A Guide to URL Tracking: How To Use Them and Why Are They Important

Tiago Santana

Understanding Tracking Links

Digital Marketers have very powerful tools such as Tracking URLs. These "Links" are created for a campaign and are unique identifiers for each. They are a great resource for all inbound efforts and provide details at the most granular level. Tracking URLs help keep track of marketing efforts by differentiating traffic coming from multiple channels.

Analyzing the performance of campaigns with the use of these URLs is crucial for all marketers. A Tracking URL looks like this:


Platforms and systems used in Google, Hubspot, Salesforce and more attribute traffic based on UTM parameters. You may notice that there is an additional string of text following the base of the URL. UTM codes are important to track the origins of different traffic.

UTM parameter consists of:

The Base of the URL. This is also known as the page address.

The Tracking Parameter Strings: This is what follows the Base URL. These include the UTM parameters mentioned previously:

o   Campaign: Tracking a campaign could be a series of social media posts or blogs referring to a particular topic. The Tracking URL includes the name of the campaign so that reporting platforms can gather this information and reflect the particular data.

o   Medium: This is a very general source type. For example social, organic, paid traffic, etc.

o   Content: This part of the Tracking URL defines the ingredient to which traffic can be attributed. The content can be a hyperlink, a button, or an image.

o   Source:  This is the portion of the URL that includes the source where the traffic is coming from. The appearance of this last part of the URL will look like this: utm_source=facebook

Let’s break it down:

If the URL created is the following: https://www.example.com/landing-page?utm_campaign=ExampleCampaign1&utm_content=EmailA&utm_source=email

We can identify:

Base for the URL: : [https://www.example.com/landing-page?](https://www.example.com/landing-page?utm_campaign=ExampleCampaign1&utm_content=EmailA&utm_source=email)

Tracking parameter string:

Campaign: utm_campaign=ExampleCampaign1

Content: utm_content=EmailA

Source: utm_source=email

(Note how all of these are united by the “&” symbol.)

When the name of the campaign, source or content has blank spaces between them, the following code will appear in between %20. Example: utm_content=social%20media%20post%201

Creating Tracking URLs

HubSpot is a great tool to create Tracking URLs. It is not just easy, but it allows marketers to concatenate all the information from different channels, attributed to one single campaign. To create HubSpot tracking URLs, you can go to Reports > Analytics Tools > Tracking URL Builder > Create tracking URL.

For a visual representation, you may view the image below:


To set up a tracking URL, it is necessary that you enter a valid URL for your page in the URL field, (include http:// or https://). This can be the URL of any page with the HubSpot tracking code on it.

o    The UTM Campaign is a dropdown menu. Here you will get to select the HubSpot campaign you want to track visits coming from this URL.

o    UTM Source is a second dropdown menu where you will select the source for your tracking URL. To find out about how HubSpot organizes sources, you may review HERE.

o    The UTM Medium field is optional. Enter the name of the banner ad, social post, email, etc.  This is typically the last visible parameter in your tracking URLs that you build in HubSpot.

o    The UTM Term field is optional as well. It is usually used in systems like AdWords and Google Analytics to track the keywords in a PPC ad.

o    The UTM Content can be as simple as a name for an ad. You might want to do this in case you have multiple ads on your page and want to differentiate between them.

Once the Tracking URL has been created, you will be able to list all of the created ones on this page:


Using your Tracking URL

Congratulations! You have all the knowledge now to create Tracking URLs using HubSpot’s builder. The majority of the work is already done by now. Here is when it gets fun and interesting!

In your HubSpot account, navigate to Reports > Analytics ToolsTracking URL Builder. Hover over your tracking URL, click the Actions dropdown menu, and select Copy shortened link or Copy full link. You can also copy either link by clicking the Actions dropdown menu and selecting View details.

To analyze your tracking URL's performance, you may review here.

If you’d like to review Tracking URLs data inside of HubSpot, you may follow the next simple steps:

Inside your HubSpot account, navigate to Reports > Analytics Tools


Guide to URL tracking in Google Analytics

Tracking URLs are essential for any digital campaign. We have seen the benefits of using them to identify digital marketing efforts. When we manage a full marketing campaign, it is important that we keep all reporting aspects neat and organized.

When it comes to PPC, if we don’t use Tracking URLs, all the data we receive will be meaningless in the end. These efforts need to be successfully tracked in platforms such as Google Analytics, not just for reporting and performance, but also to be able to have a zoom out view of the interaction that the user is having with them.

In order to do this, go to Reports >  Analytics Tools > Traffic Analytics:


Click on Advanced Traffic Reports, and you will be able to point out the traffic data and information corresponding to each campaign. You will also be able to detect the medium and source of the traffic. If no campaigns are showing, this may just mean that the sessions have not yet been recorded in the set time frame.

You may also view Tracking URL data by source. It is as simple as following the previous steps, and clicking on the Sources tab.

If tracking URL sessions are not showing up when the data comes in, we recommend you check the next details:

  • Check the time frame designated for the report. If no sessions appear, this may mean they have not yet been received in the site.
  • Always double check that the URL has been correctly placed in the correct format, in case no data appears and you are sure that the site has received visits.
  • Make sure that you’re not testing any unfiltered IP address.

In the case you're using HubSpot tracking URLs in Google AdWords ads, you just want to be sure of these next important considerations:

  • HubSpot provides both full tracking URL and a shortened tracking URL. Be sure to use the longer one for Google Ads.
  • Insert your HubSpot full tracking URL into the Final destination field in AdWords ads, not the Destination field.
  • The Final destination field will need to contain the same domain as the landing page URL. For example, if your ad's landing page is http://offers.example1.com/demo* your Final destination field will need to contain example1.com*.

