February 21, 2014 ↘︎

How to create useful tracking codes

Tracking codes: the basics

Tracking codes are simple identifiers attached to the query string of a landing page in the format www.site.com?cid=tracking-code-goes-here, assuming “cid” is your campaign parameter (more below).
If there’s already a query string on the landing page append to &cid=tracking-code-goes-here. Take care on newer sites that use a # within the url, as you may need to include the tracking code before it.

Tips for creating useful tracking codes

Include code across your landing pages.  It’s vital that your SiteCatalyst code is embedded across your landing pages so that the incoming tracking code is captured. Beacuse the capture code is embedded in the s_code.js or tag container file it means if there’s nothing in place on the landing page to pick it up the data won’t be captured. Ideally you would want to be thinking about developing these codes in the early stages of your site development.

Create unique tracking codes. The uniqueness of the tracking code should be in relation to the level of granularity you’d like to measure at. For example, if you would like to measure multiple banners from a site, you can either measure at the site level with one common tracking code across all banners, or you can measure each banner on the site by having a unique tracking code for each banner.
Likewise, you can measure paid search performance at the campaign level, with underlying ad groups and ads all using a common tracking code, or you can measure each ad group and underlying ad using multiple unique tracking codes. You can always perform roll up reporting, however you can never go more granular than the tracking code, so it ends up being a balance between effort to create new tracking codes and deep tracking requirements.

Include a 3 letter identifier. You can include whatever you’d like within the tracking code, such as the intended audience, campaign name, dates, and so on. However, at a minimum I suggest starting with with a 3 letter identifier representing the marketing channel i.e. paid search tracking codes start with “sem”, affiliate codes start with “aff”, email codes start with “edm”. The identifier should end with an incrementing number representing the ‘asset’ number. This keeps the code simple, but still unique to each banner, affiliate site and paid search ad/group/campaign you’d like to measure.
The benefit of consistently starting the tracking code with the campaign channel is that you can set rules to build your marketing channel report, based on the channel identifier, as well as set up automated campaign channel classification rules for campaign reporting at the marketing channel level.

Where you have multiple agencies and partners, I’d recommend setting up a campaign governance framework to ensure that all parties are able to create new and consistent campaigns as needed.


Keen to read more? See all 5 of my tips for successful campaign management in SiteCatalyst. Or continue over to my second tip on KPIs: defining and measuring in campaigns.

DB logo
DB logo
DB logo