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Tools for Transparency: URL Builder for Google Analytics

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The Google Analytics URL Builder is a simple tool that helps you track traffic statistics for specific campaign related links.  The tool works by adding parameters to a link from a page on your site that you then track using Google Analytics.  When running an advertising or social media campaign, this is incredibly handy for tracking your ROI.

I'll walk you through how I used the URL builder for this past Tuesday's Sunlight Live coverage of the State of the Union address.

Below is a screenshot of the URL builder.  In the first field, you enter the main URL you want to track. In this case, I'm watching http://sunlightlive.com. The next few fields determine the "Campaign Source" or the traffic referrer you'd like to watch, the "Campaign Medium," the way in which the traffic referrer is driving to your site, and the "Campaign Name." For Sunlight Live, the source was Facebook, the medium was through an advertisement and the name of the campaign was SOTU-2012.

After entering in this information, click the "Generate URL" button, which will add those parameters to your original link:

http://sunlightlive.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Ads&utm_campaign=SOTU-2012

..Which we then used to direct Facebook ad traffic to the Sunlight Live site. Check out the full entry process below:

To track every medium you use, whether it's Facebook, Reddit, Google+, Delicious or some other site, you'll need to create a unique URL for each.

Once the campaign is over, open your site profile on Google Analytics to access your link statistics.  On the left side navigation, head over to Traffic Sources, then Sources, then Campaigns:

To set the date for the life of the campaign, look in the top right corner. Google Analytics will show you the campaigns for that time period, you'll need to sort them by Source so you can differentiate the sites. Above this list click on Source then Traffic Sources then Source:

Below you'll see the statistics by Source for the Sunlight Live State of the Union campaign over the course of two days. You can see that our Facebook Ads brought in the most traffic by far. (You may also notice I wasn't consistent with my naming conventions for Source -- I need to work on that.) For reference, our Facebook drivers are the Facebook link posted above (top driver) and our fan page (second driver):

Remember, this is only traffic to our Sunlight Live page through tracked links we pushed through social media and advertising. The screenshot below captures all traffic to the page, including both links we promoted and organic links from followers of Sunlight.  The first two links are ads we ran for the campaign, though the Google ads weren't captured in the campaign view (I'm unsure of the reason for that):

While Google Analytics provides plenty of information and site data, using the URL builder makes it much simpler to track the ROI on your campaigns and on your efforts to promote them.  What are your experiences with tracking campaigns? Have any of you used the URL builder tool in the past?