At UVM we spend a lot of time crafting e-mail, print and social media commuications, but it's just as important to spend time measuring their value through data. By analyzing the impact of each communication, we can make informed decisions about which channels help us reach our admissions, donation, engagement, or other goals. If your communications point to resources on the UVM website, it is possible to do this kind of analysis using Google Analytics.

Link Tagging

Google analytics automatically tracks details from links in organic search, other websites, and Google AdWords. However, in order to track other channels including e-mail, social media, display ads, and even print, we need to tag any links to UVM web assets. This means using query parameters – or tags – that you append to all the links included in your communications. The data from these tags will be collected and become available in the acquisition section of Google analytics reports, both for the main UVM analytics account and for any related departmental analytics account. Using this data, we can determine not only how much traffic to site comes from each commuication – or campaign, but the value of that traffic vis-a-vis website goals tied to institutional admissions, development, PR, and educational goals.

URL Building and Naming Conventions

Tagged URLs are created by adding UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters onto the end of links. Using tagging, a link such as http://www.uvm.edu/creative_styleguide/ might look something like this:
http://www.uvm.edu/creative_styleguide/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=spring2017

The easiest way to create these "tagged" links is to use Google's Campaign URL Builder. Additionally, utilizing established UVM naming conventions for each parameter will allow us to both group similar commuications and evaluate performance by channel or type over time both for reporting on departmental efforts, as well as, report on the overall impact of campaign efforts across the university.

Here are the established naming conventions we use for UVM. Note, parameters in Analytics are case-sensitive, for this reason, avoid using upper-case, especially for source or medium.

Source

The Source is simply the communications platform. When using a production or distribution service, use the name of the service (eg. mailchimp, uvmlistserv, burlingtonfreepress) . If you handle the production and distribution yourself, use a generic description for the communication (eg. newsletter, invitation, postcard, followup). Print publications can be categorized, similarly (eg. postcard, newsletter, businesscard, etc.). When utilizing social channels, use standard naming conventions (all lower-case):

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram
  • pinterest
  • linkedin

Medium

This a specifically designated category for the type of communication channel. Refer to the following list when selecting a value for Medium (let us know if we missed something):

  • email
  • post (for unpaid social media posts)
  • print
  • pdf
  • doc
  • qrcode
  • cpc (cost per click)
  • cpm (cost per thousand impressions or boosted posts)
  • banner
  • display
  • affiliate
  • radio
  • tv

Name

This field is the most freeform and where you supply a specific name for this particular communication or strategic campaign. With that in mind, if this kind of communication is repeated periodically, there is a lot of value of creating a naming convention that will help you organize your data easily. For a newsletter, this could be an edition such as newsletter-nov2016. 

Term and Content

These two parameters are optional and used in certain circumstances.

Content is used to differentiate between multiple ads in a campaign or if you publication has multiple links that point to the same URL. For example, if you have two call-to-action links within the same email message, you can use different Content values to differentiate them so that you can tell which version is most effective.

The term parameter is used for paid search (not including linked AdWords accounts) and would be the keyword(s) used to generate the ad. If you're manually tagging paid keyword campaigns, you should also use Term to specify the keyword. For paid social media, you can choose to use term to differentiate audience segments you've created.

Examples

While you can create these tagged links by hand, Google's URL builder tool simplifies the process.

Example Tags
  E-mail Social media print banner ad
source uvmlistserv facebook postcard burlingtonfreepress
medium email post print banner
name | campaign newsletter-sp2017 article-evolution invite-vip promo-college
term [optional]   vt-w-18-22    
content [optional] imagelink   qrcode engineering

 

Tags and Print Communications

You may also link to you web content in paper or on billboards just by writing website URL. Without tags, it is impossible to determine that visitors to your content through this channel. By using URL shorteners and/or QRcodes that (301) redirect to the URL, you can figure out how successful your print campaigns are. Take the URL generated by the URL builder and submit it to a customizable link shortener, such as go.uvm.edu or bit.ly. For example:

http://www.uvm.edu/creative_styleguide/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=spring2017 to
http://go.uvm.edu/styleguide

If you wish to recycle shortened URLs, make sure that enough time elapses between campaigns to avoid possible data inconsistencies.

A view of the URL builder interface.

QR Codes

Are you using QR codes? Wondering if anyone uses them?

Tag your QR code links (you can use also use a URL shortener to make a simpler looking code) and find out if they are getting used or not.

QR codes are also a great way of using tagged links in print pieces.

Need to create a QR code? Try the QR Code Generator.