The Ultimate Campaign Tracker
Creating UTM Codes to Measure Success
If you don’t measure the success of your campaigns, how will you know what’s performing well and what’s not? UTM codes are a simple way to track the impact of your marketing and, ultimately, build better campaigns based on your results.
What Exactly Is a UTM Code?
A UTM code is a unique code attached to a custom URL to track items like source, medium, or campaign name. These codes consist of pieces of text added at the end of a URL. When a user clicks on this URL, the text helps track where the click came from and measure the performance of your marketing strategies.
UTM codes can tell you whether your company’s Facebook posts drive a certain percentage of traffic to your website, or whether that traffic is coming from another source. It can also track how many sales, clicks, or responses were generated from an email campaign, and much more.
Can I Only Track Digital Pieces?
No! The great thing about tracking your campaign using UTM codes is that you can track every piece you use to generate traffic. If you have a postcard or letter, or even a flyer you’ve created for a campaign, you can create a special URL (i.e., cars.com/buynow) to use on your printed piece, and have this URL redirect to the page where you want to drive traffic. Though it’s a little more work than creating a UTM code for social media or email, it’s worth it to be able to see how all the pieces in your campaign are performing.
What Can I Track?
UTM codes have two components, a UTM parameter and a tracking variable. You can track five different parameters:
- Traffic source, or utm_source: Tracks where the traffic came from, such as Google or Facebook.
- Campaign Name, or utm_campaign: Tracks performance of a specific promotion or strategic campaign, such as a Facebook or email campaign.
- Medium, or utm_medium: Tracks what type of traffic a user originated from. This can include organic, CPC (cost-per-click), email, referral, and direct traffic.
- Keyword Term, or utm_term: Specifically used for paid search ads, this parameter tracks which keyword term a website visitor came from.
- Content, or utm_content: Tracks which link was clicked. This can be used to differentiate links within a single deliverable, such as an email with a link in the header and a link in the footer. It can also be used to help differentiate ads.
The tracking variable uniquely identifies what’s being tracked and is found before the “=” sign in the code. You can track multiple variables within one UTM code, or choose to track only one variable, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
How Do I Generate A UTM Code?
Use the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder. Simply fill in your full website URL, the source of the campaign, the medium (such as a banner ad or email), and the name of your campaign. You can also identify the campaign’s paid keywords and enter campaign content to differentiate between ads.
Some tools, like HubSpot, have tracking URL builders built-in to their platform so that you can easily associate deliverables to their campaigns and implement tracking for all your outreach. You can manually build your UTM codes, too. Type the parameters at the end of your URL, but be careful not to make any mistakes or your code may not work. We suggest using the URL builder to ensure accuracy and easy campaign tracking.
The beauty of UTM codes is that you can make them as broad or as granular as you’d like by using the combination of parameters that suits your goals best. At a minimum, you should always use campaign, source, and medium.
Where Do I See My Results?
Google Analytics makes it easy to see how your campaigns are performing with a variety of user acquisition reports. The more parameters you use in your tracking code, the more detailed information you’ll be able to obtain. You can look at performance by overall campaign or dig deeper and look at traffic sources and mediums. For example, you may look at the traffic sources for a particular campaign, and then investigate the performance of a traffic source across all campaigns.
Anything Else I Should Keep in Mind?
- Standardize the way you label your parameters. Stick to a single naming convention (like always using FB to represent Facebook) so you can easily aggregate your results for sources or terms of a certain type. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of different values representing one thing.
- Use a spreadsheet to track parameters when you’re creating multiple codes for a campaign. Not only does this help you keep your campaigns standardized, but it also makes it easy for someone else on your team to look at the results in Google Analytics.
- Update your UTM codes. Sometimes, you’ll have a campaign that’s a new iteration of a previous campaign, which will likely utilize some of the same deliverables. When this is the case, be sure you update your UTM code to reflect the parameters of the new campaign, otherwise, it’ll be challenging to isolate your results for your new campaign.
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