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UTM Codes: What Are They and How To Use Them to Track Your Digital Marketing Campaigns

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Table of Contents

What are UTM codes

UTM codes, also known as Urchin Tracking Modules, are snippets of text that you can add to the end of a URL in order to track the performance of your campaigns. They allow you to track your campaigns across multiple channels, such as social media, email, and search engines. With UTM codes, you can gain insights into how users interact with your links, what campaigns are driving the most traffic, and which sources are generating the most conversions. By understanding the effectiveness of your campaigns, you can make better decisions about where to spend your resources and optimize your campaigns for higher ROI. In short, UTM codes are a way to track the performance of your marketing campaigns.

What are the components of a UTM code?

 

A UTM code consists of five parts, each separated by a comma.

  • The first part of the code is the “source” of your traffic.
  • The second part is the “medium” such as social media or email.
  • The third part is the “term” that links to the content.
  • The fourth part is the “campaign” that you’re using.
  • The fifth part is the “content” you are linking to.

Using the above example, your UTM code might look something like this:

https://widgets.com/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=black%20friday%20sale&utm_content=buy%20now&utm_term=Widgets

 

The UTM parts in depth

Source – Where did your users find the link? This could be from a paid ad, organic search, or any other source.

Medium – What action did your users take? If it’s an ad or email, you can use the medium to categorize users by whether they clicked or opened the link. Term – The word or phrase that links to your content.

Campaign – The name of the campaign you used to generate the link. Content – The actual link that users click or view when they click on your link.

Content – An optional parameter that can be used to identify the element on the source url such as a buy now button or the title of the call to action button.

Term – This is another optional parameter that you can add keywords used in your campaign.

 

How to create UTM codes

There are numerous resources that you can use to create UTM codes. The first thing to keep in mind is that your UTM codes need to be unique. You can’t use the same code for more than one link. You also want to make sure they are as short as possible without being overly cryptic. Users have no idea what the letters stand for, so you want to make sure that it’s easy for them to understand.

Tools to help you create UTM codes

MageHD UTM Code Generator – This tool takes the guess work out of creating the URL with UTM codes.

Urchin – This is the tool that you can use to create your UTM codes. It’s a paid tool, but it offers more robust reporting and analytics than Google Sheets.

URL shorteners – You can also use a URL shortener like Bitly or Ow.ly to automatically append your UTM code to the end of your links.

How to track UTM code performance

Once you’ve created your UTM codes, it’s time to start tracking their performance. This can be done in one of two ways. You can log in to each of your tools and manually enter your UTM codes or you can use a URL shortener, like Bitly or Ow.ly, to shorten your links. This will automatically append your UTM code to the end of the URL.

Once you’ve added your UTM codes to your links, you can start tracking their performance. You can do this in your marketing tools such as Google Analytics, HubSpot, or Facebook Ads. You can also view your data in the Urchin reporting dashboard.

 

Benefits of using UTM codes

There are a number of benefits to using UTM codes, but the most important one is that they allow you to track your campaigns across multiple channels. By using the same tracking code for multiple links, you can see how your campaigns perform across multiple mediums, such as email, paid ads, and social media.

UTM codes also allow you to segment your data, which lets you analyze your campaigns more thoroughly. This helps you understand which channels are performing well and which ones need improvement. Another benefit of UTM codes is that they’re easy to create. If you’re managing your own marketing campaigns or creating links for an internal team, it’s helpful to have an easy way to add tracking to your links.

 

Common mistakes to avoid when using UTM codes

There are a few common mistakes that people make when using UTM codes. The first mistake is trying to put too much information into the code. It’s best to keep your UTM code short and sweet. Nobody wants to type out a 25-character code. Also, don’t put the same code on every link.

It’s important to make each link unique so you can properly track their performance. Another common mistake is trying to use the same code for multiple mediums. For example, you may want to use the same code for your paid ads, email campaigns, and social media campaigns. While this may seem like an easy way out, it’s actually not the best practice.

Each channel has different rules and best practices. For example, if you use the same code for your paid ads and social media campaigns, you won’t be able to tell how each of these channels perform individually.

 

Best practices for using UTM codes

Once you’ve learned how to use UTM codes, the next step is to come up with a strategy for using them. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to use a UTM code on every link. It’s best to only use them on links that are driving significant traffic.

Once you’ve decided which links should have UTM codes, it’s important to consistently use them. This means that if you start with paid ads, you should always link back to those ads with a UTM code. If you later switch to an email campaign, you should link to that email with a UTM code. This consistency will help you properly track your campaigns and gain more insights into your traffic.

 

Examples of UTM codes in action

Let’s take a look at how a company might use UTM codes to track their campaign performance.

Imagine a company called Widgets Inc. that sells widgets online. They want to use UTM codes to track their campaigns across email, social media, and paid ads.

URL: https://widgets.com

Source: newsletter

Medium: email

Campaign : Black Friday Sale

Content :(Optional) : buy now

Term(Optional) : Widgets

This example shows us that Widgets Inc. used an email campaign to drive traffic to their Black Friday sale page. They can now see that this email campaign generated

The URL structure for UTM tracking would look like this

https://widgets.com/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=black%20friday%20sale&utm_content=buy%20now&utm_term=Widgets

Conclusion

UTM codes are an essential tool for tracking the performance of your campaigns. They provide valuable insights into which sources, mediums, and terms are driving the most traffic to your website. By consistently using UTM codes, you can gain more insight into how your campaigns are performing and make better decisions about how to allocate your marketing budget.

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