By Michelle Cranston, Digital Analytics Coordinator
We talk about tagging links a lot in Digital. It’s key to giving us insight into how visitors came to the website. Did they interact with a campaign? Did they follow a link from a particular email or advert? Tagging helps tell us what visitors did, so we can learn and optimise the activities we are doing to attract web visitors and the content we show them when they get to the website.
For example, if we send out an email campaign as a follow-up to people we met at UCAS fairs, then it’s helpful to be able to look at the website traffic and see how many people clicked through from that email, how long they spent on the site, and whether they took key actions like making an enquiry or applying for a course. Tagging helps us identify the source of those website visits, and understand which channels are most effective at bringing in engaged visitors.
What is tagging and how does it work?
If someone clicks on a link, such as www.buckingham.ac.uk, then that doesn’t necessarily tell us much about where they came from. Tagging is a way of adding extra information to a link, so we can tell in what context someone clicked on that link. It’s also useful for categorising links, for example, if they are part of the same marketing campaign.
Most of the time tagging is hidden behind some text, a button or an image. But you may have noticed after clicking on emails or banner advertising a line of code that looks a bit like the below in address bar on the web browser:
This line of code is called a UTM code. A UTM code is a simple code that gets put on the end of website URL which may be the homepage or the specific page you want people to visit.
This code is then interpreted by analytics programmes such as Google Analytics where we can see the insights.
Did you know that UTM actually stands for Urchin Tracking Module? Urchin was what Google Analytics was initially called before it look on the name GA, or Google Analytics.
Here are some of the most commonly used UTM tags and what information they give us when used:
- utm-source – this tells us where the web visitors has come form usually another website
- utm-medium – this tells us what channel they have come from such as an email, a google paid search ad, or another website
- utm-campaign – this is useful to tell us if the web visitors have interacted with a particular campaign you have live, such as an ad for the HE Festival of Clearing, and then came to the website.
This particular example tells us:
The website visitor came from a search in Google, they clicked on a non-paid for listing ‘Organic’, a paid for listing would be ‘Paid-Search’ and they clicked on ‘google my business listing’ which we have identified with the campaign tag.
Getting help with tagging links
To make the most out of link tags, we need to make sure to follow a consistent naming convention and structure, so that links are categorised in meaningful ways. For example, Google Analytics will see “Facebook”, “facebook” and “facebook.com” as separate sources, so it’s important for us to pick one and stick to it. The Digital team has a link builder tool that we use to create links for University of Buckingham campaigns and online activities.
If you are planning any digital campaign or activity soon, it’s always best to think about and plan tagging in advance to help you get the most insight. We can provide you with links in the right format, and create reports for you to give you helpful insights into the clicks they are generating and the activities on the website associated with them. The Digital team are here to fully support, by providing tags you need and how to use them. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.