How to Track Online Marketing Campaigns with UTM Parameters in Google Analytics

In today’s video, we’re going to dive into how to use UTM parameters in Google Analytics. UTM parameters are a very handy way to track all your online marketing efforts.

For example, let’s say you wanted to see how many people visited a special promotion webpage on your website with its own unique URL (example.com/promo). Additionally, you blasted this URL out through social media, email and even spent money on online advertising. How would know which marketing channel sent you to most traffic?

Well, that’s exactly the problem that UTM parameters solve. You can organize your campaigns to track the effectiveness of different marketing channels. Watch the video below and see how easy it is with Google Analytics:

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Video Transcription

Bryan: Hi, I’m Bryan with KISSmetrics, and I’m here to help you get the most out of your Google Analytics account. Today, I’m going to show you how to track every single instance of a link that you send out.

Imagine this, you spend months making this killer product, you’ve thrown up a landing page to it, and now you’re going to send out several tweets to drive traffic to your landing page. You send out a series of 15 tweets over the course of a week, you drive 5,000 people onto that landing page.

Now you want to step back and see which tweet drove the most traffic. If you put the same link in every tweet, that’s impossible to do. However, with the method I’m going to show you today you can know exactly which tweet drove the most traffic. Which link people clicked on the most? Then you can use that on Facebook posts, on your landing pages, on your website, different places on your website, to track which specific link sending traffic to the same URL drove the most traffic.

Today, I’m going to teach you about UTM Parameters. First, I’m going to tell you what they are. Second, I’m going to show you how to set them up. And third, I’m going to show you how to read your Google Analytics Report to gain valuable information to use on your site. So, let’s get going.

[music]

Bryan: So, what is a UTM Parameter? UTM Parameters are simply tags that are added to the end of a URL. So if you’ve ever been to a website before, look in the address bar and notice the URL was this long. It’s probably because it was using UTM Parameter tags.

What this allows you to do is when a user clicks on that link, all of the tags are sent back to Google Analytics for tracking. I used this on my personal site for promoting my video training course. So, I’ve promoted in several spots. I’ve promoted on the sidebar, in the footer, in my bio page, and at the bottom of every blog post. And I do this by creating a unique URL for each instance of the link, and that URL looks something like this.

When I go into Google Analytics I can see a report very similar to this, that shows me all of the Analytics of that exact link. You can customize your UTM Parameters to tell you almost anything you want to know about the details of how people are getting to the most important parts of your website. This can give you an even better idea of what really works in terms of your own net marketing. In a nutshell, a UTM Parameter are simply tags that you add to the end of the URL that allow you to track each specific instance of a link.

The simplest way to create UTM Parameters for your links is by using the Google Analytics Link Builder. Right below the video is a link to that tool that you can use right away. Now let’s walk through the process of building a link inside the Link Builder.

The link we are going to make is for a blog post that I’m publishing in a week. And at the end of that blog post will be a link to my free video training course. And what I want to do is be able to know how many people clicked on that link inside the blog post and how much traffic that generated for me. So, let’s head over to the Link Builder and get started.

You’ll immediately notice six form fields on this page. There’s only four that are required, so we’re going to focus on those just to start. First, in step one is the Website URL. This is simply the URL of the page you want the user to land on once they click your link. So we’re going to fill out the URL of my landing page here. Next is the campaign source.

This just needs to generally identify where the traffic is coming from. In this instance, it’s coming from a blog post so we’ll just enter blog posts. Third is Campaign Medium. This is simply a parameter that identifies the medium which the link was shared in. In our instance, I want to identify the exact blog post that the traffic came from, so I’ll use the blog post title here.

Last, is Campaign Name, and this is the highest most level of identifying your links. So, I’m going to group a lot of stuff inside of this campaign. I’m going to entitle it “Video Fruit Landing Page.” And this is simply every link I’ll make in future that sends people to my landing page for my free video course, will be inside of this campaign. And this just groups them all together in one nice spot. Now, press the “submit” button and your new URL will be generated below. Just copy and paste it into the blog post and you’re all set.

