How to use UTM to get more out of your web analytics

Lead Forensics, Tuesday 21 March 2017

A salesman using his phone, "Analytics" and "Information" are shown in floating boxesWhen you work in B2B marketing, it’s vital that you can measure the impact and effectiveness of the different tools, channels and approaches you are using. The key question you need to answer is ‘what’s working?’.

There are many reasons why it’s important you know the answer to this question and have accurate data to work with:

 

  • You need to know that you are investing your time and resources in all the right places
  • You need to know that the campaigns you are running are as strong as they could be
  • You need to be able to make informed decisions about what adjustments to make

Google Analytic is a great tool, which also has the added bonus of being free! (Find out more in our blog ‘Making sense of your web analytics’)

It can help you see the key numbers, such as how many people have been on your website and how many visitors have looked at each page. But there’s a big difference between looking at the top level numbers and examining more closely the analytics, to see what’s actually happening and why.

Numbers on their own tell a very basic story. For a more accurate and detailed picture of your marketing impact, you need to know far more. And that’s where UTM comes in.

UTM stands for ‘Urchin Tracking Module’ – but don’t let the name put you off. They can help you to get a lot more out of your Google Analytics, by helping you better understanding the behavior of your website visitors.

You’ve probably seen them in action already, even if you didn’t realise what the super long URL was.

When used correctly, UTM can lead to incredibly insightful and accurate data. It can show you how much traffic came from one, specific tweet, or from an image in a single email.

As a tool, it is also very flexible, meaning you can track any combination of information you wish.

Here, we’re going to look at how you can use UTM to your advantage, to not only measure your impact but improve your effectiveness.

 

What is UTM code

One of the best explanations of what UTM is all about, is this one by Koozai:

 

“A UTM parameter is a tag added to the end of a URL which, once clicked, sends data back to Google Analytics allowing you to track which elements of your online marketing strategy are most effective.”

 

UTM is simple code that you can attach to any custom URL, in order to track key information that will show you the source of your web traffic, how it came to you and why.

A key benefit of using UTM code is that it lets you track how well a marketing tactic - such as an ad, or social media post - is working, without the need to create custom landing pages for each campaign.

 

Google allows you to add up to 5 parameters:

 

1. Source – this is where the traffic is coming from and is a mandatory parameter.

For example, if you were sharing a link on Twitter then you may add the parameter ‘&utm_source=twitter’

 

2. Medium – this is the way the traffic comes to you and is another mandatory parameter.

For example, if you’re running an email marketing campaign then you may add &utm_medium=email’

 

3. Campaign – this is why traffic is coming to you and works well for tracking specific campaigns. It can be used to tag a particular promotion, or you may even use it to tag activity aimed at a specific buyer persona. This is also a mandatory parameter.

For example, if you launched a new summer campaign you may add ‘&utm_campaign=launch-summer’

 

4. Content (optional) – an optional parameter you may also be interested in using is content, which can be useful for A/B testing in particular

For example, if you have Option A and Option B content, you may add the following parameter to your Option A content ‘&utm_content=a’

 

5. Term (optional) – another optional parameter is term, which relates to paid search and adwords you may have bid on

For example, if you bid on the word ‘IT support’ then you may choose to add ‘utm_term=IT_support’

 

Examples of UTM code in practice

Here are a couple of examples of UTM code in action.

 

E-newsletter

Imagine for a second that you are sending out a summer newsletter, promoting a special promotion for a webinar. The URL may look something like this:

 

http://example.com/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=Summer+Newsletter&utm_content=webinar

 

Social media post

If you were to Tweet a link to the latest newsletter, it may look like this:

 

http://example.com/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=Summer+Newsletter

 

Benefits of using UTM code

There are many benefits and uses for UTM code, whatever type of marketing activity you are using. This includes:

 

Testing channels

You can use UTM code to track how well the same piece of content performs across multiple marketing channels. The trends that are revealed will show you where it may be best to shift your focus, increase or decrease your efforts moving forward. If something works, up your activity in that area and see what happens.

 

Testing content effectiveness

Another use of UTM code is testing the effectiveness of different pieces of content that include the same messages but have been put together in a different way. You can use the code to see which version performs the best.

 

Spotting key influencers

You can use UTM code to spot top influencers in your networks. By preparing a link for each one (including key employee influencers) you will be able to use the analytics your gain to work out who is the most influential and where.

 

Blog composition

By giving the links you include in an individual blog post, or newsletter, a different URL, you will be able to see where most people clicked through. This can reveal helpful insights that you may be able to use for the future design of this type of contents.

 

Creating a URL with UTM Parameters

The easiest way to create your code is to use a URL generator. All you need to do is input the values for each parameter you want to track and the tool will put a URL together for you.

One of the top generator tools to check out is Google’s Campaign URL Builder

Always bear in mind that the code will be visible to your audiences, so make sure you choose your campaign names wisely!

You also need to be consistent in the words you use. Using Twitter with a capital letter and then twitter lower case will lead to two different groupings and give you a distorted picture.

 

Offline

And it’s not just online where UTM code can be useful. In a printed brochure, where a URL may need to be written out in full, it’s best to include one that’s short and very easy to use (otherwise, no one will!).

There are many online tools that can create a shortened URL for you. Including Google URL shortener and Bitly.com. Alternatively, you may opt to include a QR code, or to create a specific domain name and redirect that to the actual landing page.

Whichever route you choose to go down, have the shortened link redirect to the full URL, complete with UTM code. Then you can measure its effectiveness that way too.

 

Using UTM to improve your results

While we have just skimmed the surface of possibilities here, we hope that we have shown you there are many, many ways to use UTM parameters to enhance your results.

All marketing is about trying, testing, assessing and adjusting, to find what works and what doesn’t. Once you know where your time and efforts will be best spent, you can make your campaigns even stronger and more effective. It all ultimately comes down to data and thanks to tools like UTM, you can enhance your Google analytics even further.


 Guide to turbo charged lead generation

Topics: Website analytics, Drive Traffic

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