Channel Definitions for Email, Search Engines, and Ad Platforms

by Brian Toomey, JB Analytics CEO

Channel Definition

What it is

Channel definitions define each source of incoming traffic in a way that makes sense for your business.

Why it matters

Accurate channel definitions and attribution is necessary to ensure the data you are receiving is correct and that any subsequent analysis yields useful insight for decision making.

Failing to do this can result in having traffic miscategorized – leading to unreliable data and lost insight.

What to do

  • Set up proper channel definitions for incoming traffic to ensure your data is reliable and configured to provide useful insights.
  • Below are specific guidelines for common channels
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Email and Google Analytics

  • Adjust standard UTM parameters to correctly attribute email. Some mailing software (Mailchimp for example) offers excellent integration with Google Analytics, but this needs to be set up before the emails are sent. We can provide a customized UTM URL builder if required. 
  • Tweak channel definitions to identify traffic from mail servers as Email. 
  • Google Analytics does not do a good job of recognizing traffic from minor search engines like straight out of the box.
  • Add smaller search engine and query parameter recognition to the Organic Search Sources list. 

Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, and other ad platform integration 

  • Before any Google Ads or other paid advertising campaigns are run, ensure that all final/destination URLs are live. 
  • Always include the full pathway including https or http (whichever is the default). 
  • The easiest way to ensure a full, correct final URL that preserves attribution is to copy and paste it from the address bar when looking at the page in question.

For Microsoft and Google Ads, there is an account-level tick box. It sets up integration with Google Analytics via auto-tagging.

For Facebook and most other social ad platforms, you still need to do this manually using UTM tags.

We can build a custom UTM builder if that’s helpful.


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