How to Use UTM Codes in Your Digital Marketing Campaigns

how to use utm codesAny successful digital marketing campaign is powered by data. But data-driven campaigns are only possible when you collect that data properly. One essential tool used by digital marketers for data collection and segmentation is UTM codes. UTM codes help you build unique URLs for different marketing campaigns, making it possible to properly segment campaign traffic in platforms like Google Analytics.

Below, we outline how you can quickly and simply set up and use UTM codes within Google Analytics for your digital marketing campaigns.

UTM Codes: The Basics

A UTM code (short for Urchin Tracking Module) is a piece of code that is attached to a page’s URL. This code makes it easy for analytics programs to track where users are visiting your website’s pages from. By creating a new, unique UTM code for each campaign that you wish to track, you can easily isolate data to compare one campaign against another.

UTM codes are composed of five different elements, also referred to as parameters. Three of these parameters are required for all UTM codes. Two are only used in certain cases.

The five parameters are:

  • Campaign Name – utm_campaign: This is the name of your campaign. (i.e. “summersale”)
  • Campaign Source – utm_source: This is where you are running your campaign (i.e. “facebook”)
  • Campaign Medium – utm_medium: This is the type of link used to direct traffic to your site (i.e. “bannerad”)
  • Campaign Term – utm_term (optional parameter): If you are running a PPC campaign, this is the keyword term used.
  • Campaign Content – utm_content (optional parameter): If you are running multiple campaigns with the same name, source, and medium, you can add an extra keywords with this parameter to differentiate them.

Setting Up UTM Codes

Getting a UTM code set up for your campaign is simple, thanks to Google’s URL Builders and other similar tools. With Google’s URL builders (available for web and email ads, as well as mobile-app ads), you simply enter your website’s URL and each of the parameters you are using. Google’s tool will automatically generate a unique URL with the proper UTM parameters for your campaign. You will want to create a unique UTM code for every campaign that you are tracking in Google Analytics. This way, you can isolate each campaign individually.

One important point: make sure you use the same spelling for shared parameters. For instance, if you are running multiple campaigns for your summer sale, make sure to use “summersale” for the Campaign Name of each campaign. If you are running multiple campaigns on Facebook, you will want to spell “facebook” that same way every time in the Campaign Source parameter. Note that UTM parameters are case-sensitive, so capital letters matter.

UTM Codes & Google Analytics

When you’re in Google Analytics, you can easily track and compare different campaigns based on their UTM parameters. Simply go into Traffic Sources > Sources > Campaigns to see an overview of all campaigns listed by the Campaign Name parameter. In other areas, like the Explorer, Ecommerce, and AdSense sections, you’ll be able to drill down by additional parameters, like Campaign Source and Campaign Medium.

UTM codes make it easy to track and compare how social media campaigns perform on Facebook vs. Twitter, whether you’re seeing more clicks from banner ads vs. sidebar ads, or how different ads perform within the same campaign. This way, you can go ultra-granular when fine-tuning your digital marketing efforts, helping you build smarter campaigns and optimize results.

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