How to Use UTM Parameters to Measure Your ROI

small business website engagement

If we asked you how much money your small business made last month, you’d be able to tell us. If we asked you how much one particular campaign made you last month, however, you might have to do some digging. And if we asked you to analyze the success of one campaign versus another, you’d probably just fix us with a blank stare and point us toward the door.

Don’t worry. We won’t ask you any of those questions, because discussing finances among friends is considered uncouth. What we will do, however, is show you how to track your return on investment down to the campaign level with a clever little parameter called “Urchin Tracking Module,” or UTM for short.

What Are UTMs?

UTMs are trackers you add to the end of a URL that will tell your analytic software whether your traffic came from social media, a referral, an AdWords display ad or virtually anywhere else — provided you code it the right way.

Wait, wait, wait. Don’t run for the hills just yet. We know that “code” is a scary word for the less tech-savvy among us, but it’s really not as hard as it seems. Before you know it, you’ll be creating UTMs in your sleep.

The Magic UTM Formula

We’re going to throw out some frightening characters now, but don’t worry — we’ll explain what they mean in just a minute.

The UTM formula is as follows:

URL + Source(utm_source=) & Medium(utm_medium=) & Campaign Name(utm_campaign=)

Got it? Probably not, but that’s okay. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Source is where the traffic is coming from. (Facebook, Twitter, AdWords, etc.)
  • Medium is how the traffic will get here. (From a paid ad, a customer referral, etc.)
  • Campaign is why they’re coming. (A discount or freebie you offered, a promo you’re running, a specific ad you placed.)

Once you have these parameters set up, your chosen analytics software will use them to show you where your traffic is coming from, what’s driving them there and what campaigns are bringing in the most money.

Taking It a Step Farther

The three terms mentioned above (source, medium, and campaign) are required. However, there are two other optional terms we should mention.

  • Campaign term is an easy way to track specific keywords to see how they’re performing.
  • Campaign content is especially useful if you employ A/B testing, because it can differentiate between ads placed on the same site. For instance, if you wanted to place two separate ads on Facebook in order to see which performs best, the campaign content tag will track them each independently.

How to Create UTMs

Ready to start tracking your traffic? Just go to Google’s URL builder, plug in all the necessary information and voilà! Your URL is automatically generated for you. Just click the “Copy URL” button and paste it into whatever medium you’re using to promote your content. You can even shorten the URL if you want.

Worried about the time it will take to add all this info to every URL? No problem. Enter UTM builders like UTMFTW, which adapts a “plug and play” strategy. Just copy your URL into the window, add your terms, and the site generates the code for you. (These builders aren’t free, but they are worth it, especially if you’re short on time or have a ton of links.)

The Bottom Line

Once you know where your traffic is coming from, you can calculate your ROI for each independent ad, instead of your marketing strategy as a whole. If Twitter is failing you but AdWords are knocking it out of the park, it’s easy to see where you should invest your money to get the best return. In other words, you should now be able to precisely analyze every part of your campaign.

UTMs only seem hard. When you know what to track and how to track it, they will make a huge difference in your small business and your bank account!

Confused by all the marketing malarkey? Aggravated by all the acronyms? Let Mischa Communications translate. Call or email us today and we’ll focus our efforts wherever you need them most!