Learn How To Create UTM Links and Understand Why You Need Them

UTM codes track user behavior from a campaign and determine conversion rates for businesses to better optimize their campaigns. Learn how to get the most out of UTM links.

One of the most exciting things about digital marketing is the ability to track your website traffic. This is one of the biggest advantages you have over traditional media. Traditional media often doesn't give you any way to definitively know why people buy from you. With digital marketing, you can use personalized tracking links to know how many website visitors you receive from any specific promotion.

For example, let's say you want to learn which of your current digital marketing campaigns is sending the most traffic to your website or landing page. You can track each campaign separately using tracking links embedded in each campaign. When visitors land on your web page, you'll be able to identify which campaign they came from and where they land.

This tracking is called Urchin Tracking Module tracking or UTM tracking. By placing a UTM link in your campaign ad, you can follow how many visitors come from that link and where they land once inside your website. Using this knowledge, you can fine-tune your campaigns and use the most effective ad copy or email copy to drive more traffic to your most effective landing page. Let's dig into how this process works.

What is a UTM link?

A UTM link is any URL with specific UTM code attached, called UTM parameters. These UTM parameters identify your URL so that you can track each click and where it comes from. You can also track other parameters including medium, campaign, bounce rate, pages viewed per session, and length of time spent on your website (or landing page).

Here's an example of what a UTM might look like.

https://www.yourwebsite.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sale

As you can see, the link starts with the website like any normal link, then the UTM code is added on later. In this example the UTM codes are tracking a link from Facebook, a social media site, for a sale campaign.

Why are UTM links important to marketers?

UTM links are one of the best methods for driving more conversions and revenue. With the ability to track visitor traffic, you can run tests to compare one campaign vs. another. These A/B tests give you the ability to continuously improve your traffic, conversions, and revenue. You can test ad copy, keywords, images, or videos, any variable that affects the effectiveness of your campaign.

What's the difference between a bitly link and UTM tracking?

You may be thinking that UTM tracking is similar to bitly links, but that's incorrect. Bitly links are only similar to UTM links in that they change the way your original link looks.

For example, here's an example from Bitly's site:

Before:

http://bitly.com/pages/landing/get-enterprise?utm_content=site-enterprise-button&utm_source=organic&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=null

After:

https://bitly.is/EnterpriseButton

Bitly is a URL link shortener. It shortens long links to make them look more attractive without sacrificing the code in your link. Long links can make visitors apprehensive and less likely to click. Using bitly or other URL shorteners alleviates that apprehension and doesn't add any significant time to accessing the linked page.

On the other hand, UTM links are added to the end of the original URL for tracking purposes. They don't make URLs shorter, they make them longer.

If you scroll back up to the bitly link example, you'll notice that the first link has UTM code at the end.

utm_content=site-enterprise-button&utm_source=organic&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=null

When bitly shortens the original URL link, it includes the UTM code. So, you still get the tracking information from the UTM code even though you can't see it.

UTM tracking parameters

As you can see in the UTM examples above, UTM codes can track several campaign parameters. The most popular parameters to track are:

You can also track other parameters, like bounce rate, pages viewed per session, and length of time spent on your website (or landing page). Let's delve into the three popular parameters.

Source

The source of the link is determined using this code:

utm_source=organic

In this code snippet, the source is organic traffic. You can list anything you want for the source to help you identify where it's coming from. Source gives you the basic source like Facebook, email, or organic. If you want even more definition like a Facebook group, you will need to create a specific value for the source.

Medium

The medium of your link is the channel or the type of traffic you are getting like blog, organic, or email marketing traffic. Using the same example, you can see that website is the medium.

utm_medium=website

Campaign

The third popular UTM parameter to track is the campaign your link is embedded in. This way you can track all your traffic from a specific campaign to determine the campaign's effectiveness and also test campaign copy in A/B testing.

