It’s quite easy to see whether or not you’re getting traffic by just syncing your site to Google Analytics. However, have you ever wondered specifically where it’s coming from? Sure, it’s cool to see it’s coming from Google, Etsy, social media, etc. – but what about specific links that you’re putting into the digital ether? How are they doing? What campaigns brought you the most traffic?

Read on to get your introduction to UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters!

It’s easy enough to log into Google Analytics and see that Facebook sent 1000 people to your site in March. UTM parameters allow you to create custom trackers and tags for your URLs that give you a far more insightful look into your traffic. For instance, if you have a new product launch, you can create a link to send people to the site with a different parameter for each source (Facebook, newsletter etc) or medium (email, Facebook ad etc) that link is used on. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your newsletter is performing poorly compared to Facebook for a specific type of campaign (like a product launch)? Wouldn’t that inform your content decisions going forward? The results are read within Google Analytics as usual, they just have the capability to be much more specific.

In order to build UTM parameters there are 3 required parts:

utm_source (required) – this is the source of your traffic such as: a search engine like Google, your weekly newsletter, etc.

For example: utm_source=newsletter

utm_medium (required) – this is the medium that the link was used on (email, CPC, or other ways of sharing). A side note, a newsletter medium would be “email”

For example: utm_medium=email

utm_campaign (required) – this is when you create the campaign (new product, new feature, new strategic alliance – or get even more specific with an individual giveaway, contest or sale)

For example: utm_campaign=toy-launch-2017-march-1

To be quite honest – the above is incredibly important to help you understand exactly what UTM parameters can do for you. However, the details are mostly pertinent if you’re interested in creating your own URL, manually. Thankfully, there are tools for that that will save on a lot of time!

Facebook’s URL tracking for Google Analytics and Google’s Campaign URL Builder.

Here is an example URLs with the parameters we’re talking about!

www.coolest-example.com/toy-launch?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=toy-launch-2017-march

Okay – let’s take a peek at the link above and break it down. Pretend you just launched a new toy and you, obviously, want to drive loads of traffic to that page (www.coolest-example.com/toy-launch). To get a better understanding of how much traffic you’re sending to that page, UTM parameters have been implemented. The medium is social, the source is Twitter, and the campaign is the toy launch. This means you are able to see the traffic that comes to that campaign page specifically from that link on Twitter. Want to tell your Instagram following you’re launching a new toy? Add the tagged link to your profile on Instagram with the source as Instagram!

For example, Google Analytics can tell you that 10k people visit you from Twitter but because you used UTM parameters, you are able to see that 7k of those were from your posts and the remaining 3k came from other Twitter pages outside your control (retweets, most likely).

Now that you understand why you should be interested in using UTM parameters to enhance your digital efforts, let’s get the brain going with some ideas as to how:

  • Test which calls to action are working best on your newsletter to get people to click through;
  • Test how much traffic your blog is sending to your product or category pages;
  • Have a huge sale campaign going on? Test the tags on every platform you call the sale out on to see who is responding to what and where.

A pro tip we’d like you to consider is to create a UTM parameters spreadsheet so it’s always a simple copy and paste project for you. We all reshare content and this is a way for you to measure the lifetime traffic of whatever you’re sharing – no matter where you’re sharing it.

Thanks for hanging in there! Now get to tracking and measuring.

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