So… you’re wrapping up all your holiday advertisements this week. You’ve got traffic coming in from Adwords, Facebook, email blasts, Twitter and more. You’re getting great results, your ROI is through the roof and you’re almost on to celebrating. Sadly, when it’s time to analyze trends and individual campaign performance next week you notice a serious problem: You have no idea which ads or sources to attribute fiscal success because you didn’t build links correctly, or at all.
Bummer. That sucks.
But you can redeem your future self. Here’s how:
In order to properly build your links, several tags should be appended to the end of all URLs you wish to track. We’ll use http://vuurr.com/ as an example URL representing a holiday campaign on Facebook.
Before you start, add a ? (question mark) to the end of your base URL and remember to place an & (ampersand) between each utm_tag. Also, all URL building should be written in lowercase:
- utm_source tells Analytics which source the link is coming from. In this example, it’s “facebook,” but it could also be adwords, bing, nytimes, /blog or wherever you embed your link. EX: http://vuurr.com/?utm_source=facebook
- utm_medium tells Analytics what kind of source (a.k.a. medium) the link represents. Adwords, Facebook, Bing and the like are “cpc.” If you’re putting a link in your email, you’d append “email,” in Pinterest you might append “photo,” etc. The example URL builds as follows: http://vuurr.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc
- utm_campaign is an easy one – it describes your campaign. Because our example is a holiday discount campaign, you’d attribute “discount” (or “holiday_discount” but I prefer to be succinct when possible). If you were sending out an email, you may attribute this to the date it was sent or the discount in the email. For our example: http://vuurr.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=discount
- utm_term is generally only appended to PPC campaigns because it represents the keywords used in the ad (or the adgroup name). However, sometimes I use it just as another modifier for the ad. If you need to use two words, combine them with a + (plus sign), like “holiday+shopping.” In our example, the campaign term is “holiday,” since it’s a holiday ad, making the link now look like this: http://vuurr.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=discount&utm_term=holiday
- utm_content is best used when you’re split testing ad copy. You can either append a description of what you’re testing in the ad or you can number them. If your content tag has more than one word, make it one word in the URL, like “=bluebutton” instead of “=blue button.” I usually just number ads, so if this is the second ad for this campaign or adgroup, the example link would now finish: http://vuurr.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=discount&utm_term=holiday&utm_content=2
You don’t need to use all the utm_tags; your data will attribute to the correct dimensions in Google Analytics to the extent you describe it. When traffic starts to come in and site metrics are recorded, go to Traffic Sources > Campaigns and/or Traffic Sources > Search > Paid to view your incoming campaign links. Switch between “Source/Medium,” “Source,” etc. to see your link building hard at work and compare source performance and future opportunity.
Building correct links allows you to properly and accurately analyze which sources in your marketing strategy are working best and which are ineffective; thus, saving you time, money and resources while you fuel the fires that make you money.
If you have the patience for automatic URL building forms, Google Support has a good one! Keep in mind this URL builder from Google only works for Google. If you’re using a link tracker other than Google, they may use a different _tag.