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Getting started with Parameters and Campaign Tracking

By Kate Sygrove

This guide will help you understand the different ways that Siteimprove Analytics can interpret parameters used on your pages, and how they can be used to track campaigns. The guide is in three parts:

  • What are parameters?
  • Different parameter types
  • Campaign tracking

 

What are parameters?

URL Parameters are parts of a page's URL after the (?). Some parameters are used to track which campaigns bring visitors to the website, others to specify what content should be displayed on the page, whilst others are used to specify sessions and similar specifics.

 

parameterdiagramuk.png

 

A campaign parameter could look like this:  example.com/job?utm_campaign=july2013&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=banner, where the specifics of the parameter give detailed information about how the visitor reached the specific page (as part of the July 2013 campaign they clicked on a link in a Twitter banner). These types of parameters are useful to track in regards to seeing the success rate of campaigns.

This example uses three campaign parameters: utm_campaign, utm_source and utm_medium

 

A parameter that is used to specify what is displayed on the page could look like this: example.com/job?lang=en, where the specifics of the parameter determine how the page is displayed (although it is still the same page)

This example uses one parameter: lang

 

A parameter that does not change the content of the page could look like this: example.com/job?sessionid=23565965, where the specifics of the parameter registers the session id number, but does not provide additional data in regards to where the user clicked the link or determines how the content should be displayed.

This example uses one parameter: sessionid

 

In principle, Siteimprove Analytics counts every URL as a unique page, which is relevant in the cases where the parameter specifies what content should be displayed on the page.

However, in many cases, the parameter has no effect on the page content, and therefore it is not relevant to register all combinations of the URL, parameters and values as unique pages. This gives an incorrect reflection of the site’s use (identifying parameters to ignore within Analytics setup now gives you this ability).

For example; if there is a sessionID parameter, where every session is allocated its own value, this will result in  large numbers of different URLs, even though in reality there is only one concrete page. 

So in practice, every URL will be shown as a unique page in Analytics, where each one could have been visited just the one time, instead of showing one URL with the total amount of visits.

example.com/job?sessionid=65951561 1 page view
example.com/job?sessionid=659515355335 1 page view
example.com/job?sessionid=6595d15619696 1 page view
example.com/job?sessionid=6f5951561244 1 page view
example.com/job?sessionid=65951f561222 1 page view

Ignoring the sessionid parameter would give this result

example.com/job 5 page views

 

 

Different parameter types

Administrators can inform Siteimprove about how to collect and process the parameters used on your pages within Analytics setup, located under Settings.

 

Ignore: This type of parameter should be chosen if you wish to ignore a parameter that has no influence on the pages content, and does not provide anything important about the page’s use, for example; sessionID. The parameter is removed from the URLs, so that only one  URL is displayed for every page.

example.com/job/job-offers/graphic-designer?sessionID=374657298

 

Track on Page: This type of parameter should be chosen if you wish to track a parameter that has no influence on the page’s content, but tells something about the page’s use, for example; navigation. The parameter is removed from the URLs, so that only one URL is displayed for every page within Analytics. However,  the parameter information is saved for specific pages, so that you can continue to see the information that it provides.

example.com/job/job-offers/graphic-designer?navigation=TopMenu

 

Campaign: This type of parameter should be chosen if you which to track a parameter that has no influence on the page’s content , but tells something about which campaigns are sending visitors to your website, for example; a newsletter. The parameter is removed from the URLs, so only one URL is displayed for every page within Analytics, but the parameter information is saved so that you can continue to see the information that it provides and track campaigns.

The standard utm_ campaign parameters have been added as default to your Parameter settings, so these do not need to be registered.

example.com/job?utm_campaign=newjob&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=banner

 

If you use other campaign parameters, these can be added manually.

For example, if you run campaigns and use "campaignname=" to determine the name of the campaign, then this could be registered as a Name campaign type parameter, so Siteimprove knows how to present data for you in the Campaigns section.

example.com/blog/how-to-set-parameters?campaignname=april

 

new_parameter.png

 

 

Tracking campaigns

Everyone wants to know why visitors come to their site. This is vital information to know in regards to visibility on search engines, on social media, and to see which other websites  are linking to your site.

