Google Analytics - UTM Tracking, What the...

UTM Tracking is more commonly known as "those big long link things", they are big long links because attached to the links are parameters or UTM-tags. These tags are used by Google Analaytics for better recognition and connection of events, campaigns and traffic sources. UTM tracking can be a fairly advanced topic and as such I would advise ensuring you are familiar with Google Analytics prior to setting up and UTM-tagged links and using the system.

UTM - Urchin Tracking Modules

Urchin - Urchin was acquired by Google in 2005 and formed Google Analytics. Google kept Urchin alive to this date with multiple updates.  Urchin until March 2012 was also a standalone product, at which point Google stopped updating the software externally to Google Analytics.

UTM Tags / Parameters - Using UTM tracking you can add up to 5 parameters to a URL (more detail below), these allow you to precisely track and measure the performance of a given link.

UTM Parameters for URLs

The simplest way of creating a UTM ready URL/Link is to use the Google URL Builder. UTM tracking allows you to create Custom Campaigns by basically sending across unique parameters for a given campaign into your Google Analytics account. Lets look at what each parameter means...

Campaign Source (utm_source) - This REQUIRED parameter identifies the source of your campaign, common examples are the name of the platform your a linking from (eg facebook, buffer etc) and the name of a given newsletter.

Campaign Medium (utm_medium) - This REQUIRED parameter is used to tell google what the base source of a link is, for example email, social, cpc (adwords). It is important to keep this standardised across all of your UTM tagged links.

Campaign Term (utm_term) - This is generally only used for Paid Search / Adwords and tracks the search term of a link. If your link is found in another location/search engine you may use this tag for third party sites too - though this is uncommon. This also appears in your Keyword Report, within Acquisition.

Campaign Content (utm_content) - Generally used to differentiate between link and ad type (eg logo, image, textlink) Content allows you to also perform basic AB testing.

Campaign Name (utm_campaign) - This is usually ties with the source of the content to give both the source and name of your campaign (for example EmailNewsletter as source and Christmas_Sale_2014 as the name).

Parameters are added to links as variables for example http://seoandy.net/?Utm_source=google&utm_medium=article&utm_content=textlink&utm_campaign=Analytics

Once tracking these then appear in your Campaigns Report (acquisition) just like all other reports for you to use as necessary.

UTM Link Buildings

Common Uses for UTM Tracking

Basically there are unlimited uses for UTM tracking, its built to be extremely flexible such as to fit your every need as your website scales and your needs to market also scale.

With this said here are 10 Common uses for UTM Tracking:

  1. Tracking Banner Adverts, both internally and externally.
  2. Tracking Social Media Campaigns and Platforms
  3. E-Mail Marketing Tracking
  4. E-Mail Signature Link Tracking
  5. Paid Advertising Tracking
  6. Tracking Inbound Guest Post Traffic
  7. Use with in-app linking (yes they work on mobiles)
  8. Tracking Redirected Traffic (301's etc)
  9. Detailed tracking for "short links" such as those created by Bit.ly
  10. Tracking Affiliate Links

Building UTM Tagged Urls / Links

If you are building a single link with the same value and you aren't creating links very often, then I heavily advise use of the Google URL Builder.

For those wanting to use UTM tagging on a more regular basis I would suggest looking at this excel sheet for quickly creating UTM tagged links at scale. No more typing or copying and pasting into the Link Builder, simply enter the URL select the parameters and copy the output. Rinse and Repeat.

Download the Spreadsheet Here.