UTM Tracking Parameters, Part 2: Tracking Parameter Examples Tutorial

4.2 Introduction

Hi, this is John Marshall, I'm one of the Co-Founders of Market Motive and I want to welcome you to this video lesson in which we are going to explore the intricacies of UTM tracking parameters. So I'm going to show now examples and the examples we are going to give here are specific to Google Analytics. But the principle, of course, applies in any tool whatever you happen to be using.

4.3 Display Ad Examples

Let's say that I'm a fashion company, and I have a new line of fall colors which I want to promote, and I've decided to commit to a big campaign on the Vogue website. So I'm the fashion label and I am advertising on Vogue as the final output. So my ad banners are going to be tagged with URLs that look like this. And I'm using only three of the possible five parameters. And the source is Vogue, the source is the place where the user sees the ad. That's really the definition in Google analytics, utm_source means where did the user, where did the end consumer see the ad or interact with the ad. Now, the medium is the way that the ad was delivered to them. What is it? What is the thing which is the underlying ad? And in this case, it's going to be banners. If it was search, utm medium here would be search. You'll see other examples later. And the campaign itself is my fall colors campaign because that's the thing that I'm promoting. That's what I want the consumer to see and experience. So I might run another campaign which is also running in Vogue, which is also ad banners. But this campaign is focusing not on the colors of my collection, but on the styles of my collection. From my point of view, this is a different campaign. But notice that I keep the source still as Vogue and I keep the medium still as banner. And this is a crucial detail of how you want to maintain your utm tracking parameters. You don't want to whack in there unique values for everything. You want to keep your values consistent. If you’re advertising in Vogue the source is Vogue. If these are ad banners the medium is banners, no matter what my campaign is. It is the campaign itself which I change, depending on what it is I'm promoting. Another example might be that I managed to persuade the good people at Vogue to run an article on my company. So this would be editorial coverage. Now, still here the source is going to be Vogue, because that is where the end consumer interacts with the piece, interacts with the thing that I am promoting that's still in Vogue magazine. The medium now is an article because it's not a banner that they're going to click on, it's now a URL inside an article, because I managed to get editorial coverage. So it's that article value, which I change, and my campaign is still fall styles because the article is now talking all about my fall styles and all that kind of good stuff. So, once again, we're varying just one of the values as we change how we build the URL. Now let's say that I'm promoting my fall styles through ads on Facebook. In this case, my campaign is still fall styles, because that's still the thing that I'm promoting. And my medium is still a banner, because I'm buying banners on Facebook, but now my source is Facebook. The end user is interacting with Facebook, that's where they see the ad we try and presenting to them. Another example is where I have a more specific campaign that is targeting buyers of coats. And here I'm still advertising in Vogue, I'm still doing ad banners, and my campaign is still for styles. But now I've got an additional parameter, which more narrowly defines what it is that I'm promoting. Because I might have several different ads within my four styles concept, my four styles campaign. One of which promotes coats, another one promotes scarves, and another one promotes hats and gloves. So the content parameter can be used to more narrowly define what is inside the ad. And I might have some of my ads just as fall_styles as you see in the second example where it's just a broad category type ad. Or if I'm promoting a specific product, that might be where I use the individual content parameter. And then finally, of course, I change that content parameter, depending on what it is that I'm actually promoting.

