UTM

Urchin Tracking Module – UTM : Definition and how to set them up?

Everything you need to know about Urchin Tracking Module! Master their use to optimize your campaigns and track your KPIs with our guide!

Today, UTMs, or Urchin Tracking Module, are an essential tool for any company wishing to accurately measure the effectiveness of its marketing actions and campaigns. At the same time, the various marketing platforms generally offer performance metrics for campaigns. However, the use of UTM metrics enables deeper analysis. In this way, it gives marketers essential advantages.

You may be here because you’ve heard of UTMs… but don’t know exactly what they mean or how they can benefit your business.

Don’t worry, our article is here to guide you through the basics of UTMs. Together we’ll look at their types and concrete examples, as well as their implementation and analysis. At the end of our guide you’ll understand why they’re so crucial to measuring your company’s performance.

UTMs, are not simply additions to your URLs. They are the providers of essential data. UTM links enable you to track where visitors come from, how they interact with campaigns and which strategies generate the most conversions.

By using UTMs effectively, you can measure the performance of your marketing actions. But you also have the opportunity to fine-tune your strategies to maximize ROI (Return on Investment).

What is a UTM?

UTMs are parameters added to URLs that enable the effectiveness of marketing campaigns to be tracked in detail. These parameters offer a precise and straightforward method of measuring the impact of different advertising strategies and channels. UTMs are added to the end of URLs as a code and are analyzed in Google Analytics.

The importance of UTMs in digital marketing cannot be underestimated. They play a crucial role in providing clear, actionable data on where traffic is coming from.

At Impulse Analytics, the Web Analytics agency, we closely monitor UTMs to record and analyze user and prospect behavior on the Internet. This tracking helps our customers make the best decisions.

By such means, you can determine whether a specific campaign on social networks, a newsletter or paid advertising has been the most effective. This helps you to allocate future budgets more wisely. This is especially valuable in an environment where budgets need to be spent wisely and strategically to maximize ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

What’s more, UTMs facilitate A/B testing by enabling marketers to compare the performance of two versions of a campaign. For example, by changing the utm_content parameter, you can test two different images in an ad to see which generates more clicks or conversions. At the same time, you can keep the other parameters constant.

Types of UTM

As we mentioned earlier, UTMs work by adding code to URLs. They then track users’ interactions with the links. These codes are divided into five components. Each has a specific role to play in tracking your campaigns:

Exemple of Urchin Tracking Module - UTM
  • Source (utm_source): This parameter identifies the source of the traffic, such as the search engine, newsletter name, or social network from which the click originates. It’s essential for understanding which platforms drive the most visitors to your sites.
  • Medium (utm_medium): This indicates the acquisition channel. In other words, it displays the type of media used, such as email, paid advertising, or blog post. This parameter helps to distinguish between the different methods used to attract traffic.
  • Campaign (utm_campaign): Used to specify the specific campaign being promoted. If you’re running multiple campaigns simultaneously, this tag will allow you to see which campaign is attracting the most attention and generating interactions.
  • Term (utm_term): This parameter lets you know which keywords attracted visitors to a company’s website. It is often used for paid keyword advertising campaigns.
  • Content (utm_content): Useful for A/B testing. In other words, it allows you to test different types of content. For example, if you’re testing two visuals in an ad, this tag can help you identify which performs better.

By adding these parameters to URLs, companies create a powerful tracking method. This is because it helps analyze user behavior once they’ve arrived on the site. This opens up prospects for optimization based on tangible data. You can also use them as your effective tracking force to achieve your objectives.

UTM Examples

The following examples illustrate different ways of configuring Urchin Tracking Module tags for various situations and marketing objectives:

Promotional campaign on social networks

https://www.your-example.com?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=2024_summer_sale&utm_content=video_ad

  • Base URL: https://www.impulse-analytics.com
  • Source: utm_source=facebook
  • Medium: utm_medium=social
  • Campaign: utm_campaign=2024_summer_sale
  • Content: utm_content=video_ad

In this example, the UTM tag tracks a summer promotional campaign on Facebook using a video ad. This tracking will help determine whether Facebook video ads are effective in promoting summer sales.

E-mail marketing campaign

https://www.your-example.com?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=monthly_newsletter&utm_term=engagement_tips

  • Base URL: https://www.impulse-analytics.com
  • Source: utm_source=newsletter
  • Medium: utm_medium=email
  • Campaign: utm_campaign=monthly_newsletter
  • Term: utm_term=engagement_tips

This example shows the use of UTMs to track the success of a specific article in a monthly newsletter that gives tips on engagement. The specific term helps identify which content in the newsletter leads to more clicks and interactions.

Paid search campaign

https://www.your-example.com?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=product_launch&utm_term=new_product

  • Base URL: https://www.impulse-analytics.com
  • Source: utm_source=google
  • Medium: utm_medium=cpc
  • Campaign: utm_campaign=product_launch
  • Term: utm_term=new_product

In this example, UTMs are used to track the effectiveness of a Google Ads campaign launched to promote a new product. The term new_product helps identify the specific keywords that drive the most traffic to the product page.

How to include a UTM in your campaigns

Now that you understand the different Urchin Tracking Module parameters and their importance, it’s time to take action.

