We touched briefly on UTM codes in our post about Google URL Builder. This post will give you more in-depth information about what the heck a UTM code (aka UTM parameter) is and how to use it.
Briefly, a UTM code is a snippet placed on the end of the URL of a page that tells analytics programs like Google’s where, exactly, the hit originated. This gives you an even more granular look at your traffic sources and a way to prove that all the time you spent on Twitter (or any other type of marketing) was worth it.
Defining UTM Codes
A URL with a UTM code looks like this:
Each snippet describes something about where the visitor came from and feeds it into your analytics to help you monitor and measure your campaigns, define your sources, and give you the data you need to make marketing decisions.
UTM codes can be created for:
a website source
a marketing medium
the type of content
the keyword terms your PPC campaign has paid for
Each UTM code is built with one of these elements, each with its own customized name. You can mix and match, combine as many as you want, and track a variety of marketing activities. For example, you can keep an eye on your social media efforts to see how much traffic is coming from posts your business is creating as compared to traffic generated by followers promoting your content.
Another great example, which can enhance your knowledge about inbound content marketing, is the ability to track a specific piece of content across multiple channels. Not only will you determine how the content performs on each channel, you can gather data to help you modify the content to work better in a particular channel. This will improve performance of content you already have out there as well as inform creation of future content.
UTM Code Types
The code snippets won’t impact anything on the page itself, they just allow for a finer breakdown within your analytics program.
Campaign: Groups all content from a single campaign
Source: The website sending the traffic
Medium: What marketing medium the link is in i.e. social media or banner ad
Content: tracks different content types pointing to the same URL from the same campaign, source, and medium (helpful with PPC campaigns)
Term: Paid keywords in a PPC ad
Monitoring UTM Codes in HubSpot
Step 1: Set Up UTM Codes
Go to your Dashboard.
Select Reports Home.
Select Tracking URL Builder (bottom right of page).
Select “Create New Tracking URL (top right corner).
Populate the form with the URL, Campaign, Source, and Medium (at a minimum).
(Optional): Click “More Options” after the “Medium” field to add Content and Term.
Select Generate after form completion.
Step 2: Use Shortened URL in Marketing
Example Tweet (from HubSpot):
9 Reasons You Can’t Resist Lists http://hub.am/14XOob via @HubSpot
Step 3: Measure
Go to Sources Report in HubSpot.
Go to “Other Campaigns.”
Select the specific campaign of interest to see source and medium breakdown.
Why Go To All This Work?
Well, as you can see, it really isn’t very difficult using either the HubSpot or Google URL Builder to create URLs with UTM codes embedded in them. The extra effort you expend to set these up and monitor them is more than paid for by the information you gain on campaign performance.
Using UTM codes will tell you exactly how Facebook is helping you. They can show you whether your site is receiving traffic specifically because of your tweets. That guest post you finagled from an important influencer? A URL with UTM codes lets you see whether it generated the traffic you expected.
Everything feeds back into improving your marketing performance and proving to the CMO (or just yourself) that you aren’t wasting your time and money. Or, if it turns out you are wasting these things, UTM codes can tell you where it is being wasted so you can fix it.
We cannot emphasize this enough…measuring your marketing initiatives is essential to building a successful, cost-effective, inbound marketing program. There are plenty of tools available to reduce the effort so there is no reason you cannot do this. UTM codes are another tool in your toolbox that can pinpoint where your marketing is effective, help define target audiences, and find what isn’t working as well as it should.