UTM Tags and How To Use Them

UTM Tags and How To Use Them

Did you know that Google gives us a really simple way to track promotions and marketing activity so we can really understand how to best build traffic to our stores and websites? This really simple technique opens the door to a wealth of knowledge about our promotions and marketing activity. Stop wasting time and money on things that don’t work – and focus on things you know really do work for you and your store.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” John Wanamaker  

Marketing and the Cha-Ching

Marketing your store, products and website is key to building a sustainable business. Whether you sell on Etsy or on your own website, as we only know too well, it’s not a case of listing products and sitting back and waiting for the cha-chings to come rolling in. Creating a great product and hitting the ‘publish’ button on your new product listing isn’t the end of the process, it’s just the beginning. From that point on the hard work really kicks in! Increasingly success comes from proactively going out there and marketing your products and not relying on shoppers to simply find your products when browsing.

The Ever Growing Marketing Opportunity

There’s a rich treasure chest of methods you can use to market your products. It’s probably safe to say that there’s never been a greater opportunity to get your products in front of potential shoppers for low or no cost. Social media, email marketing as well as new accessible advertising options have really leveled the playing field when it comes to promoting your products. Marketing and promoting products is no longer the domain of big brands. Whereas years ago you would have had to have paid for advertising in a magazine to reach your target market, now you can find them on social media, create your own group to talk with them direct, create an email list and much more.

The way you market your products will largely depend on the type of products you make and your target market. What works for one product or brand might not necessarily work for another. Which leads on to the key question – “how do you know what is working for you?”

How to Track Your Marketing Activity

So how do you go about tracking your marketing activity? How do you know which campaigns are rocking it and how many are as flat as a pancake? On first glance, this may seem an impossible task. While you can certainly track some things with ease using Google Analytics, how do you really get into the nitty-gritty and understand what’s working where?

Happily, the answer is straightforward. Google provides the means of adding code or tags to a URL which you can use to track clicks specifically from that link. This means, for example, that if you had a product which you were promoting with a 10% off offer and you promoted this in your newsletter and on Instagram you can add tags to the URL for each, and track in Google Analytics which worked best.

This gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility to really dive deeply into what drives people into your store. It removes some of the guesswork and will help you really fine-tune your marketing activity.

About UTM Parameters

These tags are called UTM parameters. This is code that contains important information about your campaign, for example where and how you are promoting it. You’ve probably seen these urls. These are long urls which have some code tacked onto the end of it. Here’s a dummy example:  

After the question mark in the URL above you will see the UTM parameters. These are telling us that the click to the nice earring page came from the newsletter on 1st October which was sent by email and was part of my ‘Festive’ promotional campaign. Therefore, now, when I look at Google Analytics, I could see which clicks came from my newsletter and which, for example, came from another source.

Not only can I now see accurately in Google Analytics the page views that came from this source, but I can also track what people did when they arrived on my page. Let’s say I was also promoting this ‘Festive’ campaign on my blog, I could compare the two sources and see whether people who came from my newsletter visited more pages, spent longer on my site etc. If we set up goals and conversions, we could even track which converted better to sales (note that we can’t track this on Etsy).

You will see this data in Google Analytics > Reporting > Acquisitions > Campaigns. You’ll also see it in Source/Medium

There are five standard UTM parameters or tags that we can add to a base URL:

  • Campaign Name
  • Campaign Source
  • Campaign Medium
  • Campaign Content
  • Campaign Term

The first three in that list are required parameters, while the last two are optional. I’ll quickly run through each of the parameters to give you a basic understanding of how they’re used. You’ll see that there are several ways that we can ensure that each link we deploy will have a unique signature of UTM parameters.

Campaign Name

This is the top level marketing campaign that this particular marketing activity falls under. For example, you might use values such as “black_friday_2016” or “resin_rings_launch”. By using distinct campaign names, we can make it easier to drill down and assess how effective specific activities have been.

Campaign Source

This identifies where the link was displayed for the reader to click it. In your email newsletters, you could add a source parameter to any links that used the subject line or date of the mailing. This could look like “newsletter_12_may_16” or if it was social media a way to identify where you posted this URL, such as “facebook_pink_scarf_14may”.

Campaign Medium

This describes the medium or channel that the click link was delivered in. If we consider the two examples under Campaign Source, the medium for the first would be “email” and the second could be “social”. If you were using paid for Facebook ads, you might use that as a tag here too.

Campaign Content

It’s optional as to whether you use this parameter and in many cases, it will serve no purpose. It’s main use is to further define what the user clicked and this would come in very useful if you run A/B testing where different content links to the same url. For example if you used two different images on Pinterest to promote one product, you could add UTM tags to your URL to see which resulted in the most clicks.

Campaign Term

This is specifically used to track the keywords used for an advert in paid search, so you can otherwise ignore this.

How to Add UTM Parameters to Your URL

This is simple to do! Just head over to Google URL Builder – and add in the relevant information. You will see at the bottom of the page a URL with added information for you to copy.

When you use your Etsy URL, remember to use the core URL. This means you should remove all the code from the question mark onwards:

Pro tip: This can create a long URL. Consider using a URL shortener like to create a shorter URL. This isn’t an issue when you are hyperlinking the URL in a link or button, however, if the link is exposed it can be off-putting to visitors who may find a very long URL strange.

How Might This Work In Practice?

Here’s an example of how you might use this in practice. Let’s say that for Black Friday you are running a 15% discount in your store. You then invest a lot of time into promoting this on different social media channels, paid for Facebook ads, your blog, Facebook group, newsletter etc. You could easily invest several hours into promoting this one event. If you added UTM tags to your URL which gave the source and medium to your Black Friday campaign, you will be able to track exactly which were the best referrers for this offer. As you learn more about which referrers convert the best, you can concentrate your effort into where the return on your investment (be it time or money) is highest.

As we head into the busiest selling time of the year it’s essential to have your marketing in place and to track it effectively. Use UTM tags to track your different campaigns so you know what works best for your products and your target market.