Campaign Tracking: A Brief Guide (PLUS 5 Metrics to Start)

campaign tracking

Marketers don’t know customers as well as they think.


Case in point: this software company had to pivot its messaging after discovering an untapped pain point halfway through a campaign. 


Campaign tracking identifies opportunities before it’s too late. Without it, you cannot know which specific channel, campaign, and content performs best or poorly—let alone drive sales.


This guide explains why you should track your ad campaigns and how to automate them, along with five metrics to get started.



What is an Ad Campaign in Marketing? (Plus Dissecting What Those Random Text Codes Mean)

An ad campaign is a series of paid ads that promote a product, service, or business. 


There are three types of campaigns:


  • Awareness: Brand awareness, reach, video views
  • Consideration: Clicks, engagement, lead generation 
  • Conversion: website conversions (e.g., sales, trials)


Whether you’re driving views for a product demo video on YouTube or generating leads for a SaaS tool on LinkedIn, managing campaign tracking data can get overwhelming fast. 


That’s where campaign parameters come in.


These strings of text, placed at the end of a website URL address, tell you the origin of a click, simplifying campaign tracking and identifying top-performing ads easily. 


Here’s how a typical campaign URL looks:


Right away, we know the click comes from a user performing a search query: “freelance B2B SaaS writer”. If we see a lot of clicks from this source, we can deduce that it’s working and work on optimizing the website to drive more conversions.


But first, let’s unpack what these UTM parameters mean:


  1. Campaign URL: Full website URL [e.g.,]
  2. Campaign Medium (utm_medium): Core marketing channel [e.g., paid, email, social]
  3. Campaign Source (utm_source): The referral [e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn]
  4. Campaign ID (utm_id): Ad campaign ID [e.g., abc.234]
  5. Campaign Name (utm_campaign): Name of specific campaign [e.g., product_launch]
  6. Campaign Term (utm_ term): Paid keywords [e.g., marketing+automation] 
  7. Campaign Content (utm_content): Different ads or links that direct to the same URL 


The first three parameters are mandatory while the remaining are optional.


You can use a URL builder (like this one here) to piece together these parameters instead of manually piecing them together. Here’s how it looks when we input (1), (2) Paid, and (3) Facebook in the URL builder:



3 reasons why you’ll want to track your ad campaigns 

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page on the importance of tracking.




As marketers, it’s our job to spot opportunities before it’s too late—tracking ad campaigns achieves that.


When JTB Studios ran a social media campaign for a new project management tool, a horde of users left comments.


“We initially focused on the tool’s efficiency features,” reveals Jeremy Bogdanowicz, the founder and CEO of the digital agency. “But something unexpected happened. People started sharing their frustrations about communication issues with their teams.” 


At this point, Bogdanowicz realized the tool’s secondary benefit. Together with his team, they pivoted the messaging to highlight how the tool improves team communication.


The results made a world of difference. 


By tracking user engagement on the ad campaign, the digital agency noticed a growth opportunity and adapted its strategy based on what’s happening, ultimately increasing the number of users for the project management tool. 




ROI and ROAS ensure your marketing strategy consistently drives value. Both metrics keep you in check, ensuring you’re not spending more than necessary.  


[Data via DashThis] 

A positive ROI like this signals healthy growth




eCommerce stores that experience low conversion rates and average order value (AOV) on their websites but perform well on Amazon struggle with issues like site design, user experience, and poor marketing.


Odd Sox is one of them.


After engaging Adspace for marketing help, Dan Ben-Nun, CEO and founder, and his team redesigned the store’s website and ran a Google Ads campaign to promote its socks. 


Much of the marketing efforts involved data-driven optimization. The ad campaigns, for instance, involved strategic bid optimizations and adjusted ad spending based on historical data to maintain stable CPAs.


Eventually, Odd Sox saw a:


  • 58% increase in website conversion rate
  • 52% increase in new customers
  • 36% decrease in CPA, and
  • 154% increase in overall conversions.


These astonishing results wouldn't be possible without strategy and measurement.


