6 UTM best practices to level up your campaign tracking
It may be difficult to believe, but the days of third-party cookies are slowly coming to an end and marketers all over the world now need to look for a better, more reliable solution.
The time when marketing relied on gut feelings and intuition is long past us, and now, you need to sift through all the noise for valuable data that can help you make effective marketing decisions.
This is where UTM parameters come in. UTM parameters are a simple but reliable way to track various aspects of your marketing campaigns, such as conversions, website traffic, and revenue activity.
So let’s delve deeper into what UTM parameters are and how you can use them effectively to improve your marketing campaigns.
What are UTM parameters, exactly?
UTM is short for Urchin Traffic Monitor. They’re tiny snippets of text that you can add to the end of your URLs. What they do is help analytic tools, like Google Analytics, categorise incoming traffic data.
There are five UTM parameters, also called “tags”, that you can use. These include:
- Campaign source: This shows you where traffic for your campaign is coming from. This can be from social media platforms, search engines, and so on
- Campaign medium: This allows you to see which channels are driving your traffic, like emails and ads
- Campaign name: This is the unique name you’ve given your marketing campaign, simply put
- Campaign content: This lets you keep track of different ads running in the same campaign
- Campaign term: This indicates specific paid keywords and key phrases
When using UTM parameters for Google Analytics, you’ll need to add the first three parameters shown above to any links you want to track. Of course, you can add all five for more data!
When adding the parameters, you need to separate them with the “&” symbol, and all these parameters need to be added after the “?” at the end of the URL.
When you’ve done all this, your URL should look a bit like this:
These URLs might look intimidating, but you won’t need to make them yourself. Instead, you can use UTM generators, such as the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder.
Once the generator creates the code, you can simply copy it onto your campaigns, and you’re done! After you’ve set up your campaigns, you can see all the data collected from the UTMs under the “Reports” tab on Google Analytics.
Now that we’ve cleared up what UTM parameters are and what they do, here are some best practices when using them for your campaigns.
1. Avoid using UTM tags for internal links
The point of using UTM code is to track incoming website traffic from external sources, such as email campaigns and social media profiles. When you add UTM parameters to internal links, you’ll just end up with a lot of unnecessary data.
Using UTM parameters on internal links may also cause tracking errors in analytics platforms.
2. Utilise a UTM parameter builder
Adding UTM parameters on your own can be a chore, and entering these parameters manually can lead to errors if you’re not careful.
Fortunately, you use a handy URL parameter builder to get the job done for you. These tools will add UTM parameters to all your links, without causing any errors.
3. Keep your naming conventions consistent
You need to keep your naming conventions consistent; otherwise, your UTM strategy could be ruined.
All descriptions within your many UTM parameters need to be consistent. Even a single inconsistent UTM parameter can negatively impact your data and make it harder to obtain insights into how your campaigns are performing.
For example, if someone in your team uses “Facebook” as the source of a Facebook ad campaign and another team member uses “FB” for another campaign, it’ll be much harder to track the performance and make comparisons between your campaigns on Facebook.
One thing you can do to prevent this is to have a spreadsheet that lists all the UTM parameters along with guidelines that your team needs to follow when creating new campaign parameters, such as using a consistent source.
Here are a few rules you should follow when creating your UTM naming conventions:
- Use lowercase letters: UTM codes are case-sensitive; variations in capitalisation can cause problems in data tracking
- Trade underscores for spaces: Adding spaces can lead to multiple codes for the same thing, and this will make a mess of your UTM strategy, so keep your UTM codes clean with underscores instead
- Keep your UTM codes simple: Making your UTM codes too descriptive could lead to some misunderstandings and you’re more likely to make mistakes if they’re too complicated; to avoid this, keep your UTM codes short and easy to interpret
4. Analyse your reports regularly
Instead of checking your reports at the end of every month, you should consider checking them weekly or even daily if you have the time. You never know when a faulty UTM code could have found its way into your UTM strategy unless you check your reports regularly.
Even if you’ve documented your naming conventions and kept things consistent, mistakes can still happen, and if these aren’t identified early, they could snowball into a bigger problem.
5. Check your UTM parameters when copying and pasting internal links
When you click on the copy link button on an Instagram post, Instagram will generate a UTM code for you. This may sound useful, but it can conflict with your own UTM code.
Always make sure to check any links you’re copying over and remove any conflicting UTM codes, like “igwebcopy_link” from Instagram, when you spot them.
6. Ensure your links are short to improve user experience
When you add UTM codes to your URLs, they can start to become very long, very fast. You’ll want to shorten them and this can be done easily by using link-shortening tools, like bitly.com. Now your link will be more appealing to the eye, while still giving you the tracking data you need.
Another great thing about short links is that people are more likely to click on them; in fact, Bitly says that businesses that use these short links may see an increase of 34% in clickthrough rates.
Level up your marketing campaign tracking with UTM parameters
If you and your team haven’t started using UTM parameters yet, you could be missing out on some valuable insights into the success of your marketing campaigns. Start implementing UTM parameters into your marketing strategy to have more control over your marketing campaigns.
If you want to learn more about what UTM parameters could do for your business, get in touch with the Seeda team today.