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​How to Immediately Improve Digital Marketing with UTM Parameters

Given the improved state of marketing technology heading into 2018, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about where the industry is headed this year.

Almost three-quarters of marketers say the martech landscape is evolving rapidly, while another third say their companies’ use of marketing technology is evolving at the same pace the technology is developed.

With exciting new technology in reach, it's tempting to jump at the next big thing. But, there's something that's been around since 2005 that we as marketing professionals still have not mastered...

UTM Parameters.

With so many marketing tools and analytics platforms out there, it’s easy to feel helpless trying to understand what’s going to help you connect A to B to C, or connect an email campaign, to a sign up, to a conversion.

Adding UTM parameters to the links you share will help solve this problem and is imperative to tracking, attributing, and accounting for your marketing efforts.

What are UTM Parameters?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module which is a tracking code attached to a URL, and they can be parsed by analytics tools (Google Analytics, Salesforce, Pardot, HubSpot, etc.) to populate reports and attribute ROI.

The company that created them, Urchin Software Corporation, laid the groundwork for what we now know as Google Analytics (GA) when the company was acquired by Google back in 2005.

They are the key to unlocking rich insights into your business and are software agnostic.

Why Are UTMs So Important?

If you’re posting to social media multiple times a day and sending multiple marketing emails, UTM codes help you track the performance of each of those links and allow you to see where traffic is coming from.

UTMs provide analytical information around:

  • Traffic volume, health, and quality
  • Conversion tracking (when connected to a GA goal)
  • Campaign Attribution and ROI Calculations

UTMs simply allow you to see the bigger picture of how your traffic is coming to you and what elements of your digital marketing are most effective.

What Does a UTM Look Like?

The above UTM is one that we recently used in an email about a webinar we held on October 26th of this year.

The UTM is telling us that the medium used for this link was email, the source was a drip email (where we send more than one to a recipient), the campaign was our webinar and the exact piece of content was the second email in our drip campaign.

4 Reasons to Always Use UTM Parameters

So why track your marketing efforts? And why do you have to use UTM parameters? Here’s the 4 ways UTM parameters can help you:

1. Proper Attribution

UTM parameters will allow you to attribute the source, medium, and campaigns properly within your CRM, so you always know exactly where your traffic is coming from.

2. Compare Individual Traffic Contributions

Do you have multiple people writing blogs or email campaigns for your organization? With UTM parameters it’s easy to add a contributors initials, so you know exactly who is bringing in what. It’s a great way to learn best practices from one another to see what’s working!

3. Differentiate Content Types

By using the “medium” parameter you can track which types of content are driving the most traffic to your site and can adjust accordingly. Trying video as a new way to drive traffic? Through a UTM parameter, you’ll be able to see if it is in fact working!

4. Measure Marketing Campaign Effectiveness

The word campaign is used to describe everything from launching a brand new product to pre-tradeshow emails. Track what is effective by structuring and differentiating your campaigns with UTM “campaign” parameters.

When NOT to Use UTM Parameters

While we are big proponents of using UTMs, there are a few instances where it is not necessary.

Internal Links

We know that building UTMs can be kind of fun, but you don’t need to build them from one page to another on your site! If you do that you’ll lose the data on where the traffic originally came from which is what you want to know.

If the Link Your Sharing Isn’t Pointing Back to Your Site

If you’re sharing a link in an email that doesn’t lead back to your site, there’s no need for a UTM parameter. While it’s nice of you to want to add one, the only one that benefits is the site your sending your audience too.

How to Build and Name Your UTM Parameters

Building

There are a lot free UTM builders out there, but the majority of people use:

The problem with these tools is you can’t add UTM parameters to links, quickly, easily, and consistently.

That’s why we love this UTM Parameter builder sheet. It’s easily adaptable for any organization and allows you to easily add parameters at scale. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Naming

There are many ways to name your UTM parameters. However you choose to set up your naming structure, make sure it is consistent and sustainable for the long haul because you won’t be able to change things in Google Analytics. Ever.

Here’s a look at how we at Maestro choose to name our UTM parameters:

Content Type + Year + Month + Day + Descriptor (Optional)

Here are a few live examples:

webinar-2017-october-26
drip-2017-october-11-andres
blog-2017-november-2

The biggest thing to keep in mind when naming UTMs?

Simplicity.

We are big believers in keeping things as simple as possible to forgo any unnecessary complexity.

Naming should be short, simple and descriptive. That’s it.

Closing Thoughts

There is so much more that can be said about UTMs, but we hope this gives you a quick overview and useful advice that you can put to use today.

By implementing UTMs into your marketing efforts you’ll more easily be able to track, attribute and tweak what is and isn’t working, build upon what is, and then take over the world (or at least your industry!).

Interested in learning how to make martech work for you?

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