If you’re a social media marketer or using social media to drive traffic to your company’s website, you should be using UTM codes. A UTM code is a small piece of code that is attached at the end of a URL. The code is used to track where site traffic is coming from. And then you can track the results via Google Anlaytics. Now, with UTM codes, you have a better depiction of which social media platforms are bringing the most traffic to your site. UTM codes can also help to identify traffic from Dark Social Media.
Where Can I Use UTM Codes?
Spoiler alert! UTM codes are not strictly limited to social media posts. You can use them in emails, digital ads, blogs, digital magazines, and the list goes on. Any link that links back to your website should have a UTM code attached to it. So before we go any further, let’s take a look at some examples of UTM codes…
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Components of a UTM Code
There are five components in a UTM code. But as you can see from the examples above, they can come in all different lengths. However, despite the differences in lengths, there are three required parameters and two optional parameters.
- Campaign Name – specific campaign (i.e. contest, product, holiday sale, etc.)
- Campaign Source – referrer (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Campaign Medium – the location on the campaign source (i.e. newsfeed, banner ad, bio, etc.)
- Campaign Content* – keyword(s) to distinguish multiple UTM codes within a campaign (i.e. month, year, issue number, etc.)
- Campaign Term* – keyword used to target paid ads
*Optional UTM parameters
Before building your codes, you should establish a consistent format that will be applied to all UTM codes. Google Analytics has provided a helpful tool to make UTM code building easy for you to use.
So let’s say you work for Target and you’re making a post to Facebook for your annual summer sale. There are only three posts to announce this sale on Facebook. Your first post’s UTM code would have the following:
URL – http://www.target.com/
Campaign Name – summersale2016 (all lower case and no spaces)
Campaign Source – facebook
Campaign Medium – newsfeed
Campaign Content – post1 (the second post would be post2)
Your UTM code would look like this:
And your final URL would look like this:
UTM Codes Aren’t Pretty
From the example above, you can see the URL is incredibly long. Let’s face it, it’s not pretty. So it’s often best practice to shorten the link whenever the link is visible. Bitly is a great tool to shorten those mile-long links.
Analyzing UTM Codes in Google Analytics
So now that you’ve posted your URL with the UTM code attached on a social media post, it’s time to start analyzing. Before UTM codes, your best source for analyzing social media efforts was through the Overview of All Traffic or the Social overview. Now with UTM codes, we can use All Campaigns in Google Analytics.
There you can see the exact social media platform bringing in the most traffic to your site based on the content you’ve been posting. If you added Campaign Content to your UTM code, you can select Ad Content under Secondary Dimension. Now you can see more details about each campaign when applicable.
Google Analytics is an extremely useful tool for monitoring site traffic. It is also helpful in analyzing your social media efforts. When you apply UTM codes into your social media marketing strategy, you can identify which social media channels bring in the most traffic for each of your campaigns.