Are you tired of making blind decisions about your marketing campaigns?

Do you want to know which campaigns and channels drive the greatest amount of traffic to your store?

The solution is campaign tracking.

One way to track your campaigns is with UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) link codes. These codes add extra information to your campaign URLs, allowing you to track their performance in your web analytics software. With UTM codes, you can see which campaigns are crushing it, and which are falling flat. Plus, you can compare the performance of different campaigns to see which ones are worth your investment.

This piece will take you through what UTMs are, the benefits of UTMs, plus how to set them up, and how to track them.

What is a UTM (urchin tracking module)?

A UTM code is a special code that you add to the end of your marketing campaign URLs, usually in the form of a query string. These codes provide extra information about where your website traffic is coming from, allowing you to track and analyze their performance in popular analytics tools like Google Analytics. This information is helpful so you can make better decisions about your marketing campaigns. The codes get their name from the Urchin software, which was one of the first analytics tools to use them.

The different parameters in a UTM code allow you to track different aspects of your campaign's performance. The three most important parameters are:

  • Source (utm_source) – This UTM parameter tells you where the web traffic is coming from, such as a specific website, social media platform, or SMS campaign.

  • Medium (utm_medium) – This parameter tells you what type of traffic it is, such as paid search, organic search, or social media.

  • Campaign (utm_campaign) – The campaign parameter tells you the specific name of the campaign, such as "Black Friday Sale."

Here's an example of a UTM code with all three parameters:

In this example, the source is "Facebook," the medium is "social," and the campaign is "black-friday-sale."

If you are looking for a way to measure the performance of your marketing campaigns and analyze where your site traffic is coming from, then UTM codes are a great tool to consider. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced marketer, UTMs can help you gain valuable insights into your marketing efforts, allowing you to make more informed decisions about how to improve them over time.

Benefits of UTMs

There are several benefits to using UTMs. For one, they can help you better understand where your site traffic is coming from, allowing you to make informed decisions about which marketing campaigns and channels are driving the most traffic.

Additionally, UTMs can help you measure the performance of different types of content or offers, enabling you to test and compare different strategies to see what works best for your business. This can help you identify and optimize your most effective campaigns, as well as eliminate the ones that aren't performing as well.

UTMs also bring emotional benefits, such as increased confidence in your marketing decisions and increased motivation to experiment with new ideas. Once you've been able to use the tracking info to optimize your campaign, you'll delight in seeing your traffic and conversions grow over time.

How to use UTM parameters

Setting up UTMs is quite simple. The process involves creating UTM tracking codes, adding them to links in your marketing campaigns, then tracking and analyzing the results.

1) Create UTM codes

Start by creating a UTM code for each of your marketing campaigns. The easiest way to do this is by using a tracking URL builder like Google's campaign URL builder, where you enter the information, and it generates the tracking URL for you.

UTM codes typically contain three pieces of information: the source, the medium, and the campaign. The source is the referrer or place where the traffic is coming from. Examples might include social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

The medium is the type of marketing campaign you are using, such as email marketing, paid ads, or social. This can help you identify which campaigns are performing the best and make data-driven decisions about how to improve them in the future.

The campaign is a descriptive name for each marketing effort that you are tracking. Create a unique URL for each campaign type and channel. The multiple links allow you to easily identify different campaigns within your analytics reports.

Under ‘content’, you can specify the image or copy used in the campaign. If you're using A/B testing, this is where you include information related to the variations. For instance, utm_content=we-are-launching and utm_content=join-our-launch. 

2) Add UTMs to your marketing URLs

Once you have created a tracking URL for each campaign, add them to the end of the URLs in your marketing materials, such as social media posts, email newsletters, and ads. This helps to ensure that your tracking data is being accurately captured so that you can make the most of your marketing efforts.

3) Track your campaigns in Google Analytics

Once you have created and added your UTMs to your marketing content, the next step is to track their performance in a tool like Google Analytics. If Google Analytics is already set up for your site, when someone clicks on one of your UTM links, the data will be automatically tracked in Google Analytics. To get an overview of your results in GA4, navigate to Reports > Acquisition > Acquisition Overview.

4) Analyze the results and optimize your campaigns

Using the data from your UTMs, you can analyze how each campaign is performing and make changes as needed to improve results. For example, if you notice that a particular social media marketing campaign is generating a lot of traffic and conversions, then you might want to focus more of your resources on that channel going forward. Or, if an email newsletter campaign is underperforming, then you might want to consider revamping it or focusing on new messaging to increase engagement.

Set your UTMs up for success

UTM codes are an excellent way to track your marketing campaigns, but to get the most out of them, it's important to follow some best practices. Check out our 7 UTM Best Practices For Accurate Campaign Tracking.