Google Analytics Basics

Utm6 is a platform based on Google Analytics, thus it's very important to fully understand how it works in order to leverage the best of utm6. Don't worry it's not so complicated.

Google Analytics accounts

A GA Account represents a business, it contains as many Properties as you like. A Property represents a website/app. And every Property can have up to 25 Views.

By default, your property will only have 1 View with no filters. It's up to you to create another View with some filters (i.e: to only see signed in users, a specific region of the world...).

The Javascript tracker placed on your website sends the data to your Property, and is then filtered for each of your Views.

Google Analytics Account
In Google Analytics, all your reports & dashboard are computed with the last-click non-direct attribution model, which is outdated.

Cookies

Cookies are little notepads that can be read/updated by Javascript on the client and by servers at every HTTP requests.

They are always tied to the visited domain name (i.e: yourwebsite.com), and attached to every HTTP requests sent to its domain. It means, website A can't read the cookies of website B.

Cookies can have a lifespan of a session (until you close the window) or up to 2 years.

Sessions

When a visitor comes to your website for the first time, the JS (Javascript) tracker stores a "client ID" cookie to remember the browser. And a "session ID" that expires after 30 mins of inactivity (by default).

Everytime a visitor comes to your website from a referrer (another website), a new session starts, even if the same visitor already visited your website few minutes ago.

If the same visitor comes back to your website few days later, the "client ID" cookie will help Google Analytics knowing it's the same person.

There are some limitations though, when the visitor uses a different browser or device, the "client ID" cookie is not available, and Google Analytics will consider it as a new visitor.

It is possible to track your users cross-device, as long as they are connected on both devices and their "user ID" is sent to the GA tracker. The probability that your users sign in on all their devices is pretty low though... most of the time they will just sign in before buying on one device.

Traffic segmentation

When you click on a website link, your browser tells to the new landing page, what was the previous page you came from. This is the referral URL.

On top of the Referral, in order to add some context to your traffic, Google Analytics introduced the following utm parameters:

  • utm_source: which website/app is sending traffic to you (i.e: youtube.com)
  • utm_medium: what medium has been used (i.e: referral, email, cpc...)
  • utm_campaign: used to compare the performances of your different marketing campaigns
  • utm_content: what was the specific creative/banner/message used
  • utm_term: what was the keyword clicked (used by Adwords, Bing...)

Because the utm_source & utm_medium parameters are mandatory, Google Analytics uses the referral URL to automatically set them for you with utm_source=domain.com & utm_medium=referral. If there is no referral URL available, the default source / medium will be "(direct) / (none)".

Examples

Referral Landing page Data sent to GA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJQP7kiw5Fk https://your-business.com/product-to-buy source: youtube.com
medium: referral
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJQP7kiw5Fk https://your-business.com/product-to-buy?utm_medium=video&utm_campaign=summer source: youtube.com
medium: video
campaign: summer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJQP7kiw5Fk https://your-business.com/product-to-buy?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=summer source: facebook.com
medium: referral
campaign: summer

Using utm_ parameters are crucial while sending email campaigns. Because your customers use different email clients, the traffic sources will be mail.google.com, mail.yahoo.com, mail.live.com etc...

To avoid splitting your traffic coming from your email marketing, you have to customize the links contained in your email by overriding their source/medium with utm parameters like this:
https://your-business.com/landing-page?utm_source=your-business.com&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=summer

By convention, the utm_source parameter should always be a domain name.
Example: utm_source=your-website.com