5 cool examples of UTM tracking

Robert Petković

Google Analytics Specialist

Ever wondered why some links you click have long URLs? These links are usually UTM-tagged for better recognition within Google Analytics, which helps you understand the behavior of your website visitors.

Analytics theory says that the most valuable visitors are those who come to your website by typing your URL directly in the browser or by choosing it from their Favorites/Bookmarks list. You can find their visit source in Google Analytics as Direct (none).
Even though, in my practice I have found that many visitors categorized as Direct actually came from some other source, usually a newsletter link which could be easily tracked but is now wasted.
Also, you know that your customers came from Facebook, but you don’t know which post made them purchase your product and which made them bookmark your webpage. Once you switch from Statistics (simply counting the number of visits, clicks, likes) to Analytics (finding the conversion source and improving it), you will find UTM tracking parameters very helpful and won’t imagine planning your campaigns without them.

If you aren’t familiar with Google Analytics campaign analysis concept, feel free to check all about it on Google Analytics website or contact our Traffic Team regarding any advanced Google Analytics implementation.

 WHAT ARE UTM TAGS/TRACKING PARAMETERS

Urchin Tracking Modules – UTM tags or UTM tracking parameters are ways to properly categorize where your website visitors came from! When Google introduced Google Analytics, they also created the URL Builder Tool , which helps you tag your URLs properly. It allows you to add up to 5 arguments to your website URL, which will help you track that specific ad/post/article within Google Analytics.

Although people keep naming them as „tags“, these are actually arguments or parameters. My developer background doesn’t allow me to name them as „tags“, but that term became a common one, so I kept it here for better understanding.

utm tracking

5 URL BUILDER ARGUMENTS

1. Campaign Source (utm_source)

This tag is mandatory, it identifies where exactly did your ad appear. That can be a specific portal name, social network name or similar.

2. Campaign Medium (utm_medium)

Identifies the way your ad appears on the web page (banner, PR) but I suggest you to use the Medium as you would use it within Google Analytics: Social, cpc, email, etc. This tag is also mandatory.

3. Campaign Term (utm_term)

This should be the keyword you use for identifying your ad. It will also appear as “keyword” within Google Analytics report.

4. Campaign Content (utm_content)

This tag is usually used for A/B testing, but it could be used for ad type, market, website language version or any other similar info that will help you distinguish one ad version from another.

5. Campaign Name (utm_campaign)

Surprisingly, that should be the name of your campaign .:) A group of your ads through various mediums (banners, newsletters, articles) that cover the same topic like “Autumn collection 2014” or “Early booking 2015”. This tag is also mandatory.

Most websites use UTM tags but our experience had shown us that many of them use them in the wrong way. You don’t have to be formal while tagging as long as you know where you will use them and where in Google Analytics you will find their data. You can play with terms and content the way you find it most useful, but take care of sources and mediums for better reporting.
Most users don’t tend to think globally and usually tag their ads/posts for one-time only, thus making their Google Analytics reports complicated and non reusable. Also, by creating your own Mediums, you will mess-up Google Analytics default channel grouping (although you can customize it) and you will not find your UTM-tagged Facebook posts under “Social” channel but under “Other”. And please, be aware of capital letters since if you put “Facebook” and “facebook” under utm_source, that would produce two separate “Source” entries in Google Analytics. Simply – use lowercase letters.

UTM CAMPAIGN CUSTOMIZATION EXAMPLES

1. Newsletter link

Always, always, al (wait for it!) ways use UTM tracking parameters in your newsletters!  If you send them regularly, you can name each newsletter as an individual campaign, but you can also use them as a part of some global campaign too. Don’t forget to track each newsletter link separately in order to optimize it later!

UTM parameters can be:
&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=Autumn+Newsletter&utm_content=logo+link

&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection&utm_term=Shoes

utm tracking google analytics

2. Website banner

If you don’t tag your banner link, those visits will appear as Referrals, so you will not be able to determine which exact banner or article generated clicks. You can use Banner or Display for Medium, and some banner examples can be:

&utm_medium=display&utm_source=amazon.com&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection&utm_term=Shoes

3. Social network posts

Same as the previous, if you don’t track your social links they will appear as Referrals (Medium), but thanks to the Google channel grouping they will also appear under Social channel. Still, you won’t be able to know which exact post brought you visits.

