Do your marketing activities actually result in sales? A beginners guide to using UTM tagging

Posted by on in Members
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 1722
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print

Picture the scene .. you’ve spent ages agonising over your next killer product, you’ve built an awe-inspiring landing page and now you’re about to throw it out to the world with some tweets to drive traffic to the landing page and generate leads.

You send out 30 tweets over a couple of weeks, and you drive 10,000 visitors to the landing page.

Amazing job!

So, which tweet drove the most traffic? Where did the most conversions come from? Which message brought the highest proportion of ‘new visitors’ to the page? 

If you’re scratching your head right now, don’t worry - you’re in the same camp as the vast majority of businesses!

The answer is, if you just share the URL without any kind of tracking added to it, you simply can’t give me the answers to those questions. It’s not possible (at least not without a LOT of data crunching, server logs, and other techie things best left undisturbed!).

What I’m going to walk you through here is a simple way that you can track every single message that you send. Find out which one people clicked on the most. Which posts drove the most conversions, and then use that information to refine your marketing tactics and use the best copy and visuals to drive even more conversions.

What are UTM parameters?

Let’s start with the basics - what are UTM parameters?

UTM parameters, or tags, are simply a way of adding some extra information to the end of a link which allows us to track when a user clicks on that specific link, because all those tags are sent over to Google Analytics for tracking.

We use this extensively across the ISSBA marketing systems to track who clicks on what links in an email, which tweets are getting the most engagement and so forth.

A link which has UTM parameters will often be quite long - for example:

The part in bold at the end shows the UTM parameters that I have added to the link.

How do I see the traffic from my campaigns?

When I then go into Google Analytics, I can see a report which shows me all of the visits which came from that specific link.

issba utm tagging rc general awareness

You can customise your UTM tags to be pretty much whatever you want - whatever is relevant for your business. This can give you a really good idea of what works in terms of your own marketing. 

So to recap,

UTM parameters are tags which you can add to the end of a link, to enable you to see in Google Analytics which link brought a visitor to your website

How to create UTM tags

The simplest way to create these links is to use a UTM link builder.  There is a web-based resource here, but I find it a bit of a faff to have to open that website to create my URL so I tend to use a plugin for Chrome which is free - you simply go to the page you want to share, click the button in your browser, enter the tags you want to use, and then it allows you to copy the link with the parameters ready-prepared.

Let’s walk through the different terms used:

Campaign source - this is the general location where the traffic is coming from - e.g. email, social, blog posts etc.

Campaign medium - The place where the link was shared - e.g. social, twitter, the name of a blog post or specific article.

Campaign term - this can be used to hold the keywords that are used if you are creating URLs for paid advertising campaigns.

Campaign content - this is useful if you have two different adverts which point at the same link - you can use the content tag to differentiate between the two adverts (sometimes referred to as A/B testing)

Campaign name - this might be a specific campaign, such as new product promo or january social media curation, for example. It’s a way of grouping together a bunch of different resources which are part of the same campaign.

My preference is to have the campaign as the ‘top level’ grouping and then within that have source and medium, which allows me to look at which mediums, or which campaigns are successful (or not, as the case may be!).

Don’t get too bogged down in what is the right and wrong way to use tags - it entirely depends on how you want to see the data in your analytics. Just experiment, play about, and see what works best for you! The most important thing is that you actually use UTM tagging!

To view your traffic, go to Google Analytics, click on Acquisitions, Campaigns, and there you should see the traffic from the different campaigns using the UTM ‘campaign name’ tag (as pictured above).  Note that it sometimes takes a few hours for traffic to start showing, therefore you may want to wait a day or two after you start using UTM tagging before you check this section.  Real time analytics will, however, show you the source and medium - so that's a good place to double check that your tags are working!

That’s all there is! Let me know how you get on!

Ruth Cheesley is a Joomla! Specialist, CEO and co-founder of Virya Group.




She regularly speaks at conferences around the world on a range of issues from Community Management and Marketing to SEO and women in technology.


  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Sunday, 12 July 2020