One of my pet hates in marketing is only getting part of the data and making the assumption that the remainder of the data follows suit. This is especially true when tracking conversions and traffic sources in Google Analytics, especially when your conversions are more offline than online. That said, we can get into offline tracking in another post, but for now, let’s try and close the loop around traffic sources with UTM tracking.
What is UTM tracking?
UTM tracking simply allows you to create offline or manual links that use the same five data points that Google Analytics uses for automatically tagged traffic. It’s important to remember that not all fields need to be used, in fact, only the
utm_source field is required besides the URL of course.
If you delve into the various channel, medium and source reports, or use the channel grouping feature of Google Analytics, then you’re already effectively using reports based on UTM tracking. Think of it like this: if a user comes from an organic search click via the Google SERP, then effectively they’ve been tagged as coming from
organic as the
source, but these values have automatically been recorded for you by Google Analytics.
As smart as Google Analytics is, it can’t identify all traffic sources without a little help; think of it this way: if you manually write or copy a URL into a place where a user is expected to click on it, then you should tag that URL.
The main example of this is when creating emails that you send to your users. If you use your homepage as a link for the main call to action in the email, then when you come back later and check to see how well your email did, Google Analytics won’t know the difference between a click from your email or someone just typing in your domain into the browser. In fact, Google Analytics will record this session as a
direct visit and all your hard work with your email will be in vain.
Now that you want to know if a transaction or conversion has taken place as a result of a specific email campaign. Or if your oh-so-witty social media post drove conversions. Then UTM tracking can do this for you. After all, it allows you to track clicks from anywhere in Google Analytics, including, say your email signature.
UTM tag elements
|Website URL||The full URL for the user to visit
This field is required
|Campaign source||The name of the referrer
This field is required
|Campaign medium||The medium used||
|Campaign name||Title of the activty this tracked link is part of||
|Campaign term||The related keyword.
Generally you shouldn’t use this unless it a paid, keyword-based campaign
|Campaign content||Used to differentiate parts of a campaign||
One important thing to note is that Google Analytics is case sensitive, therefore
The UTM tracking builder template
Of course you can use Google’s UTM campaign builder, but if you’re going to create multiple UTM-tagged links over time then it might make sense to keep all of those links in one spot. As such, I’ve created a Google Sheets template that you can find here.
In order to make a copy so you can use it yourself, then go to File > Make a copy. Simple!
Let me know how you go and feel free to share your tips below.