You’ve created amazing, fresh, original content on your blog – and people are actually reading it! So you go to Google Analytics to find out how they got there… and then realize that although you posted the link to that blog post on Twitter 3 different times, it’s only showing up as one referral source all lumped together. So, how do you know which of your 3 tweets garnered the most traction?
Use a UTM Code to Create a Tracking URL
UTM codes are tags you add to the end of a URL that, when clicked, will be tracked in Google Analytics. Adding these UTM parameters allows you to track the effectiveness of various aspects of a campaign, such as the source or medium, and make decisions about how to best drive traffic to your website in the future.
Anatomy of a UTM Code
Depending on the complexity of your campaign, you may only need a couple of these codes. Typically, you’ll want to at least include Source, Medium and Campaign Name, but you may pull in Content if running an A/B test or Term if running a paid search campaign.
- Source | utm_source
- Required. Used to identify the referrer, such as a search engine (Google), newsletter name (Org eNews), or social platform (Facebook)
- Example: utm_source=twitter
- Medium | utm_medium
- Required. Used to identify the marketing medium or way in which your link was presented or delivered, such as banner ad, sponsored post, email, short URL, link
- Example: utm_medium=tweet20151007 (tweet plus year month date)
- Term | utm_term
- Used for paid search to track the keyword for a given ad in the campaign.
- Example: utm_term=shoes
- Content | utm_content
- Used to differentiate between placements or content or for A/B testing
- Example: utm_term=textlink or utm_term=logolink
- Campaign Name | utm_campaign
- Used to track overall campaign or what you are promoting, such as Fall 2015 Sale or Early Registration Offer
- Example: utm_campaign=fall2015sale
Once you understand the basic elements of what goes into a utm code, you can create a tracking URL with a utm code generator or by manually adding the utm codes to the end of the URL in the following format:
For ease of tracking, be consistent in how you use the various terms each time, keeping case, tense and word choice the same when using a term across more than one tracking URL. This will be particularly helpful when you use the campaign name consistently, so you can easily see all sessions, regardless of source, related to that campaign all in one place.
Tracking URL Data in Google Analytics
Now, let’s jump over to Google Analytics and actually check out that data. Once logged in, go to:
- All Campaigns
- Then set the date range you wish to track
In this view, you will see a list of campaigns that have data. Click on the campaign name you want to dig into. This will now show you every set of source/medium tags related to that given campaign.
So if you had created a series of tracking URLs all with the same campaign name code of “utm_campaign=spring2015sale” and each with its own source codes (such as “facebook”, “twitter”, “email”, “ppc” and “direct mail”) and related medium codes (such as “tweet20151007” or “banner ad”), you would now see each of those listed here (assuming someone actually clicked on the links, of course!), along with the data on how many sessions, bounce rate, and average session duration for each – as well as goal conversion rate if you’ve taken the time to set up goals in analytics too.
This gives you a great cross section of data to compare and draw some conclusions about which source or medium was most effective in driving traffic to your website for that given campaign name.
Discovering that you love playing with the data? Check out these other marketing metrics you should be monitoring too.