UTMs – What they are and how to use them without getting bananas

UTMs, or urchin tracking module, might sound scary. These bits of code can be used to measure and analyze activity and prove your social media ROI.

UTM codes can be even easier than you think, provided you have the right tools. Use the guide below to get started building, tracking, analyzing UTMs.

UTM Parameters 101: What are UTMs?

UTMs are strings or tags of code that appear at end of website links. They are located after the URL that contains the website address.

UTMs don’t alter the URL in any way. A URL that has one UTM code points at the exact same page, as a URL that has another UTM code.

What do UTMs do actually do? They can be thought of as tracking devices. They can tell you which people accessed your digital content.

Here’s an example.

Clicking on the Agorapulse Tweet below brought me to the URL. The main URL for this article about TikTok filters is relatively short: agorapulse.com/blog/tiktok-filters/.

The UTM code begins after the “?” at the URL’s end. Agorapulse set the UTM parameters in this example to include information about everything, from the social media platform I used to click to the content that I clicked.

These tags do not affect how I interact with the tweets or read the blog posts. These tags are useful for Agorapulse to track and analyze marketing activities, and they could be helpful for your business.

Why are UTMs important?

UTMs, in short, are essential for monitoring online activity.

You may be thinking, “I already use social media analytics for counting clicks and website analysis to monitor conversions.” Are you really going to need another tracking tool for this?

You’ve likely noticed a disconnect between website analytics and social media.

Social media analytics shows the number people have clicked on one post or all content on a channel or profile. It also displays any activity such as clicks and conversions.

You will miss out on a lot of information if you only use one type of analytics. UTM codes link marketing and website analytics together, giving you a complete picture about how clicks on social media content leads to results on your site.

What does it look like in practice?

Let’s take a closer look at the key benefits of UTM parameters.

Find the top-performing content and campaigns

Do you often share the same landing pages and links across multiple social media profiles and posts? UTM codes can be used to record both the larger marketing campaign as well as the click for each social post.

UTM analytics can help you identify the campaigns and content that generated the most clicks and conversions. These insights will allow you to report more effectively to stakeholders without having to guess or waste time parsing the results.

You can measure the effectiveness of cross-channel marketing efforts

Your efforts as a social media manager may be limited to Facebook, Twitter, or other social platforms. Your colleagues might manage other channels, such as email marketing and paid social media efforts.

You can track campaign results across all channels with UTM parameters. You can then compare the results of each channel to determine which one provides the most value for your company.

High-performing influencers to be identified

Do you often partner with influencers to share content or campaigns? You might have created unique landing pages for each influencer to track the results.

UTMs make it easier to create pages and track conversions. Instead of creating separate pages for each influencer or relying only on promo codes (which only track sales), give them a URL with a unique UTM number. This will allow you to simplify your work and track more than just conversions.

Improve marketing campaign performance

UTM parameters look great for monitoring online activity in relation to digital marketing efforts. UTM parameters allow you to do more than just access and process data. UTMs can provide insights that will help you improve the performance of your marketing campaigns.

You might find that LinkedIn generates the most traffic to a campaign and converts the most. You might consider focusing your budget and resources on one channel when you are running similar campaigns in the future.

UTM analytics will also allow you to see what is working for your brand and your audience. You might find that certain Facebook posts drive more website traffic which can lead to significant revenue. Analyzing those posts can help you repurpose the messages, creatives and calls-to action (CTAs), for future content.

How to create UTM Parameters

You need to be familiar with the components of UTMs before you can create them. You can have up to five parameters in a UTM.

Source is the name of the advertising platform or site–such as “Facebook”Medium. It also reflects which marketing channel it is–such “Social”Campaign. It also reflects campaign name-like, “eCommerce Summit”Term. This reflects paid search keywords–such “Agorapulse”Content. It reflects each post–such “Version A”

Do you find that this is too much information? It doesn’t mean you have to include every component in every UTM code. Some cases only a few components will be applicable. There are many options available if you want to collect as much information as possible.

Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder

The Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder is an excellent option if you intend to use UTM codes across all marketing channels. It can be used to create codes for email marketing and social media.

You can create a UTM Code using Google Analytics. To do this, enter the URL of the destination you wish to drive traffic. Enter, for example, the URL of a blog post or landing page.

Google Analytics - Campaign URL Builder - Example

Next, enter the parameters required by this tool: source, medium and campaign. You can also add a content parameter to organic social media posts. The term parameter is not applicable to organic content as it’s intended for paid keywords.

Scroll down to view the URL generated automatically by the tool using your parameters. As you can see, the tool automatically adds all the necessary tags–like “utm_source=Facebook” and “utm_medium=Social.” It also places the tags in order and adds necessary characters at the end of the URL–like placing a “&” in between each tag.

Google Analytics - Campaign URL Builder - share URL

Click to copy the URL and paste it directly into your social media posts. Google Analytics allows you to reduce long or complicated codes if desired. To use the link-shortening tool, you will need to have an account with bit.ly.

gorapulse Campaign Tracker

The dashboard’s UTM tracking tool makes it easy to track UTMs across social networks. Open the post composer, and then enter the URL in the caption.

Agorapulse - post composer

Next, click the Untracked link at the bottom. To set up campaign tracking, click the plus sign. Agorapulse automatically chooses the social network to be the source. The UTM tracking will display the name and URL of the social network when someone clicks on the URL in the published post.

Agorapulse also chooses social media as the medium. You can change these defaults or add custom parameters. Enter your custom text to describe the campaign or other activities. Use the underscore symbol to replace spaces. Keep it brief.

