UTM Codes — Best Practices and How To Use Them

Why should I use UTM Codes?

Marketing campaigns today are more complicated than ever before with the explosion of media options. Is the social media effort working? Or is it the online ads that are drawing the activity? Did the email campaign encourage people to click? Planning the marketing campaign is not enough. You need to be able to measure the impact of an email or social media with more precision than hits or revenues generated. Ultimately, you need to be able to report on which marketing activities are best at bringing in new leads and customers to your company. Luckily, that type of precise tracking is not that difficult to achieve with the help of Red Cannonball.

Urchin Tracking Module parameters or UTM codes help determine what produced the best results for you. They can see which words, channels or particular links drove the most traffic or sales your way. A company called Urchin Software Corp., which Google bought a decade ago, devised these little bits of text that are added to a link to enable tracking. Urchin’s software reportedly was the foundation on which Google Analytics grew into the tool it is today.

What are UTM Codes?

A UTM code is a bit of text stuck in a link. This code tells Google Analytics (or a different analytics tool) which source or medium drew the click. A simple example is http://www.domain.com/landing_page.htm?utm_medium This URL would show if the person clicked from an email, advertisement or social media posting.

Think of the codes as custom URLs that let you track how a specific ad campaign, series of Tweets, or an email did in general or with more precision. The idea is that is tracking activity from Facebook is not enough. Knowing which item drew the activity is more valuable information. That precision allows you to refine your efforts. For example, adding a code, such as &utm_source, to a link allows you to see which visits came from that link.

UTM codes can be set up to tell the story of how your traffic arrived and from where. The UTMs can be set up using your campaign, source, and medium — or any combo — to track all of your links. They can easily be changed whenever you want. You can easily adjust the factors you are studying, such as a special campaign or wording that you want to measure. There are even values that can be added to see which wording performs better in a medium or across multiple channels. This lets you measure your effectiveness by promotion, role or specific objective.

There is a flip side to setting up all those codes and ways to track traffic. That is setting up Google Analytics to organize and analyze the results. Google makes it relatively easy to classify and evaluate your UTM codes on a dashboard.

A simple approach is by source, medium and campaign. This measures results based on referring site, how the traffic arrived and the specific promotion. Using term and header allows you to dig deeper and identify which keyword, AdWord or bit of content triggered the activity. It may seem like data overload at first. However, having the detailed information on a spreadsheet provides the answers on effectiveness for management. It also gives you a better grasp on the approach or campaign and the effectiveness.

The many marketing channels today require greater caution on where to put your precious dollars for the best effect. Setting up UTM codes for tracking emails, ads and social media efforts takes some time and expertise. At Red Cannonball, we help clients customize their marketing efforts to measure, fine-tune and achieve better results. We help clients refine their marketing to effectively get found online. The data-driven solutions help to increase their success.