Home » Blog » Office Hours » When Should You Use UTM Codes to Track Your Data?
Adding UTM codes can help you significantly in tracking, but should you add it to every link?
Lidija: So, a client doesn’t know much about UTM code, so you can advise them on how to build links, right? What to add in the end? How do you go about that? That’s a job in itself, to kind of think of where they should put links with UTM codes and how to track their campaigns. And what should be a campaign, considering I’m not a marketer?
David: Right. So, the first rule is never to put UTM codes on your own website, right? So, within your own site, those are to be clean links. Never use UTM codes. So, that means that anytime someone’s coming from another website, you can consider adding it. But you don’t have to do it on every link because Google is able to understand links from most other websites. For instance, if you put yourself on a local restaurant website, Google Analytics will know that it’s a referring visit, and it will tell you the source is that website’s URL. So you might not need to add it there. But an email is a really good place for it because Google doesn’t always know it’s an email. And sometimes people read the email on their web browser, some people read it in their app, some people read it… I don’t know. The point is, every time they click a link if you don’t tag the email, it’ll be different in the referring source in Google Analytics. So, adding it in emails is very helpful because then every time it’s clicked, regardless of whether they are on their web, using their Gmail, on the website, or using an app, it’ll all consistently report. So, email is a really good place to do that. Social media is typically not necessary because Google is able to see that the visit came from Facebook or Instagram or whatever.
Lidija: If we are promoting, let’s say, a service at a particular time or a product, then you would track it as a special campaign name to have these efforts unified.
Tricia: Yes. Mention, David, the example of the pen you had.
David: Oh, wow, I forgot about that.
Tricia: Yeah, that’s a good example.
David: So, when I first started Reliable Acorn, my main agency, I gave everybody I met a ballpoint pen. I don’t have one. A ballpoint pen. On my pen, I had reliable acorn.com/pen. And if you typed reliableacorn.com/pen into a browser, it would not only redirect you to a page, but it would set the UTM codes so I could go into Google Analytics and see how many people visit my website after receiving my pen. But in that case, it wasn’t even on a website. It was like from another site. So, you could do that on a billboard or a bus stop. Because if you just put your domain name on a bus stop, how did they find you? It’s going to be a direct visit. But if you put reliableacorn.com/busstop, well, now I know how many people found me from my bus stop ad, as long as you add a redirect with the UTM code.
Tricia: And it’s usually using like a Pretty Links or something like that to get that code to go to it.
David: I just set up a redirect within my own website. I would advise your client to number one, only add it from other websites. And I would encourage them to look in their Google Analytics and see what they can see. They might see they’re already getting clicks from Facebook and realize you don’t have to do it because you’re already seeing this stuff from Facebook. But if they are, for instance, this client that I set up the separate report for this week, they had done a display ad on another website, and I wanted to be able to show them how many people clicked on that display ad or how few people clicked on that display ad, in this case. And because I told them to add the URL that UTM tracking code to the display ad, I could see how many people or how few people actually did end up clicking on it. Another place it’s mandatory is Bing Paid Search. Because Google Analytics cannot tell the difference between Bing Paid and organic, it’s all from the big search engine. A nefarious SEO person would pay for Bing traffic and make it look like your SEO traffic is going up if you don’t set that up. It’s actually a switch you can add on Bing, and it’ll automatically add it for you, but you have to tell Bing to do it. Otherwise, Google Analytics doesn’t know the difference between them. Does that kind of help give you some guidelines?
Lidija: Yes. Absolutely. Thank you, David.
David: UTM Builder is a very powerful tool. But I’m glad you’re asking before they do it because sometimes people get very excited about it, and they add it everywhere.
Tricia: Yeah, I’ll do that.
David: It gets a little messy.
Lidija: And that’s what I was afraid of. And my client is clueless. So, it’s me advising and knowing. I think, maybe not everywhere.
David: Well, so one thing people do, and I’ve done this before, is I create a spreadsheet, and you can just use some Excel magic to create a UTM code. And that way, you know what you’ve done in the past so that you can make sure it’s consistent because that consistency is key. We talked about that last time.
Tricia: Yeah, definitely. I’ll add it to make sure I think you mentioned it, but just in case, to make sure you add UTM goods to all your Google Business Profile links, any links that you’re adding on that.
Lidija: Remember last time it wasn’t showing, but it’s showing now.
David: There you go.
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