GA4, the latest version of Google Analytics, introduces a new data model and event-based tracking approach, which has caused some confusion and limitations when tracking campaign links.
Traditional methods like UTM parameters do not align seamlessly with GA4’s event-driven structure. This discrepancy often leads to incomplete or fragmented campaign data, making it challenging to accurately evaluate specific marketing initiatives’ effectiveness.
Then how to track campaign links accurately?
Fret not! This article will provide actionable strategies and workarounds to overcome these limitations. In the following sections, we will go over these solutions in depth so that you can get the most out of GA4 and confidently track your campaign links.
We’ll also look at alternative methods and tools to supplement GA4’s capabilities, allowing you to closely track campaign links and make data-driven marketing decisions.
Campaign links, also known as tagged links or tracking links, are effective tools for measuring the effectiveness and performance of your campaigns in digital marketing. They are critical in attributing traffic and conversions to specific marketing campaigns.
When creating a campaign link, you add certain parameters to the URL. These parameters provide valuable information to analytics tools such as GA4.
You can track and analyze various aspects of your marketing campaigns using campaign links, such as the source, medium, campaign name, and even specific content variations.
These parameters assist you in determining the source of your website traffic and how users interact with your campaigns.
You have access to two different types of campaign links. Let’s examine them to understand better how to track and evaluate your marketing efforts.
They point visitors to landing pages or your website. These links can be found on-
- Social media platforms
- Flyers, QR codes, Promo codes, etc.
- Affiliate websites
You can use UTM tagging, which involves adding particular parameters to the URLs for tracking purposes, to track external links in Google Analytics 4.
On the other hand, internal links are embedded within your website and point visitors to other pages or resources there. You generally see them as-
- CTA buttons/ links
- Newsletter sign-up forms, and
- General page links
Tracking internal links necessitates using tools such as Google Tag Manager, which allows you to set up event tracking and capture user interactions on your website.
You can learn much about user behavior, engagement, and conversion rates by monitoring internal and external campaign links. These links can be set up with or without using code.
Codes give you flexibility and advanced tracking but require time and decent technical expertise, whereas codeless parameters are quicker to set up and manage. You can pick what best suits your requirements for a specific campaign.
Now let us see why tracking these links is important.
Tracking campaign links gives you detailed insights into all your campaigns. These insights help you make smart decisions and improve your campaigns/ strategies accordingly. Here’s how it helps-
You can attribute conversions and actions to specific marketing campaigns by accurately tracking campaign links.
This helps you assess each campaign’s true impact and effectiveness, calculate return on investment (ROI), and identify which channels and tactics deliver the most valuable results.
Tracking campaign links provides helpful information about the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. You can identify areas for improvement by analyzing key metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and engagement data.
You can make informed campaign adjustments, fine-tune targeting strategies, modify messaging, and optimize landing pages to maximize their effectiveness and achieve better results.
Campaign link tracking helps you gain a better understanding of your target audience. You can learn valuable demographic information, user behavior patterns, and preferences by analyzing the data associated with your campaign links.
This helps you create more personalized and targeted campaigns, tailor your messaging to specific segments, and deliver relevant content that resonates with your audience.
Knowing how to track campaign links allows you to assess the effectiveness of various marketing channels and mediums.
You can determine which channels drive the most engagement, conversions, and revenue by measuring the success of campaigns across multiple channels, such as social media, email marketing, paid advertising, and more.
You can make data-driven decisions with campaign link tracking because you can access accurate and reliable data. Instead of relying on assumptions or guesswork, you can guide your marketing strategies with real-time data and insights.
This way, you can reduce risks, optimize campaigns based on actual performance metrics, and make informed decisions that result in better outcomes and a higher return on marketing investments.
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of tracking campaign links, let us move ahead and talk about how to track campaign links.
Before learning how to track campaign links, you need to build a UTM-tagged URL. You can use the free “Campaign URL Builder” provided by Google to create your campaign links.
1.Open Google’s Campaign URL Builder.
- Select GA4 in the top left corner.
- Enter your landing page in the website URL section.
- Fill in the rest of the details like campaign source, medium, term, etc.
