UTM Tracking Codes - Your Guide to Successful Campaign Tracking

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There is nothing worse than working hard on a marketing campaign, and realising you are unable to track which specific parts of the campaign generated results. 

As marketers, we know it is super important to have the data to prove return on investment to clients and show what is working and what isn’t. This not only keeps the client informed but allows us to make data-driven decisions.

So if you’re running a campaign, can you tell which LinkedIn posts are driving the most conversions? Do you know which email campaign is generating the most revenue? 

If you don't, then you need UTM tracking. 

 

WHAT IS A UTM CODE?

A UTM code, which stands for ‘Urchin Tracking Module’ is a snippet of simple code that you can add to the end of a URL to track the performance of campaigns and marketing activities. 

There are five elements of URL parameters you can track - source, medium, campaign, term, and content. The elements that you track via UTM codes are included in your Google Analytics reports to give you a clearer insight into performance.

If you don’t already have it or need help setting up Google Analytics, check out our blog on how to get started. 



UTM PARAMETERS

Of the five different UTM parameters, the first three (source, medium, and campaign) are the most used and I would recommend always including them. However, for additional insight, you may want to track all five. Here's what you can track with each:

  • Source: the referrer of the visits. The platform where the traffic originally comes from e.g. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn.

  • Medium: the channel medium. You can use this to identify the medium such as social media, ‘cost-per-click (CPC), affiliate, or email. 

  • Campaign: the name of the campaign. This is just so you can easily identify your campaign. For example, a specific product promotion.

  • Term: typically used for paid traffic only. This would be the keyword used for search ads. For other ad platforms, such as social media platforms, it can be used to identify the audience or the level below the campaign. For example, the ad set in Facebook.

  • Content: again, typically used for paid traffic only and identifies the ad’s content. This helps to recognise individual ads, e.g. “red static-image” or the name of the headline. If you’re A/B testing ads, this is a handy metric that sends information about the ads. 

PARAMETER

EXPLANATION

EXAMPLE

Source

The referrer of the visits

Google - Facebook - Mailchimp - Bing

Medium

The marketing/channel medium

CPC, organic, email, referral, direct

Campaign

The name of the campaign

summer_engineering_brand

Term

Keyword when used for search ads. For other ad platforms, this is typically used for identifying the audience or the level below the campaign

marketing _agency marketing_services

Content

The ad's content. Typically used for identifying individual ads

blue_banner

If you want to track the performance of your marketing activity on a campaign level, then you need to use the source, medium, and campaign tags. If you want to track performance to a more granular ads level, then you need to use all five parameters.

 

HOW TO CREATE A UTM CODE

You can either manually create a UTM code or, if it’s easier, use Google’s URL builder.

To use it, simply enter your website address. After this, you’ll need to enter the campaign source as a minimum. All of the other parameters are optional.

 

GUIDELINES FOR TAGGING UTMs

  • Tag all traffic that you have control over

Even unpaid traffic and links in emails that you send out can be tagged. If a third-party tool is used, it usually has an option to tag URLs. Some great examples of tools that offer tagging options are HubSpot and Mailchimp, but many tools allow it. A good starting place is to look through all your traffic in Google Analytics and identify the traffic that is not tagged and try to figure out a way to tag it. There will be traffic that you cannot tag, such as accurate referral URLs which include links from industry journals or partnering websites, and also traffic that really is direct traffic, but this is not a problem. 

  • UTMs are case sensitive

UTM tags are case sensitive, so it is recommended that lower case is always used. 

  • Track your UTM links inside a spreadsheet

Keeping a record of the tagged links will ensure that the various members of your marketing team are all on the same page and there is visibility on what is being tracked and what isn’t. 

  • Be consistent when setting UTM tags

It is important that you always use the same tag format if it’s part of the same campaign. If different people in your organization interchangeably use “email_marketing” and “email” for the same type of traffic, you will have a hard time aggregating your data. If you stay consistent, you can avoid a lot of confusion and ensure that you can easily report on your UTMs.

  • Consider always setting the medium tag for paid traffic to CPC

Google’s auto-tagging sets paid traffic as CPC (cost per click), so all paid traffic from Google Ads will appear this way in Google Analytics unless you add your own tags. Continuing to follow this convention makes it easier to filter out paid traffic. 

  • Decide on a consistent way to handle a situation where you make changes to campaigns that will impact the UTM tags

The campaign, term, and content tags depend on the campaign name, keyword or targeting, and ad creative that has been chosen. If you make changes to any of these after you have launched the ads you have two choices; you can either leave the UTM parameters as they are or you have the option to change them to reflect the new changes. We would recommend that you change the UTM tags to reflect the changes, as this way you know there will always be consistency, and you’ll be able to track the impact of any changes on the campaign. 

 

IN CONCLUSION

  • UTM codes are used to track traffic to your website that might otherwise fall into generic categories. The codes allow you to generate more detailed and useful data that can be used to make insightful recommendations or prove ROI to clients or stakeholders. 

  • There are five elements you can track with UTM codes: source, medium, campaign, term, and content.

  • You don’t have to use all five, but we recommend using source, medium, and campaign as a minimum.

  • When you decide to use UTM tracking, create a plan, document the tags, and keep them consistent. Before you know it, creating UTM codes will be second nature.

If you want some help with tracking a campaign, get in touch with the FINALLY team for a chat.

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