Many organizations are involved with actively trying to encourage visitors to visit their site by sending out emails and newsletters and placing banners and links on social media sites.

Adding campaign parameters to links placed in these campaigns enables you to track effective ways of reaching your target audience and seeing what channels work best for you

The standard utm_ campaign parameters have been added as default to your Parameter settings in Analytics. So that if you use these, you can already get started with tracking campaigns. If you use other types of campaign parameters on your pages, these can be added manually within Settings, and the campaign type specified (name, source, medium, term & content).

NOTE: Campaigns can be tracked under "Traffic Sources" within Analytics if the campaign parameter type Name has been set. The other campaign parameter types are optional.

 

campaign_summary.png

 Name:

Campaigns can be viewed by name, regardless of its source or content. A campaign name is the overall description of an entire campaign, which may have been conducted on multiple media sources with varying content and mediums, but that has the same overall purpose. A campaign can be a specific product, a public self-service, a period or something else. The most important element of a campaign name is that when it is seen by the organisation, it is clear what campaign is being talked about.

If the parameter utm_campaign is used, then this is registered as a name campaign type.

Examples of variables associated with this parameter type could be;  sale-june-2013, pay-tax-online

In the Name table, you can expand data for specific campaigns to view visits relating to Source and Medium, visits over time and the pages that campaigns have led visitors to.

Pages2.png

 

Source:

Campaigns can be viewed by source. The source is the place where the visitor clicked on the campaign. This could be a search engine, your own website, a social media site, a blog or another source.

If the parameter utm_source is used, then this is registered as a source campaign type.

Examples of variables associated with this parameter type could be; Facebook, Twitter, Newsletter, Blog

In the Source table, you can expand data for specific sources to view visits relating to Name and Medium, visits over time and the pages that sources have led visitors to.

source.png

 

Medium:

Campaigns can be viewed by medium. Mediums are the method in which the campaign has been presented to the visitor. In other words; where the link was placed.

If the parameter utm_medium is used, then this is registered as a medium campaign type.

Examples of variables associated with this parameter type could be; Banner, Facebook-Ad, email, Adwords

In the Medium table, you can expand data for specific mediums (methods) to view visits relating to Name and Source, visits over time and the pages that methods have led visitors to.

medium.png

 

Term:

Campaigns can be viewed by campaign keywords. Term is used to track which paid  keywords have resulted in a click from a search engine, and  is only valid for paid advertisements (AdWords, Bing Ads etc).

If the parameter utm_term is used, then this is registered as a term campaign type.

Tip: If you use utm_term for an Adwords campaign, and want to include the used keywords automatically, you can fill out the term with: utm_term={keyword}

In the Term table, you can expand data for specific terms to view visits relating to Name, Source and Medium, visits over time and the pages that terms have led visitors to.

 

Content:

Campaigns can be viewed by content. Content can be used to differentiate campaign elements which are otherwise very similar. There could be two  links in a newsletter which link to the same campaign page, or two  variations of a banner.

If the parameter utm_content is used, then this is registered as a content campaign type.

Examples of variables associated with this parameter type could be; TopBanner, LeftBanner, Text-Ad, Image-Ad

In the Content table, you can expand data for specific content to view visits relating to Name, Source and Medium, visits over time and the pages that content has led visitors to.

 

Campaign examples:

July newsletter with a link within an image to the main page for product ABC

<a href="...example.com/ABCpage.aspx?utm_source=newsletter-June-2013&utm_medium=email&utm_content=image
&utm_campaign=ProductABC

 

Facebook post with a link to product ABC

<a href="...example.com/page.aspx?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=FacebookPost&utm_campaign=ProductABC

 

Top banner (product ZXY ½ price), type B banner, on the page news.com, with link to the main page for product ZXY

<a href="...example.com/productZXY?utm_source=news.com&utm_medium=Banner&utm_content=TopBannerTypeB
&utm_campaign=Halfprice-ZXY

 

AdWords (CPC) campaign, version 4 on google.com for product ZXY, where the keyword ”ZXY” has been bought, and has triggered Adword views

<a href="...example.com/productZXY?utm_source=google.co.uk&utm_medium=CPC&utm_term=ZXY
&utm_content=Adwords-V4&utm_campaign=Produkt-ZXY
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