Scrolling below, you can see your final URL. 2.Log in to your Google Analytics account.3.Navigate to the “Reports” section.4.In the left sidebar, click on “Acquisition.”5.You will see three reports here-
- Overview– Provides a summary of how people are finding your campaign.
- User Acquisition– Shows you how people first find your campaign.
Traffic Acquisition– Shows you how people found your campaign to start a session. People can access your website and campaigns multiple times using different methods, so traffic acquisition reports are preferred. 6.In the traffic acquisition reports, you see “Session Default Channel Grouping.” This automatically combines different methods people use to find your website into categories or groups (more on traffic sources later).
7.Click on the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of “Default Channel Grouping”; you will see different dimensions here “Session Medium, Source, Campaign,” and more.
- Source shows you where people found your campaign.
- Medium tells you how your message was communicated, e.g., ‘organic,’ ‘cpc,’ ‘referral,’ etc.
- Campaigns include your Google ads campaigns (if you’re running ads and you have your account linked to Google Analytics.) If you’re using campaign-tagged URLs, you will also see all your custom campaign names here
8.Click on the plus sign on the right-hand side of the dimensions.
9.You can now add a second dimension to get detailed insights into your campaigns.
10.You will also be able to see your tracked link reports in the attribution reports and when you create custom exploration reports in GA4. These reports consider the different marketing touchpoints people engage with.
- Select “Advertising” from the left. Click on conversion paths; here, you can see early, mid, and late touchpoints. Just like the acquisition reports, you can select the dimension you want to see the reports on.
- To create custom reports, go to the “Explore” section, and select “Blank.” You can customize and create your custom reports here. These reports help you dig deeper into your data.
I hope this guide helped answer your question, “How to track campaign links?” Now let’s talk about the different traffic sources GA4 measures and what it cannot-
While you can set up custom sources in GA4, here are the default traffic sources it measures-
GA4 can detect direct traffic when a user visits your website by typing its URL directly into their browser window or using a bookmark.
It represents site visitors who arrived directly from your site without using a campaign or referral source. This may include visitors who have bookmarked your website or memorized its address.
Referral traffic in GA4 describes users who arrive at your website after clicking on links from other websites. These sources can be any online platforms that link to your website, such as blogs, social media, and other websites.
To give you insights into which external websites are bringing traffic to your website, GA4 tracks these referral sources.
Visitors who find your website through unpaid, non-advertising search engine results are known as “organic traffic” in GA4. These people use search engines like Google or Bing to find your website by entering pertinent keywords.
Google Analytics 4 gives you insights into the efficiency of your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts by assisting you in understanding the organic search terms that users use to find your website.
Google Ads campaign traffic is tracked specifically by GA4. Visitors who click on your display ads, search ads, or other ad formats controlled by the Google Ads platform are included.
By providing information on the traffic, conversions, and engagement your Google Ads campaigns produce, Google Analytics enables you to assess the effectiveness and impact of those campaigns.
Google Analytics 4 does a great job in tracking campaign links, but there are a few things it cannot track. Let us talk about them.
Here’s a list of things Google Analytics cannot track. You’ll have to look elsewhere if you require any of these metrics.
GA4 is designed to respect user privacy and data protection policies. It does not allow tracking individual users’ personally identifiable information (PII) due to privacy regulations and Google’s policies.
Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics use different data models, which means GA4 cannot directly process historical data collected in UA. GA4 starts tracking data from its implementation date and cannot access historical data collected before that.
If a user deletes their browser cookies, GA4 loses the ability to associate new data with their previous actions. This can impact tracking accuracy and may result in incomplete user data for returning visitors who have cleared their cookies.
Instead, Google Tag Manager allows you to track User ID instead of cookies, allowing the user to maintain anonymity while still tracking their behavior on a site and enabling you to learn more about the people visiting your site and their actions.
GA4 only tracks user interactions within your owned digital properties, such as websites and mobile apps. It does not directly track or integrate external data sources, such as data from offline sources or third-party platforms.
Google Analytics 4 is extremely customizable and can be confusing, but you can have deeper insights into your campaign data once you get a hold of it.
Despite being an excellent analytics tool, there are challenges associated with Google Analytics that can limit your tracking. Here we have discussed some of them-
These are the five challenges you might face while tracking campaign links in GA4 if you have been using UA.
