Track Your Social Media Traffic with UTM Parameters
Today I want to talk about social media traffic and measuring how well they are contributing to blog traffic and visitation. As a blogger who also works full time, my before and after-work hours are insanely invaluable – which I am sure many of you can relate. It is a balancing act that on some days can be trying (with lots of tears, chocolate and maybe wine). I mean, does any of this sound familiar?
Hustling to launch your campaigns on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. You’re spending all your time and money into advertising and sponsored posts but you have little to no idea on how effective they’re doing.
Frustrated with the multiple logins just to get a report. There is only so much logging in one blogger can manage in an hour (before needing to get ready for work!).
Losing your flow and motivation. You see the traffic growing but it doesn’t seem to be working. Did you get the wrong ingredient to this secret sauce that every other blogger is on??
One of the things that I am always preaching about using when it comes to online marketing campaigns is to use Google’s UTM Parameters aka tracking links.
What are UTM Parameters?
Geek fact: UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. Why Urchin? It comes from the original web analytics company Google acquired more than a decade ago, Urchin Software Company.
UTM parameters are essentially tags that you can add on to your URL. Adding these tags to your URL effectively tags your web address thereby allowing you to track them. Creating and employing UTM tracking links correctly (and religiously) will let you eventually determine:
- How well your social media strategies or email campaigns are running
- Which social channels are working best (or worst) to grow your blog traffic
- If there is any specific type of post that is working better (also known as A/B testing)
What do UTM tracking links look like?
Don’t worry it is definitely one you’ve come across before – highlighted below.
The UTM parameters are the tags that come after your URL and are joined together by the ampersand ‘&’ character.
When strung together with your URL, it basically forms the tracking link.
I really like using these UTM parameters o track because it really saves me time by being able to see in one platform how well the various channels are working.
For example, instead of logging into Pinterest, then Facebook, then Instagram I simply have to log into Google Analytics to see how well all of them are working.
Breaking down the UTM parameter tracking link
You can track up to 5 different tags with UTM parameters:
- Content (optional)
- Term (optional but automatically used for paid search/ CPC campaigns)
The source, medium and campaign UTM parameters are the minimum parameters required to make a tagging link. These pieces of information are crucial for you to eventually identify and make sense of where your traffic is coming from (source), which form (medium) it was in, and what activity group it belongs to (campaign).
A tracking link with these 3 UTM parameters will look like this:
Need help with these terms? Take my 5 Day email course on Google Analytics.
To get better tracking information when measuring your blog promotions or campaigns on social media, I recommend using the content UTM parameter. Adding the content UTM parameter to your tracking link will allow you to differentiate the various versions or types of promotions you’re running.
A UTM tracking link with the optional content tag will look like this:
Notice how there is the extra ‘utm_content=ebook-1’ after the utm_campaign parameter? That indicates that the above UTM tracking link will track the additional component you have defined; content.
Know what converts your audience best
You can use the UTM parameter utm_content to track which version or type of a post performs better. This will help you get an idea of what works or resonates better with your audience (and potential audience).
As an example, let’s say you want to test to see which type of Pinterest image attracts more click-throughs.
To do this, you create 2 different versions of Pins for Pinterest. Then you schedule these 2 Pins on a Pinterest automater (like Board Booster or TailWind) and then give each of the Pins a different tracking link.
Both your tracking links could look like this:
After a week, you can log on to Google Analytics to see if Pin 1 or Pin 2 attracted more click-throughs!
Creating Your UTM Tracking Links
Adding these UTM parameters to your URL is super easy. Yes, you do not – I repeat – do not need to remember how to write them. One method is to use Google’s Campaign URL Builder. This service is free and easy to use. Let’s say you want to create track a URL in a Facebook post promoting your latest free incentive.
You would fill out the Campaign URL Builder like this:
The Campaign URL Builder will automatically generate the following result:
It also gives you an option to shorten the link so it will look neater:
You’ve just created a tracking link! Hollaaaa!
Important – Don’t Skip This
It’s really really reaaalllly important to be as consistent as possible when generating these UTM tracking links. What do I mean by consistency? You need to remember to keep track of the parameters you’ve used.
This is because UTM parameters are case-sensitive. If you use facebook in one tracking link and Facebook in another, it will be tracked differently. This is most important for the campaign names. The point of using the tracking links is to help with efficiencies and if we’d have to look in two separate areas for the same campaign, that would be very counter productive.
Now, I pride myself in having a pretty good memory but even so, remember the hundreds of links I’ve created is too much. To make it easier on my brain, I’ve developed a simple spreadsheet that helps me to keep track of all the links I’ve created.
The spreadsheet also has a simple function to build the UTM tracking link – so all I need to do is simply fill in the blanks, then copy + paste the tagged URL into a URL shortener and away I go.
Of course I’m sharing this amazing spreadsheet with you!
Checking Your Tracking Links Performance
Once you have set up your UTM tracking links and set them out in the big world of the internet, check on how it’s doing by going into Google Analytics > Acquisition.
You can find the report under Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns.
Remember the campaign parameter you would have created when creating a UTM tracking link?
Since the campaign name is email-incentives, this is the campaign name that will show up in the report. This reporting page will display an overview of all your campaigns that you have created tracking links for.
Some Examples of Useful UTM Parameters
Now that you know how UTM parameters work and how to create them, where would you use them?
Here are some specific ideas you could start with:
If you have a custom email signature on your uh, email then this the perfect place to put it. Create a UTM tracking link, and use that as the hyperlink.
Social Media Profiles
Add a UTM tracking link to your personal or business social media profiles. Doing this will also give you an idea which social media profile works harder to as a traffic driver.
Social Media Posts (Paid or Organic)
Do you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram a lot for your blog? Create a UTM tracking link for each of the posts! Remember, you can always use a URL shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl to reduce the lengthy UTM tracking links.
Most email marketing software like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor already offer a Google Analytics integration. Getting them set up is very easy and usually takes about 5 minutes (no coding required!).
Content Upgrades/ EBooks
Does your blog offer ebooks, downloadable PDFs or printable as content upgrades? This is the perfect place to place a UTM tracking link! By using UTM tracking links, you’re able to determine which product of yours are performing to send traffic back to your website.
Hey there, I'm Michelle.
I created Hustle/Flow to help heart-centred individuals pursue their passion fearlessly and healthily. I teach bloggers, entrepreneurs and small business owners how to make their online hustle work, and how to keep the flow.