/ Digital Marketing

UTM Codes: Tracking Down Success

Kevin McKernan

Woman typing on keyboard

It’s marketing dogma that if at first you don’t succeed, test and test again. But if you’re not properly tracking the performance of each of your marketing efforts, what to test, and how, will be based on notions, not facts.

In order to properly surmise which of your marketing efforts are succeeding, as well as areas to test, test again, you need a way to easily identify each element of your website, social media campaigns, and e-mails. For that you’ll need a little something called UTM codes.

WHAT IS A UTM CODE?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module and is named after the software company bought by Google in 2005. These codes are segments of text that are added to URLs and allow programs like Google Analytics and other analytics tools to track performance at a link level. They also allow you to pull additional data from your digital marketing campaigns across different reporting platforms.

For example, say you make a Twitter post that includes a link to content on your website. By adding a UTM code to the Twitter link, you can track how many people clicked the link to visit your website. This might sound like small potatoes on its own, but when you’re running multiple campaigns to attract traffic to your site across different platforms, it’s incredibly useful to know exactly what source or campaign is helping to drive traffic.

DECODING UTM

UTM codes are made up of bits of text called “parameters” that track particular data sets. The most commonly used parameters are:

• utm_campaign = (internal campaign name)
This code gathers the data pertaining to one of your campaigns.

• utm_source = (google, newsletter)
This code identifies which website is the source of incoming traffic.

• utm_medium = (cpc, social, email, display)
Social media? Guest post? E-Newsletter? This code identifies what medium directed the traffic towards your site.

Other commonly used parameters include:

• utm_content = (ad title, ad dimensions)
• utm_term = (cpc keyword)

It may not seem like it at first glance, but setting up UTM codes on each individual link can make it easy to sort through all your data later on.

CREATING A UTM CODE

What do you want to learn from your traffic? That’s the first question any marketer needs to ask themselves before creating any UTM Code. The answer to this question could range anywhere from wanting to know if a particular content marketing campaign leads to more conversions than another. Those with e-Commerce tracking could use UTM codes to better understand not only the individual source of revenue, but the campaign that drove it in.

UTM codes are also great for helping to better understand where your most engaged audience is hiding—be it social, email, organic, or paid.

Once you know what you’re hoping to learn, you can start building out your UTM parameters. Keep in mind, consistency is key in helping you get the most accurate metrics. For example, let’s say you want to track the performance of a whitepaper that you’re promoting across multiple mediums, including paid, social and email. Here’s how you might set that up for each channel:

Source = adwords or twitter or promo
Medium = PPC or Social or Email
Campaign = MyWhitepaper11.16

Because you are mainly concerned with understanding how each individual medium contributed to the success of your whitepaper campaign, only the “medium” parameter needs to be different in this scenario.

And as a result, you’ll produce 3 URLs that looks something like this:

https://www.sample.com/?utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=MyWhitepaper11.16
https://www.sample.com/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=MyWhitepaper11.16
https://www.sample.com/?utm_source=promoemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MyWhitepaper11.16

For more granular results, you can adjust the source accordingly, so that, for example, you could see how social as a medium performed, as well as how each individual social channel you’re on performed as well.

Again, consistency is key – make sure that you’re using the same UTMs within each individual effort. Assigning distinct parameters will make them much easier to track. Once you know the various layers you want better insights to, all you have to do is plug them in to a tool like Google’s URL Builder or the Effin Amazing Plugin to quickly generate your links.

PUTTING UTM CODES TO WORK IN ANALYTICS

Once in place, you’ll be able to use tracking tools like Google Analytics to put in data based on the source, medium, and/or campaign parameters you’ve established. And from there, the amount and types of data you’ll be able to find are essentially endless.

And if you follow the golden rule of consistency, you’ll be able to create custom reports based on the parameters you’ve set that, in some cases, can be set up once, and will update automatically. And since UTM parameters can be used across essentially any available reporting tool, you’ll have the ability to easily import that data when and where you need it for analysis.

So, as you’re planning out your next campaign, remember to include a plan for utilizing UTM codes. over time you’ll be able to determine which of your campaigns is most effectively driving traffic to your site, and use that information to adjust your approach. After all, it’s not enough to know that people are visiting your site. To be really successful, you’ll need to know how and why they got there, so that you can keep them coming back.

/ Social Media

Social Listening During The Holidays: Your Customers’ Gift To You

Kevin McKernan

Group on Social MediaThe holidays are the time of year when people open up and share their joy and appreciation for each other with celebrations and, of course, gifts. With so much of our social lives now online, and e-Commerce steadily growing as the preferred form of purchase among consumers, the holidays provide an incredible opportunity for digital marketers to learn more about their customers. All it takes is a little bit of listening—social listening, that is.

Social listening involves monitoring mentions of your brand, your products, or your services across social media platforms, and using those conversations to learn more about your customers and how to connect with them. Good social listening is essential for a marketer, mainly because your customers tell you exactly what they like and dislike about your brand.

BEST PRACTICES FOR SOCIAL LISTENING

With the right social listening program in place, brands can harness the power of social listening to guide their marketing and sales efforts through the holidays and beyond. But it is essential to follow a few best practices:

Know where to look – While most discussion of brands happens on the major outlets like Facebook and Twitter, customers can mention your brand anywhere on the web. It’s important to do some legwork and find out where and how your customer base communicates. Something as simple as setting up a Google Alert for your brand keywords, or other terms that would be related to your products or services can help uncover mentions of your brand by up-and-coming bloggers, resellers, third-party review sites and more.

Stay organized – Your brand’s relationship with your customers will not always be straightforward. People can interact positively or negatively with your product, and it’s important to create categories to keep track of what kind of reactions your brand inspires.

Analyze – This is where your social listening efforts pay off. By pooling and analyzing mentions on social media you will get a clear picture of the impression you’ve made on your audience. Use this data to fine-tune your future social media efforts.

GETTING YOUR SOCIAL LISTENING PROGRAM READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Having a social listening program in place year round is great. But even the most established programs have to make adjustments during the building holiday season, particular in November and December when shopping is expected to increase by 3.6% this year. Here are a few key practices to keep in mind particularly during this busy retail season:

Ride the holiday schedule – You really need to ramp up your social listening efforts right at the peak of the holiday season, which is generally the last week of November to the first week of December. In other words, if you start hearing “Jingle Bells” on the radio, it’s time to start listening.

Monitor individual products – Social listening tools such as Social Studio from Salesforce Marketing Cloud can help you set up keywords and phrases around each of your products, allowing you to compare the frequency and type of mentions, as well as the sentiments behind them. Many people use social media to find recommendations for gifts or special deals, so pay attention to what products are being suggested.

Pay close attention to the language consumers are using to talk about your products as well, as it can give you insights into how you could better communicate the features and benefits of your offerings.

Follow up – Social listening isn’t just about listening. Sometimes when customers mention your brand online it’s because they’re often interested and trying to learn more. Capitalize on frequent product mentions by engaging them online and replying to their posts. And of course, any direct questions posed to your brand online should always be addressed, as social listening provides incredible customer service opportunities, allowing your representatives to directly interact with customers and create a relationship between customer and brand.

THINKING BEYOND THE HOLIDAY SEASON

The holiday season will be over before you know it, but that doesn’t mean you can tune out on what consumers are saying about you online. Keep your social listening program on high alert well into the new year as consumers are using, returning, or looking to exchange products they received from your brand.

And remember, the opportunity to learn more about how your brand is being perceived online never ends. You’ll gain valuable insights when you monitor how the conversation shifts month over month, year over year, and season over season.