📝 NOTE: It is assumed you know how to create custom Dashboards and Charts. If not, read this article before proceeding.
When building your own Dashboard Charts, you can pull data from various data sources to view different types of analytics events.
In this article, we're going to focus on the Page Views data source, paired with several referrer and UTM Group By and Filter metrics. These allow you to track where traffic to your community is coming from so you can better optimize your engagement strategy.
Understand UTM and "referrer"
Let's establish an understanding of the terms "referrer" and "UTM" that you'll encounter in this article, so that you can use the Page Views data source to its fullest.
- When navigating from one web page to another via a link, the referrer (or referring page) is the URL of the previous web page from which the link was followed. For example, users may come in to your Vanilla community via a link your organization posted on Twitter. In this case, the referrer is Twitter.
- A referrer can be either internal (a link on one of your community's pages) or external (a link from an "outside" web page such as Twitter). Internal traffic is labeled as such in our analytics so you can understand what traffic is sourced internally versus externally.
UTM (Urchin Tracking Module)
- There are five UTM metrics (Source, Medium, Campaign, Term, Content; described below in Available UTM metrics) that can be appended to URLs. Marketers use these parameters to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media.
- UTM parameters can be parsed by analytics tools and then used to populate reports, which is what you'll learn how to do in this article.
To learn more about UTM parameters, including how to add them to your URLs, check out the article below:
To help understand referrers and UTM parameters, let's look at a hypothetical scenario.
Your organization is planning to run a campaign to promote an upcoming webinar or annual event. To get the word out, your marketing team will post information across several social media platforms, as well as internally in your Vanilla community. These posts will include links (banners, text, etc.) pointing to a registration page hosted in your Vanilla community. To track the effectiveness of these various posts, your marketers will append UTM parameters to each of the links, which will be tracked by Vanilla Analytics. When all is said and done, you'll be able to view this analytics data to understand where community traffic is coming from and which marketing posts performed the best, which is useful knowledge for future marketing campaigns.
An event is logged in Vanilla Analytics for each page visited, and for each event you can view both referrer and UTM data. To access this data, select the Page Views data source.
- Once selected, the referrer and UTM metrics are available in both the Group By dropdown and as Filters you can apply to further refine the data.
- For explanations of these metrics, refer to the Available referrer metrics and Available UTM metrics sections below.
Available referrer metrics
With the Page Views data source selected, you can use the following referrer metrics:
📝 NOTE: Remember, you can use these metrics to both Group By and Filter your data.
- Referrer URL: The full URL of the webpage where a user clicked a link that sent them to your community.
- Referrer Source: The name or title of the website where a user clicked a link that sent them to your community.
- Referrer Medium: The medium is a more narrow description of your referral traffic. While your visitor might have arrived through a source of “google,” it is not clear if it was a paid campaign or organic search. Common mediums include: Organic (organic traffic you have not paid for), Email (mail services like Mailchimp or Hubspot), and Social (social media sites like Facebook or Twitter).
Available UTM metrics
With the Page Views data source selected, you can use the following UTM metrics:
📝 NOTE: Remember, you can use these metrics to Group By and Filter your data.
- UTM Source: Identifies which site sent the traffic, and is a required parameter.
- UTM Medium: Identifies what type of link was used, such as cost per click or email.
- UTM Campaign: Identifies a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.
- UTM Term: These tags are typically used in paid search campaigns; they indicate the specific keywords or search terms associated with the advertisement.
- UTM Content: Identifies what specifically was clicked to bring the user to the site, such as a banner ad or a text link. The parameter is often used to further differentiate links within the same campaign, and can allow you to track the effectiveness of different variations of an ad or link.
These UTM parameters can be appended to the end of URLs to track and analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. You can leverage these in several ways.
- For example, if we create a call-to-action campaign for our users to check out a new event or category, we can append our URL with UTM parameters to track how much traffic the campaign is generating.
What is "Other" in Page View reporting?
When viewing this data in your charts, you may see "Other" listed. This means one of three things:
- The page view occurred before Vanilla started tracking this data
- The page view did not have a referrer (the user navigated directly to your community)
- The referrer did not provide the information (Referrer Source or Medium is null)
Out-of-the-box Dashboard referrer data
In addition to using custom Dashboards to view referrer and UTM data as discussed in this article, you can use the out-of-the-box Traffic Dashboard to view referrer data in the Page views by referrer chart.
Check out the Traffic chart section in the article below to learn more.