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By: Casey Grimes on August 13th, 2015

Get on the Right ‘Track’ with UTM Tagging

Pop Quiz: Your executive team needs a report from you on how well your digital advertising efforts (PPC, media buys, and paid social) are doing—how many leads you gained, moved further down your pipeline, and ultimately converted—and what your ROI was. Oh, and they need it in less than 30 minutes.

Read the other four parts in this series to get a cohesive picture of the integration process:

Odds are, if you’re not using URL tagging, this is going to be a huge chore; however, using tags can cut your reporting turnaround (as well as your setup and execution time) down significantly—and bring new insights to your marketing’s digital spend and ROI. To get this insight, you’ll want to utilize UTM.

What is UTM, and why should I care?

Google’s Urchin Tracking Module (commonly abbreviated to just “UTM”) is a standardized way of adding information to a URL in order to perform better tracking, analytics and reporting of traffic. It also acts as an organizer of web traffic that eliminates the need for building multiple pages for different campaign sources or the inexact science of using to determine different sources.

UTM integrates natively with both Google Analytics and Google AdWords, but can also be used by Marketo (via the “querystring” constraint on forms and web pages) and web languages like PHP (for showing custom content based on UTM tags.)

At the most basic level, however, these tags are used for describing additional properties to a URL. There are five tags used for UTM tracking: three are required and two are optional.

Required UTM Values

These three values are required in order for Google Analytics to correctly record your traffic; even if you do not plan on using Google Analytics, it’s still a good organizational practice to use all three.

    • utm_source=XXX: This is the source of the link and—where it originated. Examples include: Facebook, Postcard, Billboard; if you use internal job numbers for things like email, they’re often applied here.
    • utm_medium=XXX: This is the method of delivery overall—how the link came to the user. Examples include: PPC (usually labeled cpc), Social, Email, Print Advertising, Outdoor, etc.
    • utm_campaign=XXX: This is a name that helps you keep track of your different campaign efforts across all potential media.
      Examples include: Fall Fundraiser, 2015-02 Webinar, Product Launch

Optional UTM Values

These values are usually only used for PPC advertising, though occasionally split testing may necessitate the use of UTM Content.

    • utm_term=XXX: This is a used to identify the keyword(s) used when clicking on an ad. Example: speakers, best LCD monitors, shoes
    • utm_content=XXX: This is for split testing or separating two ads that go to the same URL. When using AdWords, this often defaults to the specific ad ID.

How do I apply this to my campaigns?

Though the system can seem a little complex at first (what’s the difference between a “source” and a “medium”?), you’ll find that UTM tags adapt to almost any marketing situation. Let’s say DemandLab has launched a campaign to promote their website—they’ll buy an ad on a website, pay for a promoted LinkedIn post, and promote the site on their own social channels. As such, there will be different UTMs used to denote each site.

Advertisement, Mashable

UTM Source = Mashable
UTM Medium = Advertisement
UTM Campaign = New Website Promotion

So, the full URL you would give to Mashable to use would be:

Promoted Post, LinkedIn

UTM Source = LinkedIn
UTM Medium = Advertisement
UTM Campaign = New Website Promotion

LinkedIn Post on DemandLab’s Company Page

UTM Source = LinkedIn
UTM Medium = Social
UTM Campaign = New Website Promotion

Twitter Post on DemandLab’s Twitter

UTM Source = Twitter
UTM Medium = Social
UTM Campaign = New Website Promotion

With these three layers of tagging, we can answer many questions about leads generated quickly: who came in from organic social traffic (Twitter and LinkedIn posts)? Check UTM Medium. Who came in from LinkedIn, both from the promoted post and the organic post? Check UTM Source. How did both the Mashable and LinkedIn ad perform? Check UTM Medium. How did the campaign overall do? Check UTM Campaign.

When the next campaign is deployed, effects over time can be tracked—how did all advertising or LinkedIn posts do over the course of the year? You’ll be able to answer this quickly with the tags you’ve applied.

With this in mind, how do you scale tagging to all your campaigns—and pull reports that make sense? Read part 2 in the series: The Ultimate Google Analytics and Marketo Integration Guide.