Agorapulse - campaign tracking with UTMs

Agorapulse’s campaign tracker tool won’t allow you to enter content parameters. The dashboard generates a content ID to make tracking easier.

After you have set up a tracking templates, you will see a “Tracked” confirmation in your post composer. To change the tracking options or modify the setup, click it. Agorapulse saves all your tracking campaigns automatically so that you can reuse them.

Agorapulse automatically reduces URLs using pulse.ly. Bit.ly can be used instead. However, you will need to create an account and click on the link to Agorapulse.

Google Analytics

Technically, you don’t need any of the UTM tools to add tags to URLs. You can always generate UTMs by hand and copy them into your marketing materials. A UTM tool will save you time and prevent you from making mistakes that could render your data unusable.

You will need an analytics tool to track traffic to your site and other activities. Google Analytics is a great choice, as it’s free, provides robust measurements, and integrates well with Agorapulse.

How to use UTM codes

It is simple to use the UTM parameters created with the tools below. Agorapulse campaign monitoring allows you to publish any post you’ve drafted from the dashboard. If you used the Google URL Builder, copy the URL and paste it into the Agorapulse Post Composer.

Agorapulse tweet - campaign

Example: I clicked on the Agorapulse Tweet above and was directed to the URL below. The UTM parameters display the source (Twitter), medium (social), custom campaign name (ecommercesummit) and an auto-generated content identification.

UTMs - Agorapulse campaign

The URL does not appear in the tweet. You can also see the UTM parameters but you won’t be able to see them before clicking the Twitter card. These parameters don’t affect the user experience but make it much easier to measure.

How to monitor UTM tracking codes

Once you have published marketing content using UTM codes, it is possible to start tracking the results. Combining Google Analytics with Agorapulse will give you all the information you need to measure campaigns, and make better decisions.

Google Analytics enables you to measure UTMs

To track UTMs, and measure the results, you can either use Google Analytics Universal (through June 2023) or Google Analytics 4. Open your Google Analytics account to start looking for campaign-related metrics.

This data can be found in Universal Analytics by going to the acquisition menu and choosing the campaigns panel. This will display a list all of the tracked campaigns which have brought visitors to your site.

Google Analytics - campaign tracking results

This chart lists only campaigns by default. You can add nuance to the chart by using the secondary dimension dropdown menu. You can track source, medium or both. This allows you to see which social media channel and campaign produced the most results.

Similar data can be accessed in GA4 via the acquisition menu. Change the default view to channel group or campaign, and you will be able to dive into UTM tracking data.

Google Analytics is able to track ecommerce revenue, sales transactions and a variety of other conversions. To add more value to your UTM tracking data, take some time to set up Google Analytics goals.

Agorapulse allows you to track UTMs

Google Analytics is a great tool to help you measure the results of multiple marketing channels. Agorapulse, however, makes it much simpler to measure the results of social media marketing efforts.

Connect your Google Analytics account to Agorapulse to get started. Open the social media ROI reporting panel to get started digging into the data.

Social analytics: Monitor

Your Agorapulse dashboard automatically tracks social media activity once you have connected Google Analytics. This is even if you don’t have campaign tracking set up.

Agorapulse - ROI tracker - visitors

The social analytics tab shows the number of visitors to your site, as well as transactions and revenue generated by social media content. The daily breakdowns can be used to identify peak activity and patterns.

Agorapulse - ROI tracker - funnel by campaign

Agorapulse also breaks this data down by campaign, landing pages, and social media channels. This data makes it easy to identify what is generating value for your clients or brand. You can then use these findings to increase your digital marketing ROI. You’ll notice “(not set”)” in the campaign column if campaign tracking is not set up.

nalyze marketing funnels

Agorapulse - ROI tracker - goals

You can choose the goals you have set up in Google Analytics from the dropdown menu on your Agorapulse dashboard. To see when people left your funnel, you can compare the results from each goal. You can then use your findings for future campaigns.

Measuring return on investment (ROI).

Agorapulse’s campaign track tools will allow you to access more detail on the Your Social ROI tab. This tab provides additional information, including visitor, transaction, revenue, and data breakdowns by profile and content types. These insights will allow you to pinpoint the profile and content type that drive the greatest value (i.e. posts).

Agorapulse - ROI tracker - top content

This report can be used to identify the best content and most valuable pieces. This report is particularly useful if you have been posting across multiple channels or trying different copy and creatives.

Are you curious about which member of your team brings the greatest value to your social media team? This report also attributes visitors to the track post, as well as transactions and revenue.

Agorapulse - ROI tracker - team member

These reports can be used to show social media ROI to clients, stakeholders, and your team. You can share the data. To download the report and share it, click the Export button at the upper right.

Use and Organize UTMs: Best Practices

It’s not difficult to create and use UTM codes. It’s important to use best practices if you want to get the most out of your efforts. These are some guidelines that you should keep in mind.

Consistent campaign naming and UTM structure. To make the process faster, keep a list with campaign names in a shared spreadsheet. Agorapulse’s campaign tracking tool allows you to set defaults for all UTM codes. Choose campaign names that are appropriate for the public. UTMs are not always displayed in social media posts. However, they can be seen in the address bar by anyone. Regularly review your Agorapulse or Google Analytics reports. You can quickly identify errors and correct them in future posts by looking for them.

Let’s wrap up what we learned about UTMs

UTMs are essential if you want to analyze the results of marketing campaigns. You can use the following workflow to quickly add UTM codes to your social media posts and start measuring value.