Google Analytics and UTM parameters. Sounds like complicated stuff, right? I used to think so too, but it’s actually quite simple and I’m going to prove it to you today.
But first, here’s why you should care: To get the most out of your digital marketing, you need to know what’s working in every aspect of your campaigns. So, I’m going to show you a crazy easy way to monitor exactly how traffic is coming to specific pages on your site.
After all, when you know how people get to your most important pages, you can double down on what’s working and improve (or let go of) what’s not.
In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to create a trackable link in just a few seconds with the free tool Effin Amazing, make that link shorter and pretty with another free tool called Bitly, and, finally, how to set up and save a custom report in Google Analytics.
Once you set this up, you’ll be able to have an uber-specific snapshot of where your website traffic is coming from. And you can access it anytime with just a few clicks.
Ready to see how it’s done? Let’s get to it!
A Short Overview of UTM
Real quick, I just want to go over exactly what we’re doing and why.
Right now, without changing anything in Google Analytics, we can only see a broad overview of where traffic is coming from. For instance, if it came from Twitter, we’ll see that. But that’s as specific as it gets without some additional steps.
Today, we’ll look at how you can use UTMs to test various methods of Twitter marketing to see which is more effective.
In truth, this is barely scrapping the surface of what you can do with UTM parameters, but it will serve as an easy example of how to get started.
So, for the purposes of this post, we’ll use a simple example of A/B testing on Twitter with UTMs. Let’s pretend we want to measure the click-through rates to a blog post from Tweets with still images versus Tweets with GIFs.
We’ll set up a mock A/B test where every link tweeted with an image gets has a different parameter than the ones with GIFs. Then I’ll show you how to access the data in Google Analytics to see which drove more traffic to the page.
Setting Up the UTM Parameters with Effin Amazing
The first thing we need to do is create the links with their unique UTM parameters. There are several ways you can do this, but I love the free tool, Effin Amazing, created by Dan McGaw.
Check out this video from Dan that breaks down exactly what a UTM is.
As you saw in the video, you can go to https://effinamazing.com/tools/utm-tracking-code-builder/ to add UTM code to a link for free – you don’t even have to create an account.
Here’s what the form looks like and a breakdown of what the fields are for.
1. Website URL – this is the URL of the exact page you want to track, not just your top-level domain name. Make sure you enter the entire URL of the page you’re working with.
2. Campaign Source – this is the referrer (where the traffic is coming from). So it could be Google, Twitter, MailChimp, etc.
3. Campaign Medium – this is marketing medium, such as social media, a sidebar ad, pay-per-click, etc.
4. Campaign Name – this identifies the specific campaign you want to track.
Dan went over the times you’ll use the last two fields in the video above, but we don’t need those for our example.
So, for our purposes, we would fill out the forms as shown below to create one link to include in Tweets with GIFs and another to include in Tweets with still images.
I’ll go over exactly how to check the results in Google Analytics in just a moment.
Cleaning Up UTM Links with Bitly
Now, the URL you create with the UTM code is long and kind of messy. But you can clean that up with another free service, bitly.
You can set up a free account that will track your bitly links as well, but it’s not necessary to create the links. Start by going to their site and click the orange Create Bitlink button in the top right of the screen.
Then just paste in your long URL with the UTM parameters and it will automatically create a shortened link.
And, if you want to go the extra mile, you can customize the shortened link by typing over the link in the customize section.
Boom! Now you’ve got a good looking, short link to share on Twitter.
Creating a Saved Report in Google Analytics
Now that we’ve created our UTM parameters, cleaned up the links, and sent them out into the world, it’s time to measure the results.
Log in to your Google Analytics account and go to the Behavior tab in the left sidebar. Then click Overview from the menu.
This will bring traffic to all the pages on your site. Find and click on the page you created the UTM for. Next, Click the Secondary dimension button and under the Acquisition menu, choose Source.
That brings up a page detailing the source of the traffic and you’ll see your UTM parameters listed here with the number of visitors that came from those links.
Bonus, you can save this report to access quickly from your Google Analytics dashboard in the future. Click the Save button at the top of the right of the screen and name the report.
Finally, you can access it from the Customization section of your dashboard under the Saved Reports section every time you log into Google Analytics.
So, there you have it, a quick and straightforward way to use UTM parameters to track your traffic sources on a much finer level than Google Analytics provides out of the box.
Again, there’s so much more you can do with UTMs and I highly advise you check out Effin Amazing. They have awesome tools and content that help you master the finer points of analytics and tracking your digital marketing efforts.
Over to you. Are you excited to try out UTM parameters to track your results? I’d love to hear your thoughts and results in the comments section below.