Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) tracking is a “must-have” in digital marketing and analysis, regardless of industry. If your company has a website, you’ll want to know as much as possible about the people who are visiting and how to convert them into customers.
In this post we look at UTM tracking and address what it is, how it works, and how it can benefit your company.
What Is UTM Tracking?
Essentially, UTM tracking allows analytics tools to see where website visitors are coming from. With customized URLs distributed in different marketing campaigns, you can see which campaigns are successful. That information can provide crucial insights into what exactly your users value and what prompts them to visit your website.
What Does UTM Tracking Do?
UTM tracking performs various functions by letting you know where your users are learning about your website and what is prompting them to visit. Often, this happens through ad campaigns, but people can come from all sorts of places, like from an influencer’s Twitter account.
Tracks Social Marketing Campaigns
Knowing your user base is critical in digital marketing, and understanding where to find your customers is a big part of that. Comparing social media campaigns with A/B testing can provide key insights into your customers’ personas, their interests, and which social platforms they frequent. For example, depending on their demographic, you might find that promotional ads on Facebook attract more visitors than ads on Twitter or vice versa.
Provides Traffic and Conversion Data
Instead of just seeing how many people visit your website every day, UTM tracking allows you to analyze where those users are coming from and which ones become customers.
With UTM tracking, you might see plenty of people come from a Twitter post, but notice that the majority of visitors who purchase a product actually stem from your email marketing campaign. Then, depending on your business goals, you can use that information to decide where to ramp up your marketing.
Test Individual Messages
Suppose you conduct an A/B test and you track the link provided in the A email and see that it is generating very few visits over a given period. You’ll probably conclude that your customer base is not responding well to your A campaign.
From there, you and your marketing team can strategize different ways to reach customers and launch the B email campaign with a separate URL and different wording or formatting.
Again, the ability to know which messages are generating the most revenue for your brand is vital for your marketing team to use as a template for future content.
What Are UTM Tracking Values?
There are five UTM tracking values. In an analytics tool, you enter the established values, and the tool will generate customized URLs with the parameters that you input. This makes it easy to compare email campaigns versus Facebook ads.
An example URL with tracking values is:
We’ll go into the specific tracking values within that URL below.
The first part of the example URL says “utm_source=twitter.” This section refers to the website at which the users began before visiting your landing page.
When generating a URL, the first field asks for the source of your URL.
The second part of the example URL says “utm_medium=tweet.” This part refers to the campaign medium.
When generating a URL, the second field asks for the medium, meaning the platform where the users will receive this URL. In the example, the users are directed to your website through a Twitter ad.
The third part of the example URL says “utm_term=accounting+software.” This section refers to the paid keywords in your campaign.
When generating a URL, the third field asks for the keywords of your campaign.
The second to last part of the example URL says “utm_content=bu yer-guide A.” That part refers to the campaign content.
When generating a URL, the second to last field asks for the content of your campaign, meaning the wording you’re using or how you want to differentiate this particular post. In this instance, it’s your buyer’s guide.
Finally, the last part of the example URL is “utm_campaign=q4+leadgen.” This refers to the campaign name.
When generating a URL, the last field asks for the name of your campaign. This detail is especially important to help you distinguish between multiple campaigns run through the same source, like two email campaigns with different wording.
How Do I Create UTM Tracking Parameters?
By using a specialized tool, your company can generate parameters for tracking URLs. Though they will all take the visitor to the same landing page, the URLs will vary depending on the parameters that you set in the tool.
Once these URLs have been generated, your analytics tool will record which is used by visitors to your landing page.
Keep in mind that the visitor will not see any of this behind-the-scenes tracking despite the distinctive URLs. Instead, they’ll always click through to the same landing page.
How Do I Use the Data From UTM Tracking?
The data from UTM tracking can inform your company about user preferences, alternative websites they frequent, which types of promotional offers they respond to, and the wording that brings them to your landing or home page.
How Can I Use UTM Tracking to Optimize My Marketing?
You can search the URLs used during a given timeframe using a product analytics tool and see which of your campaigns successfully attracted visitors to the website and which ones you need to take a second look at before continuing.
How Can I Use UTM Tracking to Assess Social Media Success?
UTM tracking can help you analyze social media success in a few different ways, as we explore below.
You know how much money you spent on your Twitter ad. When you’re able to track the people who click through the link on that ad and see if they purchase your products or services, you can balance the increase in revenue with the costs of hiring a writer, designer and paying Twitter to promote your brand’s ad.
Refine Your KPIs
With the data provided by UTM tracking, you can test out your ideas with concrete results and see how effective your marketing strategies are. With these numbers, you can define key performance indicators to reflect your business goals better to align with your results.
Track Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Hiring an influencer to promote your brand is becoming a reliable source of new visitors and customers for many companies. However, it can be difficult to tell just how many of an influencer’s hundreds of thousands of followers are purchasing your product simply because they heard about it from the influencer or somewhere else.
With UTM tracking, you can give your influencer a customized URL and keep track of the people who click through from their post, ensuring that you get an accurate count of your revenue from their influence.
Be Consistent with Tags
Consistency is critical, especially when you want to publish posts for returning customers.
Discovery by new users is great, but maintaining existing relationships is critical. For example, people often follow specific tags, and UTM tracking allows you to ensure that your posts are appropriately tagged so that your audience will see them.
Conduct A/B Tests
When you aren’t sure which call-to-action will be most effective or are trying a new slogan for your brand, you can see which is more effective by using an A/B test.
This type of test directly compares two posts that differ only in content to see which one attracts more customers to your website.
Use Tracking Tools
There are plenty of other tracking tools that work with UTM parameters to tell you more than where your visitors came from. These URLs can also help you compile information about your user base, including their locations, ages, preferences, and other data that can inform the content your brand creates and the services you provide.
UTM tracking is a powerful way to hone your marketing campaigns with surgical precision. Finding out what works and what doesn’t is more than half the battle. When you know which influencers bring in the most traffic or where your users satisfy their social media needs, you’ll be able to target them with your ad campaigns in the future.
Check out our website to learn more about how Kissmetrics can help you collect and make the most of your user data.