In the bitly example, the campaign code is null. But if you look in the first example shown here, the campaign is "sale," bolded below.

https://www.yourwebsite.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sale

Other UTM parameters

Any other of the UTM parameters can also be added to study specific data. For example, let's say you want to know how effective your organic traffic keywords were for driving traffic. You can add the UTM code to your link like this:

https://www.yourwebsite.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sale&utm_keyword=steampunk

In this example, the keyword "steampunk" is identified for tracking. Using this method, you can add any other parameters to study. However, there is a catch. The catch is that adding so many UTM codes on the end of a URL can slow down the speed of the link. To avoid slow loading times, you can limit the UTM parameters and look for other reasons your website is loading slowly.

If you're ready to create your own UTM links, an easy way to do so is using Google's URL Builder tools. There are three you can use depending on where your link will be.

These tools walk you through building your UTM links step-by-step so it's easy to understand how they work. You can input the parameters you want to track and then the tool creates a custom UTM tracking link for your use.

Tracking your UTM URLs in Google Analytics

Ok, now you know how to track parameters using UTM coding. But, that's only half the issue. If you're tracking link activity, you need to track it to a report somewhere. That's where Google Analytics comes in. You can track your various UTM code activity using Google Analytics.

Getting a Google Analytics account

If you don't already have a Google Analytics account, then the first step is to set up an account. Follow these step-by-step instructions to set up your Google Analytics account and customize it for your usage. Once your account is set up, and linked to your website for tracking, you will begin to receive data regarding the traffic going to the site.

Connect Google Analytics with Mailchimp

Once you have your Google Analytics account set up, then you can integrate Google Analytics with Mailchimp. Connecting Google Analytics with Mailchimp gives you the basis for tracking email campaign data including UTM codes.

Google Analytics will track conversions from Mailchimp, then populate your Mailchimp email marketing reports with this data. This tracking works on any page you have with Google Analytics code embedded.

To connect Google Analytics and Mailchimp, follow these steps:

  1. Click Integrations
  2. Click Google
  3. Click Connect (You need to be logged into your Google account. If you aren't then you'll need to login here,)
  4. Click Allow to grant Mailchimp access to your Google account.
  5. You should get a "Success" message on Mailchimp.

Now that your Mailchimp account and Google Analytics account are integrated, you can add tracking to your regular email campaigns.

How to add tracking to your regular email campaign

Follow these steps to add Google Analytics tracking to your email campaign.

  1. Create a new regular email campaign
  2. Check the box next to Google Analytics link tracking
  3. Click Save

Once you've checked the box enabling tracking, Mailchimp displays the campaign title as it appears in Google Analytics after the campaign is sent out. This title uses the Mailchimp campaign title (that you've created), and adds the date the campaign is sent out to make it easier to search for in your Google Analytics dashboard and your email campaign reports on Mailchimp.

Mailchimp's email campaign reports will give you a clear picture of all of your email campaign data. Your reports will give you the information in all of the following categories.

  • Recipients
  • Audience
  • Subject
  • Delivered
  • Orders
  • Average order revenue
  • Total order revenue
  • Click performance
  • Campaign benchmarking
  • Open rate
  • Click rate
  • Opened
  • Clicked
  • Bounced
  • Unsubscribed
  • Total opens
  • Successful deliveries
  • Click per unique opens
  • Total clicks
  • Forwarded
  • Forwarded opens
  • Abuse reports
  • Last opened
  • Last clicked
  • 24-hour performance
  • Subscribers with most opens
  • Social performance
  • Top locations

You can find more details of each category and how data is compiled in email campaign reports here.

Include UTM links in your email campaigns

You can see why including UTM links in your email campaigns is valuable. UTM links allow you to modify your email campaigns by identifying specific parameters and testing them to see which are successful.

You can easily increase your traffic and conversions by using the tracking data to determine the best email copy, images, video, or interactive content that you use to engage your audiences. Knowing that your email marketing content is proven to convert email recipients before you send it out (by your A/B testing), will give you more confidence in your campaigns and drive more traffic and conversions to your website.

Mailchimp gives you the tools you need to track UTM links to drive your email campaign success. You can get started on adding UTM links and making them work for you right now. Contact Support to get started.

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