What are UTM codes and why are they so important to marketers.

UTM codes are an important part of any social media campaign, but are often overlooked by social media agencies.

In short, UTM Codes are pieces of code appended to the end of your URLs that track where web traffic is coming from in Google Analytics. For example, a UTM code will let differentiate if traffic came from Twitter, Facebook, or another website.

So yeah, they're pretty important!

In this article, we'll dive deeper into what UTM codes are and show you how to use Social Report to implement them on your social feeds. Let's get started!

Let's talk more about UTM codes

As discussed earlier, UTM codes—or Urchin Traffic Monitor codes—are a tracking code attached to your links. You can use them to track the source of web traffic to a specific page in Google Analytics (more on how to set that up later).

Depending on how your UTM codes are set up, you can have them track the exact source of traffic to a given URL, all the way down to a specific tweet or blog post. These codes are either appended to the end of a URL or built-in to a link shortener.

Never market without them

Since UTM codes provide so much information to Google Analytics, your company should be using them for everything it posts online. This can give you a better idea of how social posts perform and let you better determine where you should post your content.

Using UTM codes will impress your clients too. With them, you can show clients what tweet is driving the most traffic or which ad campaign is generating the most inbound leads. This extra bit of detail lets your clients know that your marketing services are working, and they'll keep coming back for more of your expertise.

What do UTM codes look like?

When appended to the end of a URL, UTM codes start with a "?utm_" and is followed by "medium", "source", "content", "campaign", or "term". Each of these track different things about the source of your traffic.

Here's what each track:

  • Medium: tracks what medium the traffic came from. Social media, blogs, etc.
    • Example: ?utm_medium=socialmedia
  • Source: tracks where exactly the traffic came from. The social network, blog name, etc.
    • Example: ?utm_medium=twitter
  • Content: tracks what part of the page is driving the traffic if multiple buttons or links go to the same place. For example, multiple buttons to the same place.
    • Example: ?utm_content=navbutton
  • Campaign: tracks what campaign is driving traffic to your link. For example, you can tag it as a part of your paid advertising or new product campaign.
    • Example: ?utm_campaign=paidads
  • Term: tracks what term brought the user to your site. Note that you can use multiple terms. This is especially useful for PPC advertising.
    • Example:?utm_term=travel+hacking+free+flights

You can stitch together multiple UTM codes on your URLs too. This lets you track more in-depth information about your traffic source and provide more useful analytics to your clients.

How do I use UTM codes?

How to use UTM codes to improve your Google Analytics game

UTM codes aren't as complicated as you think.

Just append the UTM codes above to your URLs and Google Analytics (and other web analytics tools) will automatically recognize the code and track it accordingly. Pretty neat!

There are also a few free tools you can use to add UTM codes to the end of your link. Our favorites are Google Campaign URL Builder and Facebook's Google Analytics URL Builder.

Here's what a full URL looks like with a UTM code appended.


However, won't always see UTM codes at the end of URLs. Oftentimes they're built-into a link shortener generated by a social media management tool or standalone link shortener. For example, UTM codes are built into Social Report's link shortener.

You can view analytics from your UTM codes in Google Analytics underneath the Campaigns and Traffic Sources modules in Google Analytics. No additional setup is required on your part—Google automatically adds the search terms when it sees a UTM code.

UTM codes in Social Report

You can have Social Report automatically add UTM codes to your links before posting to social media. Here's how to set it up:

1. Log in to Social Report and click the Settings button from the top toolbar

Click Settings and then click Projects from the drop-down menu

2. Click Projects from the drop-down menu

3. Click URL Tracking from the top of the screen

Click URL Tracking from the top of the window

4. Look towards the center of the screen. Add the URL you'd like to track (in our case, socialreport.com) and customize other parameters if needed.

You may want to keep these parameters set to default. We automatically set its campaign name to the name of the post's content group, source to the social network it was shared to, and medium to "social". 

5. Click "Add Domain" 

Now, whenever you tweet or share a link from the URL above, the corresponding UTM tags will be automatically added to the link. Just another way we save you time here at Social Report!

Bottom line

As you can see, UTM tracking codes are a great way to get more accurate results on how your social media, email marketing, and paid advertising campaigns are helping or hurting your bottom line. And with Social Report, it's easier than ever to build UTM codes into your social media posts.

Want to up your social media game with UTM codes? Start your free Social Report trial today.

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