Your Guide to UTM Parameters
Understand what UTMs are and learn UTM parameters best practices to measure the performance of your campaigns.
I still get surprised when I come across businesses that don't have campaign tracking in place. Nevertheless, it is not that uncommon.
Have you been struggling with tracking the performance of your campaigns? Do you find it hard to understand what UTM parameters are? Then, keep reading!
In this post we will cover:
What are UTM Parameters?
UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters are tags that you add to the end of a URL. When someone clicks on a URL with UTM parameters, those tags are sent back to your Google Analytics for tracking.
There are 5 parameters you can add to your URLs:
utm_source: identifies the platform, advertiser, search engine, site, publication, etc. where users clicked your content. For example, google, facebook, twitter, mailchimp.
utm_medium: describes how users arrived at your content, for example, cpc, email, social.
utm_campaign: defines the campaign name - unique campaign identifier.
utm_term: specifies keywords. Used for paid search campaigns.
utm_content: identifies an ad, button or link. For example, if you have two call-to-action links within the same email, you can use this UTM parameter to differentiate them and analyse which one had the best performance afterwords.
UTM parameters example:
The URL above is an example of a link we used when publishing the article How to Perform an On-Page SEO Audit on LinkedIn.
As you can see, the utm_source is 'linkedin', the utm_medium is 'organic-social' (because this was an organic post if it was an ad we would use 'paid-social') and the utm_campaign is 'seo-audit'.
We used the same campaign name on all URLs we used to share this post across our social media channels. So we could easily track this article's performance, by searching it on Google Analytics by its campaign name.
For example, when sharing this post on Twitter, we added to the URL the UTM parameters above, except for the utm_source that, in this case, was 'twitter'.
Why Are UTM Parameters So Valuable?
Using UTM parameters enables you to track the performance of your campaigns. So you can understand what campaigns and channels are the most effective.
To analyse campaign performance, go to your Google Analytics account under Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns.
Check the Google Analytics starting guide to set it up on your website in case you haven't done this yet.
UTM Parameters Best Practices
1. Define a Naming Convention for Your UTMs
It is important that you define a naming convention for your UTM parameters, so you'll avoid confusion and ensure your data is accurate.
UTM parameters are case sensitive, so it matters if your source is Facebook or facebook, for example.
Be consistent, use dashes or underscores instead of spaces, keep your campaigns' name simple but descriptive and make sure you use the same campaign name if you're promoting your campaign across different channels.
2. Don't Tag Your Destination URLs in Google Ads
As long as your Analytics account is linked to your Google Ads account and you have auto-tagging
enabled, you don't need to tag your destination URLs in Google Ads. Google Analytics automatically tracks all Google Ads campaigns.
If you run paid search campaigns on search engines other than Google, then you'll need to tag the destination URLs for those ads.
3. Keep Track of Your UTM URLs
The best way to ensure that you and your team are aligned is to keep track of your UTM URLs. At Strategy Pixel, we want to help you do that, so we created this free UTM Link Builder spreadsheet.
Use the UTM Parameters tab to define your naming conversion. It is pre-filled with some examples. You can change it and adapt it to your business needs.
In the UTM Link Builder tab, you'll be able to place the URL you'd like to tag. Select the UTM parameters, and it's ready to copy and paste to your campaigns.
To avoid long tagged URLs, which may not be user friendly, you should shorten them. For that, you can use tools such as bit.ly.
Tracking your campaign's URLs will allow you to gather information about the performance of your campaigns, and therefore understand what campaigns and channels were the most effective.
To ensure your information is properly organised and understandably, make sure you define a naming convention for your UTM parameters and share it with your team, so everyone is on the same page.
Use our free UTM Link Builder spreadsheet to get started!
If you need any help with your Google Analytics or campaign tracking setup, don't hesitate to reach out. Our team will be glad to help you!