How to Create and Use a UTM Code

Posted on October 11, 2023 | Updated on February 21, 2024

Have you ever wondered whether your Facebook ads are truly paying off or the latest promotional campaign is drawing attention? No longer do you have to guess with a UTM code. These tracking links are like digital breadcrumbs, showing your traffic sources. Yet, what is it exactly, and how do you use these snippets in marketing?

What Is a UTM Code, and What Is It Used For?

UTM codes are simple text snippets added to the end of a URL to track the performance of campaigns and content. Since UTM stands for “Urchin Tracking Module,” the acronym refers to the software where these codes were first used. So, what does this mean for marketers?

Suppose you’re promoting a product using different platforms, like social media, email and an online ad. How do you know which platform brought the most traffic to your site? This is where UTM codes come into the picture. Attaching a specific UTM code to each promotional link allows you to trace which platform or campaign is most effective.

These codes are crucial because digital marketing relies on data. Every decision — from designing an ad to choosing a platform — is driven by how well past campaigns performed. UTM codes provide these insights. They let marketers see where their traffic is coming from, which campaigns are working, and which needs adjustments.

In short, these code snippets tell you where your audience is coming from, helping you understand and fix your strategies. If you’re investing time and money in online marketing, UTM codes are essential to measure the return on that investment.

How to Create UTM Codes

Creating a UTM code is straightforward. You can head over to a tool like Google’s Campaign URL Builder and enter the web address of the content you wish to promote.

Next, you’ll set the primary parameters, which include the following:

  • Utm_source: This identifies which site or platform the traffic is coming from, like Facebook or email. Here is an example — utm_source=Facebook.
  • Utm_medium: This details the marketing medium used, such as ‘cpc’ for pay-per-click or ‘email’ for an email campaign. An example would be — &utm_medium=cpc.
  • Utm_campaign: This captures the specific promotional campaign, like ‘summer_sale’ or ‘new_product_launch.’ This would look like &utm_campaign=new_product_launch.

Once filled out, the tool will generate a URL with your UTM codes. Copy and use the links it gives you in your campaigns.

Keep in mind that maintaining consistent naming conventions is crucial. For instance, if you refer to Facebook as “fb” in one campaign and “facebook” in another, your data analysis may be off. Consistent naming eliminates confusion and ensures you can read the data accurately.

While online tools simplify the UTM code creation process, there are occasions when manual creation may be more appropriate. For smaller campaigns or when you need to make on-the-spot adjustments, crafting codes by hand can provide the necessary flexibility. Regardless of your approach, always prioritize naming consistency to garner clear, actionable insights.

Integrating UTM Codes in Marketing Campaigns

UTM codes can integrate seamlessly into various marketing elements, which enhances tracking and analysis. Each part of a marketing strategy benefits from UTM parameters, such as email marketing, for example.

Suppose you send a monthly newsletter with three articles. You can use a UTM code for each article link and learn which topic gained the most clicks. Looking at this information, you can form your own decisions to help you refine your content strategy.

Another area to use these codes is for social media campaigns. One way to use it is by posting the same product on different platforms. With your code snippets intact, you can see which social network drives the most traffic or sales. 

However, customizing your UTM codes in marketing campaigns is crucial for targeted tracking. Here’s why:

  • Audience segmentation: Different audience segments respond uniquely. If you’re targeting millennials on Instagram and Gen Z on TikTok, the content and messaging may differ. Custom UTM codes allow you to measure each approach.
  • Campaign specificity: For every campaign, whether it’s a product launch or a new sale, distinct UTMs ensure you’re gathering data from each one. Essentially, it keeps your data organized so you can understand the success of individual campaigns.
  • Platform optimization: Every platform has its challenges. A custom UTM parameter lets you track performance challenges across platforms. This way, you can see whether your content is appropriate for the medium and optimize it for best results.

Best Practices and Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using UTM Codes

When using UTMs, implement these best practices to get the most use out of these codes.

Keep Track of Your Links in a Spreadsheet

An essential best practice is keeping your codes organized. In marketing, you’ll likely generate multiple URLs for various campaigns and platforms. It can almost become overwhelming to manage. 

Therefore, you’ll need a system to track all your links in one place. Consider using a spreadsheet to record each UTM-enabled link, its parameters and its intended use. This way, every team member can stay on the same page.

Connect Data to Your UTM Tool

Connecting your analytics to your UTM is vital for a seamless look at your data. By connecting tools like Google’s Campaign URL Builder with Google Analytics, you can automatically import UTM data and view campaign performance in real-time. 

Integrating the two provides a clear picture of how your campaigns are faring. In turn, this allows you to make quick adjustments and optimizations. 

Avoid Using UTM Parameters for Internal Links

One mistake new marketers make with UTMs is using the parameters for internal links. Doing so messes with your analytics. Plus, you have Google Analytics to track your site’s traffic and understand where users are taking action. 

When you tag internal links with UTM parameters, you risk overwriting the source of your visitor’s journey. For instance, instead of seeing that a user came from a social media platform, your analytics might show them as coming from an internal page. 

Establishing parameters for internal links distorts traffic sources and misrepresents how users find your content.

Careful With Spelling and Capitalization

Attention to detail is critical when creating UTM parameters. That’s why consistent spelling and capitalization should be on your list of best practices. Otherwise, inconsistencies make inaccurate data and lead to misinterpretation. 

For example, using “Facebook” and “facebook” in the utm_source may split data into two separate sources in your analytics. The same thing occurs with misspellings. Suppose you spell “Facbook” instead of “Facebook.” Your analytics tool will also see these as distinct sources.

Avoid Using Spaces in Your UTM Parameters

Spaces within UTM parameters disrupt accurate tracking and can break your UTM links. Instead of spaces, marketers should use hyphens (-) or underscores (_) to represent spaces between words in UTM parameters.

Track Your Campaigns With UTM Codes

In digital marketing, UTM codes are essential for helping marketers make informed decisions. They keep track of your URLs so you understand how your campaigns are performing. This precise information gives you the details needed to make your next moves, maximizing your ROI in the long run.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Related Posts