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Using Google's URL Builder to Track Custom Campaigns

Inbound Marketing

Google’s URL Builder is a nifty tool to help you track custom campaigns to a granular level. You can learn where the traffic came from, which advertisement type attracted it, what the paid keywords were, and ways to A/B test and identify effective content.

If you are not using this tool, you are missing out on a lot of great information that can help you determine quickly how well your campaign is performing so you can further optimize your message, ad type, key words and much more. All it takes is for you to fill out Google’s handy, dandy form and you’ll be on your way to marketing analytics Nirvana.

Before You Start

Before you begin your odyssey with Google’s URL builder form, you will need to get together a few pieces of information to have handy. These will be your campaign variables that go in the form blanks:

  • The URL of the website page your ad links to. See Note Below.
  • Campaign source: the particular name such as Google or MarchNewsletter.
  • Campaign medium: The type of campaign. Is this a banner ad, ppc, email?
  • Campaign name: identify the specific campaign, promotion, or attach a campaign slogan.
  • Campaign terms: the paid keywords for this campaign.
  • Campaign content: record the ad that was used.

Attention: You cannot send any personally identifiable information in any campaign tracking variable or parameter.

Note: If your URL has any special characters, for example “&”, you must escape it (replace it with the appropriate HTML expression for the character). In this case “&” would be replaced by “&”. Don’t forget the semicolon at the end of the expression.

Required and Optional Variables

Required Variables

The following variables are required for every URL submission and are denoted on the Google URL builder form with an asterisk (*).

  • Website or page URL
  • Campaign Source
  • Campaign Medium
  • Campaign Name

Optional Variables

These are optional variables, so you don’t have to use them. But they will come in handy if you are tracking multiple campaigns, paid keywords, or for A/B testing of content.

  • Campaign Term
  • Campaign Content

Build Your Custom Campaign Tracking URL

Go to the Google URL builder form and begin.

Google URL Builder Form


Beginning URL*:


Reminder: this is the URL of the page you are linking to.

Add Variables:

  • Campaign Source*: Facebook
  • Campaign Medium*: PPC
  • Campaign Term: inbound
  • Campaign Content: inbound-marketing-ebook
  • Campaign Name*: Secrets-of-Inbound-Marketing
  • *=Required


Here is what your newly built Google URL will look like:


This is the URL you will use in place of the standard URL in your ad, email, or other source.

Using Your New Tracking URL

After placing your new tracking URL in your campaign you will want to go into Google Analytics and define conversion goals for this URL. Remember, conversions are any action you deem important such as downloading a white paper or shopping cart checkouts.

  1. Go to Admin.
  2. Select “Goals” under View (Profile).
  3. Select “Create a Goal”.
  4. Follow the wizard until the goal is complete.

This will make sure you can easily track the ad’s performance as well as attribute it to the right resources. As always, you want to know, in hard dollar terms, whether your marketing spend is returning the investment you are making.

Not so hard, is it? With just a few fields filled in you can track any custom campaign and change it on the fly if it isn’t performing as expected. And you now have a perfect way to A/B test content within the ad and keep all your records straight.

Happy Tracking!



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