Tracking traffic sources for analytics: Introducing UTM tags

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Internet Business: Analytics and SEO/SEM - Season 2

Snippets added to URLs to track the source of traffic to a website are UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) tags. They allow us to analyze the effectiveness of various sources of online promotion, such as advertising campaigns, newsletters and posts on social media. You can also use tags to optimize the page and observe which elements work.

UTM structure of tags

The UTM tag structure consists of the following Parameters:

  • utm_source – Specifies the source from which the visitor is coming. This can be the name of a website, social platform, advertising campaign, newsletter, etc. e.g. utm_source=Facebook or utm_source=newsletter.
  • utm_medium – indicates the medium that attracted the visitor. This indicates the channel through which the link was shared. E.g. utm_medium=cpc or utm_medium=email.
  • utm_campaign – You can mark a specific marketing campaign in which you placed the link. This makes it easier to identify the effectiveness of a given campaign. For example, utm_campaign=summerseason or utm_campaign=winterseason.
  • utm_term – PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising campaigns often use an optional parameter. It allows you to determine the specific keyword that directed the visitor to the page. E.g. utm_term=overnight
  • utm_content – You can use this parameter to specify different content variants that are tested within the same campaign. It is especially useful for A/B testing and content personalization. e.g. utm_content=cta_button or utm_content=sidebar_banner

Example of a full UTM tag:

https://www.blogelist.com/travel/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sezonletni&utm_term=nocleg&utm_content=icon

Our traffic to TravelBlog comes from Newsletter and email. It is part of the summer season campaign in tourism. The reader showed interest in the accommodation and clicked on the icon in the email.

How UTM tracking works

As we can see in the example above. UTM are added to links in the form of parameters. Everything after the question mark is readable by our website. It happens that a parameter is passed in this way, e.g. with information. which article should be displayed.

We passed some parameters, but what next? We still need to have a mechanism that will read these parameters and do something with them. As part of our series, in the first episode, we integrated our blog with Google Analytics. It is the most popular tool for reading UTM Tags. And they come from him. (More precisely than its predecessor)

Example information based on real data from Blogelist.

Example above: Over a period of time, 6 Users launched 10 sessions using the footer on one of our blogs. (It’s safe to assume they were interested in more than one thing in the footer.)

Benefits of using UTM tags

There are many benefits of using UTM tags, e.g.:

  • Accurate tracking of traffic sources
  • Optimization of the marketing strategy
  • A/B testing
  • Easy integration with analytics tools
  • Accurate ROI calculation (Return of Investment)

However, we will focus on one application below. We will want to monitor how many people use the footer on our website and what value it has for us. We will be able to assess whether it is worth focusing on this element in the further development of projects.

Mistakes to avoid

The most important mistake is not following the standard or mixing the standard. (Describing links in different ways.) In this case, the data for the analytics tool is entered in different ways and in the end it is difficult to compare them. We lose the advantage that this machismo gives us. That is why it is very important to set and stick to a standard (even as your own) in creating subsequent links.

Now let’s modify the footer of the OneYearChallengeProject blog to include links with utm tags. Just like TravelBlog have them. Because we are lazy and want to be sure that the form of the link will be the same everywhere, we will copy the link from TravelBlog.

Here’s what that link looks like:

https://www.blogelist.com/travel/resources/booking/?utm_source=TravelBlog&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pagefooter

In this case:

  • utm_source is TravelBlog. So the click comes from TravelBlog’s footer.
  • utm_medium is referral.
  • utm_campaign is a pagefooter. That is the footer of the page.

We paste the link to the editor in our landing page. The only thing we change is “utm_source”. We enter the new origin of the movement.

We do the same exercise for the rest of the links. Our footer is ready:

Summary

In this article, we learned about UTM tags. We got to know their structure, benefits, how they work. We found a basic error. At the end, we modified the footer of the OneYearChallengeProject blog together, using the knowledge of the basic error, we copied an example from another website (TravelBlog) where it was already ready and modified it for our use. We already know what it is and we can apply it.

Are there alternatives? What else can we use these links for? Watch this series to find out more.

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This series is cross-published in SOWER Blog. It is created as non-paid cooperation as workload exchange. In this season, you can read half articles written by a Blogelist representative and the second half by SOWER.

The Polish version of this article is published in SOWER Blog here.

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