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Most of your favorite social media platforms include some built-in analytics, which is a great place to start when tracking metrics like likes, comments, shares, and clicks, but what if you want to really understand the customer journey and what is really converting to sales? UTM stands for ” Urchin Traffic Monitor “. This name comes from Urchin Tracker, a web analytics software that served as the base for Google Analytics. That is where UTM Parameters fit in to track your social media marketing success!

But we can’t talk about UTMs without first understanding a couple of basic concepts around Google Analytics and how it looks at traffic.

How Google Analytics Looks at Traffic:

Google Analytics looks at three things when it is trying to figure out where traffic is coming from.

  1. Source: This is like the brand name. So you could see a social network there, Google, Bing, Gmail, or another site if you’ve been featured in a podcast episode or written a guest blog post.
  2. Medium – The type of traffic coming into the site. This will appear as organic (someone searching you into Google or Bing), referral (when it comes from another website), and none (this is when they don’t really know where the traffic is coming from). If you see a lot of “none” on Google Analytics, this can be fixed with UTM set up.
  3. Campaign: Think about this as the purpose of the traffic. There is a report inside Google Analytics. If you don’t see anything, that is okay. It just means that you don’t have UTMs set up yet.

What are UTM Parameters?

UTM Parameters are actually straightforward and easy to get behind. It’s just a short piece of text code that you add to all the links in your social posts.

You can use these UTMs to track 5 key pieces of data:

  1. Source: This identifies the source of the traffic! So, in this case, social network that is sending the traffic to your site. It’ll look something like utm_source=facebook.
  2. Medium: If you’re running ads, you will want to lean into this one. This tracks the type of traffic being driven. Organic, paid, etc. You can also use this if you want to track things like banner clicks or email clicks. This will look something like utm_medium=ig_ad.
  3. Campaign: Use this to keep track of the campaign name or promotion you’re currently doing. Since the New Year is coming up, it could look something like this: utm_campaign=newyear
  4. Term: This is optional and not something you have to use. If you’re using paid keyword campaigns, you should also use this UTM to specify the keyword or key phrases. This would look something like this: utm_term=sharpie.
  5. Content: This is also optional. Since these URLs with the UTMs added can get a bit lengthy, you’ll want to use this UTM to help keep it organized. The Content UTM is also good for A/B testing to see what is working best. If we stick with the New Year campaign example, this will look something like: utm_content=nymarketing1.

What traffic is worth tracking with UTM Parameters?

Well, most of it, if not all, of it. One of the easiest ways to get started with UTMs and see their power is to use them with your social media profiles to see your highest ROI performing social media platform.

Let’s say you’re going all in on Facebook Ads (meaning paid) in addition to your organic facebook efforts.

You could set up the following UTM Parameters: 

For Ads: ?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fbad&utm_campaign=reg
For Live Videos: ?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=live&utm_campaign=reg
For Feed Posts: ?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=reg
For Profile Link: ?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=profile&utm_campaign=reg

This similar thought could be applied to any social network. Let’s take Twitter for example, you could set up a different medium for profile, tweet, and promoted tweets. Or Pinterest you could set up the mediums for profile, organic, pins, and boards.

After you’ve generated the custom URL with the UTM parameter, you can shorten the link using a link shortener to make it a little easier on the eye and so you don’t waste all your precious character real estate!

3 Best Practices for UTM Parameters:

  1. Create a naming system for your UTMs. This helps keep your UTMs reportable and avoid confusion. Stuck with lowercase. If you’re going between uppercase and lowercase type, they may end up tracked differently, which will defeat the purpose. Stick with lowercase and avoid human error.
  2. Track your UTMs inside a spreadsheet to ensure everyone on your marketing team stay on the same page.
  3. When you are tracking performance and measuring analytics, be sure to include Google Analytics and your Campaigns in that tracking. Don’t be afraid to get specific when you are setting these up. That is how you can get the best sense of the customer journey and what is converting to sales.

To wrap all of this up, UTM Parameters are a way to get more specific about your traffic so you can boost sales and get down to the nitty gritty of what is working in your marketing and what has the highest ROI.

Have you ever used UTM parameters to track a campaign?  If you aren’t we can help you with developing a strategy, and implementation.