The advantage of online advertising over traditional advertising, just like e-commerce over brick-and-mortar, is the availability of data to form actionable results.
By using web analytics software like Google Analytics, we can gather intelligence on traffic sources and how much each channel contributes to the results such as web traffic and sales.
This is doable with a tagged URL, or commonly known as UTM, which is a code appended to the website URL that enables you to track results via Google Analytics.
What is the purpose of UTM tracking codes?
You may use UTM codes to track users and their interactions within your website. Common scenarios why we use Google Analytics UTM tracking codes are:
Acquisition – Tracking the number of users that visit your website using a tagged URL.
You can determine the number of users who click through via certain media and campaigns, which can be compared across various sources.
Behavior – Tracking the bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration.
You can gauge the effectiveness of your campaign and landing page based on bounce rate and the duration or the number of pages your users are visiting from a specific campaign.
Conversion – Tracking the leads, number of orders and sales value.
You can track the number of leads coming in from a specific source, sales value can be tracked too in order to determine the ROAS of your marketing campaign.
How to generate a UTM link?
This is how a UTM link would look like (broke into lines for easy reading):
Here is a brief explanation of how the tagged URL works:
- Source – This is where your traffic is coming from, for example, facebook, google, twitter etc.
- Medium – This is where you can determine whether it is a paid campaign, or bidding type to be exact. For example, cpc, cpm, email. It’s usually just cpc.
- Campaign – The name of your marketing campaign, for example, christmas_2018.
- Term – This is an optional parameter, you may use it to label your search terms or target audience. For example, parents, gamers, car+owners.
- Content – Another optional parameter, used to identify your ads should you have more than one. For example, ad_1, ad_new_text, ad_20190101_v1.
Pro-tip: make your data easier to read by avoiding capitalization within your codes.
How to read results by UTM?
Once you have created the link, head to your Google Analytics account and go to Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns.
Sorted by the campaign name by default, you will be able to go through your data here.
All your collected data will be tabulated within these columns.
Watch out for potential pitfalls
Be wary of any empty spaces within the UTM code, it will not work!
Some website systems will not parse the UTM links and it will create a broken link, potentially jeopardizing your marketing campaigns. Though not common, it is advisable to test your links and consult your system administrator.
Your data is also not 100% accurate, as Google uses a data sampling technique in order to parse large sums of data. But hey, it’s a free service to use.
Bonus tips & conclusion
You can also apply Bitly links (URL shortener service) on top of your UTM links to have another layer of tracking.
Appending UTM codes to your links allow you to determine where your traffic is coming from, and track the users’ behavior on your website in order to determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.