Your complete guide on making UTM tracking work for you
jun. 09, 2020
Are you looking for a way to easily and effectively track your traffic? A way to simply gather insights from web traffic about the effectiveness of your campaigns?
This is where UTM tracking comes into play. Tracking UTM codes in Google Analytics is a fantastic method to learn more about your ad campaign, mediums, and sources.
Read on to get a full guide on UTM tracking codes and how they can benefit your business.
Um, but what is UTM tracking?
What does UTM stand for? Well, simply put, a UTM or Urchin Traffic Monitor is a small piece of code that can be attached to the end of a URL link. This small piece of code assists marketers with tracking their web visitors, campaigns, or sources.
UTM tracking codes allow analytics to identify many different aspects, for instance, where web visitors came from (their source) and which ad campaign the visitor clicked on to come to the site.
An example of a UTM code could look like this:
The UTM parameters, in red, can be easily seen in a website’s URL. For this particular example, we can see the utm_source= Facebook. This UTM tracking shows that this particular visitor came from Facebook, or the source of the visit was from Facebook.
We will go more in-depth into UTM tracking codes later on. But, overall, UTM tracking is an excellent way to further understand your traffic. UTM tracking helps identify which sources, campaigns, mediums, keywords, and content is most effective at bringing in hot leads and potential customers.
Get back on the right track
With UTM tracking, you can track a few different dimensions at the same time. There are 5 basic UTM tracking codes that are common and relatively easy to implement:
- Campaign Source: just like in the example above, this is the platform where the visitors came from. This can be Facebook, Google, email newsletter etc.
- Campaign Medium: the medium is used to determine which channel the visitor used to come to the site. For instance, the visitor could have clicked on an affiliate link, cost per click, paid social media link, or perhaps a QR code.
- Campaign Term: this UTM tracking code is mainly used for tracking keywords during paid campaigns.
- Campaign Content: Similar to A/B Facebook ad testing, you can A/B test your ads. The content metric is useful for quickly describing the content of your ads.
For example, maybe you have 2 very similar ads with different CTAs, you can name the campaign content differently to indicate the difference in CTAs in the ad, and then test which is most effective.
It’s been shown that marketing returns are 37% higher in emails by brands who A/B test their emails than brands who do not test their emails, making this parameter super useful!
- Campaign Name: pretty simple, this UTM tracking code is for identifying your campaign. This could be your website, product, or ad campaign title. The list is endless, just make sure you make it clear to avoid any confusion later down the line.
With these 5 simple UTMs, you can track a variety of different metrics that will be useful to analysing your next campaign. There are, of course, many different UTM tracking codes, but these 5 are the most fundamental and a great starting point.
If you are looking for something more advanced, you can read Google Analytics’ guide here.
Get deeper insights with UTM tracking
There are a few reasons why you should use UTM tracking in your campaigns. This small piece of code has huge potential and can open your eyes to a world of data and insights, that you can use to your advantage. Check out the reasons why you should be using UTM tracking in your next campaign below.
Where is your traffic coming from?
If you want to know more information on where exactly your traffic is coming from, then UTM tracking is the right place to start. By adding the source, medium, and campaign parameter, you can easily identify the exact sources of your traffic.
Want to know the differences between each channel? Then check out Google’s guidelines of channel definition here.
According to Google’s guidelines, direct traffic includes visitors that have clicked on links in eBooks, emails or other offline content. Direct searches are not just visitors that have typed your URL into their browsers.
So, using UTM tracking allows you to further clarify which direct sources are bringing traffic to your site. Rather than these sources being categorised as direct, you can identify specifics.
For instance, if you were to create a newsletter that features links to your website, you could add UTM tracking to the links, just like this:
Then when it comes to Google Analytics, you can then filter your results by each direct source and identify which sources are best at generating leads and traffic.
A chain is no stronger than its weakest link
The great thing about UTM tracking is that you can identify which links are successful at generating traffic, and which are not.
Let’s say you send out regular email newsletters that feature a few catchy CTAs and interesting links to back up your claims and justify your services.
Wouldn’t it be useful to know which links are actually being clicked? Which CTA is most effective at generating leads?
Well, this is where UTM tracking comes into play. By adding the utm_content parameter to the various links in your newsletter, you can easily track the number of clicks each link receives.
For instance, say you have two separate codes for shoes and handbags. You can easily insert UTM tracking codes on these links to understand which is more effective at gaining clicks.
In Google Analytics’ results, you will easily be able to identify which link in this campaign gains more clicks and therefore traffic. Easy, right?
Make things easier by grouping
UTM tracking provides you with the easiest method of gaining a deeper understanding of your traffic. With the utm_medium parameter, you can easily track which channel is performing well.
Say, for instance, that you’re running a campaign that has been shared on your social media pages. When it comes to analysing these links in Google Analytics, both paid and organic Facebook Twitter, Instagram etc clicks all come under the one social channel.
