As an (digital) marketeer, you know that leading quality traffic to your website is essential. Being able to show that the traffic and possible conversions have in fact derived from that specific article or banner campaign, is obviously essential for drawing up a good report. Only then you will be able to get your client’s or managers enthusiasm which will free up more budget next time and this in turn will lead to even more traffic and conversions. So why use UTM codes and what are UTM codes?
Adding UTM tags to URL’s that are used on other websites, gives insight into what the campaign has achieved.
So what exactly are UTM links?
UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) are regular URL’s but with max. five parameters/variables added. These parameters are processed by Google Analytics and (when setup the right way) other Analytics tools. The corresponding data can then be seen in the campaigns (and other reports) overview under acquisition within Google Analytics, which gives instant insight into the performance of that specific UTM code.
A method from 1993 gives the right insight even now
The UTM parameters are actually nothing more than five HTTP GET variables that are added to a URL. This method has been used since the beginning of the internet in 1993.
Every UTM parameter contains two elements:
- UTM Variable: The variable indicates which information it contains. In total there are five defined variables: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign, utm_content and utm_term. We will go deeper into these variables at a later stage.
- The value of that variable: this is the value that every variable contains. With utm_medium for instance, this could be: Facebook, Linkedin etc.
The structure of a UTM code
A UTM code is structured as follows. A question mark (?) is placed after the URL, followed by the first variable and after the variable, the value is added using the ‘=’ sign. The next variables and values are separated by the ampersand (&) instead of a question mark (?).
Example of a UTM link:
What data can be incorporated into a UTM code?
There are five UTM parameters in total. The first three (source, medium, and campaign) parameters are used most often. The other two (content and term) add additional information.
What is the source from where the traffic derives. A few examples are: Linkedin, Google, Bing or the name of an email mailinglist.
The ‘medium’ says something about the type of traffic that lead the visitor inside. A few examples are: cpc, email, social, display etc.
This is the name of a specific campaign. For example: action1, partner1 etc.
When an expression has multiple UTM links, then the utm_content parameter will indicate which link was clicked by the visitor. For example an eDM (electronic direct mail) with a link in the content, cta and footer. By naming these items the same way in the utm_content, it can also be determined at a later stage which link provided the most traffic.
This parameter is almost always used by paid search ads and contains the search term which lead to the visitor clicking the UTM link.
UTM Star tips:
- Always use lowercase. For example Display and display are seen as two different medium types.
- Visit your Google Analytics view to see what kind of medium are already in use and re-use those instead of creating new variants.
How to create a UTM code
Of course you can add the different UTM parameters to a URL yourself, but this will take more time and is more error prone than using our UTM Generator. There you place the URL and easily fill out the data for the different parameters. Your UTM link is now ready to use.
How to use UTM codes
Time needed: 10 minutes.
Once you have created the UTM link(s), you can then incorporate them into all of your expressions. This could be a Linkedin campaign where you differentiate between an organic post, an ad on Linkedin, but also a referral on a partner’s website.
Below a short summary:
- Collect the necessary information
How will you be naming the campaign, on which medium and from which source will the UTM link be placed. This could optionally be supplemented with that specific link’s content and term.
- Create the UTM link
Create the UTM link manually or use a tool like the one from UTM Star. read all about the UTM Generator.
- Use the created UTM link(s)
Use the UTM links you created instead of the regular links in the article, banner, newsletter etc.
- Save the UTM links
To easily see afterwards which link belongs to which campaign, it is wise to archive them. You will also be able to easily reuse them.
UTM Star makes this proces vert easy. Created UTM codes are saved directly and can easy be managed and replicated form the dashboard
- Analyse the performances
Use Google Analytics, another tracking tool or the UTMStar dashboard to gain insight into the UTM link(s) performances.
There are so many possible uses that we can’t name them all. It is most important to name them well and clear so they can easily be retraced, but also by saving them in a central location. This way you will have a clear overview where you can also reuse or adjust the UTM links.
How to make the performances of the UTM links insightful
Once someone has clicked on the UTM link in one of your campaigns, and you have installed Google Analytics correctly, then the performances will become visible. Below are three possibilities to make the UTM performances insightful:
Create a custom report
- Go to: customization > custom reports > new custom report
- Metric group: select the metrics you want to analyse. For example: sessions, pages/session, Bounce Rate, Goal completions, Time on Page
- Dimension drilldown: select for example: Campaign, Medium/source, Ad Content.
Use the standard campaign report
- Go to: acquisition > campaigns > all campaigns
- The campaigns are visible instantly as a standard setting. You can also use the navigation at the top of the chart to select the source or medium.
Add the campaigns to other reports
- Select a (standard) report as desired
- Choose ‘Secondary dimension’ (at the top of the chart) and select: campaign. The report is now extended with the extra dimension ‘campaign’.
Which method of UTM tracking will work best for you is of course dependant on the insights you wish to gain and also your personal preference. Do you have any questions about UTM Tracking? Don’t hesitate to contact us.