4.4 Reporting

So when I go to the reporting interface, let's take a look at how all of this stuff shows up. Remember that we are inside the campaigns report. So we've clicked into the campaigns report and the typical view that you will get is where you are looking at just the source parameter. That means that the report is going to show me all the different values of UTM_Source which came in on the URL without regard for what the other parameters were. I'm looking at just one parameter at a time here, and this is how this categorization works. This is how you're able to see the different views of your data, depending on what you've populated in the URLs. I've got social media as my top campaign source. And then I've got an RSS feed, and I've got my Bronto, which is actually an email subscription service, email blast service, so this is once again looking at UTM source. I could click into the top dimension now for campaign, and now I am seeing, more precisely, the individual campaigns that And these could be independent of the campaign source. I might be running, a, for example, a Moz top 10 campaign, and that's at number 7. And that might be going out in different mediums. I might be doing that by email and through banner ads. This view shows me just what is my campaign level, what's going on with the different values coming in on the campaign. I can click into medium this time and now I can see which are the best methods for me to communicate with my users. This view tells you which medium works best and of course like all the other views you're able to see your goal conversion rate, your per visit goal value and so on. So this tells you which is the method of communicating with my customers that works best. And finally, probably the most powerful of all these reports, is the source, medium combined, this shows both the source and the medium, and which one, again, works best. So take a look at row two and row three, here are examples of the same source, which is the RSS feed, but the medium is different. In one case it's direct clicks from an RSS feed and in another case it's where the RSS feed is converted into an email that then goes to people. And interestingly, the gold conversion rate is dramatically better when the medium is email than when the medium is the straight forward feed. So this source medium dimension can really help you understand precisely which campaigns and mediums really are working the best. Okay, so now, just for fun, let's throw in some examples of display ads that have problems. Here are examples of how you can break your campaign tracking and create a total mess for yourself. And I want to highlight this because I want you to see why this stuff is wrong and how you would do it better. I don't want to see you doing display URLs actually like this, but let's take a look. And in all these cases, I'm going to assume that my original campaign tracking URL is the same example we used a moment ago, source is vogue, medium banner, campaign is fall colors. So, I think you'll see pretty quickly how we can take that URL and modify it according to changes that we're doing in the campaign or new versions of the campaign in In ways that are broken. My first example is, I decide to remove one of the tracking parameters. Because I decide that I'm going to promote this new product on Cosmopolitan, that's where I'm advertising my fall colors line and I'm still doing ad banners. But, just for fun I decide to drop the campaign parameter. Now, this would mean that although I would be able to tell that clicks were coming from Cosmopolitan and that they were on the medium banner, all of my different campaigns, whether it was fall, spring, summer, or any other stuff going on, would be lost. So, they would all get accumulated into just one, actually Into category. In this case, UTM campaign for this stuff is saying, not set. Because, I'm not actually passing in the parameter. So here, I'm not providing enough detail. Here, although I'm correctly setting my full colors campaign, for some reason, I've decided to swap around the value of source and the value of medium. So I'm saying now that my source is banners and my medium is vogue this is wrong. When you click into your medium reports you're going to get a mixture of some clicks that's coming from banners and e-mails and then some clicks are coming from vogue. But that's obviously wrong, banners are media, and email is media, and search is media. Vogue is a source, another example here, I just decided that now I'm going to name vogue, vogue29. I decide that for some reason that the vogue parameter is not unique enough. I'm doing campaign number 29 and so I'm going to call it vogue29. Though this is not correct, now my source clicks is going to be split across some coming from vogue and some coming from vogue29, what is vogue29? It's some random thing that somebody in marketing that didn't know what they were doing made up. I decided now in this one to incorrectly type the campaign. Vogue is correct, medium is in the article, that's fine. But, I've decided that the campaign is just fall styles. Because I can't be bothered to find out where the underscore is on the keyboard and it probably doesn't make any difference anyway. Wrong, now my campaign clicks are split between fall_styles and fallstyles. Every time I run that report, I've got two versions of the same thing that I've now gotta keep track of. This is a classic example of why you need to really pay attention to this stuff. And maintain discipline over these different values that you use. Similarly here, I've decided to mix uppercase and lowercase just for no reason other than to make my own life more complicated. So, again, I've got my data split across an uppercase version of it and a lowercase version of it. And then finally I've decided now to add in this utm keyword. Now, what could be wrong with this? We had an example similar to this earlier, we're just adding in another parameter. The problem here, is that the UTM keyword parameter is to be used only when it is a search. When there is a search taking place, you are allowed to insert the keyword parameter. If you erroneously insert that, then this campaign will get lumped into the search category. It'll move out of, in the reports in Google Analytics, it'll move out of the campaign category and it will become a search category, which is wrong. This is an ad banner, this is banners, these don't have search keywords. So, what on earth is the keyword doing in there?

4.5 Newsletter Examples

Okay, enough of beating you up here, over all the different ways that we have of breaking this stuff. Let's take a look at how you can do this stuff correctly, in the case of a newsletter. So, I'm sending out a newsletter, my source is newsletter, my medium is email, and my campaign is the particular newsletter which I am sending out. And I'm sending it out monthly, so October 2013 is good enough. The source is newsletter because that is where the consumer finds the content. That's where they interact with the content. And the medium is email, this is how they interact with the content. And then the campaign, of course, is the campaign. This is important, because you've gotta change that campaign value as you do each different monthly newsletter. As they go out you're going to be adding the dates to it here. Sometimes also you're going to put an archive version of the newsletter on your website. Now in that case the source is still the newsletter, but the medium now is web. And this would allow you, by changing that value of medium, because the user is not interacting with it through email. The medium is no longer email even though it's still a newsletter. It's sitting on your website in archive format. So the user would interact with it through the medium of the website. So the medium value is going to change. We might have the ability to look at the clicks, the individual clicks, within the newsletter, the individual links that you've got inside the newsletter. You've got several links that lead back to your website. You can identify each of those links individually by using the UTM content parameter. So that would be the top link in the article and then the middle link in the article. That's what the UTM content parameter can be used for. You don't have to use it, it can introduce too much detail that can just overwhelm the reports, but it also can be useful.

