Master Guide To Using UTM Parameters

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In today’s scenario of Digital Marketing, marketers use different channels, platforms,devices, campaigns etc to drive leads/sales for businesses. It is important for marketers to know which channels, platforms, campaigns etc are performing for their business, so that they further define their marketing strategy on Digital. UTM parameters can help you in measuring each of this!

In this article we will discuss about UTM parameters, their benefits, setting up UTM parameters & measuring the effectiveness for your campaigns.

So What are UTM Parameters?

UTM (Urchin Tracking Modules) Parameters, also known as UTM tags, are custom tags/codes added to your web page URL in order to track source, campaign name, medium, device, keyword etc which helps you to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. The tracking can be viewed in Google Analytics or you can also use third party softwares/CRMs/LMS to capture the data as required for your online marketing efforts.

UTM (Urchin Tracking Modules) was acquired by Google in 2005 which laid the foundation to develop a product called as Google Analytics.

Below is an example of a URL with UTM parameters

http://www.rinteractives.com/blog/en/what-is-dynamic-creative-optimisation-dco/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=dco

There are 5 components to a URL when you add UTM parameters, which are as below:

The Protocol:

Http or Https, which indicates the framework used to transmit data between server and browser. URL’s ending with an “s” indicate that these URL’s are secured for data transfer, to get https URL, you need to have an SSL certificate which can be bought from Godaddy or Bigrock

Eg: In my case of the above URL, http is the protocol here

Host:

Host is nothing but the domain name of the website address. It also consists of subdomains, top level domains with country codes.

Eg: In my case of the above URL, www.rinteractives.com is the host here

Path:

Path is the specific web page of your website, which should open once a user clicks on the link.

Eg: In my case of the above URL, blog/en/what-is-dynamic-creative-optimisation-dcois the path

Parameters:

Parameters are also called as query string. They are preceded by a question mark, which are customizable and can be used for effective tracking and identifying the users. Parameters are the ones who send the information to the servers, which then helps us to understand which campaigns are driving results.

Eg: In my case of the above URL, utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=dco are the parameters which I have added to the URL

Fragment

The last part is a fragment which is preceded by hash symbol #. By adding #, the users automatically reaches to a particular section of a webpage.

I have not added fragment, as I don’t have users to scroll to any specific section of my web page

As we have understood different components of the URL once we add the utm tags, now let’s understand different types of UTM parameters

Different Types of UTM Parameters

There are 5 types of UTM parameters which are commonly used as below:

Campaign Name (utm_campaign): It is the name of the campaign which you are using on different advertising platforms. In the above example, I have added campaign as dco, which you can see.

Campaign Source (utm_source): It is the source from where the traffic is getting generated. Example: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bing etc

Campaign Medium (utm_medium): This is the marketing medium of your content. Eg: paid, organic, social, email etc

Campaign Keyword/Term (utm_term): This is for search advertising when you want to track the exact keyword which generated sale/lead. You can also track the matchtype used for a particular keyword which generated a sale/lead. This is quite effective while measuring keyword level data for your campaigns

Example: utm_term:dco, utm_term:dynamic_creatives

Campaign Content (utm_content): It is subset of utm_campaign, you can try different content pieces for a particular campaign and understand which one is performing. In other words, it can be used for A/B testing of different aspects from the same campaign.

Example: utm_content=features, utm_content=price

Lets now build UTM tag for a URL

So How To Build UTM Parameters for a URL?

You can build UTM parameters for a URL with different tools. One of the popular one is by Google called as Campaign URL Builder.

I am going to show you now, how to build your URL with different UTM parameters using Campaign URL Builder.

So lets go for it.

Step 1:

Go to campaign URL builder – Click here

Step 2:

Once you go to Campaign URL builder.

