Go-to-market campaigns are incredibly beneficial to reaching your marketing goals — whether that’s generating mass brand awareness, driving new traffic to your site, or producing quality conversions. No matter what your campaign goal is, one thing will always be true: tracking is a must.
Campaigns are only beneficial when you can understand and measure the data. How are users engaging with your ads? What is their user journey like when they reach your site? Where and why are they bouncing off the site? These questions – and dozens more – will help you make informed, data-driven decisions to fine-tune your campaign’s performance.
Successfully setting up UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters will allow you to easily track and measure your campaigns, and will help you draw conclusions as to what’s working and what needs improvement.
What are UTM parameters and why are they important?
UTM, or Urchin Tracking Module, codes are small snippets of text that are added to the end of URLs so that you can easily track your marketing campaigns. While UTMs are most commonly used for paid media ads, you can leverage UTMs to successfully track organic social posts, earned media article placements, and more. If users can click on a URL that drives to your site, you should always try to add UTM codes to that URL.
There are five (5) total UTM parameters that you can add to your URLs:
- utm_source: Identify the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property, for example: google, newsletter4, billboard.
- utm_medium: The advertising or marketing medium, for example: cpc, banner, email newsletter.
- utm_campaign: The individual campaign name, slogan, promo code, etc. for a product.
- utm_term: Identity paid search keywords. If you’re manually tagging paid keyword campaigns, you should also use utm_term to specify the keyword.
- utm_content: Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. For example, if you have two call-to-action links within the same email message, you can use utm_content and set different values for each so you can tell which version is more effective.
At a minimum, we recommend adding the source and medium parameters; however, the more parameters you add, the more granular the tracking becomes and the more detailed your data/reporting will be. All of this information will seamlessly integrate into your GA4 dashboard. UTM parameters are also picked up through other software platforms, such as HubSpot, Salesforce, Marketo, and more.
Why UTMs are important
As noted, campaigns can only be beneficial if you are able to gain insights from the data you collect. While ad platforms can provide KPIs such as clicks, impressions, CTRs, and conversions, the most important data related to your campaigns will come through once a user visits your site.
UTM parameters allow you to analyze users’ website experience at a campaign, term, or even content level. This level of granularity will allow you to easily A/B test against different ad copy, call to action, ad imagery, landing page hero zones, form types, and more. Measure the success of these tests by reviewing engagement metrics (avg. time on site, engagement rates, pages/session, form submissions).
UTM parameters can also be tied to CRM (customer relationship management) platforms, which we strongly recommend if applicable. In addition to understanding the number of conversions that are tied to each of your unique parameters, you can also start to measure the quality of conversions.
Let’s say you have two unique utm_term parameters – Blue and Red. In GA4, we can see that Blue has driven 100 conversions while Red has only driven 50 conversions. If we were to stop measuring there, we would assume Blue is the clear winner. However, when reviewing these UTM terms in Salesforce, we see that Blue has only produced 3 qualified sales conversions, while Red has driven 10 qualified conversions. This information tells an entirely different story; while Red has driven fewer overall conversions, the qualified conversion rate is 560% higher than Blue.
Bottom line: the more granular you can get with tracking – with UTM parameters, and with syncing UTM parameters to all marketing platforms – the more successful your campaigns will be.
If you are new to implementing UTM parameters, it can feel like a daunting process. Luckily, there are free tools online that allow you to easily build out custom URLs.
UTM builder is a great, free, tool that you can use to generate UTM codes. This is a great place to start to gain familiarity with the UTM process.
However, as noted, the more granular you can get with UTM parameters, the better. The UTM builder site is great for generating a handful of custom URLs, but that manual process will eat up a lot of your time – and we marketers don’t have time to waste! For a more automated process, we would recommend creating a custom UTM spreadsheet – see examples here. With these spreadsheets, you can automate your URL-building process, producing 100s of custom URLs in minutes.
NOTE: Before generating any URLs with UTM parameters, be sure to connect with your web development team to establish any UTM rules. For example, some platforms only allow lowercase UTM parameters to be passed through. Make sure to connect with the appropriate contacts on your team to ensure all UTMs will be successfully mapped to the marketing platform(s) you plan to use.
If you’re planning to run a marketing campaign in the near or distant future, be sure to establish UTM parameters!
Successfully track, measure, and update your campaigns based on the data you’re able to analyze through your UTM parameters. Start making informed, data-driven decisions based on these unique insights. Create a custom UTM parameter template so that you can streamline and automate the custom URL process.
Whether you’re new to the paid media scene, or a seasoned veteran ready to optimize campaign performance, Bluetext has the experience and expertise to support your business from start to finish. Contact us to learn more about our campaign creation & management services.