Understanding UTM parameters and accurate your data

UTM parameters are used to track the performance of your online marketing campaigns, social media campaigns and content.

Introduction 

In the dynamic landscape of online marketing, having a way to measure the impact of your marketing and the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns is important for your business. Of importance, is to track the performance of your online marketing campaigns and understand how users are getting your content. One of the primary ways to track the performance of your online campaigns and tell where most of your traffic is coming from is using UTM parameters alongside Google analytics or any other web analytics tool. 

In this article, we shall delve into the world of UTM parameters, explain what UTM parameters are and how they you can embed them to your marketing campaigns URLs and displaying insights using google analytics 

What is a UTM parameter?

UTM parameters (Urchin Tracking Module parameters) are simple code snippets that you can add to the end the URLs of your marketing campaigns and promotions to track information such as how users are coming to your website and whether they are interacting with your content. 

They consist of five key tags that you can use to track the source, medium, campaign, term  and content of a link and the dimensions tracked are shown in google analytics reports to give one a clearer insight on market performance. 

The source parameter or tag for example helps to track the source of the traffic which could be facebook ads or twitter. An example of a UTM code embedded to a URL could look like this;

https://yourwebsite.com/your-post-title/?utm_source=google

The part of the URL starting after the ‘?’ is the UTM code and it has two components namely the UTM parameter and the tracking variable. The UTM parameter, which always starts with UTM, consists of the keyword UTM and the parameter which you want to track which could be source (utm_source), medium (utm_medium) etc. The tracking variable is a unique variable used to identify the dimension being tracked and is preceded by the ‘=’ sign. Read through to this article to learn how to create and embed UTM codes in Google analytics.

 

Why are UTM parameters important?

UTM parameters help Google analytics or any other analytic tool being used to track the source of one’s site visitors which provides crucial insights for agencies on how impactful various social media and other marketing campaigns have been, aiding in making informed decisions that shape future marketing strategies.

What can you track with UTM parameters? 

There are five different UTM parameters which are useful in acquiring different insights from your marketing campaigns and tell which sources are leading to more traffic. The first three parameters are the most used, consisting of (source, medium and campaign) while the next two (term and content) are useful for acquiring additional insights including the paid keywords you are targeting with your campaign and the exact element on your ad promotion that was clicked. 

Here is what each parameter can be used to track: 

  • Traffic source 
    The traffic source parameter (utm_source) can be used to track where the traffic originated from which could be from social media sources such as facebook, twitter, google, inbound.org, Bing or the name of an email list. An example of a traffic parameter that can track the source of traffic includes &utm_source=twitter. 
  • Medium 
    The medium parameter (utm_medium) is used to track the type of traffic a visitor originated from which could be Cost Per Click, email, social, referral, display etc. For example, the medium UTM parameter can be used to differentiate between paid social media ads and organic social media traffic based on a viral post for example and is exemplified by the following (&utm_medium=cpc). 
  • Campaign Name
    The campaign parameter is used to track the performance of a certain campaign and can help differentiate between traffic from different facebook ads, email campaigns or even google ads campaign ID. An example would include: &utm_campaign=example-campaign
  • Content
    If two different links are pointing to the same URL, the content parameter can be used to tell which of two links are driving more traffic or rather which link was clicked. This parameter can be used as well to give identity (with an ID or name) to various paid keywords or even YouTube videos to be able to tell which video or words drive more traffic.
  • Keyword term
    The term keyword parameter (&utm_term) can be used to establish which keyword a visitor came from which can necessitate or lead to the use of paid search. 

How to embed UTM parameters? 

Two of the most popular ways to create UTM codes and embed them to the URL are the manual method and using google URL builder.  

Manual method 

This simply entails typing the UTM code manually at the end of your campaign URL which could at the bare minimum involve just adding the name of a campaign or source to the URL. 

Example: If you are running a social media campaign to promote a brand of shoes ‘xyz’, you can have your UTM code appear as such: 

‘https://www.example.com/product-xyz-shoes?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=xyz_shoes_launch&utm_content=ad1’ where:

utm_source: Identifies the source as Facebook. 

utm_medium: Specifies the medium as social. 

utm_campaign: Names the campaign as “XYZ Shoes Launch.” 

utm_content: Differentiates the content as “Ad 1.”

 

Google URL builder 

Alternatively, you can use the google URL builder to create your UTM codes available here. You can find this here.

How to display UTM code performance using Google Analytics? 

You can track the performance of your campaigns once you have added your UTM code to the campaign URL in Google analytics in different reports. 

Create a custom report under “Customization” > “Custom Reports”. Add Medium, Campaign, or Source as a dimension and the metrics you want to view.

Go to Acquisition → Overview → All Traffic → Source/Medium to view traffic.

Go to Acquisition → Campaigns → All Campaigns to view traffic based on your custom campaign names.

Takeaways

  • Having a way to measure the impact of your marketing and the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns is important for your business.
  • UTM parameters alongside google analytics or any other web analytics tool provide a way to track the sources of traffic to a site. 
  • UTM parameters (Urchin Tracking Module parameters) are simple code snippets that you can add to the end the URLs of your marketing and promotions to track information.
  • They consist of five key tags that you can use to track the source, medium, campaign, term  and content of a link and the dimensions tracked are shown in google analytics reports to give one a clearer insight on market performance.
  • A UTM code has two components namely the UTM parameter and the tracking variable.
  • UTM parameters are important as they help google analytics or any other analytic tool in use to track the source of one’s visitors
  • UTM parameters can be used to track various areas including the campaign source, medium, campaign name and even keywords using the various parameters. 
  • To create a link with a UTM code, you can use the manual method or use the Google URL builder for that purpose.
  • You can track the performance of your campaigns once you have added your UTM code to the campaign URL in Google analytics in different reports

 

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