To get started with UTMs, you can use the Google Campaign URL Builder or another similar tool. It will simplify the process of creating your new link. Let’s take a look at the steps involved:

  1. Choose the Campaign URL: This is the URL of the page to which you want to direct traffic.
  2. Define the Source: Indicate where your visitors will come from (e.g. Facebook, Google, newsletter).
  3. Add Medium: Specify the type of media used (e.g. cpc, email).
  4. Name the Campaign: Give your campaign a name so that it can be easily identified in reports.
  5. Specify Term: Used for paid searches. The field is optional, but you can use it to specify the keywords for your ad.
  6. Specify Content: This field is not mandatory. It can be used for A/B testing. Use the Content section to differentiate between ads or links pointing to the same URL.

Once you’ve filled in this information, the tool will generate a final URL that you can use in your marketing campaigns.

You can copy a new link as is, or turn it into a shortened link. In most cases, it’s advisable to use short URLs. A shortened link can increase the click-through rate and chances of conversion. Their advantage lies in user perception. In general, long URLs are considered less trustworthy and are clicked less often.

Tracking URLs can also be configured manually. But to do this, it’s important to master their structure perfectly. It will be crucial to check each parameter to ensure they are correct and consistent to avoid tracking errors. A simple error in the code can render the URL inoperative and lead to wasted time.

Analyze performance with UTM parameters

Having Urchin Tracking Module in place is a big step forward, but harnessing the data collected is where you really start to see the benefits.

Tracking and analysis in Google Analytics

Once your campaign is up and running, and the data starts flowing in, you can observe the results in Google Analytics. Let’s take a look at how to find and track them:

1. Access Google Analytics: First, select the “Reports” section on the left. Then go to the “Acquisition” section, then “Traffic Acquisition”.

Traffic Acquisition - Google Analytics

2. Analyze traffic sources: If you scroll down, you’ll see a detailed report on your campaign’s traffic. In this section, you can perform an analysis based on one or two dimensions:

  • Session main channel group (default channel group).
  • Session default channel group.
  • Session source/support.
  • Session support.
  • Session source.
  • Session source platform.
  • Session campaign.
Follow UTM - Google Analytics

After selecting dimensions, you’ll be presented with a report containing various interesting metrics for evaluating your marketing campaigns. This table contains tracking URLs only when they register traffic. For each tracking code, you’ll have access to :

  • Number of users
  • Number of page views
  • Average session duration
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Number of pages/sessions

The dimensions associated with utm_content and utm_term are not activated by default. To obtain them, it is necessary to create custom dimensions via the “Configure” tab. Then select the “Custom definitions” section to create a new dimension.

3. Analyze the data: This report evaluates the best-performing channels and identifies the most effective campaigns. By comparing campaigns with a favorable return on investment (ROI), it facilitates decision-making. This is particularly the case for A/B testing.

Analyze important marketing performance indicators. Look for trends, traffic peaks, and user engagement patterns.

Using data to optimize your campaigns

With this data, you can start making informed adjustments:

  • Reallocate budget: If certain sources or campaigns are underperforming, consider reallocating your budget to better-performing channels.
  • Adjust messages: Data can reveal what type of content or message resonates best with your audience.
  • Refine targeting: The Urchin Tracking Module terms that generate the most conversions can point you in the direction of more precise targeting for future campaigns.

By relying on tangible data rather than guesswork, you increase not only the effectiveness of your campaigns, but also your overall understanding of your audience. This turns every campaign into an opportunity for continuous learning and improvement.

Mistakes to avoid with UTMs

Using UTMs is a powerful practice for campaign tracking, but a few common pitfalls can compromise their effectiveness. By becoming aware of these common mistakes, you can avoid them and ensure that your data remains accurate and reliable.

  • Inconsistent naming: One of the most common problems is inconsistency in the way UTM parameters are named. For example, using “Facebook” in one campaign and “fb” in another can fragment your data, making analysis more difficult. To avoid this, establish a clear standard for naming and make sure the whole team follows it.
  • Overuse of UTMs: It can be tempting to tag every link with UTMs, but this can lead to data overload and complicated analyses. Use UTMs wisely, focusing on links that need tracking for strategic marketing decisions.
  • Forget to tag URLs in short-term campaigns: Even if a campaign is temporary, such as a flash promotion, it can provide valuable insights. Not using UTMs for these campaigns is a missed opportunity to gather useful data.
  • Parameter confusion: Make sure you understand the function of each UTM parameter to avoid using them incorrectly. For example, don’t confuse ‘medium’ with ‘source’, as this could confuse the real origin of traffic.

Avoiding these mistakes will maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns and the accuracy of your data analysis.

Conclusion

UTMs – Urchin Tracking Module are not just tools for digital marketers; they are essential for anyone wishing to gain an in-depth understanding of the effectiveness of their online strategies. By properly integrating UTMs into your URLs and analyzing the data they provide, you can make informed decisions that propel your business to new heights of success. Remember, the key is consistency and precision in your approach to tracking.


We position ourselves as a paid media agency, working with customers on a wide range of issues every day. IF you need a hand setting up and monitoring your UTMs, don’t hesitate to call on us for an appointment to accelerate your growth.

Vincent Chevalier Levy

Vincent Chevalier Levy

After managing the largest marketing analytics & growth teams from the Silicon Valley (Electronic Arts & Udemy), Vincent decided to create Impulse Analytics in order to accelerate the growth of the accounts he manages. Vincent's focus on media, content & data helped him generate more than +50 million euros of revenue, +70 clients supported, 25 countries and counting ..
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