How to use Google Analytics UTM codes to track engagements
UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes are essentially text parameters appended to the end of a URL, which allow you to track sources of website traffic within Google Analytics. You can track your link traffic just about anywhere you can place a hyperlink, which makes them very flexible. For example you can use UTM codes on your website, marketing emails, social media links, or even in your email signature. These valuable insights can help improve your future marketing efforts and fine-tune your content.
If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account, you can register for a free account here: https://analytics.google.com/
Dissecting UTM Codes
Let’s take a look at an example of a hyperlink from a call-to-action (CTA) link on a social media post with UTM code parameters appended:
As you can see, the link can be quite lengthy, which can make it appear a bit intimidating. Luckily, Google offers a tool to make the process of generating the URL a little easier and also offers the option of shortening it. You can find the tool here:
The first thing you’ll notice in the above example URL is that there is a question mark (“?”) after the page URL – this indicates that there are additional parameters to be sent with the URL request. You’ll then notice a series of parameters with assigned values, each separated by an ampersand (“&”) – the ampersand simply denotes the start of a new parameter.
Now let’s take a closer look at each parameter in more detail to better understand how to use them. Below is a list of the 5 main UTM parameters that are used including descriptions and examples:
utm_source (required): Defines where the traffic came from (e.g. linkedin, homepage, email-signature, mailchimp, etc.)
utm_medium (required): This identifies the marketing medium used (e.g. cpc, banner, newsletter, email, website, social, etc.)
utm_campaign (required): Usually the individual campaign name, slogan, or promo code (e.g. SAVE20, 2023-01-free-trial, bogo50, spring_into_savings, etc.)
utm_term (optional): This is used for paid ads to send over the keyword that was associated to the clicked ad (e.g. toronto-wordpress-training, blue-pants-for-men, etc.)
utm_content (optional): Used to differentiate similar content, or elements such as links within the same ad. Can also be used for A/B testing. (e.g. cta-register, cta-newsletter, cta-contact-a, cta-contact-b, etc.)
The last two parameters – utm_term and utm_content – are optional fields that add further context to the tracking.
Analyzing Your UTM Data in Google Analytics
Once you’ve setup your UTM tags as described above, you’ll be able to easily track performance and gain insights from user engagements within Google Analytics. Simply go to the Reports section and explore the various filters available to sort and analyze your data.
As you can see, UTM codes offer a powerful way to track engagement and performance for your digital marketing campaigns. A little bit of extra effort and planning can go a long way. Adding UTM codes to your call-to-action links will help you to measure and understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
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