Marketing Campaign Tracking in GA – Why You Need It & How To Set It Up

Andrew Birkitt

Lead Technical Engineer
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Reading Time: 5 minutes

The long and short of it is if your Analytics isn’t setup to provide you with the right information, then you will never fully understand how any campaigns or marketing strategies perform and in such will never see a return on investment.

Analytics can be confusing, there are so many terms bandied about; what with multi-channel funnels, event tracking, goal tracking, regular expressions and the like is it any wonder most businesses install analytics out of the box and then bury their heads in the sand and hope for the best. We collectively refer to these as Marketing Campaign Tracking.
In this article, we will look at some aspects of this in more detail.

What do you want to track?

Whenever we discuss this with others and the word goal or conversion is addressed almost everyone thinks revenue, yes revenue is important, especially for eCommerce clients but it may not necessarily encompass all the marketing methods on your site and concentrate on revenue may not give you the full picture. However, all marketing campaign tracking must be considered.

eCommerce sites may or may not have many of the following items on their website:

  • Signup forms for newsletters
  • Product videos
  • Product guides that can be downloaded
  • Other form completions

You will be able to think of more, all of these may be important to a business in understanding that final conversion that leads to revenue, however, most businesses don’t even consider tracking these events.

Setting Up Goals & Marketing Campaign Tracking 

In order for you to be able to set up goals in Google Analytics, you will need to have admin access to your account. Once logged into the GA platform you will need to go to Admin>View>Goals

If you click on the Goals link , you will be presented with a screen. Of course, if you already have some goals set up by someone previous, then this may look slightly different.

Click the add ‘New Goal’ button to go through to the actual goals screen.

At this point you could experiment with setting up some of the custom goals that are built into GA through the templates, there is nothing wrong with these and they are good for getting an understanding of how Marketing Campaign Tracking works but in general, it is easiest to select custom and define your own goal.

Don’t worry here as whichever option you use there is no extra code that needs applying to the website as GA deals with all of this for you. You will be surprised how many times we hear that people haven’t set up goals because they didn’t understand the code.

You do need to be careful here and think about your Marketing Campaign Tracking as you don’t get the option to delete goals and set up another one and you have a limited amount of goals you can set up. (20 per reporting view) To set up more than 20 goals you would have to set up an additional view for the property.

Types of Goals & Marketing Campaign Tracking 

If you were to select custom, you would be presented with the next screen that allows you to select the type of goal you wish to use, with Google Analytics there are four specific goal types. But before we look at those go ahead and give the goal a meaningful name.

Goal Types

Destination: This type of goal keeps track of a specific URL and is usually used to track things such as thank you pages and confirmation pages, each time one of these is visited it will trigger the goal.

Insert the goal URL in the box highlighted, remember this is the page that will trigger the goal, you do not need to input the full URL for the page only the part that follows the domain so for example if your URL is you just need /contact/thankyou.

At the dropdown to the left of the URL box, you will see the different match types you can use for the URL.

  • Equal to
  • Begins with
  • Regular expression

Each of these will determine a different outcome.

Equals to, is an exact match for every character, with no exception, if you accidentally get leading or trailing whitespaces, for example, the goal will fail to trigger. Use this for URLs that are easy to read and do not vary. (e.g., /contact/thankyou)

Begins with, is used to match identical characters from the beginning of a string up to and including the last character you specify. Perfect for dynamically generated content such as you may get from a checkout page. So for example, if your URL is and in this instance, the id is variable you would track the goal using /checkout.cgi?page=1 and selecting begins with.

A regular expression is used to match multiple criteria, Google states ‘A regular expression uses special characters to enable wildcard and flexible matching. This is useful when the stem, trailing parameters, or both, can vary in the URLs for the same web page.’

You can learn more about regular expressions here

Case Sensitive: Usually left unticked, but you can check this box if lowercase and uppercase characters in a URL go to more than one page.

Finally, you can choose whether to set up a goal value and funnel, both of which are optional. For eCommerce stores, you should really be tracking these values via eCommerce tracking so we won’t go into the goal value here.

Funnels can be useful in cases where there are multiple pages leading to the final goal such as a checkout to allow you to see how visitors move through each step of this process. Be careful though and only use this where there is a set structure to the process for other paths use things like visitor flow reports.

When you are happy with the goal setup you can choose to verify the goal, clicking this link will show you how often this goal would have been triggered in the last 7 days.

Then save your goal.

Visit Duration Goals: Fairly self-explanatory, this goal type can be used to track how many visitors stay on the site for a certain amount of time.

As in the previous goal, you will need to name the goal etc., only the settings part of it will be different as can be seen which couldn’t be simpler, select greater than or less than and then specify the duration you want to set as your goal.

Pages/Screens per session Goals: Similar to visit duration Marketing Campaign Tracking and as easy to set up but instead of tracking the time it tracks how many pages a visitor views before leaving. This time the conditions available are greater than, less than or equal to and you just set the target number of pages that will trigger the goal.

Event Goals: The final option is the event goal and is somewhat more complicated to set up but as such is a powerful goal to use, it is great for tracking things where there is no real landing page such as a thank you and can be triggered by actions such as clicking a button to activate a download or submit a form. It can also be used to track exits from your site to sister sites or applications etc. In fact, pretty much any element where visitors interact with your site can be tracked with events.

As you can see from Fig7. Events are defined by a set of parameters that specify which of your events should count as a goal.

With Event Marketing Campaign Tracking you will be creating a small piece of script that needs wrapping around the trigger on the website and as such, they do require a little more time and knowledge to set up and we will discuss these more in-depth in another post.

There is a really good tool that can help with these in the meantime if you are confident enough to have a go yourself and this can be found here

So, by now you should have a good understanding of why you need to have goals and how to set up your own Marketing Campaign Tracking within Google Analytics so it’s really time to go and have a play with what you have learned and watch out for other articles in this series.

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