  • Add the webpage url for which you want to build utm parameters. I have added a url as per below screenshot.
  • Next is to add campaign source. I have added Google, as I would be using the URL in Google
  • Next is to add campaign medium. I have added CPC, as I am using this for Google Ads
  • Next is to add campaign name. I have added campaign name as DCO, as it’s the name of my Google Ads campaign
  • Next is to define campaign term. I have added Dynamic Creative Optimization as I am using this term in my Google Search Ads campaign.

Once you have added all the parameters, automatically a URL is build with the UTM parameters, have a look at the bottom of the screenshot. Now I can use this URL in my ad copy of search ads and start tracking once I start receiving clicks.

How To Create UTM Tracking Parameters

You can similarly create, different URLs for different sources, mediums, campaign etc and start using for your online marketing campaigns. For Eg: I have created multiple links for different sources and mediums, have a look below:

http://www.rinteractives.com/blog/en/what-is-dynamic-creative-optimisation-dco/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=dco&utm_content=cases

http://www.rinteractives.com/blog/en/what-is-dynamic-creative-optimisation-dco/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=dco&utm_content=benefits

And so on ….

So How To Setup UTM Parameters in Google Ads?

Once you have built your UTM parameters, you would like to add them to Google Ads, so lets set it up.

Step 1:

Login in to your Google Ads Account – Login

Step 2:

Go to any campaign which you have created, and click on the settings option on the left hand side as below. Once you click on settings, you will see campaign URL options on the right hand side .

UTM Parameters Creation in Google Ads

Step 3:

Here we need to define the campaign URL options, so let’s do that. Have a look at the below screenshot, how I have defined the campaign name, source, medium and content.

Setting Up UTM Parameters
Step 4:

You may have observed in the screenshot, there is another option called as tracking template.

How To Setup Tracking Template

So what is Tracking Template in Campaign URL Options?

Tracking template is a template through which you can additionally track specific things of your campaigns including matchtype, the exact search query used by the user, device, ad position etc. This will help you to capture more information in detail and then further define your marketing strategy.

In the above screenshot, I have added keyword and matchtype in tracking template, as I want to understand the exact search terms used by the user and the keyword match type which triggered my ad. So when you want to define tracking template you can follow the below tracking template structure

{lpurl}?keyword={keyword}&matchtype={matchtype}&device={device}

You can further add different parameters to track. For different parameters to track, you can refer this article which will help you to understand what all parameters can be tracked using tracking template. It is important to note that the text in braces has to be the way Google has defined in this article – Set Up Tracking with Valuetrack Parameters. If the text is braces is incorrect, you won’t be able to track the right information.

Step 5:

Once you have added the tracking template, say test, so that Google will test if everything you have added is correct or not. In the below screenshot you can see that the template and the UTM parameters I have set are not showing any errors, which means, I would be able to track all the parameters which I have defined effectively. Now, just save and you are ready to track!

UTM Parameters To Be Tested

Once the traffic starts coming on your web pages, it’s time to track them in Analytics or LMS/CMS which you are using.

So Let’s Understand, How To Track UTM Parameters in Google Analytics?

Step 1:

Login to your Google Analytics Account – Login

Step 2:

On the left hand side of the dashboard click on Source/Medium which is under acquisition, under all traffic as below. You can all the sources and medium data under this tab which you can then relate to the other metrics of analytics, mapping upto sales funnel.

UTM Tracking in Google Analytics

If you want to break down the report by only source or by only medium or by only keyword, in that case you can select the options as per below screenshot.

Source & Medium UTM Tracking

Conclusion:

UTM parameters helps you to understand different sources, mediums, content, terms etc which are performing and driving value to your business. It’s important to first define what parameters you want to track which will help you to then analyze your data and further define your marketing strategy. Make sure you always define UTM parameters before you start with your marketing activities to drive more actionable insights from data!

    Stanford LEAD & Symbiosis Alumni, 11+ years experience in Programmatic Advertising, Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO), Search Marketing, User Behaviour & Web Analytics. Founder - R Interactives & R Academy. R Academy is part of Stanford LISA portfolio of emerging startups Visiting Faculty - Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM - MBA) & Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication (SIMC - MBA)

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