That’s it, you’re all done. Don’t get too tripped up on campaigns, sources, and mediums. How you use and organize your UTM Parameters boils down to how you want to see your information displayed inside of your Google Analytics dashboard. The way I prefer to see it, might not be the most useful for you.

My preference is to have the campaign as the highest level of organization, your source as the middle level, and medium as the most detailed level of organization. In our particular example of linking inside of a blog post to my landing page, if I wanted to create a new blog post in a day, I wouldn’t have to create a new campaign and a new source, I would just add another medium to the list there. If I wanted to link another section of the website, if I want to experiment with different sidebar widgets that link to my landing page, I wouldn’t have to create a new campaign, I would just create a new source called “Sidebar Widget,” and under it I would create all my different variations as mediums.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Just use it in a way that works best for you. To view your Campaigns in Google Analytics, you’ll go the website profile, and click on “Acquisitions,” “Campaigns,” and then go to “Sources and Site Usage.” Here, you’ll see an overview of your various campaigns as tagged using the UTM Campaign Parameter. You can then click on the campaign name to see the additional details as tagged using the source and medium parameters.

And that is UTM Parameters 101. There are all types of ways you can use this in your website to find out how your users are navigating your site and how they’re finding particular parts of your website. What I want you to do is in the comment section below, share with the community how you use UTM Parameters. Do you have a specific implementation that’s very cool, that’s given you valuable data that maybe we haven’t thought of before? If so, share it.

Well, that’s it for this week. Until next time. Happy Analyticking.

[music]

  1. I like these short video blog posts.

    One of the techniques that I use (and suggest) when creating UTM parameter names is to always use lower case. Also I use underscore (“_”) for compound phrases (e.g “blog_post”) and use dash (“-”) for multiple phrases (e.g “blog_post-july_13_2013″). It’s actually working out quite well. It minimizes duplications due to case mismatches, extra spaces between words, etc. when reusing the same parameters for different links. It keeps my Google Analytics reports very clean.

    More details of this method can be found in this Stack Exchange question http://webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/56229/why-use-underscores-in-urls-with-utms.

    Also, instead of Google URL builder, I use a web app (that I am building) for creating and managing my UTM parameters for the same app. How meta is that?

    Hopefully this idea will help readers (watchers?) of this post.

    • I really don’t want to self-promote, but mentioning Terminus seems highly relevant to this post. I would like to leave the url of the website in case anyone is interested.

      http://term.li/1mdY5TJ

      Hopefully people will find it as a good alternative to Google URL builder/spreadsheets.

      I apologize if people think it’s irrelevant.

      • 1. Sort Your Sources
        2. Export to Excel or other spreadsheet
        3. Make theme for UTM
        4. Care for using them in order

        And You can take out of GA with UTM every link that You use in Campaings.

  2. Great info and explanation of UTM parameter tags. What’s nice is the detail they provide and how when attached to specific campaigns they can really show the value of any efforts or promotions and dollars spent. Great way to show ROI.

  3. Fantastic article, I really enjoyed reading it.

    I have been online full time for many years yet I still got very useful info from this which then tells me others will also get great benefit.

    Many Thanks

    Mark

  4. Great Video. Thanks for sharing this. For a while I’ve wondered if using link shorteners such as bit.ly negatively affects/skews the data collected by your UTM parameters. Recently I asked a Google Support rep about this and he said yes. He basically said link shorteners should never be used with UTM parameters, which is disturbing given that many marketers rely on shortening their UTM parameters to use them in tweets, etc.

    Has anyone else researched this or noticed link shorteners affecting their data?

  5. Hi,

    This article is really helpful, thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to read more articles in future. Keep writing!!! cheers.

  6. Very useful video and resources. I use 301′s to overcome long url’s. This avoids problems caused by short codes. It also means you can use any URL extension you like and this can often create higher click throughs.

  7. Really nice video. I am using Utm parameters for years and I believe that after goals are the next must do in any analytics account. I have create an excel file that helps me easy create the parameter but also have a full archive and comments for each one.

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