I had to write a post about this issue as I’ve now seen it across quite a few clients’ Google Analytics accounts, and it’s a surefire way of trashing your Google Analytics data.
Using Google Analytic’s UTM campaign parameters on internal URLs
Here’s an example:- www.domain.com/contact?utm_source=Email-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fall+newsletter%20appeal
I’m a huge proponent of using UTM campaign tagging to track your marketing efforts, but the tracking should only be used on links you either place IN your email or ON other people’s sites/platforms. That could include:
- links in Facebook ads
- links in organic Facebook posts
- links in the email/email newsletters you send
- banner ads on other people’s sites
- tracking in CPC ads
So why can’t you use campaign tagging on internal links?
Because this is what happens:
Normally, when a visitor comes to a site that has the Google Analytics tracking code installed, Google Analytics captures a lot of data via cookies: the medium (organic, referral, direct, etc.), source (site the visitor came from), browser, screen resolution, country, metro, etc.
With campaign tagging, you can overwrite the cookie data with your own custom tags.
When you add campaign tagging, you are reassigning the campaign source and medium data. Additionally, you start a new visit.
So let’s take the example above:
Say that I was an organic visitor from Google who visited your homepage then your contact page, but you had this UTM tagging in place on that internal (contact page) link:
There would be one visit (session) for me as an organic user from Google to your homepage, and another new visit (session) as a user from Email – your internal email newsletter.
Just think about how this might trash your ROI calculations for your organic and paid efforts. And EVERY visitor who visits that link gets reassigned.
It’s one of the best ways to trash your Google Analytics data.
How do you know if this is an issue for you?
In Google Analytics, go to Behavior->All Pages and search for “utm”. If pages appear, you’ve used UTM tagging on internal links like the example below:
So here’s the takeaway:
- Don’t use UTM campaign tagging on internal links
- Use UTM tagging on links you place elsewhere (not on your own domain)
If you’re interested in tracking clicks from one part of your website to another, that’s where Google Analytic’s event tracking comes in – or you can just use the default Behavior Flow report.