GA4 has a different data model than Universal Analytics (UA), meaning some familiar metrics like average session duration and bounce rate are no longer available. This can make it challenging to assess the performance of your campaign links using traditional metrics.
Unlike UA, GA4 has fewer pre-built reports, making it harder to analyze and understand the impact of your campaign links. You may need to customize reports or export data to other tools like Data Studio for deeper analysis.
Setting up conversions, especially for tracking form submissions, is more complex in GA4 than UA. The process may require using Google Tag Manager and configuring event tags, which can be time-consuming and challenging for users who are not familiar with these tools.
In GA4, destination goals, which allow you to track visits to specific pages as conversion actions, are not readily available. This can be a challenge if you rely on tracking the success of form submissions or other important page visits as part of your campaign analysis.
Moving from UA to GA4 involves a learning curve and adapting to the new features and limitations of the platform. It may take time to become proficient in utilizing the available tools and understanding how to track campaign links effectively in GA4.
Using TerminusApp, an all-in-one UTM builder and link management platform, you can avoid these limitations. It helps you create standard and custom campaign links with precise formatting and gives detailed insights into your campaigns without any confusion.
Let’s learn more about it-
TerminusApp is a powerful and user-friendly tool for simplifying URL tracking and management processes. You can easily create, track, and monitor multiple URLs, ensuring that your marketing campaigns are on track.
With TerminusApp, you can easily generate UTM-tagged URLs that adhere to standardized conventions, ensuring consistency and compatibility with analytics tools. Say goodbye to messy spreadsheets and manual errors.
Customize parameters, enforce standardized naming conventions, and handle advanced UTM structures effortlessly. TerminusApp empowers you to take control of your tracking process.
TerminusApp is a powerful platform that goes beyond basic URL tracking. Here are its top features-
You can easily create and manage multiple URLs while using UTM parameters.
TerminusApp ensures accuracy and adherence to your naming conventions, eliminating errors in your URL-building process, whether using existing UTM values, generating new ones, or using presets.
TerminusApp allows you to create and enforce UTM naming conventions that meet your specific needs. You can use this feature to define consistent naming conventions based on channels, products, or any other relevant criteria.
By keeping your UTM names consistent, you can easily track and analyze the performance of your marketing campaigns.
Custom parameters enable you to track information other than standard UTM values. You can, for example, create custom parameters to track coupon codes or campaign-specific information.
The ability to generate unique URL values improves your tracking capabilities.
TerminusApp checks the accessibility of your original URLs automatically, ensuring that you do not share broken web pages or faulty links with your audience.
You can provide a consistent user experience and avoid potential problems by validating and monitoring your URLs.
The platform’s ease of use ensures smooth navigation, saving you time and effort when creating and managing marketing URLs.
TerminusApp provides extensive analytics and reporting capabilities to track the success of your campaigns.
You can generate detailed reports that give you information about the effectiveness of your UTM parameters, campaigns, sources, and other essential metrics.
These valuable insights enable data-driven decision-making and the optimization of marketing strategies.
You can work with team members, assign roles and permissions, and keep track of individual contributions. This collaboration ensures that everyone on your team is on the same page and can effectively contribute to your UTM tracking and marketing efforts.
These features make TerminusApp a powerful solution for managing, tracking, and optimizing your UTM-tagged URLs. Leading global companies use TerminusApp to manage their UTM tracking URLs.
It can help you overcome the challenges you are currently facing with your UTM strategy and spreadsheet management.
Now that you understand how to track campaign links in GA4, you are equipped with a powerful tool to analyze the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
By implementing the recommended methods, you can gain valuable insights into your campaigns’ performance, identify improvement areas, and optimize your marketing strategies for better results.
While GA4 has several powerful features for campaign link tracking, it is critical to understand its limitations. Currently, GA4 does not support all of the features available in the previous Universal Analytics platform.
However, by staying informed about updates and improvements to GA4, you can adapt and make the most of the available tracking options. To take your campaign link tracking to the next level and unlock even more insights, consider utilizing TerminusApp.
With TerminusApp, you can enhance your GA4 tracking capabilities, track advanced metrics, and gain deeper insights into user behavior. Don’t take our word for it; watch this demo video and try it for free to experience it firsthand.