Why Marketers Run Ads to Promote & Sell… When There Are Cheaper Alternatives

Despite the hefty price tag, paid ads boast benefits other channels can’t achieve—at least not in a brief span of time. Here are three reasons you should add them to your existing marketing campaigns.


Test and validate while increasing brand visibility and reach

New businesses don’t know who their best customers are when starting out. 


In this case, says Kamel Ben Yacoub, paid ads are “a fantastic way to test and validate hypotheses regarding your target audience.”


Platforms like Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads tap into your ideal audience right down to the granular level. From their interests and hobbies to industries and job titles, you can quickly find people who are most likely to take action after interacting with your ads. Over time, these platforms narrow them down so you reach more of the right customer segments. 


“Sometimes it's not just about the ROI of the paid campaigns,” adds the co-founder of Getuplead. “It’s also about the business learnings you gain from them.”


By using ads to validate a total addressable market (TAM), the co-founder helped Kodo Survey generate 167% more leads in three months.


Generate leads and sales quickly

Most websites will not reach the first page of Google organically within a year—even established ones will take at least 61-182 days.


With paid ads, it’s much, much faster.


Assuming you have enough ad budget and the strategy down pat, of course.


Banzai, a virtual event platform, managed to double its number of qualified trials from paid advertising. 


And it’s not only trials. 


The ads also resulted in revenue directly.  


“I have seen a growth in users from our paid ads,” shares Rachel Meyrowitz, the director of demand generation at the marketing tech startup. “They purchase from our website without [going through] a trial.”


Retarget prospects and get their dollars

The bad news?


Only 2% of website visitors convert on the first visit.


The good news?


People who see retargeting ads are 70% more likely to convert.


We rest our case.


Top 5 KPIs and Metrics to Measure in Ad Campaigns

Trying to measure all digital marketing metrics on your ad platforms will send you down a rabbit hole with no end in mind. Start with the metrics below—they help you understand the nuances of your ad campaigns.


Click-through rate (CTR)


Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of clicks your ad receives from all users who see it


How to improve this metric:


  • Include ad extensions to provide more valuable information (e.g., sitelinks for users to get to the page they’re interested in quickly)
  • Entice users with “click triggers” (e.g., social proof to instill trust, money-back guarantee to overcome risk)
  • Use customers’ own words (i.e., voice of customer data) to resonate with their challenges or desires 


Cost per click (CPC)


Cost per click (CPC) is the price paid for each ad click


How to improve this metric:


  • Measure the value of each click and adjust your budget accordingly (note: Not all clicks are equal. You’re better off with a higher CPC keyword that drives conversions than a low CPC keyword that rarely converts).
  • Convey your product or service’s unique benefits in a story-driven narrative (e.g., Tumble spotlighted its spill-proof and machine washable rugs in user-generated content campaigns. The eCommerce store tapped into the emotions of parents and pet owners who dealt with a lot of mess in homes, showing them how easy it is to clean the rugs with a simple wipe or machine wash).


Conversion rate (CVR)


Conversion rate (CVR) is the percentage of users who completed a valuable action measured against the total number of visitors over a time period.


How to improve this metric:


  • Adjust bids on devices (e.g., Buyers are unlikely to purchase high-ticket B2B services on mobile devices—consider allocating more of your ad spend towards desktop or laptop devices).
  • Improve user experience (e.g., reduce number of fields in forms, optimizing shopping experience with 1-click checkout)
  • Compel users with power words in call-to-action (e.g., “Get my first 15 days for free” instead of a simple “Sign up for trial”)


Cost per acquisition (CPA)


Cost per acquisition (CPA) is the price you pay for every customer acquired.


How to improve this metric:


  • Reduce bids for least converting regions…or turn them off completely
  • Run retargeting ad campaigns for folks who didn’t complete an action on your site (e.g., highlight offer to sweeten the pot for shoppers who abandoned cart)
  • Bump up Quality Score (Note: Ads with high scores see higher number of clicks and lower CPA)


Return on ad spend (ROAS)


Return on ad spend (ROAS) is the revenue you get back for every dollar spent on your ad campaigns.


