UTM Tracking & Marketo – Part 1

July 26, 2016 Ryan Vong

If you’ve had any conversations around how to track online ads or how to track inbound web links, then you would’ve probably heard of the letters “UTM” or something about “UTM parameters” or “UTM tracking”. The most common scenarios for UTM use are lead source identification and tracking of specific campaign details where multiple visitors land on the same web page, but come from different referrers. It also helps when providing destination urls to third-party agencies, partners, etc. who are sending traffic to your website.

UTM stands for “Urchin Tracking Module” and Urchin was a company that was purchased by Google. This method for tagging links is baked into Google Analytics. To break it down a bit further, a URL parameter is anything added to the end of an URL or typically anything after the question mark. For instance, https://digitalpi.com/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=dinner&utm_content=be-awesome&utm_campaign=summit2016

These are the 5 main parts that make up the parameter:

  • Campaign Source: (utm_source)
  • Campaign Medium (utm_medium)
  • Campaign Term (utm_term)
  • Campaign Content (utm_content)
  • Campaign Name (utm_campaign)

So why UTM and not anything else? You can use any type of parameter you want, but UTM parameters are well known and widely used. There are some parameters that use their own naming conventions for lead source (=ls or lsd for lead source details, etc.) We recommend using UTM as it is commonly understood and many of the web content management systems have it as a default for tracking links.

As you may have already guessed, this process of correctly inserting UTM parameters into all your links can be tedious and requires consistency. Also, it can become extremely long and unwieldy. Luckily, there are a few ways to make this process easier.

To make the URLs shorter, there are also tools to make this easier. The shortened URLs make it easier to manage and much more simple visually. The key is that when the links are clicked, the full url is revealed so that the rest of the UTM tracking works.

  • https://goo.gl – Google provides URL shortener that will turn the long URL above “https://digitalpi.com/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=dinner&utm_content=be-awesome&utm_campaign=summit2016” to something like this: http://goo.gl/e7jjcW (much easier to provide).
  • https://bitly.com – Bitly is another popular URL shortener and with an account everyone can use it and comes with it’s own level of tracking.

In my next post, we’ll go through how to setup these parameters in Marketo as well as programs to track them.

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