How to Use UTM To Analyse Traffic

Michael Jenkins
Michael Jenkins

CEO - Shout Agency
[email protected]

Overview

For serious marketers, data is bread and butter. They measure everything– website visitors, clicks received, bounce rate, user engagement, social shares, etc, because anything that doesn’t get measured, cannot be improved. UTM tracking is a powerful traffic and performance tracking metric that provides accurate and detailed data regarding sources and and type of clicks. It can be used to track the efforts of A/B testing across severalsearversions of a campaign, or monitor a single campaign’s performance.

What is UTM Tracking?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. They are code strings that can be tacked onto any URL to track the details of clicks it generates. Many of the analytics tools available in the market today  are programmed to automatically reach for these parameters.  

Here’s an example of UTM:  http://example website.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=social

Everything after ‘?’ are UTM tracking modules. 

UTM parameters work with Google Analytics too. In fact, Google will recognize the data present in the code and include that information in the pageview. The data is recorded and can be viewed in your Google Analytics dashboard.

You can add easily UTM to your URLs through Google’s URL builder, found inside your Google Analytics account. And,

  • Login to your Google Analytics account
  • Select ‘Audience’> ‘Sources’> ‘Campaigns’ to view the results

There are 5 variants of URL parameters that can be tracked: Campaign, source, medium, content, term. Let’s take a look at each of them:

UTM Campaign- This parameter allows you to identify a specific campaign by name. 

UTM Source- The platform where the traffic came from. This could be sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, Yahoo or your newsletter.

UTM Medium- The type of traffic channel, for example social, paid, affiliates, organic traffic.

UTM Content- This is very useful when you have several links from a variety of sources  driving traffic to the same URL. This parameter essentially helps you differentiate between links for the same campaign.

UTM Term- This parameter can be used for tracking specific keywords during a paid search campaign.

These tags can be used to track the results of:

  • Email campaigns- By using utm_medium=email you can learn which clicks originated from the email. If you want to know how someone joined your list, you can use utm_source, and customize it through avenues such as course, newsletter signup etc. 
  • Social media campaigns- On Google Analytics, you can access Social report by accessing Acquisition>Social. It will show you which visits are originated at social media. Google has a list of sites that’s marked as social media platforms. If the visitor click matches on the site on the list, it will be regarded as social traffic. You can also add other tags, such as utm_source, to  see which social sites bought how many clicks.

UTM Parameters can also be used to track the efficacy of your paid ad campaigns, affiliate campaigns, and offline campaigns.

4 UTM Parameter Best Practices

1. Use a standardized naming convention

URLs are naturally long, and adding UTM codes to it makes it even longer. This can end up being confusing when it comes time for data analysis. When adding UTMs, ensure that you stick with lowercase for ALL tags, and use dashes (-) to separate words. Use % or + instead of spaces.

2. Use simple language

Your readers are able to see your URLs, so keep the UTMs simple and clean. Essentially, the information in parameters should read like a sentence; i.e. the readers should be able to look at your code and understand what it means. Don’t include any sensitive company information. A complex URL not only makes it a challenge to organize, but it also looks messy and spammy to the readers.

3. Don’t tag internal links

UTM parameters are used to track incoming traffic from external sites. Google automatically shows you which one of your internal webpages bring in how much traffic to another page on your site.  Also, when you append internal URL links with UTM codes, you lose valuable information showing where that traffic originally entered your site.

4. Track UTMs in a spreadsheet

Once you start customizing numerous URLs with UTMs parameters, the data can really go out of hand. To keep everything organized, create a spreadsheet that tracks your unique URLs. If you are working with a team, you can also include naming convention guidelines that everyone can use when tagging links.

Final Thoughts

While UTM may sound complicated, it isn’t. These small tags can provide valuable insights about the origin of your traffic. You can use this information to learn who your audience is, how they interact with your site, and enhance the overall performance of your campaign content.

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