The beauty of online marketing is that you can measure outcomes. For a single campaign, a marketer might use social media, email, display advertising, search advertising, media, etc. All of these online channels result in varying levels of performance. To determine how each channel is performing, you have to set up clear methods for tracking results.

While there are several analytics tools out there, for many, Google Analytics is the go-to tool for tracking and measuring online performance. If you're using Google Analytics, high-five! You have the ability to incorporate UTM parameters into your strategy, which means you can track your performance!

The term UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module and is the format that Google uses to track unique URLs. Here are the basics, benefits, and best practices for using UTM parameters.

Winery Marketing UTM Para-what?

Simply stated, UTM parameters are snippets of text added to the end of a URL to help track the performance of your online content.

It looks like this:

https://thinkwine.co/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medi...

Parameters enable tracking of the following components:

Campaign

This is the marketing campaign the link is associated with. When defining the campaign parameter it is necessary to consider your measurement goals. What do you want to measure? Do you want to see how a service or product performs? If you are a content marketer, do you want to see how different topics or authors perform? If your business is seasonal, are you trying to measure a holiday campaign?

Explore these questions to define how your Campaign Parameter is structured.

Medium

The Medium is the type of marketing channel where the link is posted. This parameter is pretty straightforward. Medium is defined by the channel being used. Examples:

  • PPC
  • Banner ad
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Post

Source

Source is the specific location where you are publishing the promotion.
Examples:

  • Newsletter
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Ad publisher (in the case of a media buy)

These three are the primary parameters that you should use. However, if you want extra-credit, there are two other parameters that can be used — content and term. Both are primarily used for PPC campaigns.

Content: Identifies the types of content being promoted

Term: The search term associated with the ad that features the link

Once you've decided the structure of your parameters, create a spreadsheet that defines and standardizes the process. Everyone on your marketing and advertising teams should have access to and an understanding of the parameters. This will ensure that your tracking and measurement is consistent.

How to Build a Link With UTM Parameters

Now that the parameters are defined, links need to be built! There are a number of ways to do this — excel spreadsheet, online tool, or by hand.

I recommend using an online tool. These are some of the best tools I’ve found.

Google URL Builder

Google Analytics Configuration Tracker

WordPress URL Builder Plugin

…and my personal favorite, the Google Analytics URL Builder chrome extension. This handy extension allows you to build a URL from the page displayed in your browser. Quick sets can be defined, to avoid the tedious task of typing in each of the parameters every a link is built. It also integrates with Bit.ly. This enables URL shortening and additional tracking. This handy tool can be found in the Chrome Web Store.

Google URL Buildertime

Now What?

After integrating UTM parameters into your marketing strategy, the results will begin showing in Google Analytics. You can view and analyze the results of your campaigns and various marketing channels by digging into the data. It is important that your site be configured for conversion tracking in order to see and report actionable results. Combining UTM parameters and conversion tracking provides a holistic view of marketing performance.

This is a great article about UTM parameters that provides instructions on where to view results in Google Analytics.

Use the results to narrow down which campaigns drive performance. Refine your product, services, and/or content strategy accordingly. Then, dig into the performance of the channels (source/medium). If social doesn’t appear to be driving conversions, don’t spend money there.

If you’re not already, start using UTM parameters today. I promise, they will improve your ability to respond to and improve your marketing efforts immensely.