Therefore, try using URLs like:

&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection&utm_term=Shoes&utm_content=darkpost

&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection&utm_term=Shoes

Your employees probably share your Facebook posts among their friends. Once you prepare the link for all of them, you will know who is your most important influencer by using links such as:

&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection&utm_term=Shoes&utm_content=Employee+Name

utm tracking google analytics

4. Mail signatures

I’m sure you have a website link in your e-mail signature, but do you know which employee e-mail generates most visits and whose visits are most valuable? Probably not, because those links are not tagged, so they appear as Direct in your Google Analytics and are therefore wasted.

Here’s how you can track e-mail signatures for all your employees:

&utm_medium=email&utm_source=signature&utm_campaign=email+signature& utm_content=Employee+Name

But, if you write someone about your “Autumn Collection”, don’t forget to put a website link in your e-mail body as:

&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email+body&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection& utm_term=Shoes&utm_content=Employee+Name

5. QR codes

You know those odd codes that actually no one uses? Their creators usually put a plain website URL instead of using UTM tracking parameters, so they think that nobody uses them. If you track them properly, you will find they are used sometimes!

Use URL shorteners such as Bit.ly to shorten your UTM-tagged URL, otherwise you will generate QR code that won’t be readable by most QR readers.

Some examples can be:

&utm_medium=qr&utm_source=citilighy&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection&utm_term=Shoes

&utm_medium=qr&utm_source=Vogue&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection&utm_term=Shoes&utm_content=full+size

Bonus: Printed ads!

You also advertise your website in paper or on billboards just by writing website URL. Of course, what else? Wrong!
Try using URL shorteners or create domains like www.vogue.mywebsite.com that will make (301) redirect to URL like this:

&utm_medium=offline&utm_source=Vogue&utm_campaign=Autumn+Collection&utm_term=Shoes

Feel free to post your own cool examples in our comment section below. I would be very grateful to see some of our examples live or to use your suggestions in the future.

Author

Robert Petković

Google Analytics Specialist

Currently the oldest but hardly the most serious member of the team. Likes to play with gadgets, numbers and applications and loves music, travelling and spending time with his family.

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19 Comments

1

Tomislav

Reply
This is very nice. Most people use URL builders for affiliate marketing campaigns and that's as far as they get. Some great examples here, especially the clever solution for print ads. Great stuff, thanks!
2

Robert Petković

Reply
Thanks Tomislav! Let me know once you implement these suggestions :)
3

Tom Padraig

Reply
I am interested in the offline utm tracking at the moment. The vanity urls are great idea UTM can do so much more in offline advertising , QR codes, or coupons can be a big help in tracking. I am experimenting with using other tlds anything to make the tracking more accurate.
4

Zorin

Reply
Very useful overview Robert:)Some of the best/worst examples which happen very often: utm_medium=banner_300x250 - deal with that:)A good practice is to have consistency across multiple channels in terms of campaign name so let's say you use email, facebook and adwords for the same campaign the utm_campaign=myGreatCampaignJAN2014 should be identical. You can later drill by source/medium/content.As an added bonus with proper and consistent you can or better say should do Cost Data Import.
5

Robert Petković

Reply
Zorin, I am glad you find this overview useful. You definitely saw many lousy utm examples in the past and know good practices, thanks. And yes, keeping the same campaign name across many channels is always a good approach.
6

Aleksi

Reply
Hi,I have utm urls with same name, source and medium but with different content. How to compare which content converts best? I can't find statistics based on campaing_content form google analytics... Thank you!
7

Robert Petković

Reply
Hi Aleksi, thank you for your question! This isn't a tough one. Just select "Ad Content" as a primary or secondary dimension and - Voilà! Your utm_content should appear there :)
8

Kako do novih kupaca kroz CRM 'sales pipeline'?

