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What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

Stop Guessing Where Your Subscribers Are Coming From & Start Tracking

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Do you know what makes digital marketing more impactful than traditional marketing?

It empowers marketers to track their campaigns so they know which activities, channels, and campaigns are worth investing in.  

Simply put, digital marketing lets you track your visitors.

It tells you:

  • Where they come from

  • How they interact with your content

  • Which marketing channels work best

  • And more

But, how exactly can you track your marketing efforts online to make informed marketing decisions?

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about leveraging UTMs including:

  • What is UTM tracking

  • Why should you use it

  • Important UTM tracking parameters

  • How to create a UTM link

  • The best tool to use for UTM tracking

  • And more

Let’s dive in.

UTM stands for urchin tracking module. Odd, right?

Well, it may be a strange name, but UTMs are highly effective.

In simple terms, UTM links are links that track visitors to a particular web page. 

They help you understand the effectiveness of a particular digital marketing campaign. 

For example, let’s say you’re running multiple digital marketing campaigns.

And, you want to know which one’s the best in terms of traffic generation to your landing page or website.

You can track each of those campaigns by using a unique UTM link.

With UTM tracking, you know the exact source of your lead or visitor.

You also know where those visitors land, in case you’re attracting them to a multi-page website.

As a result, you can allocate your marketing resources to the most impactful campaigns and maximize your ROI going forward.

So, how do UTM links actually work?

Let’s take a quick look at the anatomy of a UTM tracking link.

A UTM link is simply a URL that has several codes attached to it. 

These pieces of code are called UTM parameters. 

A UTM parameter gives a URL the power to track clicks on it. 

You can add multiple parameters to a URL to track things like:

  • Campaign 

  • Bounce rate

  • Pages per session

  • Time spent on site or landing page

To better understand this tracking concept, take a look at this example UTM link: 

The UTM link starts with your website’s URL, followed by the UTM codes or parameters. 

In the example above, you can see the following parameters:

  • Source (Facebook)

  • Medium (Social)

  • Campaign (Conversion)

This means the click came from a conversion campaign run on a social media platform called Facebook

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What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

There’s nothing more powerful than UTM links when it comes to tracking marketing campaigns accurately.

Here are the reasons you need to be using UTM tracking:

Accurate Attribution

These links give you the power to accurately track website traffic. 

As a result, you can test and compare different marketing campaigns.

This A/B testing helps marketers generate more traffic, leads, and sales. 

Measure Campaign Performance

With UTM links, you can track multiple aspects of a marketing campaign, including:

  • Conversions

  • Bounce rate

  • Time on site

The information enables you to tweak and optimize your marketing strategy for maximum impact. 

The tracking method is a must for every marketer who’s using a multichannel approach. 

Otherwise, how do you know which marketing channel performs well and which doesn’t?

By implementing UTM tracking, you allow yourself to:

  • Focus on tactics that perform well

  • Make tweaks to the under-performing ones (or discard them)

A/B Testing

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

UTM tracking can also help you A/B test different aspects of a campaign, including its:

  • Copy

  • Videos

  • Images

  • And more

So, let’s say you have two great images and aren’t sure which one will perform better. 

You can use UTM links to test the effectiveness of both and pick the higher-performing one. 

Calculating ROI

By using UTM tracking, you can calculate your ROI from different marketing channels. 

For instance, the utm_medium tag can help you identify all conversions from a social media campaign.

You can also add the utm_source tag to pinpoint high-performing social platforms. 

With both of these parameters, you can measure the impact of your campaign. 

UTM Tracking Parameters

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

The main UTM parameters are source, medium, campaign, term, and content. 

Let’s take a deeper look at each parameter:

Source

This UTM parameter tracks the source of a link click. 

It tells you where your website or landing page visitor originally came from. 

This can be a particular social media platform, an email, or a search engine. 

Example: utm_source=linkedIn

The source of traffic is tracked with the utm_source tag at the end of a URL. 

Medium 

The Medium UTM parameter tells you the channel you’re driving traffic from. 

A couple of popular examples:

  • Paid_social

  • Organic_social

The utm_medium tag is used for this information. 

