Want a better way to track your marketing campaigns? There’s a strategy for that.
Tune in to learn about a FREE tool that can help you see how your influencer marketing is working, get more accurate data about your Facebook Ad Campaigns, and even see how all of the effort you put into that last big marketing campaign performed for you.
The data is out there, we just need to know how to track it properly and in today’s episode we’re going to learn exactly how to do it.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- How to Better Track the Success of Your Influencer Marketing
- Why Your Metrics Never Match Up Across Platforms
- How to Better Understand if Your Facebook Ads are Performing
Updating UTM Parameters for Facebook Ads
Creating Google UTM Links
Read the Full Episode Transcript
One of the biggest struggles eCommerce entrepreneurs have—even the ones who are generating multi 6- and 7-figures in their businesses—is understanding which marketing activities are having the biggest impact in their business.
Even when you get comfortable with analytics and are regularly tracking your numbers, you have all these different platforms that show you different numbers, attribute sales differently, have different attribution windows, etc. It can be really hard to nail down the biggest needle movers in your business, or how a certain campaign really contributed to your business overall.
While there certainly isn’t a magic bullet here, there are some tools you can use to help you do this more efficiently. What talking about today is exactly that: a tool to help you better understand how your marketing campaigns are performing.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I first want to say that you may want to use this strategy sparingly. The reason I say that is because there is a bit of manual work that goes into it and if you start off doing it all the time and then fall off, or miss it a few times here and there it can actually have a negative effect on your data and cause more confusion.
Think of using it for big initiatives that you have in your business, like a big influencer campaign, or an important holiday in your business, like Valentine’s Day or maybe even Mother’s Day. Whatever marketing campaigns you’re investing a lot of time, energy, effort, and even money into.
So, what am I talking about? UTMs.
The Urchin Tracking Module (UTM)
You might be thinking, what the fuck are UTMs? It stands for Urchin Tracking Module. This was created by an old analytics software that Google acquired in 2005. What it stands for doesn’t really matter though… what you need to know is that UTM codes are essentially just text tags that get added to the end of a URL to better understand where your website traffic came from.
Even if you’re not actively adding these on your own, many platforms are doing this automatically and that is how tools like Google Analytics can show you whether your traffic came from Facebook, Google Search, or email marketing for example.
I know it sounds super techy, but it’s not and this is definitely something you can take advantage of without a developer’s help so don’t tune out! Keep reading.
The most common UTM parameters
First, let’s review some of the most common UTM parameters you come across when you’re looking in Google Analytics.
- The Source—this is the actual platform that someone came from, for instance Facebook, Instagram, Klaviyo, or Google.
- The Medium—this is the type of traffic, such as referral, organic, email, or paid.
- The Campaign—this is a specific product promotion or strategic campaign through email or Facebook ads.
Let’s clarify this a little bit more… We’ll use Google as an example.
While Google is one source, one place that a user came from, there are multiple mediums that may appear in your Google Analytics.
One of those mediums will be Organic. This is when someone searches for your brand name or a keyword that your website ranks for and clicks through to your website from an organic listing on the Google Search Results Page. That’s Google Organic.
On the other hand, if you are running paid google ads, if they perform a search and click one of your ads, that’s considered Google CPC.
The same would hold true for any search engine. You’ll have organic and paid results. So the source would be the search engine, Google or Bing, and then the medium would be organic or CPC.
For this case, let’s use email as an example. When you create a new email in your email service provider you give it a name that’s only visible to you—this is different from the subject line. So you might create an email and call it Black Friday Launch and then maybe you’ll create another email and call it Black Friday Last Chance.
Now, as long as you’re automatically adding UTMs to your links, the names of your emails are going to be recorded as campaigns inside of Google Analytics.
If you’re not sure if this is turned on in your email service provider, do a quick search through their documentation on how to turn this on.
Another way campaigns might be recorded is based on your actual ad campaigns. So if you’re doing FB ads or google ads, for instance, the name of your campaign will also show up in Google Analytics.
So essentially, the three basic parameters are Source, Medium and Campaign.
And like I mentioned, most platforms are automatically including at least the source and medium and then some will include the campaign.
Organic social media for instance will only report on source and medium, you won’t have a campaign attached to these based on your individual post. But if someone clicks a link from a post on Facebook, it will show up in Google with Facebook as the source and referral as the medium.
