What Are UTM Links And How They Can Help Improve Your Social Media Marketing
Social media marketers need to constantly test strategies if they are to improve their social media success. And in order to accurately test your social media, you need a little extra than what your regular social media and website analytics offer – namely, you need to leverage UTM tracking links.
In this blog post, I’m going to show you what UTM tracking links are and how they can help improve your social media marketing.
What are UTM tracking links?
UTM tracking links are URLs that have several pieces of code attached to them – called UTM parameters – that ultimately help you track each link in great detail.
What are UTM parameters?
In order to really understand what UTM tracking links are and how they work, you need to understand what each UTM parameter means.
If you want to track where your traffic is coming from, specifically – beyond just Facebook, Twitter or any other social network you’re using – you will have to provide a specific value for “source”, which will be the exact source of your traffic; for example, a specific Facebook group, a certain update and so on.
Basically, you can go as far as you want and track the exact source of your traffic.
When you create your UTM link, you also have the option to add a medium as a UTM parameter; meaning, the type of traffic you’re getting. For example, it can be social media traffic, email marketing traffic, blog traffic and so on.
The third very common UTM parameter you can use in your links is “campaign”. This, as the name suggests, refers to the campaign you’re holding.
For example, you might share an update linking to a blog post that is part of a website promotion campaign – in this case, you might put “website promotion” as your campaign. Or, if you wanted to test different social media strategies, you might put your campaign as “test” to help you track the results of your different tests.
Any other parameters you need to know about?
These 3 are the most common parameters as they tend to offer most of the information you need to accurately track a campaign or test. However, some tools do allow you to add more custom parameters (so you can create any UTM parameter that you personally need), as well as the “dynamic” parameters option which lets the tool make changes to your UTM links automatically, based on where you’re sharing them.
How do you track UTM tracking links?
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In order to see how your UTM tracking links are performing, all you need is your Google Analytics account: simply go to Acquisition -> Campaigns to see the results of each of your links.
Here, you will be able to see basic information about your traffic, such as how much traffic you got from each link/source, as well as the quality of that traffic (what the bounce rate is, how many pages were viewed per session on average, how long the average session duration was, etc.).
Furthermore, you’ll also be able to track your conversions for each link/campaign; but, you first need to create conversion goals in Google Analytics. Once you’ve set up conversion goals (such as people signing up to your email list, visitors checking out your landing pages, visitors who looked for your contact page and so on) you’ll be able to accurately track conversions which will be of huge help with your testing, as well as with measuring your social media success.
Why use UTM links?
UTM links are perfect for testing different strategies as they can tell you so much more about your traffic than any regular analytics (which offer pretty basic information, such as how many clicks per social media update or how much traffic each social network is sending to your website).
For example, UTM tracking links can tell you:
Which social media groups drive the most traffic
Which comments on your ads generate the most sales
Which social profiles generate the most conversions
Which types of updates perform best in terms of traffic/engagement
However, there are countless possibilities when it comes to social media testing: pretty much anything you want to test, you can use UTM tracking links to help.
Another way to use these types of links is to measure your social media ROI (or return on investment), since they allow you to track links in this much detail. For example, if you’re holding a social media campaign you can use a UTM tracking link to track the entire campaign. Or, if your objective is to boost conversions via social media, then you can use UTM tracking links to see how each update and each profile/network affected the overall conversion rate.
How do you create UTM tracking links?
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Now that I’ve talked about why and how to use UTM tracking links, the big question is, how do you actually create these links?
Google’s Campaign URL Builder
Google’s own Campaign URL Builder was built to help advertisers track their campaigns more accurately; however, you can also use it to build your own UTM links, to use as you wish.
The tool is pretty straightforward and easy to use; to start with, you need the URL you want to track. Following that, you’re only required to add one parameter – the source – but you can also add medium and campaign in order to more accurately track your results.
Additionally, you also have the option to add “campaign term” and “campaign content” parameters, but these are relevant to advertisers.
Once you add all the parameters you want, the link will be automatically generated (simply scroll down a bit to see it) so you can just copy and paste it to share it wherever you want.
Another option for creating UTM tracking links is Agorapulse, which (since it is a social media management tool) has some special features for social media users; to start with, you create the link when you post or schedule an update, plus you can add as many custom URM parameters as you need, shorten your link with Bit.lyand finally, you can use dynamic UTM parameters to help save time.
Whenever you prepare an update that has a link, you can turn on UTM tracking and simply add the parameters you want (source, medium, campaign) – or, as I mentioned earlier, create your own custom parameters directly in the update window.
Earlier, I also mentioned the “dynamic” option; this is a very time-saving feature especially for those who are active on several social networks or accounts. If you want to track the same link across different accounts/networks, select “dynamic” and the tool will automatically change the social network or social profile in the UTM parameter so you can track results accurately, even if you’re sharing it on 5 (or more) different social profiles.
SEMRush Social Media Poster
Another good option for social media marketers is SEMRush’s Social Media Poster. It’s a social media posting and scheduling tool that also has a built-in UTM feature.
You can use this tool to plan your social media calendar ahead of time, as well as to publish and schedule updates.
As for the UTM builder, it’s very easy to use; once you add a link to one of your updates, select UTM to create your UTM setting and add parameters.
You’re required to give your campaign name, but you can also add a campaign medium if you like, as well as a campaign source. Or, if you prefer it, you can let the tool do that work for you and have it automatically find the source.
UTM tracking links can be extremely powerful tools for social media marketers – you just need to leverage them to their full potential:
Use UTM tracking links whenever you’re holding a campaign on social media so that you can accurately the success and ROI of that campaign
Use UTM tracking links to constantly test new strategies on your social media, such as what types of updates perform best in terms of traffic/engagement/conversions, which social networks and/or profiles to focus your attention and resources on, which campaigns work best with your particular audience and so on