Example: utm_medium=paid_social

Campaign 

With this type of UTM parameter, you get to identify your winning campaigns. 

It tells you which campaign is driving the clicks to a landing page. 

The utm_campaign tag is used at the end of a URL to track the campaign. 

You can name your campaign whatever you like. 

It could be your product name, specific promotion name, contest name, or more. 

Example: utm_campaign=webinar

Term

You can use this UTM parameter if you want to track keywords. 

The utm_term code is added after the main URL to track certain keywords. 

This UTM parameter is mostly used in paid search ads. 

Example: utm_term=email_marketing

Content

Use this UTM parameter to track multiple content pieces pointing to the same landing page. 

For instance, let’s say you’re promoting the same link in multiple social media ads under a campaign. 

You can use this parameter to test the impact of these social media ads. 

The tag used for it is utm_content

Example: utm_content=video_ad

Combining All UTM Parameters

A UTM link has your website’s main URL at the front, followed by the UTM parameters. 

But, before adding these parameters, you need to add the symbol “?”. 

Each parameter is then separated by the “&” symbol. 

Here’s an example:

If you look at my newsletter template, I always include a section at the top to welcome in any newcomers.

In the event that someone had my newsletter forwarded to them, I want to ensure I capture their email by subscribing to my list.

So, I placed a button right at the top, “Subscribe Here.”

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

That button – and any link placed in a beehiiv newsletter includes a unique UTM tracking code.

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

So, when you click-through on the button, you’re taken to my beehiiv subscribe page.

Look at the URL in the address bar (highlighted in the screenshot above).

Here’s what that code looks like.

Now, I can see what newsletter someone read that was responsible for a particular email signup.

Something to keep in mind: 

You can add multiple UTM parameters to a URL to get more data. 

But, the more pieces of code you add to it, the slower it tends to load. 

This means you may want to limit the number of parameters in a particular URL.

Instead, just stick to the most important ones.

If you want to build your own UTM links, you can do that with Google’s URL Builders.

But,Why create them manually when you can automate the process?

With the beehiiv newsletter platform, you automatically get UTM tracking parameters (Source, Medium, Campaign) added to the end of your URLs.

You also have the ability to edit and personalize these parameters.

To set up UTM tracking in your beehiiv account, head over to your Dashboard.

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

Next, click “Settings” on the left sidebar of the dashboard. Then, Click on “Publication.”

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

Then, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Once you reach the “Analytics” section, you’ll see all of the UTM settings.

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

By default, UTM parameters are enabled when you create your beehiiv account.

You can switch this off if you like. And, you can set up custom UTM parameters for Source, Medium, and Campaign if you’d like.

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

beehiiv is a robust email newsletter software with powerful link tracking features. 

It tells you what portion of your website traffic is coming from your emails or newsletter.

Here’s how:

By default, when you add a link in a beehiiv email, the selected parameters are automatically added to it.

In Google Analytics, your email traffic is shown as “Direct” traffic, which doesn’t tell you a lot. 

You need a more accurate attribution

The “Source”, “Medium”, and “Campaign” parameters in beehiiv provide a much clearer picture. 

UTM Builder Tools

beehiiv offers simple yet powerful UTM builder tools:

Custom UTM Generator

If you want to generate custom UTM parameters, you can do that easily.

Within your beehive dashboard, go to “Publications” > “Analytics” and change the parameter names. 

UTM Campaign Management

The UTM tracking feature is by default active on beehiiv. 

So, if you want to track the three important parameters, you don’t have to create a UTM link manually. 

Just make sure the “UTM params” option is turned ON under “Analytics”. 

Advanced UTM Tagging Features

beehiiv offers everything you need to effectively track your website’s email traffic: 

UTM Medium and UTM Source Tagging

beehiiv’s Source tag tells you the exact source of a visitor.

This can be a particular social media platform such as TikTok or Facebook.  

The platform also tells you the nature of the traffic a link is attracting. 

For instance, it can be social media, search engines, or email. 

UTM Content and UTM Term Tagging

These two tags aren’t as important as the other ones. 

The UTM content tag is for tracking traffic to a URL from multiple sources. 

