So you just created an awesome piece of content for your website and you are eager to share it. You have tons of options when it comes to sharing: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, paid search, email campaigns, display advertising, and the list goes on.
Let’s say you’re feeling crazy, and you share your content using all of these methods. You check back into Google Analytics a week later, and wow – this content drove 11,000 new visits to your site!
But wait, where did those visits come from? Was your content a hit on Facebook? Or did it strike the right cord with your email audience? When you check Google Analytics it will just tell you that these visits came to your site directly. But that can’t be right.
UTM parameters are the key to solving this problem and gaining full clarity into which marketing channels are driving the greatest return to you and your website.
What are UTM Parameters?
UTM parameters are bits of text added to the end of your links used in marketing campaigns. These parameters tell Google Analytics where the visit came from, what campaign it was part of, and any other relevant notations you wish to include.
In general, a parameter is anything added to the end of your URL that tells the system details about your visit. So if your website is thetacoshack.com and you were sending visitors to your website from Facebook to learn more about your new menu your URL with UTM parameters added could look something like this:
When the visitor comes to your site, Google pulls down this information from the URL and sends it to Google Analytics along with the rest of the visit information. From there, within the Google Analytics interface, you can then see the breakdown of visits by each source and other performance information like bounce rate, goal completions, and revenue.
The following is a fictitious example of our previously mentioned taco site of what the “Acquisition > Source/Medium” report would look like in an account that has received visits with UTM parameters. It looks like we drove numerous visits from social networks, email, and paid search. We can also see that although our Facebook page only drove 46 sessions, it was a top revenue driver with $3,269.46 driven in total.
Who Should Use UTM Parameters
If you are interested in gaining clarity into any of the following, UTM parameters are definitely worth setting up:
- Which of your marketing channels is driving the most return in the form of visits, goals, or revenue.
- Where your visitors are coming from
- What website sources are driving the most revenue
- What messaging drives the most revenue
- How many visits you had for each of your campaigns
What are the Components of UTM Parameters?
With all the available UTM parameter options it can be a bit intimidating to get started, but they aren’t so bad once you learn the specific bit of insight each one offers. Below we’ll break down which ones are required, which ones are optional, and what each of them means.
- utm_source – describes where the visit came from.
- Examples use: facebook, twitter, mailchimp, google+
- utm_medium – describes the medium or marketing channel that the visit came from.
- Example uses: email, social, cpc
- utm_campaign – describes the campaign or promotion this visit is a part of
- Examples uses: blackfriday, springsale, awareness
- utm_term – this field is generally used for paid search and describes the specific search query the person came from. Generally, Google AdWords and Bing will automatically fill this in for you if you ask them to, but if you aren’t tracking paid search you can add anything else here you like!
- Example uses: “running shoes”, “tacos”
- utm_content – describes the type of content or ad. This is great if you are testing a variety of ads or messaging points.
- Example uses: “version-a”, “version-b”, “blue-button”, “green-button”
How to Set Them Up
So now that you’re itching to begin gathering data, how do we set them up? You can manually create these URLs or you can use a handy tool called the Google Analytics URL Builder. Once you arrive at the builder, it will ask you to put in your URL, fill in the required fields (source, medium, campaign) and fill in the optional fields (term, content). Once you plug those in, all you need to do is hit the “Generate URL” button and you’re off the races!
Examples of Situations to Use UTM Parameters
Example time! Below are some examples of places you would use UTM parameters, why you’d use them, and some example URLs so you can see what they would look like in action. Again, you can fill in whatever you want for each parameter, but these are some examples that work pretty well for us.
- Social Media – sharing content for your followers on social networks.
- Advertising – whether you’re advertising on a social network, using display ads, native content, or doing remarketing, this is a great way to understand better what advertising is driving the greatest return on your investment.
- thetacoshack.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=display &utm_campaign=summerspecial
- Paid Search – as stated above, usually paid search providers like Google and Bing will automatically add UTM parameters to your URLs, but these are a great way to dig deep into what paid search campaigns and keywords are working best for you.
- Email Campaigns – if you want to understand which email blast drove the most return, UTM parameters are a great way to do it.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful and that you can implement this to improve your own marketing performance! Feel free to ask a question or start a discussion in the comments below.
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