If you’re a digital marketer and you aren’t using UTM codes, what are you truly measuring? UTM codes are an essential asset in the marketer’s toolkit because they help sort your inbound traffic data. UTM codes give you a clear picture of actions taken on your site after a user engages with any tagged link. In essence, a UTM code is bits of organized text added onto a URL to specify details about the link—details you designate as you see fit, such as campaign name, traffic source, and ad type.
Just Google “UTM generator” and you’ll see there are plenty of tools that help you generate these tagged URLs. Unfortunately, many of these tools don’t give you historical records of the URLs you created. Without this chronology, it’s easy to lose track of your efforts.
Luckily, the tagging process can be replicated effortlessly by using a spreadsheet. This will keep your URLs organized, sortable, and accessible. See how we at Cheddar set up our UTM tag generator spreadsheet, and grab a free copy for yourself! You’ll be able to get started with UTM codes—or get organized if you’re already a user—in a matter of minutes.
Here is the template we use at Cheddar.
The sources are set up with data validation to keep your naming conventions consistent and conditional formatting for at-a-glance feedback. Each column can also be filtered and sorted by adding filters in row #2 (see screenshot below).
If you’re new to this, here’s what you do:
Tip: Use Secondary Dimensions to narrow in on tagged URLs even further.
Well, maybe not every link, but there are plenty of important applications for UTM codes. Keep in mind there is no right or wrong way to organize your tags. When choosing how to label your links, do whatever makes the most sense for digesting and organizing your data.
If you post to social media often, you may struggle to track social posts to specific website actions. Since the battle for organic social reach never ends, measuring the ROI of your efforts is more critical than ever.
By adding UTM codes to the content you share on social media, you can see the number of users obtained from specific posts, rather than seeing all users grouped into buckets based on the social channel in general. In other words, UTM codes used in social content help you gauge the performance of individual posts.
Social media platforms offer at least one link back to your company website. You want to be able to segment those visits, don’t you?
For platforms like Instagram and TikTok, you only get one link option in your profile. Whether you are frequently updating that link with the latest content or using a tool like linktr.ee, make sure you add UTM parameters!
If we had to pick the most important links to tag, they would be the ones used in social media ads. In this case, you are not only spending time creating content but also putting an ad budget behind it.
On top of the need to calculate ROI, ad campaigns can become robust, involving the testing of multiple creatives and ad types. Without UTM tags on your URLs, you’ll have little insight into which ads are performing well, just as with organic posts on social media. Conversion tracking on platforms like Facebook can start to paint the picture, helping you measure which ads are converting, but you’ll still only have half the picture. UTM codes fill in the blank between the user clicking on your ad and what they do next on your website—those engagement metrics that aren’t being tracked for you by Facebook.
UTM codes organize all of your email data in GA. Do you send out a newsletter with multiple calls-to-action? See which of those actions are actually being taken, and what users are doing next on your site.
Not only should you have separate UTM codes for each email campaign, but each link in the email itself should be coded so that you know what content engages users. This is especially important for newsletters that typically contain multiple outbound links.
Are people engaging with your personal email signature? If you link to your website or dedicated landing pages in your email signature, add UTM tags to those links to track this data separately. Implement this across your whole organization so that you can differentiate data between departments, such as support and sales.
For local businesses, Google My Business profiles can be a significant source of organic traffic. Without UTM tags in your profile links, not all of this traffic is properly recognized from Google Analytics as organic traffic! Without UTM codes, you could miss key data that supports your SEO efforts.
Campaign tagging your website URL link is most important. Depending on your business category, you may have a secondary link for actions such as booking an appointment or accessing a food menu. These should be tagged as well.
Google Posts allow local businesses to promote content on their GMB profile in search results. This is a great feature to amplify special offers, events, and product/service offerings. Since most posts expire after seven days, measuring the value of your efforts is helpful. Add a UTM tag to each post that links to your content just like you would for social media.
If you have more than one guest post on a domain or more than one link in a single guest post, you’ll want to be able to differentiate the actions taken each link. If you only have one link per site, you'll be able to segment this data in Referral Traffic, but tagging them would still be beneficial because you can group all guest posts under one “campaign.” In other words, you can create a working dashboard of sorts in GA of consolidated data on all your guest posting efforts. This would be easier than individually segmenting referral sources.
If you missed our template above, you can copy it here.
It really only matters that you understand your coding system, but starting off with commonsense and concise terminology will most likely help you stay organized in the long run. For this reason, it helps to see how others use UTM codes before you start coding your own. Here’s a view of our coding system to give you a few ideas.
This isn’t an ultimate guide to UTM codes by any means. If you are new to this, here are a few resources we recommend referencing to learn more:
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