UTM Parameters

What Does It Mean?

Urchin Traffic Monitor or Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) has nothing to do with shallow-water, tide-pool sea urchins. UTM codes are a very simple tagging system that helps the user learn about their own website traffic, monitor user behavior, and measure marketing effectiveness. The “urchin” bit is the leftover name from the Urchin Software Corporation which got bought out by Google and is supported by Google Analytics. A UTM is a unique tag added to the end of the URL and helps track the progress of a marketing campaign on all online platforms.

UTMs from a marketing perspective are valuable because of the information they provide about traffic, best-performing channels, and the effectiveness of marketing strategies. With UTMs, you can see where your traffic is coming from, identify the backlinks driving the most traffic and conversions, identify top-performing channels, and measure marketing effectiveness. All of this information can be put to good use to more specifically identify the habits of your customers and the channels they use. If you spend money on ads, but a UTM shows a lack of conversion, you can funnel that money from the ad to a better channel.


Let's Break It Down

There are two components that identify a string of code as a UTM. The obvious piece is the first identifier. UTM code starts: utm_. The other part of the code is the tracking variable that identifies the dimension being tracked (for instance: the traffic source). This variable is always preceded by the "=“ sign. Only numbers, letters, hyphens, “+” signs and periods can be used in the variable.

There are five types of UTM Parameters, each with a unique code and purpose. Three of the parameters are required in order to accurately track data from specific marketing channels. The first is “source”. Source refers to the location that is sending the traffic. For example: utm_source=facebook would be the code indicating that Facebook was the source of a certain amount of traffic to the pertinent site. The source code always begins with utm_source.

The second type of UTM parameter is “medium". This parameter refers to the marketing medium where the link was shared. For instance, the medium could be a CPC (cost per click), banner, email, or news. Utm_medium=banner would be the code revealing that a banner was the marketing medium used to deliver the link. The code for medium always begins with utm_medium.

"Campaign” is the third UTM parameter. It tracks the traffic from a specific campaign—a product, a promo code, slogan, or the name of a campaign. The code for campaign always, and predictably, begins with utm_campaign and like the source and medium, all three can easily be tracked and analyzed in Google Analytics under Traffic Sources. An example of the campaign parameter is: utm_campaign=wellness-blog-outreach.

The fourth UTM parameter is “term.” This parameter is an optional piece to the analytics code. It tracks the keywords tied to the campaign, but connecting Google AdWords and Google Analytics can track this automatically. The code defining a term is: utm_term, and an example specific to a campaign could be: utm_term=get-healthy or utm_term=lost-weight or utm_term=beach-body.

Content” is the final UTM parameter. Its use is also optional based on the goal of the page. A content code differentiates between phrases of similar content on the same page such as a unique call to action or different buttons. The code for content is: utm_content and a few examples could look like: utm_content=green-button, utm_content=sidebar-cta or utm_content=footer.


Putting It All Together

UTM Parameters can be used in many places on a website to track specific information for the betterment of a business. The code is added to links on landing pages, blog posts, sharable social media content, email newsletters, display ads, and guest posts. UTM Parameters make a website work for you. Website users can see the link and if they understand code can see their movements are being watched and understood. Shortening the link or hiding the parameters can enhance user experience. UTMs are generally tracked in a simple spreadsheet and should have a consistent naming convention. They should be tied to marketing metrics in order to get a clear picture of the data. Google has made it simple to see the data in Google Analytics. The code can be written manually, but Google Builder, Campaign URL Builder, or EffinAmazing UTM Code Builder are tools that make writing the code easy.

UTM Parameters are small, yet important details that deepen insight and knowledge of the way customers behave, which enables businesses to more specifically cater to the customer, solve problems, and provide solutions. To fully realize the UTM capabilities, get in touch with Bonsai Digital Marketing to optimize your company’s website.



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