In today’s digital age, we come across so many types of marketing and advertising that we may not even notice all of them. When it comes to digital marketing, there are online and offline campaigns, and trying to see how these types of marketing are working for your company is extremely difficult.
As a marketing professional this is even more difficult because you are responsible for showing results to your clients. One fantastic way to track your results is to use UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes. This simple technique can link your marketing practices to Google Analytics and give you the data you need to support an idea or switch gears to try something else.
Imagine that your site is getting thousands of visitors per day from a variety of sources. Maybe you are using paid ads, social media marketing, email marketing, and more to drive traffic to your site. Out of all of those visitors, about 100 are converting to paid users or signing up for your email list. You would probably want to know which source of your site’s traffic is converting the most visitors.
You may know that most of your traffic is coming from Facebook, but how do you know which ad or post is sending the users who are converting the most? Do you know how many users are clicking your links in your emails and then are converting to customers? Which links convert the best? Or, maybe you wanted to test multiple links in your emails or different tweet formats. How do you know which links are performing the best? This is why UTMs are crucial for your marketing.
What Are UTMs?
UTMs (Urchin Tracking Modules) are one of the best tools to see which link is sending the most visitors to your site that are converting. In this case, converting means completing the thing you want them to do the most. That could be purchasing your product, signing up for your email list, or any other goal that you have set. UTMs are parameters or components added to the end of a URL that is tracked inside your analytics.
You have probably come across UTMs before as you have browsed the web. This is an example of a URL with UTMs:
In the image towards the beginning of the post, you can see the Google Analytics for one of our sites. That is the acquisition overview. We can then go deeper into these pages to see how our UTMs compare. For example, in the image below, I examined data from email marketing:
What Are The Parameters?
Each URL will have several UTM parameters added to the end which will be used in a few different ways. Let’s take a look at each parameter individually.
This is the name of your campaign or reason for sharing this URL. For example, you might have the main campaign for sharing your homepage. So, you could use “main” or “homepage” as your campaign name. You may also be sharing individual blog posts and use a campaign name such as “intro-to-google-analytics”. This parameter is mainly for you to identify the URLs when viewing the data in your analytics.
This is the type of platform that you are sharing your URL on. For example, if you are sharing a blog post on Facebook, you would use “social” for your medium. If you were using a link in your email marketing, you might use “email”.
This is the platform that you are sharing your URL on. If you are sharing on social media, then your source might be “Facebook” or “Twitter”. If this link is shared inside your email marketing, the source may be the specific email such as “welcome-email” or “google-analytics-course-email-1”.
This is an optional parameter that you can use to differentiate between URLs that are using the same campaign, medium, and source. There will be times that you will share the same URL more than once on Facebook or Twitter. So, you could use this parameter to differentiate between the links. For example, you might use “tweet-1” and “tweet-2” to show the different tweets that you tweeted. Another example would be using this to show the different links in the same email. You may send out an email announcing a new feature or sale that has multiple links. You can use this parameter to show the difference between the links using “top-of-email-link” and “bottom-of-email-link”.
This is the final parameter and is also optional. This is usually used when the URL is a part of paid ads to track the keywords. You would enter the keyword that you were targeting to keep track of which subsets of ads were converting the most visitors to your goal.
Example Of Usage
Now that you have a general idea of what UTMs are, let’s take a look at an actual example of how you can implement these in your marketing. Recently, I hosted a webinar. I sent out several emails and posted many times on social media. I needed to be able to know exactly which link got the most registrations so I can optimize my marketing approach.
In my announcement email, I included three links to the registration page. One at the beginning after mentioning the introduction, one in the middle after some copy about the problem, and then one at the end of the main pitch. So, I had three URLs like this:
This URL was for the third link in my email
All three links had the same URL, campaign, medium, and source. I set the content as “first-link”, “second-link”, and “third-link”. After the email, I looked at my analytics and saw that, while more users clicked the third link, more users who clicked the second link actually signed up for the webinar.
Using this insight (and more gained from the next few emails), I was able to optimize the emails to convert the most users from my email lists to registering for the webinar.
I also used this same technique with the social media marketing. I tested several different tweet formats including with images, without images, links at beginning of tweet, links in the middle, links at the end, etc… I created URLs like this:
Again, the campaign, medium, and source were the same but the content was different for each tweet. I can then see these values in Google Analytics to see which tweet format converted the most webinar registrations. In my case, tweets with the link in the middle of the tweet with images saw almost 200% more conversions compared to the others.
Reviewing Your Data
Once you started using UTMs, you will want to go to Google Analytics to see how your URLs are performing. To do so, start by logging into Google Analytics. Next, click on the “Acquisition” link in the side menu and choose the “Overview” option.
The overview page will list out the main mediums that generate traffic to your website.
From the overview page, you can click each of the mediums to look deeper into that medium. Or, you can go back to the “Acquisition” menu and look into the “Traffic” or “Campaigns” submenus to start with other UTMs.
How To Create URLs With UTMs
Creating these URLs could be extremely difficult and time-consuming to have to type the URL out. Make sure all the parameters are correct every time can be tedious. Luckily, there are free tools to do this for you. These tools will ask you for the UTM details and then create the URL for you. We created one of these free tools: our free UTM builder. You can also find several others by searching for UTM or URL builder on your favorite search engine.
Once you create your URL, you will want to keep the URL somewhere to assist you in using similar URLs in the future. For example, if you are sharing a blog post multiple times on Facebook, you will want to use a different content every time. So, you will need to know all the contents that you have used before.
Many marketers use spreadsheets to list out each of the URLs and UTMs they have used. This allows them to look up the UTM parameters to see what they have used before. Up until recently, this is the strategy I used as well.
Now that you are familiar with UTMs, you will want to start using them every time that you are sharing URLs from your site. In order to be effective, you need to be consistent with UTMs in order to accurately track the data in your analytics.