UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. Does that help? Didn’t think so. Chances are your website uses Google Analytics to track usage and visitor behavior (according to recent estimates some 30 to 50 million websites use Google Analytics). Out of the box Google Analytics does a really good job telling you that a bunch of visitors came from somewhere and did something. A UTM allows you to drill down a little bit deeper and analyze specific marketing actions you have taken.
Google Analytics – High Level View
When you use Google Analytics the very first thing you see is a high level view of traffic. Here’s how many people came to your site. How many pages they viewed. How long they stayed. And how quickly they left. When you scroll down and click on the Acquisition tab you can drill a little deeper.
Google Analytics Channels Report
The channels report tells you, in broad strokes, where traffic came from. Did traffic come from search engines (not Google, Bing etc… but all of them, as a whole)? Did traffic come from social media? When we look at the channel report it is not incredibly specific, very high level. We can also see how many visitors came in. We can see what they did, or how they behaved. Finally, if you are tracking goals you can see if traffic from that channel took the action you wanted them to take.
Google Analytics Source/Medium Report
If you want to dig a little bit deeper you can look at the Source/Medium report. This report is much more specific. This tells you if traffic came from Facebook instead of social media, or Google instead of organic search. Other than that, it is almost completely the same.
The Big Problem
The problem with these standard, out of the box Google Analytics report all traffic as the same thing. Think about it. If you are on Facebook there are probably 3 main ways that visitors come to your site from Facebook.
- You post a link to your website on Facebook.
- You place an ad on Facebook.
- Someone who is on your website likes it so much that they share a link to Facebook.
Google Analytics, out of the box will report all of these as traffic from Facebook, which isn’t wrong, but if you are spending money on a Facebook ad wouldn’t you want to know what they ad did for your business?
UTM Saves The Day
This is where a UTM saves the day. When you add a UTM to a link that you are using in an add the UTM will tell Google Analytics that this link is part of your campaign and will treat it differently than other traffic that is not part of a campaign. The UTM will override the default Google Analytics settings. By doing this you can see how many people clicked on your ad AND what they did on your website.
How To Use The UTM
Go to the Google URL Builder. Let’s say you are Vivid Image. You have a Facebook campaign of boosted posts that is designed to drive traffic to our Random Tips email campaign. You can set this up in a few easy steps.
- Tell the URL Builder what page you are linking to – vimm.com/random-tips
- Tell the URL Builder what the Campaign Source is (where the ads will be) – Facebook
- Tell the URL Builder what the Campaign Medium is (what kind of ad) – Boosted Post
- Tell the URL Builder the name of the Campaign (this will create a nice campaign report that will help you review the performance of all of your ads that are designed to achieve the same goal) – Random Tips
- Use the new link in your ads!
After taking these steps traffic that would have looked like all other Facebook traffic will now appear to be coming from a Facebook Boosted Post. Now you will know that the ad you spent money on is actually doing what you want it to do.
When it comes down to it it is very easy to spend money on advertising. Using a UTM to track your advertising efforts is the very first step in making sure that money is not wasted. The second step is using Goal Tracking. Those two simple steps will help you make sure that your money is spent wisely and help you sleep well knowing your advertising is working.