UTM Trackers: Make Smarter Marketing Decisions | Brilliantly Visible

Smarter marketing decisions with UTM trackers

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If you are anything like me, you spent the last few weeks of 2019 analysing how well your year planned out compared to your goals.

How long did your review take you – hours? days?

One of my clients really struggled as she has no idea how to track which marketing channels gave her the most visibility and it took her 3 days to gather all of her campaign data before she could even start to analyse it.

I wanted to launch 2020 with a really useful and powerful blog that you can use to put into practice straight away. So today, I’m going to share how using UTM trackers for your creative business can help you market your business smarter and leave the overwhelm behind when it comes to tracking your successes.

Firstly, before we start, I’m sure you are wondering…

What does UTM stand for? 

UTM or Urchin Tracking Parameters is a string of code that is added to the end of a URL so it is easy to track the performance of your campaigns. It really sounds more complicated than it is and I’m sure, you’ve seen them multiple times without realising.

UTM codes are used on any external links that point to your website including your social media platforms. The idea is that you add the tracking code to the end of your website domain and all traffic from that link can be identified.

Here is an example of a link I would add to my YouTube channel to track traffic to my website.


What can you track with UTM codes?

There are 5 different types of UTM codes you can use depending on what parts of your marketing you want to track.

  • Source 

This parameter tracking link will tell you where your traffic comes from and should be used for your core marketing channels. 

Your core marketing channels:

  • Organic (any form of free traffic like SEO)
  • Social (any form of social media)
  • Paid (any form of paid traffic like Ads) 
  • Email

We’ll look at how to set up custom links later but here is the generic parameter for tracking source traffic.

/?utm_source e.g. /?utm_source=facebook

What to do right now:

  • Write down a list of all your core marketing channels that you are using in your business right now

Related: Download my UTM tracking spreadsheet

  • Medium

This code tracks the types of traffic within each source channel. Here are some individual websites you may find within each source.

  • Organic – Google and Bing
  • Social – Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube
  • Paid – Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads

The parameter for tracking your medium traffic is:

/?utm_medium e.g. /?utm_medium=google

What to do right now:

  • Write down a list of all of the individual websites you are on within each of your core marketing channels above.

You may be already tracking traffic in the Acquisition section of your Google Analytics report but the fun really starts with the next tracking option.

  • Campaign name

A campaign is simply any marketing activity you do to get traffic to your website via a link.

Examples of this could be:

  • Promotional emails
  • Facebook ad campaigns
  • Paid banner ads

These UTM trackers make it easier to identify the impact of your product launches, any promotional campaigns you have and any individual emails that you send out to your email list.

It can also be used to see how variant creatives drive traffic to your website, like different types of email campaigns. 

The parameter for this tracker is:

?/utm_campaign e.g. /utm_campaign=new-product-campaign

What to do right now:

  • Write down a list of each campaign you currently have running for every medium.
  • Content

If I’m being honest, this code may be too complex for most creative businesses, due to the way we set up our marketing funnel. The content parameter is used when multiple links pointing to the same URL on a page.

Examples of this could be:

  • Having the same link in two different places (like the copy of a blog post and the author bio)
  • Having multiple CTA buttons in an email

The main purpose of this would be to test and learn what makes your dream client click the links and maybe irrelevant to most small businesses. 

An example of this code is:

?/utm_content e.g. ?/utm_content=navlink

If you do want to use this parameter in your campaigns, simple swap the end part of the code after the ‘=’.

  • Keyword term

The last tracker to tell you which keywords your visitors is using to find you. This is specifically paid search ads only, however as Google has its own system, this code seems pointless to use now.

What can you track with UTM trackers?

There are a few things that you may want to track here are some ideas:

  • The most obvious ones are where your traffic is coming from. You can use the source, medium and campaign codes for this one.
  • If you send out a ‘round-up’ email to email list then you may want to consider adding UTM trackers to the different links so you know exactly which links are being clicked. 
  • I host a lot of webinars and online training sessions for various online communities and often using tracking code in my CTA buttons so I know which ones are successful. If you are a service-based business and network with communities where you may get some visitors, use them to see what works for you. 
  • Most creative businesses send out some form of proposal or services PDF which includes tons of links – this is another great opportunity to use your UTM parameters.
  • Another great example is opt-ins or any digital downloadables that you may have available for your business.
  • Paying for banner ads on a partner’s website? Ask them to add your parameters at the end of the URL so you can track performance.

What to do right now:

  • Write down a list of all the different places you didn’t think already, where you could use the tracking code.

How do you set up your own custom campaign URL

Setting up your own tracking codes in really simple. Rather than mix and match the different types of trackers together to create a long campaign URL, you can use this free Google tool

Here’s a quick look at how simple it is to set up your UTM tracking with Google’s URL campaign builder.

Simply add-in all the different elements you want to track and copy the campaign URL into the link you want to use.

Best practices for using UTM parameters

  • Make sure you have a UTM strategy in place about what you are going to track. Personally, I like to track every part of my marketing strategy so I know exactly what is working so I can drop what isn’t.
  • Create a document that you can go back to whenever you create a new code to make sure you use the same names again. It will be really difficult to track all of your social media platforms if you use a variation of names for the same app. 
  • Always use lowercase rather than capitals for your links as it is best practice. Changing from one to another or including spaces will duplicate the campaign and you won’t see like-for-like results.
  • Use simple names for your campaigns, you should be able to understand it easily.
  • Use a link shortener to create a free and custom link. My favourites are bit.ly which is really simple to use.

So there is my very detailed explanation of how you can set up UTM trackers to see what marketing channels are working for you.

As it’s a new year, I’ll be changing out all my current links for new ones to see what is working this year. Just because something works last year, doesn’t necessarily mean it will do this year. 

I’ll be hosting an online working shop at the end of Q1 (March) to share exactly where you can find the results of your trackers in Google Analytics and what I do to calculate whether a marketing activity has been successful. 

Sign up today to join the March #SEOin30 training on UTM trackers in Google

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