What if we told you that with just a few tricks, you can track not only the origin of your web traffic, but connect how visitors behave on your website back to the link from which they found it? It’s easily possible, completely free, and available regardless of the size of your business.
Small businesses are often not familiar with the potential capabilities of UTM tracking parameters, which are small tags added to URLs that feed information to Google Analytics. That information includes every variable available for tracking in the platform, ranging from initial visits to bounce rate, time on page, and even conversions.
Strategically utilizing these UTM tags allows small business marketers to understand exactly where their web traffic is coming from, and how it behaves. For example, you may discover that Facebook generates many more web visits than Google, but that visitors who find you on the search engine stay for longer and convert more frequently. Now, you can use that information to inform and improve your digital marketing efforts.
All of that sounds technical. But in reality, you can build out your system with little to no HTML knowledge. Thanks to easily available, free tools, you can create unique URLs that you can attach to any individual marketing efforts.
Keep reading to understand how UTM tracking works, or click here to go directly to our free UTM builder.
Understanding UTM Tracking Parameters
As we alluded to in the intro to this post, understanding where your traffic comes from – and how it performs once on your website – is crucial in prioritizing and improving your marketing efforts. As the world’s largest free web analytics platform, Google Analytics has found a way to allow marketers to do just that through adding tags to individual URLs.
The concept is deceptively simple: anything following a ‘?’ in a URL will not be used by your web browser to determine the actual destination of the URL. That allows services like Google Analytics to use it for additional intelligence gathering. Using that functionality, Google has developed UTM tags, so that any tag that begins with utm_ automatically feeds into the platform.
To keep things simple for marketers, the service has opened this integration to 5 individual, distinguishing parameters:
- The URL itself. Naturally, this is the most obvious variable: the actual URL to which you want your link to lead. It can be your homepage or a page deeper in the navigation of your website, but has to be a page on your domain to be trackable.
- The Medium. This is the general area from which your traffic comes. For example, you may want to track links from Social-Media, Email, or CPC (cost-per-click ads).
- The Source. More specific than the medium, this denotes the exact source of the traffic such as Facebook, Newsletter, or SearchEngine.
- The Campaign Name. If you run multiple efforts within the same campaign, this parameter allows you to group them together under a single denominator. If, for example, your business is running a Holiday Campaign, you can tag all related marketing efforts under the same campaign name.
- The Term or Product. As the name suggests, this one is somewhat of a wildcard. Use it either to denote which specific keywords you are running ads for, or which product your marketing effort is targeted on.
When determining your UTM parameters, you have just a few things to keep in mind: individual parameters cannot contain spaces, and they are case sensitive – meaning that if you use Email in one URL, and email in another, they will register as separate entities within Google Analytics.
How Small Businesses Can Benefit from UTM Tracking
Thanks to the five individual variables above, the possibilities for tracking your URLs become almost limitless. Anywhere you use a URL, you can tag it in order to track its success.
Compare the success of your emails, social media efforts, and any other digital effort seamlessly, using advanced Google Analytics metrics. You can even build in manual URL redirects to use UTM tracking within your printed efforts. For example, the www.sample.com/Test could lead to the actual webpage
Once your links are tagged, you can use Google Analytics’ reporting feature to view the overall success of your marketing efforts, and benchmark it against individual media, sources, or campaigns. If you are taking advantage of the platform’s goal tracking capabilities, you can even view how individual variables are converting your visitors.
See how HostGator used UTMs to track our Black Friday sales! Watch the video below.
Introducing HostGator’s Free UTM Builder
Even we have to admit: the above sounds suspiciously technical. But before you begin to think that you need to have a programming background to take advantage of UTM tagging, don’t worry; thanks to easily available, free tools, you can create your own tagged URLs and measure your digital marketing success easily.
Take, for example, our free UTM Builder for Small Business. Simply enter the variables into the appropriate form, and watch the Google Sheets spreadsheet automatically generate a tagged URL for you. Anytime you use that URL anywhere on the web, the intelligence connected to it will automatically flow into your Google Analytics account.
To take full advantage of the UTM Builder, you will have to copy the above link into its own, Google Sheets document. You can do that by clicking File on the top left, and selecting Make a Copy. Simply name the new document, and it will automatically be stored in your Google Sheets directory. From now on, you can locate it easily anytime you need it by navigating to sheets.google.com.
In short, a UTM tracker can enable even the smallest of businesses to evaluate and benchmark their marketing efforts. Using a simple UTM builder, you can begin tagging your URLs in order to achieve the maximum possible success.
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Henry Green is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas who helps small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their online presence through marketing, social media, and website optimization.