Extreme tagging for extreme reporting

So now that terrible headline might have grabbed your attention, UTM parameters! Urchin Tracking Module (known as UTM codes/tags/parameters by everyone who didn’t just Google what UTM stands for) are not just for nerds like me but are now being used (consciously or not), by thousands of marketers. Facebook itself has a guide to Tracking Facebook Ads in Google Analytics, and a slimmed down version of Google’s custom campaign URL builder.

These are helpful in connecting traffic from Facebook (and other sources) to actions on your website. As Facebook’s (somewhat) new blueprint “Reporting & Analytics Learning Path” course explain, the company has “moved away from using likes, comments or engagement as metrics of success for businesses.

Doing the basics in terms of tagging ads to appear correctly as part of a campaign (visible and comparable in the Acquisition->Campaigns tab) is important not just for vanity’s sake but also to compare the relative effectiveness of Facebook ads compared to your pages posts and links to your content that other people share.

Understanding your traffic is more complicated than looking at traffic from facebook.com. In the Acquisition>Channels>Social>Facebook report, there are often at least five different Source / Medium combinations for the one social network. This at first may seem like a headache, but as @AFreezee mentioned in a seer interactive post, this is actually is an improvement from last year when Facebook did not share all referrer information, and some traffic from the network was labeled as direct (or, more accurately, dark social).

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[The above is example data from seer interactive].

Each of the sources is from Facebook, but each may have disparate behavior and (hopefully, in the case of promoted posts,) conversion metrics . What can make this information incredibly valuable (in addition to using conversion/remarketing tags on your side), is to mark each ad with a distinct tag. Google now explicitly notes on their URL builder that’s what utm_content is for. If you have AdWords and Analytics connected (and have some other settings optimized), you’ll have rich information from that source built in.

Using only the required tags (source, medium, and campaign name) will give you the basics, but adding a new content tag will give you all the business outcome information in one place.

It often entails a lot of what some would consider tedious work and it some organizations may not have the staff hours to do it, while others are investing in positions that include detailed analytics tracking in the job description, with bullet points like “Evolve current mechanisms for tracking and attributing prospect and member touch points.” This level of investment in detailed analytics may not be in the cards for every organization, but for those wanting to have detailed understanding of the effectiveness of all the links you control, extensive tagging is required (either manually or with 3rd party services).

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About Geoff Campbell

Geoff Campbell is an Assistant Director, Communications & Marketing at American University.

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