An introduction to Conversion Tracking and UTM parameters

Updated on: 10 September 2018

Have you ever tried copying a URL and pasting it somewhere else, only to realise that it is incredibly long?

Take a look at this URL “www.example.com/awesome-blog-post-title/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=blog-post-promotion-october-2018” for example. This URL would actually work fine without the codes after the question mark. Why is the remaining code included in the URL then? And what exactly are these additions?

These additional codes that follow the question mark are referred to as UTM parameters. They are included in the URL to assist with the tracking of online campaign performance so that Digital Marketing managers can tell which campaign has generated the desired results.

Why implement Conversion Tracking?

Think of a situation where all 20 people have converted to sales after visiting your website. While this is a great achievement, will you be able to figure out the source of this website traffic? Did they come from your Social Media campaign or from organic Google searches?

Conversion Tracking entails creating codes and adding them to URLs to help identify where each of your buyers come from. If the Conversion Tracking reveals that 10 of the 20 buyers who bought from your website came from Pay Per Click (PPC) while others were from Social Media Marketing, organic searches, and Affiliate Marketing, it means that your PPC strategies are highly effective.

Conversion Tracking enables marketers to establish where more efforts are required to drive conversion. While simply implementing all Digital Marketing strategies at the same time could help drive traffic, filtering out the strategy with the highest conversions will help drive sales and profitability.

Understanding UTM parameters

UTM parameters are unique codes that marketers add on to URLs. They assist people in understanding the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. URLs must be separated from the other section of the UTM parameter by a question mark. Other components of UTM parameters include variables such as the promotion type, date, and campaign name. Google Analytics tracks these codes and captures the data of each visit so that marketers can tell with precision where every visitor came from.

The required parameters
When you decide to use UTM parameters, the required parameters must be included in the URL. These parameters can be categorised into the following categories below.

UTM source: This parameter is very critical because it helps to identify the advertiser, site or publication that is sending traffic to your website. For example, “source=twitter” follows Twitter referrals, or “source=Google” follows referrals from Google.

UTM medium: These parameters assist in identifying the medium of the URL. Was the URL that yielded conversion organic or paid? An excellent example of a UTM medium is “medium=twitter_ppc”.

UTM campaign: This parameter assists in identifying the specific ad or campaign associated with the URL. A good example is “campaign=shoes_sale”.

Optional parameters

UTM term: This parameter is used to identify the particular keyword you were bidding on for your PPC campaign. If a marketing campaign is running various ads for different keywords, the UTM term will identify the specific keyword linked to the conversion.

UTM content: This parameter is used to differentiate similar links or content within the same ad. If you have 2 call-to-action links within the same email message, you can use this parameter to set different values for each to determine which version is more effective.

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