Skip To Main Content
Managing Your School’s Digital Marketing | GA4 Campaign Tracking
Kristen Doverspike

You aim to connect with families and drive qualified traffic to your website, so, as a marketing and communications professional at your school, what does your typical day look like?

You're sending emails, posting on social media, and investing in paid ads. It’s a huge job, and building these campaigns takes precious hours of your time — and I’d be willing to bet you have very little extra time to dedicate toward perfecting your school’s digital marketing strategies.

Knowing which efforts are giving you the most return on your time and budget can be incredibly valuable as you look to maintain and improve your campaigns.

And I know what you must be thinking: Data analysis requires even more time, right? Well, yes. But staying informed will help you avoid wasted time down the road, and with these easy-to-find parameters, you’ll be able to get a gut check on your performance at any time, in mere minutes. Your future self will thank you!

How to Use Google Analytics to Track Campaigns

All you need are UTM parameters. And coffee.

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters are tags that you add to any URL on your school's website to track campaign traffic and engagement. When someone clicks on any link with a UTM code, those tags are sent back to your Google Analytics 4 property so that you can accurately see the performance of your campaigns.

When done right, UTM parameters can help you track actions taken from an email, tweet, Facebook ad — or any external source that you are using to drive traffic to your website — providing you with intel on which sources are bringing in the most traffic, engagement, and conversions.

A URL with a UTM tracking code would look something like this:

Getting started with GA4 campaign tracking

Step 1: Determine Your Source, Medium, and Campaign Naming Conventions

UTMs are only as great as your organizational skills. These snippets require you to name three parameters: a source, a medium, and a campaign. It’s important to stay consistent with your naming conventions and keep a record of them so that when you're looking at Google Analytics 4 for your school's data, it’s easy to find every time.

  • The source identifies where the traffic is coming from. Think of it as the original location of the link — the source might be Google, email, Twitter, etc. Be specific so that you know exactly where the traffic came from. Facebook, for example, should be a separate source from Twitter; the source should not simply be “social media.”
  • The medium gets a little more granular so that you not only know the original source but what exactly the user clicked on. Your medium might be a newsletter, a video ad, a PPC ad, or an organic Instagram post. 
  • The campaign should describe the ultimate goal of the link. You can choose to promote each micro-campaign separately (ex: September Open House), or you can combine multiple efforts under one overarching campaign (ex: 2024 open houses). The latter can help keep things simple for you in your reporting — just be sure to stay consistent in your naming convention each time you use it.

Here are a few examples:

You are promoting a handful of open houses this fall, and you want to track the traffic and performance of this campaign through your Google Ads.

  • Source: google
  • Medium: ppc
  • Campaign: fall-open-houses

You are promoting your boarding program to potential new families through a video ad on Facebook.

  • Source: facebook
  • Medium: video-ad
  • Campaign: 2024-new-family-prospecting

SEO & Digital Advertising Fundamentals for Schools

Step 2: Build Your Tracking URLs

There are a number of free UTM builders out there, but Google Analytics has its own Campaign URL Builder that has everything you need. All you have to do is fill in the blanks with the information we just covered, and it will automatically generate a link for you to use in your marketing — it’s that simple!

UTM screenshot

When building your tracking URL, keep in mind:

  • UTMs are case-sensitive, so if you use “google” as one source and “Google” as another, they will get mapped separately in Google Analytics. Picking one case type and sticking to it can help when you build UTM codes for the long term (I, personally, stick with all lowercase parameters).
  • UTMs will be shown in the user’s address bar, so be sure you're not using any tags that you would want to remain unseen. If, for example, you don’t want someone who just clicked on your ad to know that it’s tied to your geo-fence campaign that is targeting families in the area, you might want to default to a more generic campaign naming convention.