Referral just means that the traffic came from another website, in this case, Facebook.
All of this is already awesome, right? It helps you understand where your traffic is coming from, which traffic is converting best and how much revenue they’re driving.
But it can still be a little limiting because you’re reliant on these defaults. With Facebook Ads for instance, the campaign name that shows in Google Analytics is a randomly generated set of numbers that doesn’t mean much unless you track down that information in Facebook.
And you may be asking yourself, but I always look at my metrics inside of the Facebook Ads dashboard, do I even need to see it in Google Analytics?
And well, that depends on how granular you want to get. As I mentioned earlier, every platform has a different way of attributing sales.
How do different platforms attribute sales?
Let’s break it down. I want to make sure you understand this foundational information so you can better take advantage of the strategy I want to share with you.
Google works on last-click attribution, which means they will give credit to the last action the customer took before making a purchase. So what does that mean?
If a customer first discovers you on social media, whether paid or organic, and clicks through to your website and then signs up for your email list, get’s a welcome discount, and then completes their purchase after clicking the email, Google Analytics is going to attribute that conversion to the email they clicked.
If that initial click came from an ad, Facebook Ads reporting is going to attribute that sale to the ad if the conversion took place within 7 days of the initial click.
Another example of this would be your emails. If you use Klaviyo for instance, they report based on first-click attribution, and by default, they use a 5-day attribution window.
So let’s say you send an email out and a customer clicks through to your website and shops around but doesn’t buy anything. Once they leave your website, you hit them with a re-targeting ad to send them back to your site and they complete their purchase.
If the conversion took place within 5 days of when they clicked your email, Klaviyo will attribute that sale to your email, but Facebook Ads and Google Analytics will attribute the sale to the Facebook Ad.
It can get really confusing right?! And that’s why your assisted conversion report inside of Google Analytics is such an important tool because it can help you see how all of your marketing activities are contributing to your business and how all the things you do in your business work together. It can be super helpful, but you’re still limited to the default information. And that’s where the UTM parameters come in, so let’s talk more about that and how to actually use them in your business.
How to use the UTM parameters in your business
Use this strategy sparingly and save it for big important campaigns. As you get more comfortable with it and have the bandwidth to manage this regularly, then you can start using it more. If you can’t keep up with it, you’re going to mess up your data and make it harder to read and understand.
Most if not all platforms are going to have their default UTM parameters, but you can overwrite them. I do suggest when you’re getting started that you only update defaults for Facebook Ads. And I say that because the way the data comes over by default from most platforms is fine, but the Facebook Ads default is the least helpful.
The other way to use these links is when you’re working with influencers and on your organic social posts. This way instead of just seeing Instagram/referral, you’ll actually be able to assign a campaign to it or an influencer’s name.
This is much more accurate than relying on influencer discount codes because not every customer is going to use those. And like I mentioned earlier, while your sale may not come directly from an influencer’s post, it would be nice to see that it was a touch point along the customer’s journey.
How to create UTM parameters
Go to your web browser and search for google url builder or, click here.
Once you get to the page, you’ll see a form with a few different fields to fill out. Each of the fields will have some helper text to tell you what information should be used in which field, but let’s walk through them.
- The URL—this is the destination you want to send them to whether it’s your home page, a particular product or even a blog post.
- The campaign source, or the referrer. If we think back to the examples I gave earlier, that’s going to be something like Facebook or Google.
- The Campaign Medium, which is just the marketing medium. Again, going back to the examples I gave earlier, that could be things like CPC or email.
- The last required field is Campaign Name—this is the field you’re going to use to group together the campaign you’re promoting and be able to group all your data together, they give the example of spring sale here.
Now before we get into what content you’re going to put in there, there are a few things I want you to keep in mind.
You can technically write whatever you want in these fields, but how you write it is exactly how it’s going to show up in Google. And it’s case sensitive. So you’re going to want to come up with an internal system of how you create these.
Let’s say you’ve got a big valentine’s day promo going on and you’re creating multiple links. If some say “vday” and another one says “valentines”, or one is capitalized and the other is lowercase, the data is going to get separated in google analytics. So I would decide ahead of time how it’s going to be written and then keep a spreadsheet so you can always refer back to what you set up.