Whereas, the term tag is used for keyword tracking. 

beehiiv offers automatic Source, Medium, and Campaign tracking.  

Best Practices for Creating a UTM Link

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

Want to create custom UTM links?

Here are some best practices to implement:

Don’t Use Spaces

When creating a UTM link, avoid adding spaces. 

Instead, use a dash (-) or an underscore (_).

Otherwise, your link will look broken and tracking may not work. 

Use Good Naming Conventions

Use simple names for your parameters to avoid confusion down the road. 

  • Keep them short and simple

  • Use only lowercase or uppercase

  • Keep it consistent (i.e. either use dashes or underscores, but not both)

Pro tip: Create a UTM parameter guide to ensure consistency in the process.

Stick to Your Needs

You can use several parameters based on what you want to track. 

However, the three main parameters are almost always enough (Source, Medium, Campaign). 

Avoid going overboard with their usage as they can slow your link’s loading speed. 

Use a URL Shortener

UTM links are powerful, but they don’t exactly look pretty.

Why?

They’re super long.

Thankfully, you can shorten these links by using a URL shortener. 

Most URL shorteners allow link customization. 

This allows you to align your links to your brand. 

Benefits of Using beehiiv for UTM Tracking

What Is UTM Tracking (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

beehiiv is a powerful email newsletter tool with industry-leading analytics including UTM tracking features.

Here are a couple of key benefits you get from using beehiiv’s UTM tracking: 

Real-Time Analytics

With beehiiv’s UTM tracking, you get real-time analytics of your links. 

This means if someone clicks a link in your email and lands on your website, you can quickly and easily analyze all the information right in your beehiiv dashboard. 

Enhanced ROI Tracking

You don’t get a clear enough picture of your return on investment (ROI) with inaccurate traffic data. 

In Google Analytics, you don’t get to track email marketing traffic. 

beehiiv provides that missing piece, helping you attribute your traffic sources accurately. 

As a result, you can track your ROI more effectively, enabling you to generate more profit long term.

You can use UTM links to track virtually any marketing campaign. 

But, here are the most common use cases:

Ecommerce Tracking

If you have an ecommerce store, you can use UTM links to track product page visitors. 

They’ll tell you which campaigns are driving the best results so you can double down on them.

For instance, let’s say you’re using email marketing, social media ads, and PPC ads for your product page.

You can use beehiiv’s UTM tracking to identify the best-performing campaign and optimize your budget. 

Content Marketing

UTM links can help you measure the performance of different content marketing efforts. 

For example, let’s say you’re prompting a blog post in an email. 

A UTM link can tell you how much traffic that email generated for you. 

Defining UTM Parameters

No matter the use case, defining UTM parameters effectively is crucial to getting the desired outcome. 

Every business is different.

You need to consider your business’ unique goals and define your UTM parameters accordingly. 

Integrations and Compatibility

beehiiv is a versatile newsletter platform with a ton of integrations.

Here are a few ways you can leverage integrations with beehiiv:

Analytics Platforms

You can integrate your Google Analytics account with beehiiv and take your tracking game to the next level. 

Marketing Automation Tools

beehiiv also offers plenty of software integrations via Zapier. 

Some of them include:

  • Kajabi

  • ConvertKit

  • Mailchimp 

  • HubSpot

  • ActiveCampaign

  • ManyChat

  • Kartra 

  • And more

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s address some frequently asked questions about UTM tracking. 

What is a UTM parameter?

A UTM parameter is a snippet of code added to a URL to track its clicks. The three most important UTM parameters are Source, Medium, and Campaign. They help marketers analyze their traffic and create data-backed marketing campaigns. 

How to use UTM tracking codes effectively?

To effectively use UTM tracking codes, add the right parameters to your URLs. Don’t use more parameters than you need. Use either lowercase or uppercase and keep the names simple. 

Start Leveraging UTM Tracking With beehiiv

When you have accurate data, it’s easier to grow your newsletter (and your business).

UTM tracking can help you understand where your subscribers are coming from, ultimately leading to insights to help you drive subscriber growth.

With beehiiv automatic UTM tracking, you get streamlined data tracking to ensure you’re staying ahead of the competition.

So, what are you waiting for? 

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