9 Reasons To Use UTMs To Track Your Marketing Strategy

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    Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs) are essential to a successful marketing campaign. To gauge the success of your marketing campaigns and understand how visitors move through your website once they click into a campaign, you need UTMs. You can ensure that your traffic is allocated accurately and what is working and then use that information they provide to make strategic decisions. The data will be stored in your Google Analytics account.

    Here, we set out to help you better understand UTMs for your website, why you should use them, and when you should use them. Let’s start with our clients’ first and most basic question, “What are UTMs?”

    When to Use UTMs

    Your UTMs are always at work collecting the data you need. You will find this data in your Google Analytics Dashboard under Acquisition. You can check traffic, sources, and campaign performance with these reports.

    1. With Printed Marketing Materials

    When you mail marketing materials and include a QR code, you can send your traffic where you want them to go and then direct them to the desired webpage. You can know how effectively your prints and mailers work.

    google analytics transfer owner

    2. With Your Email Campaigns

    Depending on your email campaign platform, the software should allow you to track activity, but it’s essential to trace a user from a specific campaign to your website. Avoid duplicating details from utm_source or utm_medium. It’s a very common mistake.

    With the Google Analytics Channels Report, compare email campaigns against other email campaigns as well as other sources of traffic. Your conversion rate will tell you which campaign offers the best results.

    3. With Your PDF Documents

    When sending PDF documents like white papers and presentations, use UTMs to track links. Tag PDF hyperlinks and source the traffic coming from these documents.

    4. With Social Media Posts & Direct Messages

    You can measure your ROI using UTMs. Use links in social media posts to determine the content that sends you the most traffic. If you send a direct message and respond to direct messages, you can keep track of these conversations. 

    The following step the visitor takes on your website can be tracked through UTMs. You can also determine how much it costs to acquire a lead from each social media channel and post type. You can decide with the data if you are better off with more organic social media posts or those that are paid. 

    UTMs can also help you determine your strategy. Your data may reveal that although you get more traffic from Facebook, LinkedIn brings more conversions.

    5. With Your Paid Ads

    When using PPC advertising, you get all the data you need about performance. But with UTMs, you can track and evaluate the performance of each ad at a deeper level. Not only can you compare how effective your ads are on different platforms, but you can also then compare their effectiveness between different campaigns. You can then adjust and optimize your advertising efforts based on the data UTMs provide. On your Channels Report, you can check how effective certain paid ads have been to determine better how to spend your advertising dollars. 

    6. For A/B Testing

    With A/B testing or split testing, you can evaluate which methods work best. You can share two posts, one with a video and one without, then see which generates more traffic for your website.

    7. Banners at Sponsored Events

    Much like your print ads, you can add a special URL that includes a UTM or a QR Code.

    8. Email Signatures 

    Track traffic coming from links within your email signature.

    9. Google Business Profile

    Traffic from your GBP account so you can tell how well your local SEO performs.

    UTM Best Practices

    Putting UTMs to work for you is essential, and applying them correctly is vital. Take heed to these considerations when using UTMs:

    • Use specific keywords
    • Don’t use spaces; use dashes between words.
    • Use UTMs to track your custom marketing campaigns, not just paid ads.
    • Don’t use UTMs for internal links. This can mess up your metrics. Remember you are identifying traffic from external sources to your website.
    • Try to stick to mediums that Google Analytics is familiar with
    • Use specific and unique campaign names – “Newsletter_Fall2022”.
    • Convert your URL to a short link using Google’s Campaign URL Builder
    • Be consistent with your UTM names. Consistency ensures complete and accurate data. Use lowercase with no spaces, as UTM papers are case-sensitive. Use underscores between words.
    • To be consistent, we recommend using a spreadsheet. 

    What are UTMs?

    UTM stands for Urchin Traffic Module. UTM parameters, or UTM tags, allow you to track the source or referring domain of the traffic that comes to your website. These parameters are snippets of code added to the tail of a URL. 

    A UTM is essential for digital marketing since it makes it easier to gather vital information. They also help you discover how your marketing campaigns are going. All the information they provide is stored in Google Analytics to track your traffic and conversions.

