In today's digital world, marketing and communication teams create and publish unique content all over the internet promoting their brand and services. Most times, it goes beyond social media posts and email newsletters: it is more like a spider's web of many different types of digital and also non-digital content that link to their website. It can become overwhelming at times because of the vast amount of content produced by different teams on different channels and sometimes even for different purposes. A uniform campaign for one specific product or purpose is the way for all channels to work together to achieve the same goal - drive conversions by attracting as many users as possible to your website.

The art of effective digital analytics is to connect where users are coming from (source) to conversions performed on the website. Making this connection and acting on it can save resources and optimize digital communication.

This connection can be done via UTM Parameters. If these are implemented, they allow a marketer to allocate clicks from a channel to the website. Say for example, your website attracts 100 users a day from Instagram and 50 from Facebook. Looking into your reports you can conclude that users from Instagram are only converting in 25% of their sessions and the users from Facebook, 75%. Using this knowledge, you might decide to start spending less time creating posts for Instagram and more for Facebook.
But UTM Parameters are not just about the source. While there are certain market / best practices of implementing UTM parameters, you can generally add any information that is relevant to your specific case. This can be the source, medium, type of content, in case of A/B testing the version of the ad or even some kind of internal identifier.

So what exactly are UTM Parameters?
UTM parameters are bits of information you can add to your promoted URLs on your social media posts and newsletter buttons. You can even use them offline with short links or QR-codes! Most good analytics tools out there (Google Analytics, Piwik PRO, Matomo, Plausible) will pick up on these parameters and parse them in reports.

UTM parameters are in my opinion, very undervalued and if used correctly can be a huge benefit to an organization's marketing and communications strategy. Below are the top reasons to start using UTM parameters for your campaigns and general digital marketing:

  1. It's free! Indeed it will take time to get used to it and time to create URLs, but afterwards it will be worth it.
  2. Capitalize on users that are actually interested: digital marketing is moving away from third-party cookies. On top of that, display ads target users based on topic interest and not necessarily interest in your brand. Users that click on the links in your social media posts and on your newsletter are already showing a tremendous amount of interest and learning more about these users can lead more conversions.
  3. Optimize your paid content: the insights you gain from UTM parameters can be useful when deciding on paid content. GIFs might have a great click through rate, but not a high conversion rate and therefore you might decide not to promote these types of content.
  4. Start making data-driven marketing decisions: the insights you gather using UTM parameters can support your decisions on what type of content to invest more time on and which social media channels to promote most.
  5. Reduce “unknown” acquisition channels: lots of users might actually be coming from your newsletter or from a QR code somewhere. If you do not correctly mark those URLs, the analytics tool will either be unable to identify the source or will simply mark it as “direct”. Which is not wrong, but also not right!

I hope I have convinced you to start using UTM parameters for your digital marketing content. My recommendation is to start small and build up to it. Be structured and thorough and start getting comfortable viewing your analytics reports. The most common issue I see with companies' UTM strategy is that they are poorly maintained and it causes issues with data quality. A general tip is to assign someone the role of UTM coordinator to ensure that structure is kept and quality standards are high.

At Liip, we offer a UTM workshop to get to grips with what UTMs are, how they work and how to report on them on your analytics tool. On top of that, we also build a UTM Template together, where you can document all created URL strings and create a fixed structure for all parameters, for anyone in the team to use. Interested? Get in touch!