Campaign Tagging Best Practices in 2019

June 30, 2019

This document should be referred to when setting up digital marketing campaigns which utilise channels such as paid search, email or social networks.

What Is Tagging?

Campaign tagging is a process that allows you to add tags to website links which are used in marketing campaigns. These tags can then pass information into Google Analytics about the link that was clicked.

Why Should We Use Tagging?

Tagging up your digital activity correctly and consistently is very important for several reasons:

  • Ensures data integrity in analytics and reporting; mis-attributed campaign traffic cannot be corrected once it has been recorded.
  • Provides deeper insights on campaign performance. When campaign activity is tagged up and recorded correctly, we can use the Campaigns area of Google Analytics for insights on your campaign performance.
  • Consistency in tagging practice across different regions/markets allows for comparison a wider view of campaign success.
  • Informs decisions about future marketing efforts; insights gained from properly tagged activity allows you to identify which particular channels are most effective for particular types of content.

How To Tag Your Campaigns

We recommend you use Google’s Campaign URL Builder to generate your link. Using this tool, you can add up to five parameters to the URLs, in order to identify the traffic. These are: source, medium, term, content and name.


Source: This should be used to define where your users come from. The source for a video campaign on YouTube would be Youtube and an Instagram-based social campaign would be Instagram. Think of source as the ‘who’ – who sent the user to your website.

Medium: The medium can be thought of at the communication type that the visitor clicked to visit the website. For example, a pay-per-click social campaign or an email marketing campaign or a display campaign. There are set mediums that Google Analytics uses such as 'cpc' for Paid Search or 'Email' for email marketing, so it's a good idea to use these default mediums where possible.

You can also set up your own; we recently worked with a client to help them differentiate their paid social activity with their organic social activity to help understand which perform better (Google can have trouble segmenting these correctly) - we used ‘paid_social’ for the client's paid social campaigns and 'organic_social' for their organic social posts. We then changed their default channel settings to show clearly channel attribution.

Term: This is used for paid search to identify the keywords in the ad that the user clicked on to reach your site.

Content: Content is used to differentiate between multiple content types, such as different creatives or that have more than one link from the same source. For an email campaign you may use ‘buttonlink’, ‘bannerlink’ and/or ‘textlink’ in the code to identify what type of link was clicked.

Campaign Name: Name identifies your campaign. For example, you may use ‘newclientfreetrial’ and ‘dataflare2019’ as the campaign name.

Example Of Campaign URL With Tracking Parameters

Taking the below landing page that activity was driving to: The following parameters were added:

Source: facebook (it was activity from the Facebook platform) - appended parameter: utm_source=facebook

Medium: paid-social (the default medium would be just 'social' however we have used a custom medium) - appended parameter: utm_medium=paid_social

Campaign Name: wildfireanalytics2019 (a campaign for the Wildfire Analytics tool) - appended parameter: utm_campaign=wildfireanalytics2019

Term: no term was used for this activity as it was not paid search - this can always be manipulated for additional data if you so choose

Content: report-image (the content was of an image of a report output from Wildfire Analytics tool) - appended parameter: utm_content=report-image

The full URL with tracking parameters becomes:\n

Further Considerations

Type Case The code is case sensitive, so it is important the same case is used each time. ‘Twitter’ and ‘twitter’ will be recorded as two different sources. Stick to lower case.

Mandatory Elements in Code The three elements of the code you should always use are source, medium and name. Term and content are optional but provide more detail.

Auto-Tagging Auto-tagging is a feature with AdWords, which allows your paid search links to be auto-tagged, saving you the work of manually tagging each ad.

Note: Auto-tagging is not enabled for other platforms (i.e. for social campaigns). Additionally, a small number of websites do not support AdWords’ auto-tagging feature.

Best Practices Summary

  1. Always double-check – QA and check for missing variables, typos, wrong case and other possible mistakes.
  2. Analyse before doing – Before we start to develop the new naming convention, practice to evaluate and investigate the current situations beforehand.
  3. Avoid special characters and empty spaces – Use only letters and numbers. If you have a dash (-) or underscore (_) as a variable separator – do not use them for the values.
  4. Be consistent. Maintaining to stick to the one naming convention.
  5. DO NOT use link tagging for internal links. The reuse of linking tagging for internal links will rewrite the original source of the visitor and create a new session.
  6. Have a documentation – Document all changes and updates including variables, separators and etc. so, either you or other team members will eventually forget something and make a mistake.
  7. Keep it short, but meaningful and clear – State variables and don’t use too much uncommon shortening.
  8. Names and values are case-sensitive – Determine the appropriate case you’re wanting to use and stick to it.
  9. Plan first – Picture the campaign structure and investigate how the data will be collected.
  10. Think carefully about the order of the variables. Imagine how they will look in a list and how you would compare and analyse them.Use link tagging for all campaigns. You can also tag links in the organic social posts or presentations. Use link shorteners to hide the long variable string.
  11. Use naming convention –Making sure your new campaigns are consistent with the existing campaign naming and tagging.

Like what you've read?

Interested to hear what Wildfire Digital can do for you?

Send us a quick message by clicking the button below and we can arrange a brief chat to see how we might be able to help your business.

Get in Touch
Copyright 2023 Wildfire Digital Ltd | 07236809 | All rights reserved | | Privacy Policy