UTM Parameters and The Not-So-Secret Way To Track Conversions ↘

Michaela
News

Track conversions, save a headache.

Imagine this: your team’s spent weeks building out the perfect lead generation campaign. Long hours of planning the funnel, creating all your assets, and perfecting your targeting. Everyone celebrates on launch day as your army of ads head out to your target demographics. Leads start entering your pipeline and everyone celebrates.

Well, that’s just the beginning. When it comes time to start seeing what ads are performing the best, your main KPI is conversions (whether that’s leads, sales, or whatever your awesome company wants it to be.) You start looking at the conversions and realize you’ve made a grave mistake. You never add tracking parameters to your ads and now you have no idea where the conversions are coming from, or which assets are performing the best.

Organic Facebook posts? Google Ads? Emails?

Save yourself from an awkward conversation with your manager and start tracking exactly where your leads are coming from using UTM parameters.

What the heck are UTM parameters?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module (it should really stand for Ultimate Tracking Mechanism) and the main goal is to track exactly where your conversions came from.

Simply, a UTM parameter is a string of tags added to the end of a URL. Ideally, these tags are picked up either by Google Analytics or get added into your conversion information in a CRM. This allows you to tag specific pieces of content to gauge how effectively they’re driving traffic to your desired web page.

For an example, if I were driving traffic to our home page (big.vision) using Facebook Ads targeting new clients who need web design services, I would use the following URL as the location for my ad’s call to action:

https://www.big.vision/?utm_source=FB&utm_medium=paid&utm_campaign=201908-B2B&utm_term=webdesign&utm_content=AD1

See what the string of tags mean as I break down the types of UTM parameters, show you how to build your own URLs, and explain how to leverage this data for optimizing your active campaigns.  

The details.

In total, there are five UTM parameters recognized by Google. However, only three of the parameters are required to pass into Google Analytics and most CRMs. You can use any combination of the five you want, depending on how specific your data needs to be.

  1. utm_source (required) – Establish the source of your traffic, normally at a high level. Examples could be utm_source=Facebook, utm_source=Newsletter, or utm_source=GoogleAds.
  2. utm_medium (required) – Establish the medium you attached your code to. Examples could be utm_medium=paid, utm_medium=cpc, or utm_medium=organic.
  3. utm_campaign (required) – Establish or identify the overall campaign or reason you’re producing this content. This can vary depending on the naming conventions your company uses. For a specific CPC campaign, you can use a combination of the time period the campaign is running combined with the audience (ie. utm_campaign=201908-B2B), or the product you’re sending traffic to (ie. utm_campaign=whitepaper-launch-201908). This parameter gives you a lot of wiggle room for how you want to set your campaigns up.
  4. utm_term – As the first nonrequired parameter, utm_term is mainly used in paid search campaigns were you are going after specific keywords. If you’re running a Google Ads campaign for you web design services, you could use utm_term=web-development-near-me.
  5. utm_content – rounding out the list, this parameter allows you to add details for specific content. You would use this to differentiate between ads in the same ad group, specific organic posts, or any other A/B testing you want to do.

Outside of Google Analytics, if you’re just using UTM parameters to track leads going into your CRM, feel free to change the meanings of your parameters to fit your campaigns needs. 

Pro tip: the UTM parameters all need to be lower case (ie. utm_source). The content that follows the parameter is fine in any case (ie. utm_source=Facebook).

Building the beast.

Now that you have an idea on what each UTM parameter means, it’s time to start building your own. Think back to the URL I referenced earlier: 

https://www.big.vision/?utm_source=FB&utm_medium=paid&utm_campaign=201908-B2B&utm_term=webdesign&utm_content=AD1

Leveraging your data.

Good on you for successfully creating tracking links for your content and being aware of exactly where your leads are coming from. Now, it’s time to leverage that data to increase the success of your campaign.

As a digital marketer, I’m constantly testing new ideas. Utilizing the information I now have on previous conversions, I can make informed choices on what’s working and what’s not.

Start at the source position. Where are you getting the most conversions and where is conversion generation lacking? Start with looking at your budget and see if it makes more sense to reallocate money to the content that’s actually converting.

Also, your A/B testing now has a new metric to track and lets you compare the two ads. One ad has a higher clickthrough rates, impressions, and reach. The second ad has lower clickthrough rates, impressions, and reach. But, now that you’re implementing UTM parameters you can see that the second ad is driving 40% more conversions. Without the UTM parameters, you would have changed the second ad and missed out on all those juicy conversions.

In the end, tracking is king.

I don’t need to tell you that knowing more about where your conversions came from is important. Using UTM parameters will allow you to optimize your campaign for generating conversions and cut the underperforming ads, saving you money and making your life a whole lot easier. 

Or, better yet, skip the code tracking and let us collaborate on a digital marketing campaign your entire company will enjoy. We know how to track our conversions, so you can expect full transparency every time.