Insight May 30, 2018

The Sneaky Link Tracking Secret Every Marketer Should be Using


When it comes to online marketing, proving the value of paid social and other digital ad placements can be a struggle. Thanks to link tracking, however, marketers can demonstrate the importance of links shared online — for free.

Savvy marketers know that UTM (Urchin tracking module) link tracking is the cornerstone of content analysis, making analysis, essentially, handsfree. When properly executed, a UTM link-tracking system can make it easy to legitimately prove the ROI of digital marketing efforts — even on social.

Let’s talk about what UTM codes are and why they are so important to your success.

UTM Link Tracking

“UTM” stands for “Urchin tracking module.” Google acquired Urchin Software Corporation in 2005, and their software was what laid the groundwork for the Google Analytics we know today.

UTM codes are snippets of text you can add to a URL, giving Google Analytics (and other analytics tools) a bit more information about each link. This enables more accurate link tracking, but why should that matter?

With 72% of marketers producing significantly more content than they did a year ago, it is highly likely you are publishing hundreds of new links every day across your social channels, in your emails, and with paid search campaigns.

UTM codes can help you see exactly where your traffic is coming from for each individual link, so you can track your performance tied to a particular post instead of an entire campaign.

Essential Questions Your UTM Links Can Answer

When you develop a strategy for using UTM links in your own campaigns, you will be able to answer some important questions about your web traffic and campaigns:

  1. Where is the majority of your traffic coming from?
  2. What types of content do readers prefer?
  3. Which ad locations attract the most attention?

Five UTM Parameters Available for Campaign Tracking in Google Analytics

  1. Campaign Source (utm_source) is a required parameter that identifies the referring source driving traffic to your website, or where the user came from (e.g., blogs, newsletters, search engines, etc.).
  2. Campaign Medium (utm_medium) is a required parameter that identifies the marketing medium driving traffic to your website, or what type of traffic it is: direct, referral, social, organic, or paid (e.g., email, banner ads, PPC, PDF, etc.).
  3. Campaign Name (utm_campaign) is a required parameter that distinguishes individual campaigns. When you use unique names for each campaign, you will be able to see detailed data sets for each in Google Analytics.
  4. Campaign Term (utm_term) is an optional parameter that can identify search keywords triggering paid ads on non-AdWords pay-per-click networks (e.g., Yahoo, AOL, Bing, etc.)
  5. Campaign Content (utm_content) is an optional parameter that provides additional details about your marketing content. It is ideal for A/B testing. (i.e., If you wanted to compare two call-to-action links within the same email, you would use utm_content to set different values for each so you can see which is more effective.)

While you can manually add the UTM parameters to URLs, we recommend using a URL generation, such as this Campaign URL Builder tool, if you need help getting started.

Once you create the UTM link, you can use the information gathered to inform your campaign strategies. You will be able to collect, aggregate, and calculate the data to determine where your sales are coming from and when a campaign has you throwing money into the void.

Using that knowledge, you can continue modifying your campaigns to drive up ROI and demonstrate the value of your efforts to your clients, bosses, or coworkers.

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