A successful marketing campaign does not only increase your website traffic or bloat lead conversion rate. It provides insight on how to be successful in your next campaign. This is because one of the most valuable assets in marketing is to identify where things went haywire in your previous campaign.

It’s easier to come up with new strategies in your campaigns if you can find the major sources of your customers. With such data, marketers can target the underperforming campaign channels for new strategies. For instance, a fashion company could have a lot to address if they record lower ROI with ads on Snapchat compare to a pension company. The performance data of each campaign channel also helps marketers to ascertain if they are actually exploiting the full potential of the platform/channel, with respect to their niche.

These figures are made possible by UTM parameters.

What are the UTM parameters?

Sometimes referred to as UTM tags, Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters are text strings appended to the URL of a webpage meant to bring leads from another website. UTM tags provide information about how each person that has been referred from another page landed on your website. Google Analytics or any other analytics software would categorize each traffic source by parsing these tags, thereby, providing more detailed information about sources of your website traffic.

Let’s see how UTM tags look in a URL:

https://webfactoryltd.com/wordpress-products/?utm_source=google&utm_campaign=winter_sale&utm_medium=email

Three UTM parameters can be seen appended to the base URL above. The tags, which are all in red color, began right after the “?” string. They signify a UTM tag followed by equality (=) sign and the assigned value for the tag. An Ampersand indicates the end of each tag, except for the last parameter. The most frequently used UTM tags: utm_source, utm_campaign, and utm_medium are the only tags in the example above.

But that’s not all the UTM parameters. The remaining two tags are not compulsory and used occasionally. They are utm_term and utm_content; used to track clicked paid keywords and to differentiate links, respectively.

The various UTM parameters and their functions

UTM Name UTM parameter Function Example
Source utm_source Tracks the source of the click Google
Campaign utm_campaign Tracks campaign name, which is usually assigned by the marketer winter_sales
Medium utm_medium Tracks campaign medium email
Term utm_term Tracks keywords used in paid ads clothing+stores
Content utm_content Tracks different links or ads pointing to the same URL email_link

How UTM parameters work

With UTM tags appended to all the URLs in your digital campaign, the following process takes place.

  1. Visitors will click on the UTM codes leading to your website
  2. For every link taking your visitors to your webpage, the analytics software (let’s say Google Analytics) will capture the UTM parameters alongside their values and store them categorically.
  3. Using the stored data from Google Analytics, you can gain accurate insights into your traffic sources and campaign performance.

The process above will provide you with a simple means of measuring the effectiveness of each marketing campaign by comparing the number of visitors they were able to deliver.

Why do you need UTM parameters?

UTM tags allow you to track every aspect of your digital marketing. From the traffic sources to the results delivered by different campaigns. The data from UTM parameters allows you to find out the influence of each platform on your brand, the specific campaigns, and content that influence your customers to click through. You need UTM data to satisfy your existing audience and grow a broader customer base since it’s easy to implement UTM tags.

UTM parameters help you to unambiguously identify the best performer among your paid advertising, socials, website banners, blog posts, and other digital marketing campaigns.

Interestingly, you are also able to identify underperformed campaign(s). The data scraps a need for any form of investigation, such as surveys, to track your traffic events.

What you could do with UTM parameters

  • Discover your most effective call to action format: This could be possible by finding out about the exact links that visitors clicked concerning their call to action format.
  • Discover the campaigns/channels to invest more: Gain knowledge about the impact of your various campaigns by comparing their results to find out where you could invest more. You can also evaluate how different channels are performing for a set of campaigns or a particular campaign.
  • Discover your most valuable keywords: By evaluating how specific keywords are performing in your paid ads, you could find out about the most valuable keywords in your business.
  • Clearly understand your marketing efforts and ROI: UTM tags data gives you the ability to know the exact formats that work best and where you must fine-tune.

How to implement UTM parameters in a marketing campaign

Implementing UTM tags in your marketing campaign is simply to append the parameters alongside the values in your campaign URLs, for every channel. The process of generating UTM tags bearing links could be manual or automatic. However, you must have an analytics tool setup for your website for catching the parameters when visitors use any of the links to land on your website. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to implement UTM parameters correctly.

Step 1: Choose a naming convention

First, choose a naming convention to make your data reportable. You could choose to use plus signs, dashes, underscores, or a percentage to represent spaces in your URL.

Choose naming conventions

Note that UTM tags appended URLs (UTM codes) are case sensitive. It’s ideal for sticking with lowercases throughout your campaigns to attenuate discrepancies and difficulty reporting similar campaigns.

Also, keep your URLs as clean as possible, easy to read, and descriptive. For instance, you could choose “facebook” as the utm_source value for links in all your Facebook posts. Instagram posts and all tweets could be “instagram” and “twitter” respectively. For all paid advising via Google ads, you could opt for “googleads”.

The same naming convention should also apply to other UTM parameters. The utm_medium values for social media channels could be “social” while video links, email newsletters, and paid channels could be “video”, “email” and “paid” respectively.