4.6 Social Media Examples

Social media, a couple of examples for social media. The first one here is simply where you are running a campaign in Facebook, and you want people to promote your company and talk about it. And you're doing that through your brand page, you've got a brand page on your website. So the source is going to be Facebook, that's where the consumer experiences the content. The medium of course is social because that's roughly speaking the category for all the stuff that you're doing and then the particular campaign that you're running here is your brand page. If you run the same campaign, the same concept but over on Pinterest then it's the source parameter which is going to change, Pinterest. The medium is still going to be social and it's still your brand page campaign. The campaign is still trying to do the same thing. You don't want to change that value just because you changed the source. Change the source alone, that's what it's there for. And then, maybe you've got a completely different type of campaign. You're perusing it through meetup, the medium here is groups. You're going after groups of people with common interests, and this is a membership drive. That's going to be your campaign. Now, let's take a look at that example in Twitter. Now, the source is Twitter because that's where the user experiences the content. I have decided here, just to add some complexity, that the medium is Twitter. There's an argument here on either side. You could set medium to social, you could set it to Twitter. I personally feel that Twitter is such a unique beast and it's just works in such a different way they're justifiable to put the medium as Twitter but that's up to you, right. There's an argument either way, I recognize that. And then the campaign of course is broadly speaking the thing which I am promoting. And if you were to change that campaign, it's going to be the campaign value that you modify, right. We've got a different campaign now, okay were promoting the movie. So here's the different campaign that we now got and a couple of final examples. Offline URLs, this is often where you've got vanity URLs where you are promoting stuff to an offline audience. You're vanity URL is going to look like this, this is the thing that you're going to put in your TV commercial, right. Is the URL that you put at the end. That is a redirect and that is going to redirect to this final landing page. Domain/page.blah blah? And then after question mark here is where your tracking permits start, Source=tv, Medium=tv, Campaign= wake up. So the vanity URL doesn't contain the tracking parameters. You keep that nice and short, it's the target of the redirect, the destination of the redirect, the final page. That's where you put those tracking parameters. The same thing here, by the way, applies to shortening URL's. If you create URL shortener with bit.ly or something like that, then you're going to put those parameters into your long URL, which sits on your website. And then the short URL is just this nice, brief, little thing that will redirect. Another example of an offline campaign, we got it in the Wall Street Journal and it redirects to this example that you see. Now notice here, that now the source is Wall Street Journal and medium, we've changed that to print. The campaign is the same campaign. We've got the same version of the creative, the same basic concept that we were running on the TV ad. But now we're running that same creative concept in print so we're changing out a medium and source because it's in the Wall Street Journal but the campaign itself remains the same. And our final example is blog. This is going to be fairly straightforward. Your source is going to be blog and your media probably is going to be blog and then the campaign as you would expect it's going to be an individual post. The interesting thing then happens when you tweet that post and now the source is still the blog because that's really the thing that the user is experiencing but the medium now has changed they're getting to the blog via Twitter. And this is a more complex example, this, again, Twitter is always a little bit more tricky. I think you can make an argument either way as to which way around it should be, whether it should be source equals Twitter and medium equals blog. But, I personally think that the medium is always how the user experiences the content. The user experiences this content through Twitter even though it's a blog post, and so then, source becomes blog. Some complicated examples there.

4.7 Diagnosing Problems

So finally here, diagnosing problems. The easiest way to diagnose problems is to click into one of your campaign reports and look at all of the stuff that happens below the majority of where the clicks show up in the report. That typically means you set your dimension in the report to source medium, or just source or medium, or whichever one you want to diagnose. And then you change the number of rows down at the bottom of the screen, you change the number of rows to a big number. I choose 100 here, that was enough for me to capture all of them. But you might need to do 1,000 or more rows. And then you scroll down and you look for these cases where you're getting just one click, and you've got these funky values coming in. I mean, these might be infrequently clicked URLs on campaign track and stuff, but also, it could well be that you've got just stuff here as Broken, and I think a good example of that is right there on row 35. AKTW\ probably that backslash was erroneously entered into something or other And so now, you've got that as part of one of your values. So one place where you're running a campaign, somebody accidentally inserted a backslash into one of the tracking parameters and now its kind of messed up because those clicks go to this version. All kinds of other examples here that you'll see which are probably similarly broken as well, all right, where there should be other values showing up. Finally, resources for you. Google has a really handy tool called the Google Analytics URL builder, which you can see here the URL for that. And if you can't find that, just Google Analytics URL builder. And it's a really nice tool where you can type in the individual values for what you want for the tracking parameters and your destination URL, and it will build the whole thing for you in a nice elegant way. And then the documentation, which I highlighted right at the beginning. How does Google Define these five parameters. That's in the second page that you can see here.

4.8 Thank You

These principles apply to other web analytics tools although there's names used such as UT_M source and so on will be different for different tools. You can check out the documentation for your specific tool to see how to apply it. And I hope that I have made it easy for you to get accurate campaign tracking information and that your company will be using tracking parameters with confidence from now on. Thank you.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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