    There are several ways they can be employed in your marketing efforts.

    Example link with no parameters: company.com/portfolio

    If our client, Turnkey Metal Buildings, were to share this link on LinkedIn, we wouldn’t know that this link led to a conversion. We won’t know if this link was shared by someone else and then clicked on. This link simply doesn’t return enough information. When someone clicks on this link, they will be counted as direct traffic to your website no matter where the link originated.

    Improved link with UTMs: company.com/portfolio/?utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=promote-portfolio

    The address bar will show this entire link, including the UTM parameters. Ensure that your UTM relates to your particular campaign. Also, ensure that you change the UTM when you share the content across different platforms. 

    Note that each parameter offers different information. Each is separated with the “&” symbol, and each tag starts with a “?”. This code will show in Google Analytics under the Source/Medium filter and show that the link was on LinkedIn and part of the portfolio promotion campaign. You can also find this information in your Campaigns tab. 

    UTMs are bits of code that put in work on all of your links, providing critical information. Once you have this data, you can determine which campaigns and marketing channels offer the most ROI and which websites and platforms send the most traffic to your website. 

    Learn more about How to Track Your Website Traffic With UTMs

    Why Use UTMs

    UTMs will help you track your links on external channels. With a UTM, you can gauge the value of your social media campaigns, measure ROI, obtain conversion and traffic source data, and test social media posts in A/B testing. You can also use them to track your traffic from email campaigns and print ads. With the assigned UTM, you can determine which campaign, promo code, product, or paid ad provided you with traffic.

    Why do Digital Marketing Agencies Use UTMs?

    • To identify and categorize traffic coming from various sources that the marketing team might generate.
    • For more accurate analytics, this ensures that traffic is classified correctly for easier reporting.
    • To identify types of content – links from other websites, blog posts, links within your email marketing, printed mailers with special URLs or QR codes, paid ads, etc.
    • To report and analyze the results of your marketing campaigns accurately and quickly.

    You will sort your traffic with these categories and create reports within Google Analytics. 

    Google Analytics their channel grouping is limited to eight types of campaigns:

    The Five UTM Parameters

    There are five categories of UTM parameters for tracking particular aspects of a campaign. The first three listed below are required.

    • Source
    • Medium
    • Campaign
    • Term
    • Content


    The source identifies where the traffic originated or the link was posted or shared. You should always type this parameter in lowercase – “utm_medium-cpc&utm_source=linkedin,” “Facebook.” You will use this with “utm-medium” as it further explains the source.


    This parameter is used to detail the channel the traffic originates from, like “email,” “social,” “cpc,” “display,” and “affiliate.”


    This parameter is used for your full-scale marketing efforts. It designates the campaign for the link. If you were promoting a sale for winter, you would use “winter-promo.”


    This parameter would highlight the keyword or keyword phrase used in the post or ad.


    Use the content parameter to detail the content that the link was placed into that sent the traffic to your website. This helps tremendously in A/B testing if you use two links within an email to see which area of the email encourages people to answer your CTA or if you use two banners to decide which banner performs best.

    Partner with GlobalSpex for an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy

    Gathering data and assessing the performance of your website and marketing efforts is critical. UTMs are absolutely vital for any company wishing to track its digital marketing efforts. There is no other way to assemble this amount of specific information about each of your campaigns. 

    Putting in the work on the front end will pay off in the long run. And we are here to help! GlobalSpex helps our clients implement the appropriate digital marketing methods, and we deliver results! 

    From building effective websites to tracking analytics and making strategic decisions, we have our clients covered and help them reach their goals. Schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation today!  


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    Christina Hawkins

    Christina Hawkins is CEO of GlobalSpex, Inc. and a Fractional CMO for her clients. A seasoned digital marketer since 1999, Christina has designed and built exceptional websites partnering with small businesses to help them grow and increase revenue. She understands that digital marketing is a constantly evolving technology and works to stay on top of the latest changes. She is always looking for the best route for clients' lead generation needs and revenue. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina is a coach and mentor with Agency Mavericks to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is also a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup.

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