Building Tracking URLs for a Large Campaign

Let’s say you’re building a campaign for your summer camp program, and you’re pulling out all the stops — You want to promote it through email, social media advertising, Google advertising…the works. When building your URLs, the campaign can stay the same for each (let’s name it “2024-summer-camp”). Then, all you’ll need to do is swap the source and medium for each of your promotion outlets. It might look something like this:

1. Newsletter

  • Source: email
  • Medium: newsletter
  • Campaign: 2024-summer-camp
  • URL:

2. Twitter Retargeting Ad

  • Source: twitter
  • Medium: retargeting-ad
  • Campaign: 2024-summer-camp
  • URL:

4. Facebook (Organic Reach)

  • Source: facebook
  • Medium: organic-post
  • Campaign: 2024-summer-camp
  • URL:

The URL and campaign stay the same in each of these URLs, but the medium and source change. Keep everything organized in a spreadsheet or document as you build your URLs to ensure you are consistent throughout your marketing.

Step 3: Track Your Campaign Performance

How can you track your marketing efforts, then, with Google Analytics? Let’s start with traffic.

screenshot of GA4 tracking

If you toggle to Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition and then choose Session source / medium in the dropdown menu, you can see your UTM parameters and how they are attributed to your website traffic and engagement over time. If you’re more interested in drilling down by your campaign names rather than by source / medium, you will follow the same instructions but choose Session campaign in the dropdown.

In this particular example, I also searched for “-ad” in the search bar above the source / medium dropdown so that I could drill down to see advertising-specific traffic. This is where it can come in handy to use the same naming conventions throughout your URLs.

Once you’re done drilling down by your UTM parameters, you can find useful data surrounding how many visitors you had on your website from your marketing efforts. In the above example, I can see that our LinkedIn image ads have been our top advertising format this year!

If your GA4 has been set up with custom events and conversions, you can find even more gold in your data through your UTM parameters.

GA4 tracking campaign screenshot

Here, I’ve drilled down again by source / medium, searched by the “email” parameter, and can now see how many events were completed from email campaigns — including blog views, first-time visitors, and more.

Taking note of this data regularly will help give you a quick look at what marketing efforts are performing well (and what campaigns might be a waste of time) so that you can make data-informed decisions in the future. This brings us to our last step…

Step 4: Observe, Adapt, and Improve Your Campaigns

It should be your goal to determine how to make your email newsletters, social media campaigns, social ads, and pay-per-click ads work in your favor. Use the data provided by GA4 and your newly created UTM parameters to ask yourself what you can do to adapt and improve. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • What campaigns have brought in the most traffic? Let’s say you’re using email automation to promote both your open houses and your boarding program, but you’re finding that your open-houses campaign brings in twice the amount of traffic compared to the boarding program campaign.
    • That might indicate that 1. Your open house content is more compelling, 2. That the boarding content isn’t reaching the right audience, or 3. That email is better suited for action-oriented content (like signing up for an open house) rather than informational content (like sending traffic to your boarding program page).
  • What traffic sources are underperforming? If you’re finding that your Google Ads are costing you the most money but are resulting in the least amount of conversions, it might be time to either pause or improve those ads.
  • Which medium is working best for conversions? You might be surprised to find that your organic post on Facebook has brought in more inquiries than your PPC ad on Google! It’s important to drill down on the medium to reveal these results so that you can save money and time down the road.

Key Takeaway

Getting into the habit of including UTM parameters on your URLs can help you easily get the data you need to make informed decisions about your marketing efforts at your school. From email to social media and PPC, tracking your URLs in Google Analytics will give you insight into what content is resonating with your audiences, where you should be spending your time and budget, and what you can do to improve throughout the year.

Free download, the Data Guide for Schools


Kristen Doverspike headshot

In her position as Director of Marketing Operations Kristen provides the strategy and creation of content across email, website and social media communications at Finalsite. With over five years of experience in content strategy and digital marketing, Kristen has worked with clients around the country to develop their branding, SEM, SEO, social media, and inbound efforts. She holds and maintains a number of certifications from Google, Hubspot, and Hootsuite.




Explore More Recent Blogs

Subscribe to the Finalsite Blog

Love what you're reading? Join the 10k school marketers who get the newest best practices delivered to their inbox each week.

Request a FREE
website report card

Want feedback on your school or district's site? Get a free website report card, generated by an in-house website expert, sent right to your inbox.