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How to track where your visitors are coming from with Google custom campaigns (UTM code)

Have you heard the saying “information is power”?

Well it’s never truer than when you’re talking about marketing campaigns.

And did you know, there’s a tiny bit of code that can not only help you to evaluate the success of a campaign, but also provide you with information that can radically improve your success in future campaigns?

They are called custom campaigns and savvy marketers are using them to track, with great precision, where their visitors are coming from and what campaigns are yielding the best results. Custom campaigns utilise something called UTM parameters.

What are UTM parameters?

Put simply, UTM (Urchin Traffic Monitor) parameters are little bits of code attached to the end of a URL that tracks the source, medium and campaign name which sends that information to custom campaigns in Google Analytics.

So, you’ve launched a campaign and want to know which marketing platform is sending the most traffic to your website? Custom campaigns can track that.

An even better question might be: which medium results in the most conversions? You might find, for example, that a paid search ad is directing more traffic, but a Facebook post is leading to a greater number of actual sales. Custom campaigns can give you this information.

While commonly used in digital campaigns, assigning unique UTM parameters can also reveal whether traffic has originated from a newspaper ad, billboard, radio ad, or TV commercial, when used in conjunction with custom URLs.

The best thing about Google custom campaigns is that setting them up is really easy.

How do you create a UTM code?

The great news is you don’t have to be a programmer to set up custom campaigns.

UTM parameters can easily be generated using the Google URL Builder.

UTM parameters can make your URL very long and messy, but this can be easily fixed by embedding the link in text or using bit.lygoo.gl or another URL shortener.

You can even get your developers to set up custom URLs for use in your print campaigns.

Reviewing Google custom campaigns

The real power of UTM parameters lies in taking what the data tells you and applying it to your marketing campaigns.

Some top line indicators you can look for include which mediums drove the most traffic to your site, which social media platform delivered the best results, and what calls to action led to the greatest conversions.

Once you’ve become more confident using custom campaigns though, try testing different creative variants, such as the use of different headlines and images.

For example, if more people signed up to your conference when the ad included a large image, rather than a bold headline and smaller image, that should inform the design for the next conference campaign.

Evaluating your custom campaigns

And what do the results tell you about the next custom campaign you create?

OK, so we know that a campaign on Instagram resulted in hundreds more sales than the same campaign on Facebook, so next time perhaps test two variants on Instagram and use UTM parameters to see which is the most successful.

This way, you’ve learned not only the best medium to use but also the stronger message.

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