Analyze Your SEO Success with UTM codes

April 2, 2014

whole brain marketing blog author

Posted by Sam Lowe

Any marketer worth their salt today should be able to measure and analyze the impact their efforts have using real numbers, not just guesses. You should know down to the Tweet where leads are coming from in order to gauge what’s working and what isn’t doing so hot. I know that you’re limited on time so you can’t sit around all day analyzing what’s coming in real-time. That’s where UTM codes come in handy. These little snippets of code can turn great marketing analytics into excellent analytics. 

What Is A UTM Code?

A UTM code, sometimes called a UTM parameter, is a portion of text added to the end of a URL that enables you to track visits from that URL you use as a link in social media, emails, and more.

Why would you want to do that? It comes in handy if you’re trying to test what promotion methods work best for your brand and to track the success of certain content pieces. There really isn’t a defined time when to use UTM tracking codes, it’s more of a tool that allows you to do many things. 

This all might sound a little convoluted and hard to visualize, so I’m just going to give you an example URL and walk you through what’s going on. &utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter 

Hot-diggity, that’s a long URL! Everything after that question mark can be easily broken down into pieces, so don’t get intimidated.

  • campaign=social media – This simply identifies for you internally what campaign this link falls under. It allows you to organize your analytics but placing different content in separate areas so you don’t get just a mess of numbers from all of your UTM codes.

  • medium=social – Here’s where you identify the type of medium that you’re featuring the link on. Another example besides social media would be email.

  • source=twitter – Finally this is where you identify the specific place where the link is featured such as Twitter, Facebook, an exact email that went out, etc. 

There are more parameters you can set, but the three above are the best to get started with and will allow you to accurately track results. You just need to have the content set with an original URL on your site BEFORE you go about making a UTM code. Otherwise you don’t have anything to build off of and track.

How To Create A UTM Code

You don’t need to be a coding wizard to create these helpful URLs. Google has you covered with their intuitive URL builder which also syncs nicely with Google Analytics; you can find the URL builder right here. You just need to enter the needed information and Google spits out a URL ready to use. The manual process isn’t too difficult but there’s a large margin for human error, so just stick to Google’s handy tool. 

How To Start Tracking A UTM Code In Google Analytics 

Many CMS tools, such as HubSpot, allow you to track specific URL codes but each CRM tool has its own specific set of rules. Google Analytics is available to everyone so I’ll give you a quick how-to using that platform for UTM codes. You won’t believe how easy it is and the steps below are all you need: 

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account that’s associated with your website

  2. Click “Audience” in the left-hand side menu

  3. Click “Sources” under “Audience”

  4. Click “Campaigns” under that

  5. Look at your results 

Google automatically tracks UTM codes associated with your website so there’s nothing to set up. It’s basically marketing magic! The Google Analytics tracking code that’s on your website is doing all the work behind the scenes. 

Start Tracking 

Initially start tracking only a few URLs to see how the process works, then dive all in once you’re a UTM Jedi Master. UTM codes can really help prove to upper management that all your tweeting and blogging actually pays off. This is the best way to track specific promotions on your website because you have total control of what’s going on. I guarantee that you’re going to have a much better picture of what works and what doesn’t in your content promotion after you implement UTM codes and start seeing results. 

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