Tracking Google AdWords campaigns in HubSpot with the Ads Add-on

HubSpot has an integration with Google Ads in a way so that any marketer can have all the relevant information in one place. Both Google AdWords and Facebook ads can be tracked in here.

HubSpot and Google AdWords

HubSpot uses a tracking template that can be placed on the campaign level in Google Ads. You may rest assured that any parameters that already exist or are added either at the account level or the campaign level, will be merged with the HubSpot parameters at the campaign level in your AdWords tracking.

The URL parameters used by HubSpot and that are automatically added are the following:

hsa_cam={campaignid}hsa_grp={adgroupid}hsa_mt={matchtype}hsa_src={network}hsa_ad={creative}hsa_acc={ID of account/customer}hsa_net={adwords}hsa_kw={keyword}utm_term={keyword}hsa_tgt={targetid}utm_campaign={_utmcampaign} - set by default to the name of the AdWords campaign or, if you associate your ad with a HubSpot campaign, the HubSpot campaign nameutm_source=adwordsutm_medium=ppchsa_ver=3

HubSpot and Facebook

HubSpot automatically adds the following URL parameters to Facebook ads:

hsa_acc={accountid}hsa_cam={adcampaignid}hsa_grp={adsetid}hsa_ad={ad_id}hsa_net={facebook}hsa_src=[SOURCE_SITE_NAME] - set to Facebook or Instagram automaticallyutm_source={facebook}utm_medium={paid}utm_campaign={Name of Ad campaign}

hsa_ver=3hsa_la={true} - for lead ads, {false} or absent otherwisehsa_ol={true} - for organic leads from lead ads, {false} or absent otherwise

Once the Facebook account is connected, these parameters are added automatically. The unique ID numbers correspond to your ad_id or campaign_id to each of your Facebook ads.

To ensure that the ads are being correctly tracked, this tool undergoes multiple updates every day. Once your account is connected, HubSpot will apply tracking to all newly-created ads going forward.

Now, this brings up a new question: How does HubSpot count the number of contacts and customers from ads?

First, we need to define what an attribution model is. HubSpot defines them as: “Attribution models define how marketing assets and channels receive credit for their contribution to converting strangers into customers. HubSpot's ads tool uses a last touch attribution model to calculate ad conversions.”

If a user clicks on one of your ads and the visitor has his first session (interrupted period of time that a user spent online) on the web and converted via a form, this is when HubSpot considers the user a “new contact”. This conversion will also be the one that creates them as a contact as well.

In the case of Facebook lead ads, if the lead ad submission was the contact's first form submission, the contact will be attributed to the ad.

In order to track conversions using the HubSpot Ads add-on, the next steps must take place:

  1. The HubSpot tracking code must be installed on the page to which your users are being directed.
  2. You must use a HubSpot Form, Collected Form, Lead Flow, or the HubSpot Forms API to capture submissions on your website or landing pages.

Once we have this established, we can now show you examples of how the Ads add-on determine attribution.

We will show you user flows below to reflect how new contacts will appear in your sources report and the ads add-on:

1. Organic: No ads involved

When a visitor finds your blog via organic search, and interact with your website content without any interaction with ads. As seen in the scenario above, the sources report will credit your blog content as the original source for this customer.

2. Paid: Different types of ads involved

In the image above, you may note that the customer was brought to your site via 2 types of ads: Google AdWords and Facebook ads. Google ads brought the customer to your site originally, but the Facebook ad is what led them to the session where they converted and became a customer. In this case, the ads add-on will credit the Facebook Ad with the conversion.

3. Organic and Paid: Ad contributes to the first website interaction, but not the session that led to the conversion


In this example, a Facebook ad brought the customer to your site originally, but it does not contribute directly to the conversion. This is where you will be able to notice that the sources report will credit Paid Social - Facebook for this customer. But the ads add-on will not credit the Facebook ad since it did not lead to the session where they converted.

4. Organic and Paid: Ad contributes to the conversion session, but not the first interaction with your website


In this scenario, 2 sources of visit to the site took place. The first was through a social post. But then, after a period of inactivity, Google AdWords ultimately led to the web session where they converted and became a customer. The sources report will credit Social as the source of this customer. The ads add-on will credit AdWords for the conversion of the new contact. This is similar to the “last click model attribution” stated by Google analytics.

Tracking Google Adwords campaigns in Hubspot without the Ads Add-on

Please know that the Ads add-on is not the only way you may track Google AdWords campaigns inside of HubSpot. You can still track them by specifying the name of your AdWords campaign using a utm_campaign parameter in the URL.

You can use a full tracking URL as your destination URL in Google AdWords. You can create the tracking URL in HubSpot's tracking URL builder by following these easy steps:

In your HubSpot account, navigate to Reports > Analytics Tools >Tracking URL Builder > Create tracking URL in the top-right corner.

  • In the Create tracking URL pane, use the following criteria for the tracking URL.
  • URL = URL of your page.
  • Campaign = choose an existing campaign name or create a new campaign name for your ad.
  • Source = Paid Search.

This will bucket the visits under Paid Search and display the campaign name within the sources report.


We have defined that a Tracking URL consists of several elements that help define the source of the traffic. You are now aware that you can track paid efforts in HubSpot with and without the Ads add-on. We also stated the different attribution models between HubSpot’s source report and the add-on.

Tracking URLs are necessary to ensure that all the information and data gathered from your paid efforts are being correctly recorded. By having this information correctly organized, marketers will be able to point out their most successful efforts and allocate budget where it performs best.

If you need help with your Hubspot Tracking Link or would like to understand how to use Tracking links to get better results on adwords, schedule a meeting with us at gardenpatch. Our team of growth hackers are obsessed with helping businesses get better results. Click here to schedule your free consultation. We promise it will be worth your time

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