You’ve just started a new job. One of the first things you do is create your email signature, mostly likely copying the format – and links – from a colleague’s. Sorted.

Then your boss says to you: “You’ve got my UTM code in your signature”. You scan your mind to think what film this quote comes from. Surely he can’t be serious? Don’t call me Shirley.

You click the link (to your company website) and you see a little bit of gobbledygook at the end of the URL, which ends with “?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MikeSig”.

Ah.

UTM codes – Just what are they and why are they important?

UTM codes or ‘Urchin Tracking Module’ parameters are small codes added to a URL to enable you to break down the traffic to your website to a much more granular and importantly – customisable –  level than relying on google analytics alone.

Analytics can tell you the source of your traffic but without UTM codes, how do you know which content encouraged users to click through? Who in your company is generating the most traffic? If coming from twitter, are users arriving through your content or that link in your bio?

Labelling your URLS with UTM codes will give you insights you never thought possible.

The best part?  It’s easy.

Particularly with Eugene our free Essential UTM Generator – you can easily generate and track working URLs tagged with the information you need for your reporting. Click here to download.

Urchin Tracking Modules are a lot less painful than Sea Urchins….

If you want to know more, read on for a breakdown of those little bits of code, what they do and what they’ll teach you:

Breakdown of UTM Parameters – Why should you use UTM codes?

Take this example URL

https://www.weareessential.com/blog/utm-codes-u-talkin-me?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=eugene&utm_medium=social-organic&utm_content=sea-urchin-image

Without UTM codes, a simple link to this blog post would show in google analytics as traffic from twitter, then if we add a secondary dimension (#hassle) we could see the number of people landing on this blog via twitter. Cool.

With the UTM codes above however, we can tell that you clicked onto this blog post from twitter, that the post you clicked on was an organic post, rather than a sponsored (paid for) post and that the creative you clicked on was the image of the sea urchins. Insights!

UTM Parameters: WHERE? HOW? WHAT? WHY?

These are the most crucial questions that UTM codes allow you to answer. We think of these as ways to explain those different UTM parameters you’ll see at the end of your URL.

1. UTM_Source:

Where? The UTM Source parameter is mandatory when using UTM codes, it defines exactly where the traffic is coming from – where you are using this link, e.g.

website, newsletter, twitter, vimeo

2. UTM_Campaign:

Why? Do you have a name for the campaign you’re about to run across social, email etc.? You’re going to want to label all of your URLs with this so you can easily compare the success of different campaigns across all your methods of delivery, and understand why people are visiting your site. e.g.

summer-sale, product-launch.

3. UTM_Medium:

How? This parameter helps you to understand how traffic is being generated to your site. E.g. social, email, video, cpc, organic – we’d recommend combining these to fit your reporting, e.g. if you wanted to compare ‘ social-sponsored ’ to ‘ social-organic’.

4. UTM_Content:

What? Whilst considered optional, this is a crucial parameter when you’re running multiple creatives. For example, if you’re trying a more ‘formal’ creative as well as a more ‘fun’ creative for the same campaign, you’ll want to know not only which is generating more traffic but which is driving more engagement.

You can also specify different types of content here too E.g.

fun_banner, business-image, product-x-copy, launch_image1, launch_image2.

It’s really up to you how you configure your labels, so use whatever will work best for your reporting and be as descriptive or simplistic as you like!

UTM Codes: Best Practice

UTM CODES ARE CASE SENSITIVE!

We recommend choosing lowercase or propercase right from the start, otherwise you’ll end up having to combine CPC with cpc and Cpc to track your paid traffic.

KEEP IT CONSISTENT!

It doesn’t matter what terminology you use, e.g. if you use ‘Paid’ ‘Ad’ ‘Sponsored’ –  just make sure to stick with
it to make reporting easier, likewise if using _ or – to separate words.

DON’T FORGET TO SHORTEN IT!

UTM codes obviously make for very long links – don’t forget to hyperlink if using in an email or use a URL shorten-er such as bit.ly.

DON’T BE RUDE!

Just because you’ve got this snazzy new way of identifying your traffic, don’t forget that users (if they happen to click into the URL bar) can see your UTM parameters, so maybe don’t use: UTM_Campaign=StealingCandyFromABaby.

Where can I report on my UTM tags?

UTM Reporting

 

Various analytics and marketing platforms support UTM reporting, the biggest and most widely used of course being Google.  To view your parameters, head to:


GOOGLE ANALYTICS > ACQUISITION > CAMPAIGNS > ALL CAMPAIGNS:

Here you’ll see all of your UTM parameters and will be able to report by source, medium, campaign and ad content!


In our example below, we can see which ad creative is generating the most clicks through to the website in our campaign and better yet – track the behaviour of users that click on each ad!

UTM reporting in Google Analytics

We hope that you might now see the power of UTM codes but if you’re still convinced they’re too fiddly..


Don’t forget to use Eugene, our free UTM Code Generator to allow you to tag and keep track of all of your URLS!

Further reading (we found the below very useful in our research):

1. Google’s URL Builder:

https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

2. BufferApp’s UTM Guide:

The Complete Guide to UTM Codes: How to Track Every Link and All the Traffic From Social Media