The 12 Days of Data: 5 UTMs!

December 12, 2013

On the Fifth Day of Data my true love gave to me . . . 5 UTM’s!

4 Advanced Segments
3 French Fans (Viewed in GA Real Time)
2 Profile Settings
And an Unsampled GA Data Set

If you want to know how your marketing efforts influence conversion on your site you absolutely need to use custom campaign parameters in Google Analytics. You’ve seen these parameters all over the internet: utm_source, utm_campaign, utm_medium and perhaps, utm_content and utm_term. When you give these parameters useful values they become super powerful in helping to identify how effective your external marketing is at driving traffic and conversion.

Let’s take a closer look at each parameter:

  1. Source*: Use this parameter to describe “where” your traffic is coming from. If you post a link on Twitter, Facebook, or in a newsletter use these names so you’ll know where your visitor was before coming to your site.
  2. Campaign*:  The campaign parameter should hold the name of your campaign. The name should be a broad description, but should be unique to a specific marketing effort and common across all sources and mediums involved (for example, Holiday 2013).
  3. Medium*: The medium of your traffic describes the channel that your visitor used to find you. Descriptions of marketing medium’s should be broad categories like email, social or cpc.
  4. Content: This is the most granular and flexible of the 5 campaign parameters. Use this field to hold descriptions of things like the call to action, versions of ad creative, geo targeting information, etc.
  5. Term: The term field simply holds the keyword that the ad is targeted against for paid search marketing.

All five of these parameters help Google Analytics to understand the marketing effort that drove traffic to your site, but the three starred parameters above (Source, Campaign and Medium) are required.

Here are a couple of common pitfalls to avoid so that you can get the most value from this data:

  •  Anything you’ve created that links back to your site via digital (or non-digital) means should have the utm parameters on them. Without this data your direct and referral channels with get credit for your marketing efforts! There is no need to add utm campaign parameters to advertisements through Google, but be sure to turn on auto tagging.
  • NEVER put utm parameters on links within your site! This is a common mistake people make when they want to track use of navigational elements to tell how many people followed a particular path. The problem is, every time Google Analytics sees utm parameters a new session will start and you won’t be able to tie the full user experience back together.
  • Use a tool to help manage the chaos of link creation. The worst thing you can do is to have everyone make choices on how to use the campaign parameters without using systematic naming conventions. We’ve built a lightweight campaign link generator in Excel you can use to keep the chaos under control, Happy Holidays.

Now that you’ve marked up all your links you will begin to see a more accurate picture of how your marketing mix is performing across multiple avenues.

Happy Analyzing!