Tracking with UTM Codes

Wondering what the heck a UTM code is? UTM is short for Urchin Tracking Module…. okay, okay that is the last of any technical jargon we’ll use for the remainder of this post. We promise. Although it may sound complex, a UTM is actually a very simple code you can attach to a custom URL which sends back valuable information to Google Analytics.

The UTM tracks the source, medium and campaign name of a single URL, which enables Google Analytics to sort your traffic based on where it came from, as well as what campaign directed them to you.

UTM’s can be used in both online and offline campaigns, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus from an online perspective.

Breaking it Down:

The Source

The source should describe the “referrer” meaning the platform you shared the link to, that’s now sending the traffic to your website.

e.g. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

By adding the source to the link, you’re tagging every visit that comes from that link and telling Google, “this visitor came from Twitter”

The Medium

The medium parameter should describe the marketing channel in which the traffic came from.

e.g. Social, Display, Email

For example, say you’re running two types of ad buys through one publisher at the same time; a display ad & an email blast, including the medium will help you determine which ad type from the same source drove what traffic.

Here's how you would create your parameters:

Ad 1

Source= the_herald

Medium= display

Campaign= fall_sale

 

Ad 2

Source=the_herald

Medium=email

Campaign=fall_sale

This will help Google sort your traffic to help you determine which of your advertising efforts directed the most traffic to your website.

The Campaign

Including the campaign term allows you to identify the specific product promotion or strategic campaign that drove the traffic to your website.

 

But…. why?

In case you're wondering why you'd go to the trouble of creating a UTM code, here’s an example of how this small snippet of code can help you in a big way.

Let’s say you’re running a Facebook ad campaign, but you’re testing two versions of creative. You can set UTM parameters to tell you which traffic came to you from which ad, to help you determine the creative set that drove the most traffic to your site.

Here's an example of how you can create your parameters in this scenario:

Ad 1

Source=facebook

Medium=social

Campaign=image_1

 

Ad 2

Source=facebook

Medium=social

Campaign=image_2

Once you’ve determined the values you want to track, you’re all set to create your custom URL. Many platforms like HootSuite & HubSpot offer their own built-in URL builders, but I like to use Google’s free URL builder.  

Simply enter the values into the parameters and click the button “generate URL”

Here is an example of how you might layout your UTM code template 

Once you've determined your parameters, this is what your URL will look like

www.simplysocialmarketing.ca/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=tracking_tips

Now that you’ve successfully created your UTM code, you’re probably wondering where you go to find all this valuable data.

Head over to your Google Analytics account and under “Acquisition” on the right hand side, select “All Traffic -> Source/Medium” once you’re on this screen, you’ll want to add a secondary dimension under ‘Advertising’ called ‘campaign’.

This will pull up the source/medium & campaign parameters you entered when you created your UTM code. And there you have it, UTM tagging.

Now you’re on the right track to getting the insights you need to properly measure your marketing efforts. Give it a try!

Have questions? Give us a shout.