What Are UTM Tags and How to Use Them?

What Are UTM Tags and How to Use Them?

Running online marketing campaigns enables measuring the effectiveness of conducted activities. You can analyze the number of redirects generated by a given source and its conversion rate to devise a strategy that will allow you to optimize your work. UTM tags can help you with this task. What are they and how to use them?

Latest on our blog: Does Website Age Matter? Investigating Domain Age Importance for SEO Ranking

Table of Contents:

UTM tags: what are they?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module and it’s a system of tracking traffic. It was developed by Urchin Software and then taken over by Google. Moreover, Google Analytics was created based on the solution implemented by the abovementioned company.

UTMs are special parameters that can be added to your URL. Once you do it, you can precisely measure the effectiveness of specific sources leading to your website.

To be honest, tagging is beneficial once you start conducting advertising campaigns for your website. It’s important to mention that these parameters should be well thought out. Otherwise, the increasing number of campaigns may make it hard to analyze the effectiveness of specific activities.

UTMs are needed mainly because of the fact that Google Analytics isn’t always able to identify all sources of traffic and classifies a few of them:
google analytics traffic analysis

In the table you can see:

  • google/organic – organic Google traffic.
  • bing/organic – organic Bing traffic.
  • com/referral – redirects from Facebook.
  • direct/none – theoretically speaking, this source should include all website visits where users typed in your URL in a web browser or clicked one of the bookmarks. In real life, it turns out that direct traffic comprises many other types of website visits. If users click on a link redirecting to your website (that isn’t protected and its address starts with HTTP) from a page secured with HTTPS protocol, then, the information about the redirecting page isn’t passed on and such visits are categorized as direct traffic. There are many more examples showing incorrect classification of traffic.

Thanks to UTM tags, you can minimize the amount of incorrectly categorized website visits which is particularly important when making decisions regarding marketing campaigns. Google Analytics recognizes traffic from the search engine and redirects from other pages, but you won’t receive necessary data in other cases. That’s why you need UTM tags.

5 UTM tags – how to use them?

5 UTM tags are at your disposal, however, you don’t necessarily have to apply all of them. It’s important to mention that you can add them in any order you wish, it doesn’t matter.

UTM tags at your disposal include:

  • utm_source – indicates the source of the visit. This may be e.g. Facebook, newsletter or any website, e.g. delete.pl.
  • utm_medium – indicates the type of traffic source, e.g. organic, social, display, email.
  • utm_campaign – informs about the campaign, e.g. black-friday.
  • utm_term – one of the optional parameters that provide even more data. It enables tracking paid search results based on keywords and determines phrases entered by users into the search engine before they clicked the ad. If you run a Google Ads campaign that targets the keyword “budget washing machines”, then this UTM might look like this: utm_term=budget+washing machines.
  • utm_content – an extra parameter that can be used to monitor a specific part of your campaign. Let’s assume that you sent out a newsletter and you want to check if the recipients clicked the link or the graphic ad. In this case, you can tag one of these elements with “utm_content=url_10” and the other one with “utm_content=banner_10”.

The last two parameters aren’t particularly popular, whereas the first three ones are applied quite frequently.

The principles of creating UTM

When creating links with UTM parameters, you should keep a few rules in mind. Let’s assume that we want to add UTMs to the http://delante.pl domain. In this case, the link should include:

  • A slash and a question mark were added to the URL. This is what the link will look like http://delante.pl/?.
  • UTM tags, e.g. utm_source=twitter to get: http://delante.pl/?utm_source=twitter.
  • An “&” sign between the end of one tag and the beginning of the other. Then, the link may look in the following way: http://delante.pl/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=blackf.

Although you can implement tags manually, there are free tools that facilitate the task. Campaign URL Builder is one of them. Your job is to fill in the fields. Keep UTMs you want to apply in mind. Then, you’ll obtain a link with parameters, you don’t have to click anything.

campaign url builder and utm tags

These aren’t all the principles you should keep in mind when creating UTMs. When it comes to other important issues, it’s important to remember about:

  • Determining tagging rules – this is particularly relevant if activities related to a given website are performed by a few persons. Come up with recommendations. If you set the following tags for a Google ad campaign: utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=campaign_name, use the same ones in the future. This will minimize the risk of making tagging mistakes.
  • Using appropriate characters – instead of spaces, go for dividers or underscore signs. Avoid capital letters – utm_source=FACEBOOK and utm_source=facebook aren’t the same things for Google Analytics. Special characters also aren’t recommended.
Consistency is the key to success. Every member of your company who will be tagging links should be informed about the rules. It has a crucial impact on the decisions in the future.

