This is a transcript of episode 18 of the OMGrowth podcast, published on March 17, 2021
People typically get nervous and turtle away when I start talking about tracking your campaigns like they owe you money (and they probably do!) because they think it’s going to be a lot of extra work but… HEAR ME OUT!
We’re just talking about links, here, and you’re already sharing your links so you’re already doing the work. This is just about tweaking HOW you’re already doing the work to gain Terminator-like targeted insights your next growth spurt will thank you for.
Simple to implement. High reward. Low maintenance. If I had a mic, I’d drop it… but actually, I wouldn’t because I still have to fill you in on how the wonderful world of UTM parameters work – and how they don’t! – and we’re doing that in today’s episode.
Luck is nice, right? We could all use a little luck.
But strategy is a whole lot easier for bosses like you and I to have input on and control over so…
…if you’d like to improve your social media promotions,
…if you would like to increase your return on ad spend,
…if you want to understand which emails are making your sales and keeping people on your website the longest,
—> Then, let’s talk about how UTM parameters can help you track all of that!
WHAT ARE UTM PARAMETERS?
Now, what are UTM parameters? UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module – which is a detail that probably will never come in handy for you – but what will come in handy is their use.
UTM parameters are like using a label maker on all the links you’re sharing; it makes your efforts near impossible to misidentify or go unaccounted for.
Any time you’re sharing a link – to promote your blog post, to promote your opt-in, to promote your paid offer – the idea is to make it easy for your audience to access whatever it is you’re promoting.
A UTM parameter is just a snippet of code you add to those same links you’re already sharing that also makes it simple for you to see how your overall promotional strategy is performing.
So let’s say you’re launching a product or service, and you’re going to promote on the usual places: on social media, to your email list, and via ads.
Now, all of these platforms and methods WILL code the links you share… but they’ll do it THEIR way and that’s not necessarily going to be of use to you because they won’t adopt a common naming convention that makes it easy for you to compare and encapsulate your overall performance.
Fortunately, when you add your own snippet of code to the URLs you share, you’re over-riding everyone else’s default settings and you’re saying “hey! show me the money… and show it to me LIKE THIS!”
CREATING UTM PARAMETERS
So how are you going to create these little snippets of code?
I’ll tell you what you won’t do: you won’t do this manually!
Type UTM GENERATOR into any search bar. There is no lack of plug-and-play tools that will generate your codes for you.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1) the link you’re driving traffic to;
2) clarity as to what paid or free offer you’re promoting; and
3) methods by which you will promote your offer.
There are 2 levels to account for how you’re promoting.
First is the MEDIUM and this is the big picture method by which you’re promoting, like “email” or “social”.
Then, you have the SOURCE which allows you to provide specific information about how you used that medium. For instance, your medium can be email and then under source, you’re able to specify whether that click-through came from an email sent from your evergreen sales funnel or if it came from a broadcast. Likewise, for social, you can differentiate the engagement you’re getting from your Instagram profile versus your Instagram Stories.
—> Think of how valuable it would be for you to see which emails in your evergreen funnel are generating the most sales, or are keeping people on your sales page the longest.
—> Or how it could impact your ad strategy and spend to understand what the difference in engagement is between your Instagram feed versus your stories.
This is the goal with UTM parameters: put the tracking mechanisms in place so that when we want to see past trends to guide future decisions, we have that information available to us.
NAMING CONVENTIONS FOR UTMs
Here’s my hot tip when it comes to choosing your campaign name:
Always name your campaigns to reflect the free or paid offer you’re promoting.
Because your offers – both free and paid – are the central reason you ARE promoting and they are the reason you’re publishing and sharing all of these links in the first place.
Since your offers at the center for WHAT and WHY you put yourself out there, I always recommend that you also put them at the center of HOW you’re tracking your campaigns.
This approach makes it goofy-simple for you to have a holistic view of the return-on-investment for each of your offers.
WHERE TO GET STARTED WITH UTMS
Now, if you’re thinking, “Lanie, you’re being unreasonable. These are, like, way too many links to update”… I get that!
With UTM parameters and just about anything else you’re going to implement, I recommend you take a “moving forward” approach.
Don’t go back and swap out all of your links – although there are a couple key areas you will want to do that with – but for the most part, you will be using these codes moving forward.
—> When you schedule a new post….
—> When you send your next newsletter…
—> When you prep for that ad campaign…
In most cases, it makes the most sense to implement the UTMs moving forward and not to worry about what you’ve already hit publish on.
The two exceptions I would make and recommend that you do go back and swap out your regular URLs with defined ones are 1) your evergreen sales funnels and 2) any ads you’re still running.
And if you have a virtual assistant, this isn’t rocket science and isn’t something you have to add to your To Do list; outsource or delegate implementing these!
WHEN TO USE UTMs (AND WHEN NOT TO)
Another thing is that you’re not using UTM parameters on all of your links. For instance, it is a mistake to use UTM parameters on the links you use on your own website.
Why? Because remember the reason why we use them:
The purpose of using UTM parameters is to better understand how people are navigating and gravitating to our website.
If someone is already on your website, you don’t need to track how they got there because they’re already there. There’s already information being clocked in the background as to how they arrived there that you don’t want to over-ride.
I compare using UTM parameters on your website to the peeps who sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame when they’re sitting in the bleachers… I mean, what are we even singing about – you’re at the mother-loving ball game – what more do you want from me?
Likewise, you’re tracking what your visitors are doing once they’re ON your website… we just want to add a little more information to better track how they got there.
Because I’m a big fan of the 80/20 rule, I will say that 80% or more of the UTM parameters you’ll implement and use will apply to 20% or less of the content you’re creating.
Typically, you’ll use UTM parameters in just 3 places:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Ad Campaigns
Furthermore, they will be very wash-rinse-repeat where, for example, the link you include in that email broadcast you send to promote your offer will be the same as the last UTM link, with a slight adjustment to either your content and/or keyword UTM field.
Since consistency is key with UTM naming conventions, this also means your links get re-used and re-purposed more often than not.
So how are we going to make tracking your campaigns a no-brainer with the use of UTM parameters?
1) Take a “moving forward” approach
Don’t worry or allow yourself to get overwhelmed with the coulda-woulda-shoulda. You didn’t know what you didn’t know and this is how growth shows up: doing a little better than you did before.
And today, growth looks like committing to do better… moving forward.
2) Get professional help
If you don’t have a virtual assistant to help you with these, get one.
In fact, while you’re at it, get them to not only help you with these links but some of the content that these links represent, like scheduling your social media posts and email marketing.
Again, this is growth and moving forward, and this is an especially great place to get started with outsourcing and delegating, if that’s been something you struggle with.
3) Start with your email automations and ads.
As much as I encourage you to take a “moving forward” approach with your email broadcasts and social media posts, you can start moving forward now by enhancing the tracking links you’re using with your email automations and ads.
And we both know and realize that when I say “you” here, I mean the big picture you… delegate this, boss! It doesn’t matter who does this, only that it gets done.
If you need help explaining how this will get done, remember that I walk you through all of this over at omgrowth.com – just look for the button that asks you if you want help with tracking your campaigns. And yes, if you notice the UTM parameters I’m using on that link, you totally get extra points this week!
Think of the things you’re already tagging: you tag things to your Amazon wish list, you tag your dog, you tag the friends you went to the music festival with to find each other on Google Maps.
Why do you do this? You tag things you feel are important and you want to follow up on.
And the time, money and effort you’re putting into your digital marketing campaigns and promotional efforts certainly fall in the category of important things you’d want to follow up on, as well.