UTM code or "Urchin Tracking Module" code is a string of text added to the end of a URL to track where your website’s traffic is coming from. It narrows down the source, medium, campaign, and even the term that directed the traffic there in the first place.
UTM codes help you understand the performance of your marketing channels with accurate attribution data. You can calculate the impact of your campaigns and determine which channels are bringing in the most traffic and conversions. Without UTMs, it’s difficult to accurately measure the success of your marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions.
Why are UTMs important?
UTMs allow you to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. You can see which channels – even specific posts and terms – are driving traffic to your website and how that traffic is interacting with your content. With this information, you can make data-driven decisions about where to allocate your marketing budget.
For example, if you run an ad campaign on Facebook and another one on Instagram, UTM codes can show the platform that’s driving better traffic and sales. You can also track the performance of individual ads, landing pages, and creatives within each campaign and optimize your ads for best results.
What can you track with UTMs?
UTM codes are highly customizable, which means you can create unique codes for each campaign, channel, and content. This allows you to track the performance of individual elements within a campaign and make informed decisions about which elements to optimize or eliminate.
But with high customization comes complexity (at first glance). Let's take a UTM example and break it down:
While this link seems long and confusing at first, it’s actually pretty straightforward:
The string of keywords after “?” are UTM codes.
- utm_source=g2 : This UTM code shows the source as G2.
- utm_medium=profile: This shows the “medium” of exactly where the traffic is coming from. In this case, it’s our profile on G2.
- utm_content=trial_cta: The content refers to the exact post or button that pushed the audience to land on the final page. In this case, it’s the trial button.
There are five parameters that you can track with UTM codes: source, medium, campaign, term, and content.
Here's a breakdown of each parameter:
1. Source: UTM source code tracks the specific website a customer came from ahead of their purchase. For example, if you're running a campaign on a third-party website and you want to track how many users clicked through to your website from that campaign, you can use the source parameter to identify the source of the traffic.
UTM Example code: &utm_source=quora, where the source of the traffic is Quora.
2. Medium: This parameter tracks the channel a customer came from, like email, social media, organic search, paid search, and referral.
UTM Example code: &utm_medium=cpc, where the traffic came via a paid ad.
3. Campaign: This parameter tracks specific marketing campaigns. For example, if you're running a launch campaign, you can use the UTM campaign code to identify traffic and conversions that came specifically from that campaign.
UTM Example code: &utm_campaign=launch-campaign
4. Term: This parameter tracks the search term that a customer used to find your page.
UTM Example code: &utm_term=nonstick-cookware
5. Content: UTM content code tracks where the customer clicked ahead of their purchase.
UTM Example code: &utm_content=sidebar-CTA
How to Create UTMs
You can create UTM codes in two ways: manually or by using a URL builder.
There’s a free Google Campaign URL Builder, which is integrated with Google Analytics. Here's a step-by-step guide to creating UTMs using Google's Campaign URL Builder:
- Navigate to Google's Campaign URL Builder.
- Enter the URL of the page you want to track.
- Fill in the fields, including source, medium, and campaign name.
- Optional fields include term and content.
- Once you've filled in the necessary fields, click "Generate URL" to generate a unique UTM code for your campaign.
- Copy the generated UTM code and use it in your campaign.
UTM codes can become lengthy and unwieldy, which can make them difficult to use and share. To optimize your codes, you can use URL shorteners like Bitly or TinyURL to condense your UTM codes into shorter, more manageable links.
How to View UTM Code Performance in Google Analytics
Once you've created your UTM codes and incorporated them into your campaigns, you need to track their performance. Google Analytics is a powerful tool for tracking UTM code performance, including the ability to view UTM code data alongside other website performance metrics.
If you’re already using Google Analytics, it’ll automatically sync the UTM codes’ traffic to your dashboard.
Here's a quick overview of how to view your UTM code performance in Google Analytics:
- Log in to your Google Analytics account and navigate to the "Acquisition" section.
- Click "Campaigns" to view your campaign data.
- Select "All Campaigns" to view data for all campaigns, or select a specific campaign to view data for that campaign only.
- Use the "Primary Dimension" dropdown menu to view data by source, medium, campaign, or other UTM parameter.
- Use the "Secondary Dimension" dropdown menu to view data by other metrics, such as the landing page or device category.
Best Practices for UTM Tracking
1. Establish a naming convention and stay consistent
Choose a clear and consistent naming convention for your UTM parameters and stick to it across all of your campaigns. This will give you organized UTM tracking data and make it easier to analyze and compare performance across campaigns.
2. Keep UTM names short and consistent
Keep your UTM names short and simple to avoid confusion and errors. Consistency is key, so use the same names for each parameter across all of your campaigns. It’ll also make it easier to share links with your audience.
3. Track UTM performance across CRM and analytics platforms
Make sure you're tracking UTM performance across all of your marketing platforms, including your CRM if it has UTM tracking capabilities. This will help you get a complete picture of your marketing performance and make data-driven decisions about where to allocate your resources.
4. Pay attention to capitalization
UTM codes are case-sensitive, so use consistent capitalization when creating your codes. If you’ve created a UTM code with small case letters, keep it consistent when sharing links.
5. Don’t neglect other metrics
Don't rely on UTM tracking data alone to make decisions about your marketing strategy. Use it in conjunction with other performance metrics to get a complete picture of your marketing performance.
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