Knowing how your online and offline marketing campaigns perform is essential for determining the success of your marketing efforts. UTM codes play a major role in helping companies track, analyze, and measure the overall impact of their marketing campaigns.
In this guide from our experts at WebFX, we’ll discuss what UTM codes do, why they’re important, and how to build your own.
What are UTM codes?
Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters are short pieces of coded data that attach to the end of a URL for tracking purposes. These codes filter and identify web traffic, user behavior, and content performance at a granular level by automatically sending tags to your website’s Google Analytics profile every time a user clicks the URL. In short, UTM codes help you better understand how visitors interact with your website.
There are five types of UTM parameters:
- utm_source: This parameter is used to tag and identify the source of your user traffic — for example, Facebook, Twitter, Google, or individual marketing channels.
- utm_medium: The utm_medium parameter identifies what medium the link was accessed through, such as social, email, or cost-per-click (CPC).
- utm_campaign: This parameter pinpoints the campaign your UTM-tagged URL belongs to, such as a sales promotion, a product launch announcement, or a link-building campaign.
- utm_content: If you have several links that go to the same URL, you can use the utm_content parameter to point out the specific text, button, or image a user clicked in a call to action (CTA).
- utm_term: The utm_term parameter tracks ad performance based on keyword terms.
Of these five parameters, only three are required when building a UTM-tagged URL — utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign.
Why are UTM codes important?
UTM tracking can help you better understand the full impact of your marketing efforts and determine whether to shift your marketing strategy. Using UTM codes, you can accurately gauge which of your marketing strategies are working. This information helps you identify where your time, money, and energy are most valuable for driving leads and revenue over time.
Benefits of UTM tracking include:
- Generating precise web traffic and conversion data.
- Identifying underperforming campaigns.
- Improving decision-making.
- Tracking both online campaigns and offline conversions.
- Measuring return on investment (ROI).
- Allowing A/B-style testing for individual posts.
How do you build UTM codes?
If writing code isn’t in your area of expertise, you’re not alone. Luckily, you can easily create UTM codes using various online tools.
Campaign URL Builder
Campaign URL Builder from Google Analytics is among the most straightforward and widely used URL-building tools. This free platform enables you to easily break down your URL by entering information into the four required fields — website URL, campaign source, campaign medium, and campaign name. You can also use the optional campaign ID, campaign term, and campaign content fields to further specify your URL.
After completing all applicable fields, the tool will generate a URL with the necessary UTM codes.
Google Play URL Builder
Google Play URL Builder is for tracking app campaigns. Fill in the ad network, application ID, and campaign source fields. You can add optional UTM parameters that include campaign name, medium, content, and term.
Once you’ve filled out the required fields, you can click the “Generate URL” button to get your URL.
iOS Campaign Builder
Google’s iOS Campaign Builder helps users generate URLs that measure the source of iOS application installs. This tool has similar required fields to Google Play URL Builder with slightly different rules. Before using this solution, make sure your iOS Campaign Tracking is turned on in your Google Analytics settings and your application IDs match.
When using iOS Campaign Builder, enter information under the Google Analytics property ID, ad network, redirect URL, app ID, and campaign source fields. Optional inputs include campaign medium, term, content, and name. After you’ve filled out the form, click the “Generate URL” button to create your URL with the proper UTM codes.
UTM tracking best practices
Get the most out of your UTM codes when you implement the following best practices for URL tagging:
- Establish standard naming conventions: When you have multiple team members launching campaigns through the same channels, UTM parameters can become inconsistent. Establishing consistent naming conventions for your UTM parameters is vital for ensuring accurate data analytics.
- Keep it simple: Your UTM codes should be simple, concise, and easy to understand, minimizing the risk of mistakes.
- Create a spreadsheet: You should keep a record of your tagged links and UTM parameters in a well-organized spreadsheet to ensure that your team is on the same page at all times.
- Only use lowercase: UTM codes are case-sensitive, which means even one capital letter can skew your tracking analytics. A good rule of thumb is to use all lowercase letters.
- Use underscores instead of spaces: Implementing spaces in your URL tags can result in multiple codes for the same item, creating inaccurate outcomes. Use underscores in place of spaces to ensure clarity and consistency.
- Don’t use UTM tags for internal links: UTM codes are only meant for tracking traffic from external sources, like emails and social profiles. Using these codes for internal links can confuse your analytics tools, resulting in tracking errors or data inaccuracies.
- Check reports regularly: Checking your analytics dashboard periodically will help you identify any abnormalities, such as incorrectly tagged links, mistyped UTM codes, or naming inconsistencies, helping you maintain data accuracy.
Use UTM tracking for digital marketing today
If you’re looking to create a successful digital marketing campaign for your company, the experts at WebFX can help. Our tech-enabled services are designed to help businesses rise above the competition with increased leads and revenue. We’ve generated 7.8 million leads and over $3 billion in revenue for our clients.
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