GUIDE: Get started with UTM tracking

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For those of you using Google Analytics, UTM variables offer the ability to obtain important information about your visitors which can be used in your Google Analytics account. In this article, we show you how to get started with using UTM variables with our free tool – UTM Parameter Creation Tool!

What are UTM codes?

A UTM code is a snippet of simple code that you can add to the end of a URL to track the performance of campaigns and content. There are many variants of URL parameters you can track. We will cover the four most used ones – source, medium, campaign and content. Data you track via UTM codes show up in your analytics reports to give you a clearer insight into marketing performance.

UTM stands for “Urchin Traffic Monitor“. This name comes from Urchin Tracker, a web analytics software that served as the base for Google Analytics.

What is a campaign tracking URL?

A tracking URL is a campaign landing page URL that has been amended to include additional information (called UTM parameters – ) to allow analytics programs to allocate traffic to the correct media source.

  • Standard URL Example:
    yourwebsite.com
  • Campaign Tracking URL Example:
    yourwebsite.com?utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2019-04-five-questions-blog

What is a UTM Parmeter?

UTM parameters are tags you add to the end of a URL so that when your link is clicked, the tags are tracked by Google Analytics.

The beginning of the URL is the same for both examples, but the campaign tracking URL has new information appended to the end. Both URLs lead to the same page. The only difference is that programs like Google Analytics can now assign marketing campaign data based on the information in the URL string.

This is the information Google Analytics will use to organize your information so the data in your analytics reports are useful.

Tracking URLs are essential to correctly calculate impressions, visits and leads for marketing campaigns.

How do UTM variables and our URL builder work?

The URL Builder builds on UTM variables or UTM parameters, code that allows traffic tracking. When you fill in the parameters of your campaign (see below), a customized link is generated that you can use in your digital campaigns – for example, in newsletters, Facebook updates and ads. The point is to collect more data about your visitors and campaigns.

When a visitor clicks on the unique link in, for example, your ad, the parameters are passed on to Google Analytics, allowing you to track exactly which URL they clicked on in the reports. Using links with UTM variables does not change the landing page, just the design of the link that takes the visitor there.

Let’s take an example: You advertise on an external page with three different banners that all link to the same landing page. If each banner has a unique URL with UTM variables, in Analytics you will be able to see exactly how many clicks each banner has given, instead of just seeing the total traffic from all the banners the external page. This gives you important and useful information about how your campaigns perform.

Here’s how to create links with our campaign URL builder

To create a link, use our UTM Parameter Creating Tool. You do not need to enter all the parameters below, but two of them are mandatory: landing page URL and Campaign Source. We also recommend always adding the Campaign Medium parameter because you usually want to be able to see the information about the visitors in the Source/Medium report inside Google Analytics.

  • Website URL (mandatory): The link to the campaign landing page
  • Campaign Source (required): Identifies the traffic source, e.g. Google or Facebook
  • Campaign Medium: Identifies the marketing medium, e.g. email, banner or Adwords ad (cost per click)
  • Campaign Content: Used to distinguish between links pointing to the same URL, for example for A / B tests and ads on the content network

When you fill in the fields for the parameters that are important to you, the tool will directly generate your unique URL.

Below you see an example of the tool in action and how a finished URL can look, here created for a fictitious advertising campaign that we ran on Facebook for Digital Dominance, which drives the traffic to our start page. One consequence of all the information being baked in is that the links tend to be long and bulky, so before use, you may use a URL shortening tool such as Bitly to make the links more manageable.

Remember to be consistent.

When filling in your parameters in the UTM Parameter Creating Tool, it’s important to be consistent. The parameters are case-sensitive, so if you enter, for example, the campaign source for a campaign is “email” and another is “Email”, Google Analytics will measure them as two different sources. We therefore always recommend using lowercase letters to avoid confusion and inconsistency.

For the best tracking option, you should consider the parameters and preferably note which ones you used, so that you can easily follow them over time. Over time, you will discover that UTM variables are an invaluable tool for improving your digital communication!

Download your own copy of the UTM Parameter Creation Tool Here.

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