How to improve this metric:


  • Adjust your maximum bid to reduce ad costs
  • Increase incentive as customers go further down the funnel (e.g., a 15% discount for shoppers who abandoned carts)
  • Improve conversion rate—use power words, enhance the landing page experience, you get our drift!


Automatically Track Ad Campaign KPIs and Metrics with DashThis

DashThis is the easiest PPC reporting tool


Automatically grab your entire PPC results across different channels into one beautiful report.


This way, you analyze your overall campaign performance in a single interface, distilling insights and spotting opportunities for growth easily.


Here’s how it works:


  1. Select a free ads report template
  2. Connect your favorite advertising platform(s) with DashThis (e.g., Google Ads, Google Analytics)
  3. Pick your PPC metrics in Preset Widget


DashThis will automatically gather your entire data into your report. Drag and drop them to form a cohesive look (e.g., Facebook Ads in one section, LinkedIn Ads in another).


Customize the report to fit clients’ needs.


Suppose you have a lead generation strategy, and one of the PPC KPIs you want to show is the overall cost per lead (CPL) across Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads.


Consider combining both sources in a single widget to help clients visualize their overall marketing spend (note: for this to work, the graph type and KPIs need to be compatible).


Locate the LinkedIn Ads CPL and click Edit Widget > Merge Widgets. Select the widget (Google Ads CPL) you want to merge.




Click Save.


You can also add notes and comments within the report (note: this tip is ideal for folks frustrated with the back-and-forth emails with clients).


Say you want to convince a client to replicate your top-performing ad messaging into your organic social media posts. Or create a new email campaign to nurture the incoming free trial users. 


Click Static Widget > Add Comment.


Here’s how it might look when you explain the ROI of email marketing and recommend a new email sequence to convert trial users to paid customers.


Click Save.


Work with clients who just can’t get the hang of marketing acronyms (e.g., GDPR, pixels, A/B testing)? Use the note widget to define these terms. Hover to a widget and click Add Note.


Click Save.


Once you’re done, schedule an automated email dispatch:


  1. Hover to the Sharing Options icon on the top right
  2. Click Share by Email
  3. Set the dashboard period and frequency 
  4. Click Schedule


Now your report is sent to all stakeholders according to your preferred period and frequency, automatically.



Alternatively, send over a URL link.


Both sharing options allow everyone to view the reports in real-time.


Now that it’s possible to automate reports in the blink of an eye, you can finally ditch those manual tasks, gain back hours of your time, and spend more of your days on billable work.


Start your free 15-day trial to automate campaign tracking today.


PPC report template

Stop wasting your ad budget on clicks that don’t convert. Grab this PPC dashboard to find untapped keywords and maximize your revenue for the next month’s campaign. 


Grab this free PPC report with your own data! 


Advertising campaign report template

Look no further than this report if you want to justify the ad spend for your favorite marketing channel. This dashboard gathers data across multiple advertising platforms, visualizing which performs best.


Grab this free advertising campaign report with your own data! 


Google Ads report template

Get a snapshot of your paid search strategy in this standalone Google Ads report. Use it to illustrate how your up-funnel metrics (e.g., website traffic, clicks) impact revenue and gauge your advertising effectiveness across the customer journey. 


Grab this Google Ads report with your own data!


Automate Your Campaign Tracking with DashThis Today!

From messaging to untapped audience, campaign tracking helps you spot all kinds of hidden opportunities you can think of. 


For best results, track your campaigns with an automated PPC reporting tool like DashThis.


It auto-grabs your entire ads data across different channels into one beautiful report. Either create a standalone ads report or an all-in-one marketing dashboard in one place (note: DashThis also integrates with other marketing channels like Ahrefs, Klaviyo, CallRail, and more).


DashThis is the easiest reporting tool. Start your free 15-day trial to automate campaign tracking, gain back hours of your time, and spend more of your days on billable work today.



DashThis The Team at DashThis

DashThis is the power behind thousands of reporting dashboards created by and delivered for agencies and digital marketers every month. 

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