Reply
[…] početnog poziva, ne zaboravite poslati povratni e-mail i tagirati linkove kako biste pratili klikove. Ponovno nazovite klijenta nakon par dana kako biste provjeriti jesu li […]
9

Google Analytics Parameters Tracking - LeadBoxer.com

Reply
[…] Additional reading: https://www.degordian.com/blog/5-cool-examples-of-utm-tracking http://blog.rafflecopter.com/2014/04/utm-naming-conventions […]
10

Robert Petković

Reply
Thanks Jared, your post have useful tips and examples too! I am glad you found my article interesting.
11

Mishell

Reply
Hi I am a developer , how to implement utm carry forward across the website that will help me to track the journey of the user who has come from a particular campaign Example - A user has come on the website through facebook 2015 campaign (&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=facebook2015&utm_term=subscription) and instead of subscription he end up doing just the registration and goes through various landing pages of the website. How can i track the user journey with the help of utm carry forward.
12

Robert Petković

Reply
Hi Mishell, thanks for the question, let me try to help you find the right solution. Whenever a visitor comes to the website, his traffic source is recorded and applied for the current and future visits, as long as he doesn't arrive via some other source, medium or campaign. So, here we have visitors arriving via "facebook2015" campaign and we want to know their behavior pattern. The best way could be to use "Behavior - Behavior Flow" report, where you can select "Campaign" from the drop-down menu. Find "facebook2015" there, click onto it, choose "View only this segment" and there you are! Now you can see the behavior flow of visitors coming from your desired campaign. Furthermore, you can apply a built-in segment called "Non-Converters" on this view and you will get the behavior for those visitors that didn't subscribe. Was that what you were looking for? Of course, that's assuming you already created a website goal for subscription. You can always create some other segment that would match the type of users, for example "Registered visitors but non-subscribers" and use it for better behavior understanding. Hope these tips were helpful, let me know if that's what you were looking for :)
13

Robert

Reply
Nice examples indeed. I have a question that I'm hoping you can help with. How can you create UTM codes when the source is not specific? For example, if the medium is PR and several different publications may pick up the PR (article) and publish, how can you create a "wildcard" source?
14

Robert Petković

Reply
Hi Robert, thank you for visit! Well, first of all, it would be nice if your PR sources are willing to use utm tags you sent! My experience is that they usually trim utm-tags, leaving you with only referral as a source, but that's OK if you only have that one PR on selected website. Back to your question, you can't use "wildcard" source and I would really suggest you to use specific source for each publication. That means that you should send individual emails to each publication, but that's OK because that will increase your chance that they publish your PR ;) If you are not able to send individual emails, than set the source to "Publications" and that's it. Sorry :(
15

Nick

Reply
Realy useful advice, thank you for sharing this, immensly helpful! I was wondering if you could help me out with 2 issues that I've been having, though.I created a UTM link for a twitter campaign. I basically want to do A/B testing to see which of my two accounts is performing better.The problem is, if I go under Acquisition/Campaigns, my campaigns don't display there, I was under the impression that what I enter in the "Campaign Name" field of the UTM link, will display there?I also found my reports under Channels/(Other) even though they are on Twitter.. So i'm a bit confused with these two issues.
16

Marin Zenić

Reply
Hi Nick,Have you double checked your UTM parameters? Good practice is to test them in your Google Analytics Real Time report before posting on social media or promoting that post. Use something like "test" for source and medium to be sure everything is reporting as it should. Maybe you have characters like ? and & already in your URL structure and you need to adjust your tags.Also, use "social" as medium for Twitter to group your campaign source like it is defined in Default Channel Grouping.Let me know if that's what you were looking for.
17

braymond

Reply
Hello,Thank you for the information. I added UTM parameters to the URL of a PDF file -- here it is with the actual parameters (URL portion altered): http://www.mysite.com/mypdf.pdf?utm_medium=qr&utm_source=poster&utm_campaign=SITC+MDSC+Nov+2015I created a short URL of this using Bit.ly as you suggested, then created a QR code from that. When I scan the code from my phone, everything seems to work great -- the PDF comes up fine. But, nothing is coming up in Google Analytics and it's been over 24 hours.Do you know what the problem might be? I know it's a PDF file and not an HTML page, but I read that using parameters was the way to get it to come up in GA from scans.Any help is much appreciated. Thank you, braymond
18

Eugene

Reply
Hey Braymond,Try to do few things:1. Put dashes between words in utm_campaign 2. Lowercase all words in utm_campaign (this one is just one of the best practices)Also, I think utm_source in this case is your website: utm_source=mysite and utm_medium=pdfLet me know if it works
19

Bert-Jan van den Brink

Reply
Hi Robert! I really like your post! It was an eyeopener for me, i just started with internet marketing and i'am trying very hard to expand my knowledge as much is a can. Your article was a bookmark in 10 seconds. Thank you, Bert-Jan

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