Additionally, if you want these links to group data with the Google Analytics default, for instance, Facebook and Instagram, then you have to type it out EXACTLY as it appears in google already, which is all lowercase.
Parameters for Influencer Marketing
Now, when it comes to influencer marketing, in particular, you have to decide how you want to see the data in Google Analytics and create your links with that in mind.
The two fields you really have to consider are the source and the medium.
The campaign is easy, you want everything to get grouped under one campaign, for instance, mothersday-2021. That would be for your influencer posts, your own organic posts, any paid media you’re doing, etc.
But when it comes to the source and the medium, you really have to decide how you want it to show up.
If we think about the standard way it shows up, the source is the referrer of the link while the medium is how you are marketing. Remember, sources can have multiple mediums, ex. Google CPC and Google Organic.
So the easiest way to do this would be for the source to be the Influencer name. And each of their links to be denoted in the medium field, like igbio, igstory, or youtube.
But it makes sense in the reverse as well. Keeping the source as the platform they’re promoting on, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook. And then have the medium be the influencers name because the influencer is how you’re marketing it. When you do it this way, you’ll have less random line items in google analytics because it’s grouping everything under the sources that are already showing up there.
And look, I hate not giving you solid answers, but this truly is one of those things where you need to do what is best for you and how you better understand the data. And that’s why I always aim to teach you the why and the how behind all the things so that you can truly understand the concepts and make an educated decision on how to best implement things vs. blindly following some random step-by-step.
Parameters for Facebook Ads
The good news is, this is a bit more straightforward. As you know, I’m not a Facebook Ads expert and spend little time in the back-end of Facebook Ads, so please read through their documentation as well—you can read through that here.
But I do want to talk about it so that you know you have options available to you and you can use UTM parameters to get easier-to-understand data in google analytics.
How I would approach this is the same way I approach looking at email reporting.
If you remember, I mentioned earlier the difference between first-click and last-click attribution and how that changes who gets credit for a sale.
So when I’m looking at data in say Klaviyo vs. Google Analytics for email marketing, I use Google Analytics to understand how email is contributing to my overall business and I use Klaviyo data to tell me how I’m doing at email marketing.
I would recommend you do the same thing with your Facebook Ads. Because Facebook is likely to attribute a lot more revenue to your ads than google analytics will.
When it comes to the UTM parameters, the first thing I would pay closest attention to is the campaign itself. Now I don’t know how you set up your ads, but let’s say you’ve got two campaigns inside of Facebook focused on this Mother’s Day push you’re doing. I would update the campaign UTM to match the same one I used for my influencer links. Remember, it’s all case sensitive and needs to be written out exactly the same way. But what this will allow you to do at the end of your campaign push is easily group everything together in Google Analytics and say okay, I had this mother’s day campaign. I did ads, I did organic social and influencer marketing.
Now you can see how the campaign performed as a whole and see which marketing efforts had the biggest impact on the results.
How this can also help you is, that because Google Analytics attributes the sale to the last action the customer took before making a purchase, if you’re using these UTM tags and everything is getting attached to the same campaign… the mothers day campaign will still get the credit for the sale.
So for instance, a customer first comes to your website from an organic post about your Mother’s Day bundle but leaves without making a purchase. When they come back to your site from an ad that you have tagged with the same campaign, you’ll still be able to see that the mother’s day campaign was responsible for the sale.
Do your research and use this strategy sparingly
Okay, I know I just threw a lot of information at you. You’re probably going to have to listen to this one again, maybe even two more times to really grasp it all. And look, this strategy will not be for everyone. If you’re newer to business and this all feels a little over your head, don’t bother.
But if you have an established business and you’re investing a lot of money into advertising and influencer marketing, trying to do big marketing campaigns, etc. then it’s definitely worth your time to learn this because it will make it so much easier for you to figure out what is truly driving your business.
Now of course, it’s not a perfect system. And if people share your post from one platform to another with these UTMs, the traffic will get attributed to whatever the UTM says, not the new platform it was shared to, but it’s still better than flying completely blind and it’s a great tool for those who want to better understand their data.
I encourage you to do a bit more research on your own before you implement this and take the time to really wrap your head around it before you willy-nilly start adding UTMs to every link. Because like I said, if not treated with care you can make your data more disjointed and confusing than it was to start.
This one definitely requires your CEO hat, so don’t rush it.