Google Analytics – UTM parameters

image~Google Analytics - UTM parameters
Image~Google Analytics – UTM parameters

Google Analytics – UTM parameters are five forms of URL parameters used to track the success of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media. They were introduced by Google Analytics’ predecessor Urchin and are supported out-of-the-box by Google Analytics. UTM [Urchin Tracking Module] parameters are tagging solutions. They can be formatted on your websites to obtain marketing insights about specific URLs. Such data collected enable you to identify the source of the traffic to your websites. Find posts and social media channels, backlinks, etc that attract the most traffic getting many likes and shares. Measure and enhance the performance of your campaigns by setting conversion tracking for advertising platforms. Use UTM parameters to find your most performing display ads. Add UTM parameters to external links. These inbound links can be placed in your email newsletters, landing pages, guest posts, etc.

It identifies which specific links or Ads get the most clicks or conversions. Without UTM  tracking, Google Analytics will only track which websites your clicks and conversion came from. Launch a campaign with a defined measurement strategy in place. Next customize URLs for Google Analytics that will help you drive more value to your campaigns because you can measure the results.

Running an ad campaign of three different banner ads on a website that rotate will generate clicks and conversions. UTM tracking code placed on each one of these ads allows you to see which specific Ads get the most clicks and conversions. You can then bid on the right ad and withdraw the poor performing ads. There is no need to pay for impressions that don’t get clicks and clicks that don’t get conversions.

Google Analytics-UTM parameters for Tracking

A URL builder fig1 is a tool (or process) for creating a URL with defined parameters to track and measure links.

There are five Google Analytics tracking parameters known as “UTM parameters” to help measure your campaigns.

fig1-Google Analytics - UTM parameters~Campaign URL Builder Google Analytics Demos Tools
fig1-Google Analytics – UTM parameters~Campaign URL Builder Google Analytics Demos Tools

The tracking parameters are:

UTM source (required) – utm_source identifies the source of your traffic. It can be a newsletter name or search engine name such as Google or Bing or maybe any other sources. eg- utm_source=facebook.

UTM medium (required) – utm_medium identifies the link medium such as social or email. eg- utm_medium=social.

UTM term – utm_term identifies the bidding keyword in the paid search eg- utm_term=jackets+sales. This parameter is deployed when using Google Adwords campaigns

UTM content – utm_content identifies content targeted ads that are linked to the same URL and can be a link text or a logo link. eg- utm_content=logolink. This parameter gives info about the type of ad being clicked and is linked with the Google AdWords campaigns.

UTM campaign name (required) – utm_campaign identifies particular product promotions or campaigns. eg-utm_campaign=blogpost. The campaign name reflects in Google Analytics data and has to be named appropriately to track the data.

There is no need to use all five UTM parameters. To build your new custom URL(s), only Campaign, Medium & Source are the required fields.

As you start entering the details of the campaign in the URL builder, a long URL gets generated with the source, medium, and campaign

fig - bit.ly_url_shortner
fig2-Google Analytics – UTM parameters URL shortner

URL shortener

The long URL generated with UTM parameters in the above example can be shortened by using an URL shortener fig2.

fig3-Excell Sheet
fig3-Excell Sheet

Google Analytics-UTM parameters~Excell Sheet

Make use of an excel document fig3 with all the UTM parameters to build customized URLs.

To start using UTM tracking codes

  • Sign in to your Google Analytics Account.
  • Next open google’s free URL builder
  • Create a unique tracking URL for the ad or link.
  • Use the unique URL in place of website links
  • To view your UTM campaign data in Google Analytics go to ‘Acquisition’. In the drop-down select ‘Campaigns’ and then ‘All Campaigns’. Go to the top bar window menu and click on ‘Source/ Medium’.

Use UTM to set up social media campaign tracking

Track the performance of-

  • each social media network such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc individually. 
  • a group from multiple groupings in a social media channel.

For example, if you want to promote one link, you can create different UTM links for each social media network on which you want to share. By analyzing the data on Google Analytics, you can track which social media channel or group brought you the most traffic.

How Trackable URLs work for different campaigns

  • Social – tracking clicks to check product/ services that result in a purchase
  • A blog post for guests – track results that contribute traffic through the guest efforts.
  • Influencers – trackable IDs given to influencers track how their audience responds to your brand.
  • Banner Ads – help in Ad testing & compare success.
  • Email – which specific emails convert users.

Google Analytics-UTM parameters~Annotations

Annotations are short notes that you can add to dates within your Google Analytics reports. They offer insights to data during dip or spikes in traffic that otherwise would not be clear.

Notes and comments for specific dates can be joined to data that has been processed and generated into reports by way of annotations. They are the tiny user note called stickies or bubbles (160 characters). You can see it in the interface and do not affect the backend data. Associated with the email address (login) that is used to create them, annotations can be edited or deleted

For your Campaigns add annotations

Add annotations to all types of campaigns. This easily identifies possible reasons for a rise in site traffic.

in Google Analytics go to Admin > View > click on Annotations under Personal tools and assets.

fig4-Create New Annotation (1)
fig4-Create New Annotation (1)

In the window that opens click on +NEW ANNOTATIONS fig4 to add your stickies.

fig4-Create New Annotation (2)
fig4-Create New Annotation (2)

Some recommendations for using annotations-

  • Campaigns – marketing, email, offline eg TV, radio & online advertisements such as a display, social, search, etc
  • Website changes, issues & user behaviors, marking important dates
  • Seasonal holidays/ specific events & sales special promotions
  • Content addition & changes, press release, etc