You could include dates as a means of differentiating your campaign names but ensure to choose a consistent character for the spaces as mentioned earlier. Don’t forget to use the same value for every link across a campaign.

Step 2: Generate links with UTM parameters

After choosing a suitable naming convention for your UTM values, the next step is to generate your digital marketing URLs. This process could be manual or automatic with the help of online tools such as Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder and UTM.io.

Manual procedure

Building UTM codes is simple and very straightforward, considering the example above. Hence, you can easily type the characters at the end of your URL for each campaign and source.

Start by typing a question mark (?) at the end of your URL, followed by the UTM tag name, an equal sign, and the value. After each tag and value, use an ampersand (&) to indicate the end of each parameter. Take note of where the symbols (colored in red) are placed in the example below. The original URL is in blue.

https://webfactoryltd.com/wordpress-products/?utm_source=google&utm_campaign=winter_sale&utm_medium=email

Generating UTM codes automatically with GA Campaign URL builder

  • Open the Google Analytics campaign builder online tool. The link is here.
  • Complete the form, entering your campaign’s relevant parameters. Aside from the URL, the campaign source, medium, and name fields must be completed.
  • If you are interested in the campaign term and content or one of them, please also fill in the field(s).
  • Copy the output URL from the “Share the generated campaign URL” section below.

You may choose to shorten your generated UTM codes using any URL shortening tool, such as bit.ly.

Step 3: Use UTM links in the appropriate campaign

The final step for implementing UTM parameters is to use the generated links appropriately. Measuring your campaign effectiveness won’t be successful if the links are not placed correctly. This doesn’t just refer to placing links for a platform wrongly, such as placing links with Facebook sources in your tweets. You can’t afford to wrongly place campaign mediums in the same platform. For instance, links referring to your Instagram posts, ads, and profile.

?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=profile&utm_campaign=social

?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=ads&utm_campaign=social

?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=social

The UTM tags above must not be confused or swapped while placing your links. Depending on your goal or level of scrutiny, you may choose to combine some campaign mediums. However, separating everything possible gives you an upper edge in your analysis.

With the UTM codes directing visitors to your website from the different platforms, Google Analytics, which has been set up on your website, would track and record all the traffic information in your UTM parameters.

UTM parameters best practices

The information you have so far about UTM parameters should be enough to improve your digital marketing campaign results. But experience may be useful in helping you to fine-tune the process and to circumvent avoidable mistakes in the use of UTM tags. Here are some of the best practices.

Consider shortening your URLs

While it’s important to choose a descriptive naming convention for the values of your UTM parameters, making them shorter before using the links can be more powerful. This helps to make the URLs simpler and easier to share, mostly within the social medium platform. Though there are pitfalls in using shorter URLs, the next practice could be very useful.

Shorten URLs

Track all UTM values and links with a spreadsheet

Whether you’re a fan of shorter URLs or not, there’s a need to compile every link and their designated campaign in a spreadsheet. How do you intend to know the links for your Facebook ads if you have shortened them?

A spreadsheet ensures that you never swap the links regardless of how long the campaign is going lasts. You will be able to lay hands on the appropriate links each time there’s a need to pull them. Consider using a cloud-based spreadsheet such as Google spreadsheets. This will allow you to effectively monitor and implement UTM parameters from anywhere.

Test the links from each platform

Mistakes can be inevitable, and you can’t afford to waste your resources or ruin your brand’s reputation by campaigning with broken links. Ensure to click the links in the various platforms to verify that the links are working and will lead visitors to the intended page. This challenge is not only for manually generated UTM codes.

Consider changing the link quickly if you find out that one of your links is broken or would lead visitors to a dead end. In a situation where the links have gone out, you may rectify the issue by redirecting the page using a plugin.

Use a consistent naming convention

Naming convention consistency is coming up again as a practice because of how important it is in your marketing campaign with UTM parameters. This is to ensure that you don’t create different variations of a tracking tag for an item.

Google Analytics will track the items differently once there’s a slight change in their naming convention, and this will not yield an accurate report.

Use UTM tags in all your campaigns

There’s a need to use UTM codes in all your campaigns to accurately track your traffic campaign performance. You don’t need to worry about other links out there without UTM parameters that are sending visitors to your page. As soon as you begin to use UTM tags in your marketing campaigns, always use them in every new campaign. You could include UTM tags in the old campaigns that are still running.

Conclusion

UTM parameters are very useful in every digital marketing campaign. It’s the most resourceful tool for developing valuable insights about the performance of varying campaigns. Your website visitor’s behavioral data mined using UTM parameters can help you refine your entire marketing strategy.

Adhering strictly to the above mentioned best practices, you would have less challenge using UTM parameters in discovering the quality of your marketing efforts, valuable keywords, and the most effective CTA in your business newsletters.

Are you currently using UTM parameters to track the performance of your marketing campaigns? What are your challenges? Are there tricks I didn’t mention in this article? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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