The Stressed Marketer’s 5-Minute Guide to UTM Parameters

Written by Heather Mueller on August 13, 2015

Posted in Analytics, Lead Generation

The sheer volume of data available today can put some amazing analytics at every marketer’s fingertips. There’s attribution (the role each channel plays), funneling (the journey customers take to purchase), and predictive modeling (trends used to anticipate future behaviors). Analysts have never had such a heyday.

But you’re not an analyst.

You’re a busy, time-strapped marketer who needs some quick, actionable insights without blowing your budget on tools, consultants, or agencies. You definitely don’t have time to build detailed dashboards or learn a new system.

What you need is a handful of super-easy, no-frills ways to get the Acquisition portion of your Google Analytics account to go from looking like this:

BasicAcquisitionOverview

To this:

DetailedAcquisitionOverview

Notice the difference? The first account shows just two sources of website traffic: direct (visitors who typed a URL directly into their browsers or clicked untracked links) and referral (visitors who found your site through any number of sources linking back to your site).

The second is set up to show more precisely where that direct and referral traffic is coming from.

It gets even better with UTM links.

With the right integration settings, you can dig further into any channel (paid search, social, email, and so on) to gain deeper insights. After you’ve set up UTM parameters—tags that let Google track where traffic is coming from—you can go to Acquisition > All Campaigns to see which tweet generated a huge surge in traffic, for instance, or what email clicks drove the most conversions.

So…

How can you get these UTM parameters set up in five minutes or less?

Let your favorite tools build UTM links for you.

If all you need are some basic insights, it’s actually really easy to track visitors with UTM parameters. Getting started with campaign tracking is often as simple as checking a box while you’re building a campaign. Really.

Many popular marketing tools offer built-in features you can use to add tracking codes to your URLs with the click of a button.

Here’s what it looks like in MailChimp:

MailChimpUTMGenerator

You’ll find similar features in many other digital marketing tools, such as:

Any time you start using a new digital marketing tool, simply look for the Google Analytics connector or integration.

Then, in Formstack, simply activate the Google Analytics plugin so you can see how many of those tracked clicks are turning into form conversions:

FormstackGoogleAnalyticsPlugin

Of course, you can always use Google’s URL Builder to create your own UTM parameters for custom campaign tracking. But isn’t it great when a third party application does it for you?

Now, if you’ll excuse us, it’s time to see where readers of this post came from…