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Keeping Your Data Clean with UTM Tags

Keeping data clean and actionable is a full-time job at many large companies; however, in the small business world, a data specialist is (probably) not in the budget. One way you can keep your data clean and actionable is to use UTM tagging. To use UTM tagging correctly, it’s important to understand what UTM tagging is as well as when and how to use UTM tags.

What are UTM tags?

UTM tags are codes you can add to the end of a URL to tell Google Analytics (or SharpSpring) where traffic is really coming from.

When should you use UTM tags?

In short, you should almost always use UTM tags. There are a couple of specific situations, however, when you SHOULD NOT use UTM tags:

  1. Paid Search. Google AdWords and Bing Ads will automatically UTM tag links, so there’s no need to manually tag these links.
  2. Links from your website to your website. UTM tagging internal links will cause all kinds of problems in Google Analytics, so just don’t do it.

How do you apply UTM tags?

There are a couple of ways to add UTM tags to a link. Regardless of which way you choose, tags should always be added in the order below. My personal preference is to add tags using the Google URL Builder. However, you can also manually add tags using the following codes:

utm_source=[source]

utm_medium=[medium]

utm_campaign=[campaign]

utm_content=[content]

utm_term=[term]

utm=[sharpspring campaign]

To add multiple parameters, simply separate each with an “&”.

What does each UTM tag mean?

Source: This is where the traffic came from (ex. google, facebook.com, twitter.com, etc.)

Medium: This is how the traffic came from the source (ex. cpc, referral, organic, email). Typically, cpc is used as the medium for all paid efforts including any paid social or display.

Campaign: This is the spot to put in any multi-channel campaigns. For example, if there was a multi-channel campaign running for Black Friday, you might put in black_friday or blackfriday. That way, you could easily analyze the campaign as a whole.

Content: This spot is generally used to denote which ad or piece of content drove the traffic. This can be very helpful when comparing how users who clicked a specific ad interacted with your site compared to users who clicked on a different ad. This can also be used to track how users that came from a specific infographic or piece of shared content interact with your site.

Term: This tag is generally reserved for paid search to show which keyword the user triggered an ad for.

UTM: This can be used to denote the SharpSpring campaign since SharpSpring does not read traditional UTM tags.

Why should you use UTM tags?

You may have noticed in the definition I italicized “really.” I say that because, without UTM tags, data can get pretty out of whack. For example, any traffic coming from an app will appear as direct, even if it’s really from an ad or a backlink. By adding UTM tags to inbound links, we can more accurately assess the effectiveness of a campaign or a specific media channel and keep the data clean and ready for analysis.

Keeping data clean and actionable is critical to make the best decisions for your small business and UTM tags are a great place to start. If you have any questions about UTM tagging or want to get started driving qualified traffic to your site, send an email to liftoff@steadfastresults.com or give us a call at (877) 753-7034.

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