From email marketing to social media, adverting, and search results, there are various channels that you can use to place the content in front of your target clients. So, how do you keep track of prospects’ interaction with your content?
Of course, the first thing that springs to mind is Google Analytics (GA) with its standard reports. But, what if we say that you can go deeper than the top crust of your marketing reports?
This is where UTM [Urchin Tracking Module] parameters step in! By using UTMs, you can get a more deep-rooted overview of users’ behavior and how they interact with your content, which is the focal point of this article.
What Are UTM Parameters?
In a nutshell, UTM parameters are tags that you attach to the end of your URLs to track the progress of your marketing campaign. When people click on the URL that has an adjoined UTM parameter, you can get insights for the channel that they used to access the content and their further engagement with it.
This is an example of UTM parameter in an URL that will appear after you click this sponsored Facebook post:
This does not alter the content of your link. Instead, it provides you with insights that you can utilize to analyze the place where the user came from and his/her interaction.
There are five UTM parameters that you can attach to your links:
- UTM source: Encapsulates the traffic source that in most of the cases is the platform on which you shared the link, for example, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Gmail.
- UTM medium: Includes the marketing medium that is closely related to the source. For instance, if you use Google as a source, the medium can be AdWords.
- UTM campaign: Underlines the campaign that you used to share the URL. You can name the campaign as you like, for example, “Clients Weekly Digest “Lead Nurturing Campaign” etc.
- UTM term: In most cases, this parameter is used for advertising and seizes the term you bid on for sharing your URL. For example, you might bid on the term “Drip Marketing,” and consequently, “drip marketing” will be the UTM term.
- UTM content: A parameter that is used to determine the content that collected interaction when multiple elements from your ad promotion led to the click. This is especially useful if you A/B test more versions of your ad.
Other examples of UTM parameters usage for marketing campaigns:
Here’s an email received from Neil Patel
The link contains the following URL with UTM parameters:
Here’s another example from Windows Developer’s sponsored Twitter post
Why UTM Parameters Matter for Your Marketing Campaign?
By using UTM parameters you can gauge the types of marketing campaigns that work and provide you with the insight needed for the ones that didn’t. Basically, there are 5 major benefits from using UTM parameters for your campaigns:
- Cross-Channel Tracking: You’ve just created a dedicated page and spent a significant amount on Facebook and Google Ads. Great! But, which one has the better ROI? What if 99% of your traffic comes from Facebook and only 1% from Google? With UTM parameters, you’ll know exactly which channel brings you long-term profits.
- Improving Your Channel Campaigns: When you track the channel’s ROI and monitor the campaign’s impact, you’ll have a clearer picture of what provides you with the best outcome. Now, you’ll be able to focus on improving the channel’s impact.
- A/B Testing: If you want to test two different CTAs because they both lead to the same link, you can use a UTM parameter. You can compare the engagement for both of your CTAs and determine where your target customers respond better.
- Influencer Marketing: When you pay a social media influencer to market your product, you want to know if he/she really gets clicked on or it’s just a person with a fake followers count. Creating a custom URL with UTM tags can help you track their ROI efforts.
- Banner Advertisement: If you pay other websites to include your banner ad, using UTM parameters is a must! You need to know which one brings in more profit. With UTM-based URLs you’ll know which websites to eliminate from your banner marketing strategy.
How to Make Use of UTM Parameters
First things first, make sure that you’ve set up your GA account properly. If you haven’t inserted the tracking code in your site yet, doing so with WordPress is easy via a plugin or manually.
Next up, you’ll need to set up your Google Tag Manager account and set up the container code that can help you manage GA on your pages.
Next up, you need to start adding those UTM parameters to your social media posts and email links. Google provides you with a UTM builder that can help you set up the trackable URLs.
Go to the GA Analytics Campaign URL Builder, and enter the URL that you want to link to, and the values for the parameters that you want to analyze
If scroll down the page you’ll locate the automatically generated campaign URL. Go to ‘Convert URL to Short Link’ or ‘Copy URL’
Paste the code into your social media update.
Now, you can start tracking the results of your campaign via GA. Open GA > Acquisition > Campaigns
This is where you find all the campaigns that you’ve created trackable URLs for, along with the statistics and conversion rates.
These insights need to be thoroughly analyzed to see what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be enhanced for better results. Your posts should not only drive traffic but also better conversion rates for your pages.
Common Mistakes When Using UTM Tags
Even the biggest companies can make some mistakes in their UTM parameter practices. When you realize that you’ve made one, it can be too late and your entire campaign can become a failure. Here’s what you need to avoid when using UTM tags for your campaign URLs:
Assigning “cpc” Medium when You Tag a Social Media Campaign
In GA, a “cpc” medium is a default Paid Search Channel. In this case, the traffic from your social media campaign will be directed to your Paid Search campaign. If you use this medium for your social media campaigns, you’ll need to alter it with the Channel Grouping settings.
Neglecting Case Sensitivity
You need to use the same format when you tag your links, or, you’ll have disunited campaign reports in GA. It’s much better to use lowercase letters because it helps GA to categorize your sessions accurately.
Mixing “utm_source” and “utm_medium”
The “utm_source” tells you the website that the link came from. A source can be the domain, for example:
utm_source=facebook.com, utm_source=linkedin.com, utm_source=twitter.com
The medium is the advertising platform that shows the source. For example:
utm_medium=affiliate, utm_medium=display, utm_medium=email, utm_medium=social, etc.
UTM Best Practices
Before you explore and unfold the power of UTM tracking, keep in mind the following best practices.
Use Google Analytics Properly
When users open your website, part of the code that is executed is GA script. That piece of code can help you deciphers how visitors got to your website by checking the referral URL.
You must ensure that GA gets as much genuine data as possible about how the web visitors who found and clicked on your site. If you don’t use UTM tags, GA will not be able to draw out more detailed info about the users.
Never Use UTMs for Internal Links
Google Analytics starts a new session for every new visitor when he/she arrives on your URL that has a UTM parameter attached to it. GA assumes that you use UTMs only for external links and resets the session-level data for each session. It’s like one user visited your website multiple times, and every metric will be changed and reset over and over.
When using UTM parameters it is critical to stay consistent because the lack of consistency means lack of focus, and as a result, you’ll only get a fragmentary data about the users. For example, if you send out a daily or weekly email newsletter and you want to capture the data, you need to use the same format and naming convention to make your sorting and analysis much easier.
UTMs are case-sensitive, so ‘twitter’, ‘Twitter’, and ‘TwiTter’ will be tracked individually, which will always provide you with inconsistent data about your Twitter campaign. Also, stay away from spaces when naming your UTM tags. An “organic linkedin” will become “organic20%linkedin” when people open the URL, and that looks and feels bad.
Use a Spreadsheet to Track UTM Links
When you start using UTM parameters for your marketing campaign, you need to maintain a track record to ensure that everyone that is involved in the campaign is in tune with its progress. You’ll need a spreadsheet that can help you track the shortened and full URL, and as well for all of the individual UTM codes that you use in those URLs.
In a nutshell, UTM parameters provide you with a rich supply of user behavioral data. It’s really not hard to see the benefits from using them for your ad campaigns, and because they’re also customizable, there is an abundance of ways to integrate them and boost your marketing efforts in the process.
Now that you have the knowledge and you know the benefits of using UTM tags, you need to start utilizing them. We’re excited to hear how you’ve applied them in your marketing strategy!