Why, How and When to use UTM Links

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UTM Links - when, why and how to use them

Why, How and When to use UTM Links

With 2014 upon us its time to fine tune your online marketing, and it is my belief that before you can measure the success of any online marketing campaign it needs to be traceable.

There are many ways to track an online marketing campaign, such as using Google Analytics which allows you to analyse the source of your websites visitors, the length of time they have spent on your website and how they navigated it. However, when running a number of marketing campaigns your Google Analytics dashboard can become messy and it can often be difficult to measure the success of each individual campaign if they are all directing to the same web page.

Moreover, if you are running advertising campaigns through multiple advertising channels (e.g. Google Adwords, Yahoo or Yelp) it can be difficult to trace each of these campaigns in one single dashboard and measure which one has been most successful.

It is for this reason that many businesses, including BeSeen Marketing, use UTM links.

UTM Links - When, why and how to use them

Q: What does ‘UTM’ mean?

A: UTM is an abbreviation of Urchin Tracking Module.

A UTM link is the same as any link. However, in order to make it traceable, a number of UTM codes are added to the end to identify the source, medium and campaign.  For example, if you were to share a link on Twitter which was part of your winter sales marketing campaign you would have a link like this: example.com/?utm_campaign=winter_sale&utm_source=twitter.

When recognised by Google Analytics you would be able to clearly differentiate this link from others and you would be able to see that this link has been used to promote your winter sale and where the visitor who clicked on it has come from.

However, with a number of marketing campaigns going on at once, and each marketing campaign having individual sources and mediums you can also add multiple other UTM codes to the link to make it even more traceable and unique.


These include:

Campaign Source (utm_source) Required. Use utm_source to identify a search engine, newsletter name or other source.Example: utm_source=google
Campaign Medium (utm_medium) Required. Use utm_medium to identify a medium such as email, social or cost per click.Example: utm_medium=cpc
Campaign Term (utm_term) Used for paid search. Use utm_term to note the keywords for this ad.Example: utm_term=running+shoes
Campaign Content (utm_content) Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads. Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.
Examples: utm_content=logolink or utm_content=textlink
Campaign Name (utm_campaign) Used for keyword analysis. Use utm_campaign to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign. Example: utm_campaign=spring_sale

Once you have added the required UTM codes to your link, in Google Analytics you are then able to trace where your visitors are coming from, what campaign it was in relation to, the content which they viewed and the term used within the content – this then allows you to make educated decisions on future marketing campaigns.

However, while many understand the way a UTM link works and how to create one many fail to implement it correctly and do not understand where a UTM link should be used.


When to use UTM Links

A UTM link can be used in a number of locations including an online advert, social media page, and even a website – such as a downloadable PDF which you might have on different pages.

Google Adwords – If you were running an advertising campaign with Google Adwords and you had created various banner adverts for your winter sale, each with a different call to action. Firstly you would add the campaign name and source. Then you would add the term, medium and content codes. You would then have the adverts pointing to each unique link, which goes to your website – this would allow you to analyse that adverts success at a later date.

Blog Posts – While a UTM link works greatly with online advertising it can also be used within blog posts. For example, if you have written multiple guest blog posts on another website you would use the UTM link to measure how many people have followed a link to your website from each individual article – allowing you to measure what type of content is most popular and most likely to lead to a visitor to your website.

Social Media – Moreover, a UTM link can be used on social media. For example, the BeSeen Marketing team use a UTM link on their Linkedin profile pages to allow them to analyse which profile link is most likely to be clicked on. If you’re running a campaign on various social media channels – setup a UTM link for each channel so you can see which is the most effective.

Email Marketing and Email Signature – your email signature is a great way to generate clicks to your website. Why not include your latest blog post in your email signature to generate clicks? You can even have a competition with your colleagues as to who gets the most clicks! Simply put their name in the utm_campaign field – then in Analytics it’s a race to see who gets the most clicks! In your email marketing campaigns, create UTM links if you are pointing users to your blog posts or landing pages on your website.

Website – And finally, a UTM link can also be used on your website itself. For example, if you have a banner on the right sidebar on your website linking to your winter sales page you could use a UTM link within this banner. Therefore, if that banner received a large number of links compared to the one on the footer you would know that this specific location on your website is best for a call to action.

So, there you have it. You now know how to create a UTM link, when to use one and how to implement it into your marketing campaigns. But I’m sure you have some questions? It is for this reason that I have answered some commonly asked questions below.


Q: Which tool should I use to create UTM links?

A: I recommend that you use Google’s UTM link building tool at http://is.gd/UTMLinkBuilder.

Q: What if my URL is too long for Twitter?

A: To shorten your UTM link I would recommend that you use a URL shortener such as http://bit.ly or http://is.gd.

Q: Do UTM links work with non-Google services?

A: The UTM link originates from Google and is Google’s primary way to track URL’s and the UTM links work best with Google Analytics. However, they do work on some other platforms – but not to their full potential.

Q: What does UTM mean?

A: UTM is an abbreviation of Urchin Tracking Module.


If you have any more questions about using UTM links send me a tweet @AshtonLeeHudson!

Ashton Hudson first entered his marketing career in his mid-teens after years of publishing unique content online enjoyed by thousands. With a deep fascination with consumer attitude Ashton loves to use digital marketing channels including social media, content and organic SEO to bring consumers to the brands. Ashton considers marketing to be the chocolate chips to a brands cookie dough; without the chocolate chips a brand is simply a distasteful lump of dough, and he believes its the role of marketers to add a little “zing” to a brands identity. 



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