Beginning with UTM parameters, we start a series of articles about web analytic tools which are crucial for successful online marketing strategy implementation. This tool was launched a decade ago and had already proved itself in big players’ strategies. But you don’t have to be big to use the UTM parameters and I will show you why.

What is UTM?

Put simply, UTM parameters are the tags added to your usual URL link. When someone clicks on such a link, information in the tags is captured by Google Analytics. In this manner, Google Analytics tracks your campaign online and even offline. Banners, newsletters, blogs, even printed flyers and outdoor posters can be tracked in this way.

How do I create a link with UTM tags?

There are several ways to create smart links with UTM tags. Either you are a pro and create it on your own knowing all the main and optional parameters (let’s leave this case for the future) or you use Google UTM builder.

If your plan for UTM tags contains only newsletter campaigns – Soundest does it automatically once you create the newsletter. So chill out and don’t bother to carry on reading this post.

Of course, if you plan to use banners, ads on social media, etc., the UTM builder can come in handy.

There are five UTM parameters:  three of them – Campaign Source, Medium and Name – are required, and the other two – Term and Content – are optional.

For example:

Our product website is www.soundest.com, we want to run a marketing campaign with 10% discount for our premium plans. The channels chosen for this campaign are Facebook, Twitter and emails for our customers. So, what will our links look like?

  • For the ad in Facebook:

www.soundest.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=10percentoff

  • Ad in Twitter:

www.soundest.com/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=10percentoff

  • Link for the emails:

www.soundest.com/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=10percentoff

Campaign Term is used for the paid keywords for the particular ad, e.g. utm_term=easy+email+marketing. Campaign Content is mainly used for A/B testing. For example, utm_content=bannerlink or utm_content=textlink.

Important to remember adding UTM

  1. While creating UTM tags you have to be signed in to your Google Analytics account. If not, they won’t be tracked. The links in Google Analytics will appear after some 30-90 minutes.
  2. UMT tags are key sensitive. This means that you should avoid capital letters. The tags “utm_source=Facebook” and “utm_source=facebook” are different from one another.
  3. Think about your campaign name. Keep it short and simple.
  4. Don’t use UTM tags to track clicks inside your own website. This is an absolute ‘no’. Web Metrics guru Brian Clifton explains:

“Doing so will cause Google Analytics to restart the session for the same visitor. That is, the visit will be double-counted with new referrer details, and you will not be able to trace back any subsequent transactions or goal completions to the original referrer.”

Brian Clifton: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, 3rd Ed.; P 226.

What do I do if it’s too long?

The links with UTM parameters are sooo long that sometimes it’s difficult to use. Barely any user will remember such an address to visit. I put some ideas below to avoid this situation:

  1. You can hide the link in the text. It is easy to do and easy for users to understand.
  2. In some cases, mostly in social media where characters are limited, you can use URL shorteners such as Google shortener or Bitly. Note: UTM parameters should be added to the link before shortening.
  3. There is one more way of using redirection to your link with UTM tags. This best work for offline marketing actions, e.g. flyers. Using the redirection functionality (it can be native or Plug in depending on the platform) you create a nice and easy ending for your link.
For example

Your shop is www.example.com. You print a bunch of flyers to invite customers to visit directly your summer sale category. The link for this probably will take at least two lines of words and symbols including UTM tags. So you create an easy to remember link like: www.example.com/summer, which will redirect your customers to your desired long link with UTM parameters.

  1. Last but not least, a way to use smart links with UTM tags is with QR codes. My favorite one is Kaywa. This kind of code is easy to adjust to the various pieces of design.

How do I see the results of the links with tags?

Your campaign metrics can be followed in Google Analytics by going to Acquisitions -> Campaigns. By clicking on the individual campaign name you will see information on the source/medium combination traffic under the particular Campaign Name. For optional UTM tracked data (utm_term and utm_content), use the secondary dimension capabilities.

Final word

Guys, in order to get somewhere, we all have to continuously move forward. UTM parameter tracking can lead us to the right direction.

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Karolina Jasvinaitė Petraškienė

is a digital communicator, content marketer and email enthusiast at Soundest. Follow on Twitter.