UTM codes are a powerful tool for tracking user behavior and understanding the success of your content.
UTM codes, or Urchin Tracking Modules, are pieces of text added to the end of URLs that can help you track where users came from and what they did when they got there.
If you’re a small business owner, content writer, or marketer who wants to understand how successfully their content is in driving desired actions, understanding UTM codes is essential.
Let’s dive into why UTM codes are so important and some best practices for using them.
How do UTM codes work?
UTM codes use five variables—source, medium, campaign name, term, and content—to indicate how someone arrived at your website.
For example, if you share a link on Twitter with your followers that directs them to a specific page on your website with information about an upcoming event you’re hosting, the UTM code would look something like this: WebsiteURL?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=EventPromotion.
With this code in place, you can see exactly how many people clicked through from Twitter to learn more about your event.
UTM source and UTM medium
UTM source is used to identify where traffic is coming from; typically it’s used to define a particular referrer, such as ‘Google’ or ‘Facebook.’
UTM medium is used to represent the type of referral, such as ‘cpc’ (cost per click ads) or ‘social’ (promotional post).
How to generate UTM codes for your website or blog content
Generating UTM codes for your website or blog content can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. Google UTM builder, fortunately, makes the process much easier and less intimidating.
Google UTM builder is a helpful tool that allows you to quickly create and view UTM codes for your web content without having to manually build URLs with parameters.
All you have to do is enter some information about your content, such as the campaign source, campaign name, and URL of the page, and the Google UTM builder will generate the complete URL with all of your custom parameters included.
Once you generate the code, it can easily be added to any link or post on social media that is pointing back to your website or blog content.
Utilizing Google UTM builder is a great way to ensure that you’re up-to-date with best practices in tracking your web traffic effectively.
Best practices for utilizing UTM codes effectively
1) Short but descriptive – Be sure to make your campaign names short but descriptive enough that it will be easy for you to recognize later when reviewing data.
A good rule of thumb is to include the purpose of the campaign in its title (e.g., “EventPromotion”).
2) Unique campaigns – It’s important to create unique campaigns for each link you want to track so that you can easily differentiate between different sources of traffic.
This allows you to measure which sources are providing the most effective results and adjust accordingly based on those results.
3) Consistency – As much as possible try to maintain consistency when generating links with UTMs so that all campaigns have the same structure across all channels/platforms (e.g., utm_campaign=EventPromotion). This will make it easier for you to identify trends in the data over time.
4) Test your UTM codes: Before you launch your campaign, make sure to test your UTM codes to ensure they’re working correctly. We have a few troubleshooting checks you can use further down the post.
5) Pay attention – Finally, make sure that you pay attention when creating UTMs so that all variables are filled out correctly and accurately reflect the source/medium used for sharing (e.g., utm_medium=social).
This will allow you to get an accurate picture of where traffic is coming from and how effective each channel is in driving desired actions/results.
How to find UTM codes in google analytics
With Google Analytics, finding the UTM codes associated with a site is easy — simply filter for the Source/Medium report in the Traffic Acquisition tab of your dashboard.
This is where you’ll find more accurate insights on which traffic sources are most successful for your brand.
- Under the Traffic Acquisition report you may see the following by default:
- A lot of your traffic may be misclassified as Direct traffic if your campaigns, posts, or articles are not tagged or if a referrer isn’t passed to Google Analytics.
- You can use the filter and the blue plus sign to specify the parameters you used when creating your UTM code.
- For one of my campaigns, I created the following code: https://contentforcreators.info/digital-marketing/online-business-models/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=blog_promotion&utm_content=online-business-models
- We can filter to view data by filtering for the following parameters:
- Session campaign – this is what we see as utm_campaign=blog_promotion in our UTM code.
- We can also filter for secondary dimensions and filter for additional parameters we specified in our UTM code like our Session source and medium, utm_source=Twitter, and utm_medium=Social.
We can also filter for utm_content=online-business-models by selecting Session manual ad content, which helps us track individual posts inside various campaigns. This ensures we can conduct meaningful split tests and content audits.
UTM parameters not showing in analytics
- Check UTM code structure (&, =, utm_)
- Select UA or GA4 UTM code on Google UTM builder
- Are you filtering for the right period/check dates selected?
- Open the UTM link in an incognito window and check your analytics real-time report, do you see data about the visit and can you filter for your parameters?
Deciphering analytics data may seem intimidating initially, but tracking each marketing campaign’s performance with UTMs makes it easier and provides an invaluable way to learn what works best for your audiences.
UTM codes provide valuable insights into user behavior by helping us understand where our content is being shared and how successfully it drives desired actions or results.
By following best practices such as keeping campaign names short but descriptive,
- Creating unique campaigns for each link we want to track,
- Maintaining consistency across channels/platforms when generating links with UTMs,
- And paying attention when creating UTMs