November 23, 2021

What is a UTM Link or Tracking Code?

What is a UTM Link or Tracking Code?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module - and to be honest, that may be the last time you need to remember those 3 words. 'UTM' is globally recognised in the world of digital, so in our opinion the Urchin term can be tossed to the bottom of the sea with the others.

Simply put, a UTM code is a snippet of code appended to the end of a URL. This code is used to track the success of digital marketing campaigns and to pinpoint specific sources of traffic to your website. 

UTM links are formed from your regular URL (www.mywebsite.com/blog for example) with a collection of extras bolted on after the last trailing slash. These parameters let Google (and other tracking / analytics tools) know a little more about the visitor's route to your site and are superb to differentiate and report on what is driving traffic.

What does a UTM look like?

You've probably seen plenty but never really paid that much attention to all the "stuff" at the end of a link. After all, you end up where you wanted to be didn't you? Little did you know that the long link on the top of your phone or your computer is telling the site owner quite a lot.

Instead of a basic link www.mywebsite.com/blog you will see the parameters which make the link look more like this instead:

https://www.mywebsite.com/blog?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=footer&utm_campaign=christmas&utm_id=blog

It's not a new page on the site, it is just a collection of variables for tracking purposes.

Why use UTMs?

It's quite simple really. The more you know about the visitors on your site, the more you understand about what is working in your digital sphere.

Information is key to making the right decisions and giving your marketing efforts the best chance of success.

What could UTMs be used for?

Picture the scene: you're opening a new restaurant and pushing hard for opening weekend bookings.

You want to work out which medium of advertisement is getting you the most visitors to your site (and you've even managed to set up an online booking form so you are tracking visitors who complete that too).

Your three channels are paid advertising, paid social, and email marketing (all of which we offer by the way).

1. Paid Ads (Google or Bing Ads) Tracking

The URL will look something like this:

www.myrestaurant.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=paidads&utm_campaign=opening&utm_term=nov21

2. Social Media Ads Tracking

You need a different URL to show in analytics for this one to ensure visitors from social ads are tagged nicely in analytics. As a result your URL could look like this:

www.myrestaurant.com/?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=paidsocial&utm_campaign=opening&utm_term=nov21

3. Email Marketing Campaign Tracking

An email shot you are sending from a piece of software such as Mailchimp (there are plenty more) should have links back to your site. Although these systems will give you on-platform metrics, it is still key to tag visitors from your email campaign.

You'll probably have a collection of links in the email shot, but an example URL in this instance could be:

https://www.myrestaurant.com/?utm_source=email-mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=opening&utm_term=nov21

What are the parameters available?

At the time of writing, Google's confirmed parameters were as follows.

ParameterRequiredExampleDescription

Campaign ID

utm_id

No

abc.123

Used to identify which ads campaign this referral references. Use utm_id to identify a specific ads campaign.

Campaign Source

utm_source

Yes

google

Use utm_source to identify a search engine, newsletter name, or other source.

Campaign Medium

utm_medium

Yes

cpc

Use utm_medium to identify a medium such as email or cost-per-click.

Campaign Name

utm_campaign

No

spring_sale

Used for keyword analysis. Use utm_campaign to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.

Campaign Term

utm_term

No

running+shoes

Used for paid search. Use utm_term to note the keywords for this ad.

Campaign Content

utm_content

No

logolink

Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads. Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.



Are there any tools to help make UTMs?

There are plenty of tools available to help make UTMs, but our go to is the one from Google - https://ga-dev-tools.web.app/campaign-url-builder/

Can we help?

Of course we can!

If you are looking to step up your digital game and start attributing your marketing spend / time to the elements of the mix that generate the most visits, conversions, spend or value then get in touch with our team today.

Look out for our future blogs on tracking UTM's in Analytics.

And in the meantime, get in touch with us by calling 01903 866 143, emailing hello@orcaonline.co.uk or completing the form below.


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