Say you just launched a marketing campaign that you’re incredibly proud of. The content is in-depth and valuable; the design elements are beautiful and consistent; your offer is enticing, and you’re promoting it across multiple platforms. But after you launch, you notice that your campaign isn’t converting as well as you’d hoped. This causes you to take a stab in the dark by optimizing different ads in your campaign in hopes that your efforts will head in the right direction.
As you probably guessed, this scenario is less than ideal, yet way too many businesses find themselves in a similar situation. As a preemptive strike against running into any of these roadblocks in your marketing campaigns, try implementing UTM variables. UTM variables are the standard way to track where your marketing campaign audience is coming from by adding tags to the end of a URL. They provide data on which lead sources are performing the best, which ads are your winners, which might need to be altered or turned off, and more.
Here’s how it works: In any marketing campaign, you likely promote your sales page across multiple platforms, whether that is an ad you push into your prospects’ Facebook newsfeed, a banner ad on Google or a hyperlink in an email. Across all of these platforms, you’ll include a link to your page and, while the link destination is the same, the UTM tags on the end of the link will vary.
When contacts visit your page and fill out your opt-in form — which typically involves sharing their email address — their information is entered into your ONTRAPORT or other CRM database along with the UTM variables stored in their browser from their visit. For example, if they came from a Facebook ad, the UTM link will display that the source was Facebook, and this will be stored in their contact record for your reference.
Breaking Down UTM Variables
A UTM variable is a series of tags that you attach to the end of your URL. These tags are organized into five categories: Campaign, Lead Source, Medium, Content and Term. You can use all five variables in one URL, or any combination.
How to Format Your UTM Variables
- Campaign (Required): What is the campaign name? What campaign are you sending traffic to? What is the main offer you want people who click your links or ads to opt in for?
- Lead Source (Required): What platform or website is this link placed on? Where are these leads coming from? Facebook, Google, email, blog, etc.?
- Medium (Required): What kind of format is the link contained in? This is the medium on the platform that you used to link to. A social media post? A Facebook newsfeed ad? A blog article?
- Content (Optional): This variable should include identifying information about the specific content they clicked on. What version of an ad was it? What headline was it? What image did it have? What CTA did it have? This variable should be completely unique for each link.
- Term (Optional): This variable is generally used for search platforms and is where you would put the information about the terms you are bidding on. In Google, this can be the specific search term or keywords that a lead would use to find your Adwords campaign. You could also use it to identify the audience that you used for an ad on Facebook.
The important thing to remember is that once you’ve set up the UTM structure for a specific URL, it’s crucial that you use the variables you’ve established consistently. Keep the spelling, spacing and capitalization exactly the same each time you use a variable, otherwise they will be tracked as two different variables. For example, facebook, Facebook, _Facebook and -Facebook would all be considered different variables, even though they are the same word.
Once you’ve decided on the best variable structure for your campaign, you can put those variables into a UTM link generator. Click here to generate one now. If you are using ONTRAPORT to run your campaigns, there is a built-in UTM link builder on each page in the Tracking tab of your account.
Getting the Most Out of UTM Variables
Some marketing automation platforms, such as ONTRAPORT, track both first- and last-click attribution using the data gathered from UTM links. Attribution assigns value or credit to different aspects of a campaign that got your contact to move from a prospect to a lead or from a lead to a customer.
First-click attribution refers to the first link someone clicked on that led him or her to join your database — showing what converted the person from a prospect to a contact. This is helpful in organizing information such as affiliate commissions or if you want to know which specific lead sources are most successful in obtaining leads.
Last-click attribution refers to the final touchpoint that got the lead to convert to a customer. This is helpful in understanding which of your assets are most convincing in driving sales, giving you insight into which assets to direct future ads and links toward.
Putting UTMs to Use
Based on all of this information, you might be wondering exactly when you should use UTM variables, and the answer is: any time you’re sending traffic to your own content. Whether it’s in a blog article, a social media post or an ad, it’s important to use a link with UTM tracking so that you can measure the results of your time and money spent promoting your business via different channels.
UTM variables are extremely valuable when it comes to tracking the performance of your marketing campaigns and can give you insight into what type of content resonates best with a certain audience or platform and what sources are generating the most traffic.
This type of insight into your lead sources can help you to not only optimize your current and future marketing campaigns, but also to increase the reach of your budget.