The business icon Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” Marketing isn’t cheap, and if you can’t measure the impact of your marketing, you can’t improve it or justify its expense. UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes provide more granular analytics to gauge the effectiveness of your online ad campaigns. Unless you’re already working with UTM codes, or have a background in digital marketing, this might be the first time you’ve heard the term. If your current marketing agency partner isn’t using UTM codes – you probably want to change that. By the end of this article, you’ll understand the importance of UTM codes in digital marketing, why we at Doohickey use UTM codes for our clients, and why you should too.
How do UTM Codes Work?
Imagine you have just created a beautiful landing page. You have five different Facebook campaigns that all lead to that landing page. By utilizing UTM codes, we’re able to track the specific campaign that generated the clicks to get people to your landing page. Without UTM codes, we would just know that “Facebook” was the lead source, but we wouldn’t know what Facebook campaign was the most effective one. We can do the same thing with email, PPC, LinkedIn, and any other type of unique campaign.
What are UTM Codes?
A UTM code is just a simple code that you add to the end of a URL to track the performance of campaigns or content.
There are five parameters you can track:
What you choose to track shows up in your analytics report giving you a clear insight into how effective your marketing is or isn’t.
A UTM code looks like this:
The part after the “?” is the UTM code. That code tracks who sent the traffic to the page – the source.
UTM Codes are composed of two parts:
- UTM Parameter – in the example starts with utm_. Then you can choose 5 different parameters to track, as mentioned above.
- Tracking Variable – a unique variable to identify the dimension being tracked – like the name of the traffic source, campaign, etc.
What Can You Track with UTM Codes?
As we mentioned already, there are five parameters you can track. But what does each of those five parameters mean? Let’s take a closer look at each one and why they matter.
- Traffic Source
Where is your traffic coming from? Is it Facebook, Google, Bing, an email list? The source parameter lets you know where the traffic for your landing page originated.
Did the visitor come from email, social media, referral, a display ad? The medium parameter tracks what type of traffic the visitor came from.
- Campaign Name
How can you differentiate traffic between your 5 different Facebook campaigns? The campaign name parameter does this for you.
Have multiple links pointing to the same URL? For example, an email with multiple CTA buttons. Content code lets you know which button was clicked.
- Keyword Term
Which keyword is getting visitors to your landing page? The keyword parameter lets you know which keyword term a website visitor came from. This parameter is used for paid search ads in particular.
Ready to Get the Most out of Your Digital Marketing?
If you can’t measure it, you don’t know if it’s working. It’s amazing how many online marketing agencies sell services to businesses and don’t provide the analytics to show their work. All marketing is about testing – just because it’s online, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test. What it really means is we can test more and better than ever with all the tools in the digital landscape. We can find out what’s working, refine our processes, and get results much faster. If you’re ready to optimize your digital marketing resources with UTM codes, we’d love to help.