to track. For example, product or content-specific information, user preferences or search queries.
So the question is why would you want to pass this data?
- One use case could be passing parameter values across pages as the user browses your site. Such as users signed in or out status.
- Data can get messy. Organizing your data will make data analysis for optimization easier and more efficient.
As well, you might want to collect more information from your marketing campaigns. You will have to expand past the five basic UTM Parameters to achieve this.
For example, say you are running Facebook Ads. To get more granular I want to segment performance by audiences (aka ad set). To do this, I would include a custom UTM Parameter called utm_audience. Next with GTM pass these to a custom dimension called audience using this approach. I can then see a breakdown using audience as a primary or secondary dimension.
Or, let’s say you are looking to group content by page type. To do this, you can parse the URL Parameter for the page type then pass the value to its respective content grouping defined in Google Analytics.
- Not working with the Google Tag Manager for your Google Analytics implementation.
- You have a set up not related to Google Analytics. Such as extracting URL Parameter values to pass information across webpages.
Let’s go over some simple examples. Take the URL we used above:
Paste the link in the browser. Once the page loads right-click > inspect element > and go-to the console.
Next, let’s use the window.location.search property.
We will use this to parse the query string and print the parameter value with a const variable.
const queryString = window.location.search; console.log(queryString);
Notice how it prints the entire parameter string?
But what if we want to only extract specific URL Parameter values? In this case, we can parse the query string using the URLSearchParams() interface.
const urlParams = new URLSearchParams(queryString);
Then let’s use the .get method to extract a specific parameter value using built-in methods.
Note: See this link for the full list of methods URLSearchParams() constructor.
Try it out and paste the following code in the console and print the page value.
const queryString = window.location.search; const urlParams = new URLSearchParams(queryString); const page_type = urlParams.get('page_type') console.log(page_type);
Note: Make sure you are not using reserved keywords when creating variables.
Notice how you only extracted the page_type value.
Ok now that we’ve covered the basics how does this apply to tracking campaign data using GTM?
Luckily, the good folks over at Google Tag Manager world have made this super easy. Let’s take a look at built-in URL Variables.
Using GTM URL Variables to get URL Parameter Values
Google Tag Manager has a built-in Variable called URL Variables.
As a result all you need to do is head over to variables in your GTM console.
Click create new > hit the edit icon > select URL > and in the drop-down menu select query.
For the query key, input the parameter label. So say we wanted to group content by page type we could enter ‘page_type’ as the query key. This would return ‘home page’ as a value the same result we showed in the example above.
Now you can dynamically populate values for content grouping in your analytics tag.
Also, notice how I have a custom dimension set for the audience. I make sure to have all links include a custom URL parameter called utm_audience. If you want to learn more check out how to Track Custom UTM Parameters in Google Analytics.
As you can see, It is not very complex. Hopefully, this post provided you with some clarity on the topic of leveraging custom URL Parameter values.
How do you use custom url parameter values for marketing and analytics?