UTM: what tagging principles to adopt?

Create a tagging plan that can be tailored to a given platform. Make sure it’s simple, intuitive and has a pyramid structure.

When it comes to various sources, you can obtain traffic in different ways, e.g. Facebook visits may be generated by a CPC campaign or a link added to a given article on a fan page. Sometimes, users also share links to your page, e.g. on a Facebook group.

It’s helpful to adopt the following principles:

  • http://delante.pl/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc – for paid traffic.
  • http://delante.pl/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social – for links you publish yourself, e.g. on a fanpage.
  • http://delante.pl/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=[data_post] – if you wish to check how many clicks were generated by a specific Facebook post.
  • http://delante.pl/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=blackf – if you want to monitor the effects of a particular paid campaign you are currently running.
  • http://delante.pl/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=blackf&utm_content=adA – if you use several advertising creatives in one campaign, it’s beneficial to add the content tag. The tag above includes the “adA” and the second one can come with “adB”.

UTM tags are also helpful in the case of email campaigns. You can adopt the following principles:

  • http://delante.pl/?utm_source=database_name&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=[dateandnameofthecampaign] – as the name of the database you can give, for example, the domain you use. On the other hand, the parameter which concerns the campaign should include the date and the specific name of this advertising activity.
  • http://delante.pl/?utm_source=database_name&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=[dateandnameofthecampaign]&utm_content=banner – you may also add a content parameter to determine which link in the message was selected by recipient – was it text or maybe a banner?

Moreover, you can benefit from UTMs also in other media, such as newspapers and billboards, not only in online campaigns. How? Well, in this case you shouldn’t expect recipients to rewrite links like this:

  • http://delante.pl/?utm_source=billboard[name]&utm_medium=offline&utm_campaign=[blackf]

However, there is a certain solution. Use a redirect from the domain you’re advertising. Such a possibility can be found in the management panel of your hosting service.

technical seo and m commerce

Thanks to it, the recipient will be able to check your offer by typing in an approachable address such as http://delante.pl/campaign. It’s undoubtedly more beneficial than using long, hard-to-remember links filled with UTM tags.

How to check if UTM tags are implemented properly?

To check if UTM tags are implemented correctly, choose the “Real-Time” report and then “Sources of Visits” once you log into Google Analytics. Enter your website using the URL with UTM tags. The abovementioned report should include the source and medium determined in the link.

If you can’t see such information, your website probably has redirects. If so, turn them off and check if everything works. Without deleting the redirects, website visits will be categorized as direct.

If everything is okay, you can analyze links with UTMs during the campaign or when it finishes. To do it, go to Google Analytics and choose “Acquisition” and “Campaigns” from the menu. Then, click “All campaigns” and see set ad names. You can also complement report data with information such as medium and source.

With the data provided by UTM tags, you can make performance-based decisions regarding your marketing activities. Find out which groups of newsletter recipients affect your traffic and conversion the most. See which fan page posts attract readers.

FAQ

Applying UTMs in internal linking is a mistake as it overwrites the traffic source.

Let’s imagine that users accessed your website after seeing a paid Facebook campaign. Then, they click a link marked as “banner_sidebar” and buy your products. Then, such a transaction will be assigned to the “banner_sidebar” source, which might be misleading as you won’t discover the real source of the visit.

UTM tags are recommended mainly in the case of social media campaigns, email marketing or if you use display ads on other websites. On the other hand, you don’t need UTMs to analyze traffic from organic search results. You can also benefit from these tags when running offline campaigns – place a shorter URL version redirecting to the link with UTM tags on the flyer.

(0)
Author
Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recently on our blog

Are you curious about SEO of online stores or maybe you want to enter the Swiss market and wonder SEO abroad looks like? You will find answers to these questions and many other tips important for the development of your business on our blog.

Noscript Tags - What Are They and How Do They Affect SEO?

Noscript Tags - What Are They and How Do They Affect SEO?

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a website without JavaScript that makes it noticeably more attractive. Although it doesn’t happen on a daily basis, the browser preferred by users visiting your website may not support JS or the functionality may be disabled. In this case, it’s crucial to provide visitors with an alternative website version with noscript tags. What are they and how do they affect SEO?

Read more