You can only improve what you can measure. UTM parameters allow you to measure both your offline and digital marketing performance.
One of the wonders of modern marketing is the ability to measure the performance of your marketing campaigns across all the channels that you use. This allows you to prove the value of marketing as well as continually improve marketing performance. Google Analytics can be used to measure the response rates of your offline channels like direct mail and OOH (out-of-home) signage by customizing the URLs used to drive traffic to your website.
As described in the blog post Analytics Help Chart Your Marketing Course, you can get great actionable information just by installing analytics on your website. But by getting more sophisticated with Google Analytics you can answer questions like:
- Which campaigns are driving traffic to our website?
- How effective is each marketing channel in our integrated cross-media campaign? How many people responded to the direct mail, the emails, and the social media posts?
- Which is more effective, social media or email marketing?
- How can we see what is working and what isn’t?
What Are UTM Parameters?
UTM Parameters are extra information you can add to URLs that tell Google Analytics which campaigns, source, and channel that drove a visitor to your website. This extra information does make the URL complicated and ugly, but there are ways to hide this.
Here’s an example of a URL with link tagging:
To get these benefits you need to add a campaign name, the medium used, and source. There is also an optional content tag. Google Analytics uses a term tag when tracking online advertising, but you can ignore this UTM parameter as it is handled automatically by advertising platforms like Google Adwords.
Here are the five UTM parameters you can use to measure your campaigns.
- Campaign name
- A marketing campaign is the theme that commonly spreads across multiple channels. It can be a specific campaign, such as “Summer Sale”, or be an ongoing marketing program, such as “Analytics_whitepaper”.
- The channel used to communicate the campaign message. “Email”, “display_ads”, “social_media”, and “radio” are examples of different mediums.
- This is more specific than the source where the visitor comes from. Examples include:
- Identify the social media channel, such as “Twitter”, “Facebook”, or “LinkedIn”.
- For ads in newsletters, websites, or magazines, identify the source with terms like “NW_Food_Processors_Assn” or “Sunset_mag”.
- If you are sending out a series of emails in a “drip” campaign, change the source for each email, something like “email01”, “email02”, etc. The campaign name and medium would stay the same.
- Identifies the version of something that compelled the visitor to take action. If you have an image and clickable text in an ad, you can tag the content as “image” or “text”. Knowing exactly what people are clicking on is very useful when deciding to do a redesign. The content tag can also be used for “A/B testing” to distinguish which versions is driving more traffic.
- This identifies the keywords used when buying online advertising. You can ignore it if you’re not buying online ads.
Adding this information to your URLs allows you to see what is working, what isn’t, and make changes to improve your marketing performance.
Be Consistent with UTM Parameter Terminology
You need to be consistent with your terms to be able to measure campaign results. Capitalization matters. Avoid spaces, either use underscores “Winter_Sale” or camelcase like “WinterSale”. Google doesn’t care how you do it, just be consistent for each campaign and each term.
The easiest way to stay consistent is to use a spreadsheet with the UTM parameters you use that are used by all members of your marketing team. This spreadsheet serves as a common point of reference for your strategists, marketing creatives, and technical specialists.
Get the Moderno Campaign URL Builder
Google’s Campaign URL Builder tool is a good way to review the UTM parameters and quickly build a URL. But consistent use of UTM terms is critical to be able to measure campaign and marketing channel success. Google Analytics is picky, it treats “spring-campaign” and “Spring-campaign” as two separate campaigns. Google’s UTM tool does not help you and your team be consistent.
The free Moderno Campaign UTM Parameter Generator makes it easy to generate URLs with consistent UTM terms. You can get either a Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel version, or both. TThe spreadsheet makes it easy to define your campaign names and other UTM parameters once and use them to quickly build your URLs.