How to Use UTM Links to Track Your Content Marketing Campaigns

If you’re like most marketers launching a new digital campaign, you are probably creating a variety of different content assets and publishing them on every platform you can, from blogs and email platforms to social networking sites.

But therein lies one of the biggest challenges that marketers face. How do you track the performance of all those assets when they live on multiple platforms? Wouldn’t it be helpful to have answers to questions like:

  • Which platform generated the most awareness?
  • Which platform was most effective at driving conversions?
  • Which individual asset performed the best?

The best way to get these answers is by using the right content tracking tools, and setting up your campaigns with UTM links.

What is a UTM link?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module and is method of tagging links used by webmasters and marketers to track and assess the performance of their digital marketing campaigns.

Quick example to help explain… Imagine that you are kicking off a new content marketing/SEO campaign that will include publishing a considerable number of articles on different websites (sources) to build awareness of your products and boost SEO rankings via backlinks.

But how do you know which source has been better for your content marketing campaign? Which site delivered the most traffic? Which site’s referral traffic generated the most conversions?

Adding UTM tracking parameters to your campaign’s promotional links provides a mechanism for Google and other analytics tracking tools to have a uniform tagging structure that aids in reporting performance across multiple platforms. Using these links, you can track the sources of your incoming traffic and optimize your future campaigns accordingly.

A UTM link is looks something like:

https://www.yoursite.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sale&utm_content=try_demo&utm_term=product

The highlighted section demonstrates the parameters that can be added, but you have to be the one to set those parameters.

What should you know about UTM parameters?

google analytics utm links builder

Image: Google Analytics UTM Link Builder

Now the question is what you can track using a UTM link.

As you can see, there are five different parameters in the provided sample UTM link.

Here is the list of these parameters:

  • Source
  • Medium
  • Campaign
  • Content
  • Term

Let’s look at what these parameters do:

Source

“Source” is the first parameter you need to know about when it comes to UTM links. It determines the source of your traffic, which is often key to your performance analysis.

In the given example, the source of the link is Facebook, so you can track the amount of traffic your site is getting from Facebook.

Social media platforms, email newsletters, blog posts, and other digital sources are often used as source parameters.

Medium

The “medium” parameter is often used to define the higher level channel, especially when your campaigns are being promoted across multiple channels.

In the above example, the medium is “social”. This indicates that the traffic originates from a social media platform. And then as mentioned previously, the source parameter allows us to more specifically define the social network (Facebook, Instagram, etc.).

So the medium parameter will often be such channels as: web, blog, email, social, or PPC.

Campaign

When you’re specifically trying to report performance for standalone, multi-channel campaigns, the “Campaign” parameter is going to be key tag that brings all the data together. By tagging all of your links with a unique campaign identifier, analytics tools can easily group all incoming data. This makes reporting and even building campaign performance dashboards much easier.

Content

This parameter is useful for tracking more specific attributes that allow you to differentiate between various things. Digital marketers might use the content parameter to distinguish between individual emails in a multi-email sequence, or individual ads within an ad campaign, or even individual calls to action (CTAs) to see if which is generating the most clicks.

In the given example, “try demo” is the CTA we want to track.

Term

The “term” parameter focuses on the keywords used in Paid Per Click advertising, such as your company’s name. Using this parameter, you’ll be able to see what people are looking for when they come across your adverts.

Benefits of using UTM links for content marketing campaigns

analytics dashboard laptop

Now that you’re familiar with various parts of a typical UTM link, you’ll need to understand what benefits they have.

Calculating the ROI of your marketing campaigns

The most crucial metric in every marketing strategy is the return on investment. Return on Investment is a metric that lets you measure how well you’ve invested your money.

The fact is that this basic formula might be difficult to calculate. To determine your growth and the cause of your growth, you’ll need to keep track of a lot of useful items.

In other words, you need to know which factors have resulted in an increase in sales and which factors have not.

So you have to acquire detailed data on all of your digital initiatives to figure out which ones are working and which ones should be included in your formula.

Thus you must create and track your conversion objectives in order to know which ones you are achieving and which ones you are not.

UTM links will let you quickly evaluate engagement rates, conversion rates, online sales, click rates, and many other aspects, allowing you to get a clearer picture of the return you have received.

Running and tracking A/B tests

UTM links can assist you in locating the optimum version of your content to achieve better results, in addition to tracking multiple channels. UTM URLs are a useful tool for running and tracking A/B tests on your website and social media platforms.

When you modify a single aspect on your website or in a social media post, you’re doing A/B testing to see how your audience reacts. You may test and optimize your future efforts based on anything from the landing page of your website to the hashtags in your social media postings.

UTM monitoring makes A/B testing on social media or on your post a breeze. You can easily tag both the control and the variation versions with appropriate UTM parameters to figure out the optimum version.

Analyzing influencers’ campaigns

Influencer marketing is now widely regarded as a fantastic strategy to raise brand awareness. Influencers can generate and share content about your brand and help your content marketing campaign gain substantially more reach.

Higher engagement rates are one of the most important benefits of working with social media influencers, bloggers, and other personalities having the capacity to influence others.

Of course, this does not come cheap, and if you want to work with highly engaged influencers, you may have to pay for it. As a result, you’ll need a tool to track your campaign’s performance to figure out if they’ve been profitable for you.

UTM URLs are ideal for this purpose. Adding the influencer’s name as the “source” will make it much easier to figure out which influencer is doing well, and thus you can create a long-term relationship with them.

google analytics campaigns reportCampaign Reporting in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most popular and most powerful tool for tracking and reporting on your digital data. You can pretty much track every move people make on your digital properties in one place.

For UTM tracking, Google provides several tools and reports with which you’ll want to get comfortable. For starters, Google provides a free built-in UTM link generator that allows you to quickly identify your UTM parameters and generate any links you need for your multi-channel campaigns.

Next, Google Analytics will gather all the data on those UTM URLs and allow you to review campaign performance data via their native campaign reports. Here’s where to go to find them.

Final thoughts

The practice of content marketing is more popular than ever and most companies around the globe are focused on it. UTM links are one of the most beneficial mechanisms for validating the power of content. It can reduce the amount of time and money you have to put into the job. You can easily track and analyze the results of your campaigns and make quick decisions on necessary changes. Try to equip your team with this tool and use it in your future campaigns.

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