UTM Codes to Track All of Your Marketing Campaigns

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UTM Codes are a great way to see the results of your offline marketing.

In today’s day and age, we are hit with so many types of marketing and advertising that we may not even notice all of them. When it comes to digital marketing, there are online and offline campaigns, and trying to see how these types of marketing are working for your company is extremely difficult.

As a marketing professional this is even more difficult, because you are responsible for showing results to your clients. One fantastic way to track your results is to use UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes. This simple technique can link your marketing practices to Google Analytics and give you the data you need to support an idea or switch gears to try something else.

What is a UTM code?

A UTM code is a simple code that you can attach to a custom URL in order to track a source, medium, and campaign name. This enables Google Analytics to tell you where searchers came from as well as what campaign directed them to you. A common use of UTM code is to create a vanity URL for each offline campaign, and then redirect that URL to whatever forwarding address you assign to it — most likely your main domain. This will give you the ability to track how a weekly newspaper ad, coupon, radio ad, or TV commercial is working without having to create custom landing pages for each campaign. By creating a separate UTM code for TV commercials and print ads, for example, you can get data on which generates more traffic, conversions, etc. Furthermore, you can track not only the source and the medium (radio, newspaper, coupon, etc.), but even individual campaign names like “Fall Chevy Sale.”

There are also some other values you can add to your code to monitor terms you are going after, or even specific content. Terms can include keywords like “gym shoes,” “chicago deep dish pizza,” or any other paid terms you are targeting. For content you may monitor two different ads that include the same message but different text to see which performs better.

Once you know the values you want to track, you can simply go to Google’s URL Builder, enter these values into the parameters, click “generate URL,” and bam, you are set. The wonderful thing about UTM codes is that you can change the code whenever you like to adjust the medium, month you may be running something, or any other factors you need tweaked. Here is an example of what a UTM code may look like: http://www.abcppc.com/?utm_source=Chicago%2BTribune&utm_medium=Newspaper%2BOctober&utm_campaign=Chicago%2BPPC%2BSale

As you see, this is a newspaper ad running in October in the Chicago Tribune and is for a Chicago PPC sale. Going forward it would be a piece of cake to change the month for the campaign, the company I am running this with, and the focus of my sale.

In Google Analytics you can now track your offline campaign without building a whole new website for your vanity URL by looking in the Standard Reporting section, then in Traffic Sources, then Sources, and finally by clicking on Campaigns. In this section you should see the name of your Campaign followed by how well you are doing for a certain ad or strategy. The value and limits to this type of tracking are only limited by your imagination. Now you can tell your client or boss with exact data if their $20,000 radio ad or $10,000 newspaper ad is worth running every month.

For more information on ways to improve your marketing effectiveness, contact the Chicago internet marketing experts at Launch Digital Marketing today!

Google URL Builder Image

This is a Screen Shot of the Google UTM Builder

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  • Max Luedke

    Nice Blog! Very informative!!

  • Marc Kennedy

    How would this work with radio and print ads? You would have to tell the listener or reader to go to a very complicated URL, would you not?

    • joechura

      The best way is to create a vanity URL and then have that vanity URL redirect to the UTM code. Does that make sense?

      • Marc Kennedy

        Definitely. Thank you.

        • joechura

          Anytime. Great question.

          • Guest

            One more follow-up question – this would mean that the vanity URL would still need to be specific to the campaign, correct? What are the benefits of redirecting to the longer URL then versus just tracking traffic to the vanity URL?

          • joechura

            That’s another good question. Often times vanity URL’s dont track properly. I have seen Google Analytics fumble this tracking and can count it as a direct visit.. Theoretically that can work but often times with campaigns it’s much easier to track with the UTM Code. Also via the UTM you can change the content within the UTM but use the same campaign name to track how the creative is performing. Therefore, you can compare over time much easier (and cleaner).

          • Marc Kennedy

            Thanks for taking so much time to answer my questions, Joe, and quickly.

          • joechura

            Anytime!

          • Marc Kennedy

            One more follow-up question – if the vanity URL redirects to a specific UTM campaign URL, then I would only be able ot use that vanity URL for a single campaign source, correct? For instance, an ad in a particular print magazine issue might have a vanity url of /name-of-print-magazine. This would mean that I could only ever use that vanity URL one time, is that right? So what are the benefits of using the longer UTM URL instead of just tracking to the vanity URL? Is it because we assume I am not directing traffic to a landing page with the vanity URL but rather am also redirecting that vanity URL to a more generic URL?

          • joechura

            You can change the redirect UTM of the vanity so you can easily reuse the same vanity URL.