Conversion Tracking 101 – How to add UTMs to your URLs

Conversion Tracking 101 – How to add UTMs to your URLs

Why do you need conversion tracking? Let’s say you had an increase in users coming to your company blog, spending an average of 4 minutes reading the posts and then signing up for your newsletter. That’s great, exactly what you wanted when you decided to start promoting your blog posts on social!

The thing is, you’ve been pushing your blog content hard on all fronts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and now you have questions: 1. Are the blog posts I’m promoting on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all working well (if not, maybe I should change the messaging in some of them)? 2. Which blog posts were better converters (If I knew this, I’d be able to focus more on those topics)?

In other words – you want to optimize your marketing efforts so that they bring in more users and waste less resources (money on paid ads/boosting posts and time on writing blog posts that don’t convert). Well, in order to achieve that you need to implement conversion tracking.

Topics covered in this post:

  1. Conversion tracking – Why measure marketing activity 
  2. Conversion tracking with UTMs – How to measure marketing activity
  3. How to build your URL with UTMs

Conversion tracking – Whyo measure marketing activity

While just about everyone in online marketing (paid and organic acquisition, social, etc.) has a pretty good idea of why they need to optimize their work in order to improve results over time, I’ve noticed that conversion tracking is still mainly used by user acquisition professionals. Maybe it’s the assumption that only they care about ‘conversions’, maybe it’s because tracking sounds too analytical for the creative folks in charge of social. Regardless of what the reasoning is, it’s wrong.

A business will not thrive on Facebook likes or retweets, the goal of a business is always conversions – new customers. If you’re building brand awareness on Facebook by managing the company’s Facebook page, you’re not doing it because it’s fun, you’re probably doing it because you want to be where your potential customers are so that you reach new customers and engage the existing ones, creating and maintaining relationships that eventually lead to conversions (if you’re doing it right). You need to be able to measure the results of your efforts and that’s what conversion tracking is for.

Conversion tracking with UTMs – How to measure marketing activity

Let’s first start with what a link is – When you decide to promote a blog post on Facebook/Twitter/wherever, you will add a link to your post/tweet that leads people to this specific blog post, right?

You might shorten it using bitly or other services, but before you shorten it, it’ll look like this: http://www.hadasspektor.com/2016/01/conversion-tracking-how-to-add-utms-to-your-urls/

This link basically says exactly where the relevant post sits on the site – it sits in the January 2016 folder on my site (this is of course a very superficial explanation, but it’s good enough for conversion tracking 101). If you copy the link to a new tab, delete the post name and change the folder in the URL from January 2016 to December 2015 it’ll look like this: http://www.hadasspektor.com/2015/12/ and here you’ll be able to see all the posts I’ve written in that month.

Why is this important?

I just want to show you that a URL is not a fixed thing, you shouldn’t be afraid to play with it and see where it leads you. The same is true for UTMs, they’re basically a bunch of text you write at the end of the URL and they can say whatever you want them to.

Essentially, UTMs are a way for you to define the source of your traffic and the destination so you can differentiate between users coming from different channels, optimize one channel over time and compare it to others within the same time period.

*Analyzing how effective some channels where over others or over time, based on UTMs, is easy to do using Google Analytics. I will discuss Google Analytics in another post very soon.

How to build your URL with UTMs:

Step 1 – The first part of the URL is the actual destination you want people who click the link to get to.

Example: http://www.hadasspektor.com/2016/01/conversion-tracking-how-to-add-utms-to-your-urls/

Step 2 – The UTM components:

  • UTM_Source= this is where you write who the referrer is – where you plan to put the link. When analyzing results, this component will tell you where the traffic came from. Examples: google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Newsletter
  • UTM_Medium= what type of traffic are you planning to drive to the page? If it’s from paid ads, put in ‘cpc’, from email, put in ’email’ and so on.
  • UTM_Term= while the top two UTMs are a must, this one is mostly relevant to Google Adwords activity. You can define the keywords that led people to see the ad and click it.
  • UTM_Campaign= A ‘campaign’ is the overarching theme of a few marketing activities. I usually define campaign as an audience type that I’m trying to reach and then use the following UTM_Content to differentiate between ad creatives. A campaign can also be ‘Blog_posts’
  • UTM_Content= Used mostly to differentiate between ads based on the creative within them. It is helpful for optimization purposes – through it you know which creative was more effective at getting conversions.

Once you defined these variables, your URL will look like this (*notice that before I start with the UTMs I add a ‘?’ and between any two UTMs I put an ‘&’ sign):


Let’s dissect the URL above:

  1. It clearly leads to this blog posts about conversion tracking
  2. This link will be posted on a Facebook ad as you can see by the fact that I defined the UTM source to be Facebook and the Medium to be CPC
  3. The campaign name is BlogPosts. This means I’ll probably at some point compare this campaign, which is every ad that leads to a blog post, to other campaign types to see how effective it is in comparison
  4. The UTM content is ‘HowTo’. This means that the angle I took with the messaging within the ad is – How to. If I choose to create multiple ads I’d choose a different angle and compare their effectiveness in bringing traffic

If this seems like too much work for you and you don’t want to build the URL yourself, you can always use this URL builder chrome extension. Based on the info you submit, it’ll generate the URL for you, with all the UTMs you defined.


Don’t forget to check out the homepage for some more How-To guides and insight into online marketing dilemmas
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2 thoughts on “Conversion Tracking 101 – How to add UTMs to your URLs

  1. eagleOl says:

    great post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You must continue your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

    1. Thank you so much for the vote of confidence eagle01!