By adding the medium parameter to your URLs for Facebook or Twitter, you can easily differentiate between paid results and organic results.
The medium UTM tracking code is particularly useful for separating paid and organic traffic.
Different campaigns, different results
Tracking your campaigns with UTM tracking is probably one of the most useful parameters. Easily track your campaigns by inserting the utm_campaign parameter into the URLs.
Let’s assume you are running numerous campaigns at the same time. Would it not be useful to identify which campaign is drawing in the most leads/conversions?
With the campaign parameter, you could name all your links with the same campaign name to group them together, even though they are from different sources.
For example, say you are running a 50% off discount campaign, you could create links like these:
This way, you’ll be able to get a complete, comprehensive overview of which campaign is performing well from all associated sources and mediums.
So, how exactly do I use a UTM tracker?
There are two ways you can insert UTM tracking in your site’s codes. It’s not too complex, and even if you decide to include the codes, your site will still load as it normally would.
Manually add UTM tracking codes
Adding UTM codes manually to your URLs is pretty straightforward. If you’re looking to add a single UTM tracking code, for example, utm_campaign, then you can easily type this at the end of your link without any problems.
So, you would end up with a link like this:
This is an easy and effective way to insert UTM tracking to your site. If you are looking to add multiple UTM codes, then the second method of inserting UTM codes is most likely easier and quicker.
Google URL builder
Tracking UTM codes in Google Analytics is super simple. This tool creates an easy to follow guide on building URLs that fit with your tracking goals and campaigns.
As you fill in the boxes, the tool generates a URL for you to use on your next campaign, including UTM tracking codes.
You are then able to copy and paste this link as many times as you like. Keep in mind that this particular link is associated with one specific campaign.
If you require a new link for a new campaign, remember to build a fresh URL from scratch, or your results will be cross-contaminated.
3 easy UTM tracking tips
Before you dive into creating all your awesome UTM tracking codes, we’ve gathered a few quick tips to help make your UTM journey a bit easier.
1. Synchronise your names
It is vital to ensure that every member on your team is using the same names for your UTM tracking codes.
Nothing will mess up your data more, than half of your team using “twitter.com” and the other using “TWTR” under the source UTM parameter.
Agree on a name for each parameter before beginning a campaign. Discuss with your teammates whether the name should have dashes or maybe underscores? Perhaps all lowercase?
Choose a name that is, obviously, relevant to the parameter, and stick with it. We recommend using lowercase UTM tracking codes to create the least confusing name.
Whatever name you settle on, make sure it is communicated to all of those involved to avoid incomplete data results at the end!
2. Keep it simple
This may be obvious, but we recommend keeping the naming on your UTM tracking codes simple. There is no need for a long-winded, unspecified name to your campaign when you can name the campaign easily and simply.
For instance, in this URL, you can easily understand what the company are tracking, and through which source:
Whereas, this link is little more confusing, and doesn’t really specify any parameters:
Naming your UTM tracking codes will help you to easily and quickly identify your campaigns. Again, this will lead to less confusion down the line and simplify your whole analytical process.
3. Keep it short
Once you’ve gotten the hang of UTM tracking, you can start to create a more complex and in-depth analysis. The more UTM tracking codes you have on your link, the longer the URL link will become.
But, long-winded URLs don’t appear very aesthetic, especially when sharing on social media pages like Twitter, where the character limit is pretty low.
A way to fix this is to utilise a link shortener tool like Bitly. Here, you can easily shorten your link to create something a bit more attractive. You can also have a look at HubSpot’s suggestions on other link shortening tools to get inspiration.
Also, don’t worry about your UTM tracking when you shorten links. They will still work as normal. The only difference is that the links look better and more manageable.
Some interesting UTM code examples
Let’s take a quick look at some UTM code examples. All of these links have been built well and are pretty easy to understand for the most part, but some have slight downfalls.
You can easily understand the UTM tracking in this example without having any prior context or background into their campaign.
Their source, medium, campaign, and content are easy to read and leave no room for confusion or any misunderstanding. A well-executed effort from KFC!
Again, another well-executed UTM code example. This particular link has been associated with affiliate medium, which is easily read from the URL.
The campaign is comprised of numbers, which is a little hard to read. But with a global brand like H&M, this is to be expected due to the number of campaigns they release. No doubt, there is some sort of internal communication on which campaign code is for which campaign.
For Swappie, the campaign name is a little hard to understand, especially with the percentage signs and acronyms. There is a slight risk of confusion here, due to the difficulty to read the long campaign name.
Nevertheless, the medium and placement UTM is spot on and super easy to read.
Knowledge is power
Now that you know the basics of UTM tracking, you can easily utilise this in your next campaign. Make your data work hard and reap the benefits of possessing these in-depth insights.