Tom Benattar
March 11, 2019

UTM Tracking: How To Measure Your Marketing Performance

Let's talk about marketing performance, ROI and UTM tracking.

They say all journeys start with a single step. For your business and many others, visitors could have anywhere from a simple to a complex journey of many steps before becoming a customer!

To help you as a marketer best understand your customer journey, track your marketing performance, and increase revenue, I’ll cover some major keys to success 🔑 in 3 separate parts: UTM tracking, conversion tracking, and attribution.

Good things come in threes, and though each part of the trio is good on its own, the 3 parts combined will most effectively help you measure, monitor and analyze all of your marketing efforts. And of course, our PixelMe tools can help you along each stage, all from one platform 💪.

Once you're armed with an effective marketing strategy, you'll be ready to tackle all steps of your customer journey, which are well captured by CandyBar in their customer lifecycle guide.

What is UTM Tracking?

But first, what is a UTM? UTM (Urchin Tracking Module - the important part is tracking 😉) parameters (aka UTM codes) are simply tags you can add at the end of a URL to track how effective a certain marketing campaign is.

When a person clicks on a link tagged with UTM parameters, those parameters get sent back to your Google Analytics or other analytics platform. This means you get relevant data that helps you understand which campaigns and channels attract the most traffic, and where to optimize your marketing strategy. It all begins with having solid tracking in place.

Seems straight-forward? Well, you’d be surprised how many people have tons of great campaigns running without any tracking 🙈. But that just means things can only go up and improve!

Now before I get to the why and how, here’s an example of a URL with UTM parameters in red (you’ve probably seen many of these online already):

UTM tracking example

Can you imagine having to manually build each URL with relevant UTM parameters? Luckily it's 2019, and we created a PixelMe UTM Builder and templates to make this process much more painless.

So when setting up a URL with UTM parameters, what exactly can you measure?

5 different URL parameters with examples

  • Source: channel or platform where the traffic starts from.

‣ utm_source=facebook (or replace facebook with instagram, google, newsletter, etc.)

  • Campaign: a name to identify your overall campaign or promotion.

‣ utm_campaign=easterpromo

  • Medium: type of link used, such as cost per click (CPC), social, display, email, organic.

‣ utm_medium=cpc

  • Content: what was clicked to refer the user to the URL, often used for A/B testing. E.g., if you were a testing a Mother’s Day landing page with a green call-to-action button vs. a blue one.

‣ utm_content=mothersday_blue_cta
‣ utm_content=mothersday_green_cta

  • Term: search keywords you’re targeting for paid search campaigns. E.g., if you’re running Google AdWords or Bing Ads for your Amazon store that sells sandals.

‣ utm_term=leather-sandals

What’s nice is you can include any or all the parameters with PixelMe's UTM builder, in any order, for every link and they’ll never change anything on the destination page. They purely exist to help you with campaign measurement.


7 ways you can use UTM tracking

🎯 1. Digital advertising:
add UTMs to all your digital ad campaigns to have a clear understanding of your marketing performance across channels.

👍 2. Social media accounts:
add UTMs to your profile links and any links you share in your social channels. Compare your channels and see whether you’re getting more visitors from Instagram, Facebook, Medium, Twitter etc.

📝 3. Product newsletter:
for email newsletters you send to your subscribers, add UTMs to all the links, images, CTAs to understand which parts drive the most traffic to your site.

📜 4. Banner ads:
if you run paid banner ads, include UTMs in your image links, to better gauge which websites and key info like banner size, color, placement perform best.

🏢 5. Offline marketing:
if you create materials like direct mail or brochures, attend trade shows, have event presentations, etc. use our PixelMe URL shortener combined with UTM parameters to see how much traffic you’re getting from your non-digital marketing.

🔲 6. QR codes:
tag any QR codes you use in your campaigns and materials, to see which channels are getting you more visitors.

👩‍🏫 7. Affiliate marketing:
if you work with affiliate companies to get the word out about your product, share shortened URLs with UTMs to compare this source against your organic and paid marketing.

And much more…

To help you manage your URLs, we designed our UTM Builder to solve some of the biggest needs we heard from our customers:

  • UTM templates: no more re-entering the same info. You can create UTM templates for any ad platform (Facebook, Google AdWords etc.) and plan campaigns more quickly through consistent naming. Plus, organize URLs by campaigns, sub-campaigns, and tags.
  • All-in-one dashboard: instead of tracking all your URLs in spreadsheets, with multiple tabs per campaign, we have one dashboard to rule them all. You’ll see a breakdown of how your links are performing at a quick glance for great content learnings.
  • Conversion tracking: get a fuller picture of your customer’s conversion path. Track your campaign results, measure clicks, and see conversions in the same place (we’ll talk about this more in Part 2 😉). Make sure you get the most from your ad dollars💰.

So now that you have some basics of UTM tracking, how do you create them?

How to track UTMs with PixelMe

  • 1. Sign up for a new PixelMe account. We offer a 7-day free trial to every new sign up (no credit card details needed)!
  • 2. Go to your Dashboard and start shortening every link. Just click on the "Create a link" button in the upper right-hand corner of your dashboard.
  • 3. Enter your Destination URL, then set your UTM parameters in this modal. Don’t forget to add your link to a campaign folder and sub-folder, so you can easily keep track of what you’re using the link for. You can also add tags to group your links into themes and track their performance in your dashboard.

Pro tip: if you already have pixels setup with other ad platforms (e.g., Facebook, Google) you can embed all your retargeting pixels as a bonus and retarget your ads to anyone who clicks on your links to increase CTR. Learn more in this article.

Your link should then be ready in your table below like this:

UTM tracking PixelMe
  • 4. Start sharing your shortened URL on any ad platform you’d like 🎉. When people click on the link, the ad platform (e.g., Facebook) identifies them (assuming they have a profile, of course) and then lets you turn those clicks into a custom audience! Even if the link isn’t leading to a page that you own.

High ten 🙌, you just setup a campaign link with UTM tracking (hopefully the first of many more)!

UTM tracking and tagging best practices

  • 📛 Consistent naming: create some guidelines for your campaign naming, to prevent any reporting headaches later on. E.g., use dashes in between letters, percentage signs (to represent a space), lowercase only, etc.
  • ‍No duplication: each parameter should be unique. E.g., don’t use “Instagram” for both your source and campaign. Less confusion = easier analysis.
  • ✍️ More isn’t always better: only include relevant parameters so you can focus on the most important pieces to track.

Now that you’re a UTM tracking expert 😄, just remember that UTM tracking is only one tasty piece of the marketing measurement pie.

Learn more about conversion tracking basics to best measure your ROI in Part 2: Conversion Tracking, and finally tie everything together to understand your entire customer paths with Part 3: Attribution.