Every social media marketer is different. They have their own methods, practices and sets of skills. But there’s one thing that every social media marketer has in common–they all want to keep track of how they’re doing and if possible, optimize their performance.
This usually means measuring the value of the links they’re sharing on social media. How many link clicks are they generating? How much traffic are those links generating? Are those clicks turning into conversions?
It also means optimizing the performance of the links they’re sharing on social media. This typically involves getting more relevant link clicks and therefore, more high-quality traffic.
That’s where UTM tracking and URL shortening enter the picture. These two terms may sound a bit technical and perhaps slightly intimidating, but they don’t have to be. In fact, these tips could change your social media game if you learn how to master them. And that’s exactly what this post is going to help you do.
What is UTM tracking?
Let’s start with UTM tracking.
To really understand UTM tracking, you need to understand the meaning of UTM elements and the different UTM parameters you can track.
UTMs, or Urchin Tracking Modules, are a tracking device to help you get really specific with your traffic source. UTM tracking involves adding unique UTM codes to your URLs to easily identify exactly where your traffic is coming from. When you use UTMs correctly, it adds more specificity to your reporting while keeping everything relatively easy to track in tools like Google Analytics. Knowing what type of content led to the traffic could even help you get a better sense of why they decided to click on your link.
While the amount of UTM parameters you can add to an URL is virtually endless, you want to keep things brief and descriptive so you can actually track them effectively. There are three basic parameters required in standard UTM tracking:
utm_source – Helps you track which platform the traffic is coming from such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
utm_medium – Helps you understand what type of traffic it is–whether it’s paid, organic, referral, etc.
utm_campaign – Helps you track the specific campaign that resulted in the traffic.
You can add further parameters to narrow down on the specifics. For instance, perhaps you want to target a specific keyword for your campaign. Here, you can add the “utm_term” parameter to test how effective the keyword is in driving traffic to your site.
Or let’s say you want to compare two different ad creatives. This means you need to add the “utm_creative” parameter to see how each variation is performing.
To get a complete picture of how a UTM-tagged URL looks, let’s say you’re going to share the following link:
You want to share this link on Facebook as part of your paid social media campaign for Halloween. You’re also tracking the term “Halloween sale” and testing two different ad creatives–one with dogs in costumes and one with simple Halloween décor.
Your tagged URL for the first ad creative will look something like this:
As you might have guessed, it would be time-consuming to develop these UTM codes manually. That’s exactly why we have UTM builders.
These tools simplify the process of UTM creation. You just need to enter the relevant parameters and they will build the entire URL in an instant. Aside from the GA Campaign URL Builder, you can also use tools like UTMFTW, which has a Chrome extension to help you build UTMs on the fly, UTM Tag Builder or UTM.io to save time creating unique UTMs for your campaigns. UTM Tag Builder also features a built in link shortener which solves the problem of those long links.