What is UTM?
A UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) a little bit of code appended to the end of a URL or link. You can use the UTM tracking code regardless of which platform (Facebook, Google My Business, Offline Flyers, Emails etc) you use.
A UTM code looks something like this:
The part in bold starting after ‘?’ is the UTM code. As you might have guessed, this particular code tracks who sent the traffic to the page (i.e. the source). UTM codes can be long and complex but are very useful when used correctly.
Campaign Source (utm_source)
This is the referrer of traffic to your page, such as Google, Facebook or LinkedIn. In many cases, this is the platform or tool you used to create the medium.
Examples: google, facebook, instagram, tripadvisor, skype, newsletter, flyer, businesscard
Campaign Medium (utm_medium)
This is the marketing medium that referred the traffic. So, unlike the source, it tracks the type of traffic such as a banner ad, emails, social media, or organic search.
Examples: social, organic, email, cpc, affiliate, qr
Campaign Name – optional (utm_campaign)
This acts as the identifier for a specific campaign, product, or offering that you’re driving traffic to. It’s required for all UTMs. Names that allow you to easily identify product launches, promotional campaigns, individual emails or posts, etc. are all good.
Examples: Facebook Post 07-05-2020, Google My Business Button, Twitter Bio, Instagram Bio, flyer_may, Newsletter_May
Campaign Content – optional (utm_content)
This is another optional part of a UTM, but including this allows you to easily differentiate between ads on the same channel, like website ads, which comes in handy when you’re A/B testing various images or ad copy. If you have multiple links in the same campaign, like two links in the same email, you can fill in this value so you can differentiate them. For most marketers, this data is more detailed than they really need.
Examples: version1, email_signature, email_body, fbp_morning, location_ny, location_ca
In Google Analytics, head over to Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Source / Medium report to see your current data.
How to use UTM tags?
Do you want to know how many sales were generated from an email campaign?
Do you want to know how many sales were generated from a business card you handed out?
Do you want to know how many website visitors came from a flyer at an event?
Direct Traffic is often a mysterious traffic source in Google Analytics. It primarily includes visitors that type your url directly into their browser or bookmarked your page. But, direct traffic also includes visitors that clicked links in emails, ebooks and other offline marketing materials.
For example, if you write an ebook that includes links to your website, add UTM codes to those links like the following:
In Google Analytics you can filter your traffic by source to understand how your ebook performed in generating traffic and new leads.
Best Practices for UTM Tracking
Establish a UTM naming convention from the start
It’s important to establish naming conventions that your entire team will use. If half the people on your team are using “facebook.com”, the other half using “facebook” under “utm_source”, you’ll just get muddy data.
Before you start a campaign, agree on naming conventions for common parameters. This should include the names for different mediums (“social” vs. “social media”, “search” vs. “paid search”, etc.) and traffic sources (“facebook” vs “facebook.com” or “reddit” vs “reddit.com”).
Even capitalizations or spaces will make your analytics a mess by splitting the same campaigns into two if you follow different conventions. Set up rules from the beginning.
Generally, its best practice to use all lowercase in your UTM links.
Use easy to understand names
Your campaign, content and source links should be easy to understand. Anyone looking at the code should be able to figure out at one glance what the code means.
Anyone should be able to understand what the UTM code is even if they have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes.
Use link shorteners for user-friendly URLs
UTM’s can look long and terrible, which leads us to url shorteners.
This is especially helpful for your social media posts.
Shorten URLs help make links in tweets, Facebook statuses, and other updates look super clean.
There are some neat sites that handle URL shortening for you, including full analytics and archives of everything you shorten (often not needed). For these services (and for URL shortening in general), your URL is replaced by a new domain (e.g., https://exmaple.com changes to https://bit.ly) and the url is replaced by a string of numbers and/or letters (e.g., https://example.com/your-post-title/ changes to https://bit.ly/df8jpI1).
Any link shared to Buffer will be shortened automatically once it’s added into your update.
Combined in offline media such as flyers or business cards, QR codes with UTM tags can help you track where and how someone is visiting or buying from your website.
It is highly advised to not put UTM tags on your own website that point to your own website. This messes with Google Analyitics data. Keep them for your social media, emails and offline marketing marterial.
UTMs in Google Analytics
Once you have created a URL with our Google Analytics URL builder above, you can track these visitors by campaign under Google Analytics acquisition section (assuming you have the google analytics tracking code on your site). You can also filter down reports, dashboards and views to the campaign you used in your UTM tracking code.
Once you add the UTM code to your campaign’s URL, you can track the performance in Google Analytics in a few different reports.
- Go to Acquisition -> Overview -> All Traffic -> Source/Medium to view traffic
Examples Of UTM tags
Ideas of how to use the UTM Tags
Example #1 – Google My Business
Using Google My Business as an example, when looking in Google Analytics, all traffic by default appears to come from Google Organic. This is mixed in with Google Search traffic (Google Search Console).
In Google My Business, instead of just putting our website domain as the url, we add some UTM tags to help as out:
- Instead of the source being google, we have set it using utm_source as googlemybusiness.
- We have set our Campaign Name (utm_campaign) to Google%20My%20Business which will display as “Google My Business” in Google analytics.
- And as it is not a paid platform like Google Ads (paid), we set the utm_medium as organic.
We take this url, and replace the simple link we had before in Google My Business. After getting it approved, anyone that now visits our website from Google My Business can easily be viewed and compared!
Example #2 – Flyers at Events
Sometimes you want to know how well your business is doing at an event – a great way to see if it was worth going and if you will go back next year.
By creating a UTM tagged URL and shortened for people to enter into their phones, you can review that data later and see how well it worked.
Bonus points for using QR Codes on your flyers for people to scan – saves them typing them out!
Example UTM tagged URL:
Example #3 – Tracking Posts Shares to Social Media
We have a blog post on our website that we want people to share on Facebook, but we want to track if once shared, are people clicking that link.
So combined with the Share Link Generator, we create a button/link for visitors to click that will help them share the UTM tagged URL of the blog post.
UTM URL we would use in the Share Link Generator:
Note the URL part in green would the blog post url, and in this case, it is this online tool.