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Google Analytics Performance | Campaign Tagging and Coding Best Practices

Andy Bowen
Email Campaign Manager

Performance can’t happen in hindsight.

It’s woven into the fabric of every engagement and involves every part of the team. It’s not just about numbers either. Organizing the campaign surrounding the numbers is every bit as important. Once a tracking beacon is sent to Google Analytics there is no take backs’s. A capital letter here, a space there starts to make things VERY messy.

No matter what scale you are working at the key is organization, best practices, and hard rules for tagging and coding to keep your reporting cohesive.

 

At eROI our rules are:

  1. Lower case
  2. No spaces(use _ )
  3. No special characters
  4. No quotes
  5. Short
  6. Descriptive but not personal

 

There is a reason for each one of these and we all have a zillion examples of where this could go wrong. I’ll share mine but I’d love to hear yours @ep_analysis


Always lower case:

Google Analytics is case sensitive. Meaning utm_campaign=Awesomeness is completely different than utm_campaign=awesomeness. Imagine having a campaign running across email, 5 social channels, 25 affiliate banners, and a print campaign that each had one capital letter and one lower case letter. You’ve effectively doubled your work and made the math a LOT harder. Mistakes are made and capital letters are not caught as easily as a misspelling so we just don’t use them.


No spaces:

A similar reason as lower case in that spaces matter. That being said, having spaces makes things easier to read in your reports. Solution? Use _ for 2 reasons. It makes it easier to read AND when you export to Excel if you need to slice and dice for any reason you can use it as a delimiting character.


No special characters:

Not only do they have the potential to break your code, they just aren’t necessary.


No quotes:

I often set up tracking templates for our Partners that allows them to keep their campaigns cohesive for the life of a marketing effort. Within those plans are quotes such as “MM_DD_YY”.
Knowing that quotes never go in tracking highlights the fact that this is supposed to be edited to the right format and changed with each use.


Keep it short:

There IS a limit to how many characters you can have within a utm.gif request. That being said you’re limited to 8192 bytes. Meaning you have, roughly, 8192 English characters so go crazy if you want to NEVER read your reports. It’s a good idea to create shorter campaign tags for a couple reasons. Not only will they be easier to read but you will also have shorter URLs, which are easier to copy/paste, reducing the chance of errors due to part of the URL being cut off.


Your customers will see everything you use.

For example using something like buymystuff.com utm_source=worthless_list&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=deadbeat_subscribers is probably not conducive to sales or overall brand equity. I stuck to campaign tagging in these examples but we keep the same rules for event tagging, custom dimensions and metrics, and extend it to Omniture or any other analytics system we work in.


Go forth! Create process and rules! Organize your reporting and improve your life!

Andy Bowen
Andy Bowen, Email Campaign Manager at eROI.