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Are You Taking Advantage of UTM Codes?

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Image showing focus on a UTM code in a laptop search bar

Posted on 02/09/2022 at 10:00 AM

Tracking is a vital factor in measuring the success of any digital marketing effort. In our last blog, we discussed Universal Analytics and GA4, which both serve as great tracking tools for a wide variety of performance metrics. In this blog, we will look at a more specific tracking metric, UTM codes. If you're not using UTM codes, you're missing out on a valuable and easy-to-use tracking tool!

What is a UTM Code?

An Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) is a short snippet of code that can be attached to any URL to track the performance of a specific campaign or content. Five different UTM tags can be fed into your Google Analytics to gather informative data about consumer behavior.

how to set up UTM codes

1) utm_source

  • This parameter tells you the source of your traffic. Ex) a newsletter, search engine, social platform, etc

2) utm_medium

  • This parameter allows you to see what platform a user came from, similar to channels in Google Analytics. Ex) organic search, social platform, cost per click (paid), etc

3) utm_campaign 

  • This parameter can be particularly helpful as it identifies the success of specific marketing efforts. Ex) a sale or promotion, new product launch, email marketing 

4) utm_term

  • This parameter is used to track, specific, relevant keywords that are driving clicks in a paid ad campaign. Ex) "brochure design", "web design IA", "website hosting", etc.

5) utm_content 

  • This parameter isn't always necessary to use but can be extremely helpful as a form of A/B testing. It lets you know what specific piece of content was clicked on when there are multiple links in one piece of content that all point to the same URL. Ex) In an email marketing campaign, did the user get to your website by clicking: your logo, a link/button in the email, a picture, etc.

Why Should I be Using UTM Codes?

A good marketing strategy is based on continually collecting data and then making informed decisions based on that data. The more specific the data you have to work with, the better informed your strategy will be, resulting in more successful outcomes. The benefits of using UTM codes can be broken down into (very) broad categories: evergreen benefits and dynamic benefits.

Evergreen Benefits

Source and medium tags are great ways to get a more detailed, ongoing picture of your traffic. Where is most of your traffic coming from? Where am I not getting enough traffic? When am I getting the most traffic from each source? This data analytics tool can help answer these questions and give you valuable insights into what's working and what's not. These tags are great to track quarter over quarter (and then year over year) to get a better picture of how much traction your marketing efforts are gaining.

Dynamic Benefits 

The campaign, term, and content tags are great for specific campaigns that differ from evergreen content, pages, and products/services that are always on your website. A great example of this is marketing efforts surrounding a new product launch. Say you're a skincare company and you launch a new line of face creams. You run ads to promote the new product, send out a mass email to your past customers announcing the new product and offering a discount, and post about the launch on social media. The term tag can tell you what specific keywords are driving customers to your new products. Are more people interested in the term "skin cream", "lotion", or "skincare products"?

When it comes to your mass email, the content tag comes into play. Did the user click on an image of your cream to view the product? Did they click the link to learn more? Did they get to the bottom of the email and click on the "Get 10% Off" button? These two tags can be used in tandem with the campaign tag to tell you which marketing effort had the most success and what needs refining. Did the sale get the most traction or the announcement campaign on social or the new launch ads? It can also be helpful to use this tag when running different types of sales. Were more people interested in $10 off or 10% off? Are more people taking advantage of my sales at the beginning of the month or towards the end? The questions you can use this tool to answer are limitless! Playing around with these tools and using them in different ways can yield endless insights that can be hard to otherwise uncover. 

How do I Set Up a UTM Code?

There are multiple ways to set up a UTM code, either manually or with a UTM code generator. Manually, you can add the tag snippet into the URL yourself. You can see what this may look like for each parameter in the graphic above. There are also a variety of UTM code generators, but to keep it simple we recommend the UTM tool provided by Google itself. Once you've set up your UTM codes for the parameters you've chosen, viewing the results is easy through your Google Analytics account! Simply follow the path Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns and you can view and track your data. 

UTM Codes in Google Analytics

Things to Keep in Mind

Naming Parameters

  • Be specific and don't repeat yourself

  • Use dashes for spaces

  • Use lower case letters

  • Use specific, clear, and concise naming 

General Guidelines 

  • Don't use UTM codes for internal links

  • Set specific tracking goals

  • Give the codes time to gather sufficient data before using it to inform decisions

  • If a user copies and pastes a link tagged with Twitter to Facebook and a new user clicks on it, it will still show up as twitter traffic

  • Users can see the UTM tagging in the URL in the search bar, so avoid using any naming/tagging you would not want a user to see

Leave it to the Experts!

Global reach offers comprehensive, expert digital marketing services to meet your specific needs. We can consult and train you in setting up UTM codes or set them up for you in conjunction with our dynamic digital marketing strategies. Let us help you take your business marketing to the next level!

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