Google Analytics’ UTM Parameters for Social Media (In Plain English)

We understand the world of social analytics is getting more intense by the day so we thought we’d break down one more way to really track what’s happening on your social channels and how each post or tweet can relate to your web visitors. In a nutshell, UTM parameters on Google Analytics can get these details for you but if you’re like me I couldn’t even tell you what UTM stands for [yesterday].

So first things first, what does UTM Parameters even mean?
The basic definition is that UTM parameters are simply tags you add to a URL — when your link is clicked, the tags are sent back to Google Analytics and tracked. With UTM parameters, you can tag your links to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns and identify the best ways to drive more visitors to your website.

And why would you even use these?
Because you love analytics! But also, to track the actual tweet or post that drove your traffic back to your website. This can be extremely important if you are running a campaign; let’s say “Summer Sizzle 2015” is a campaign you are kicking off. You would want to create a UTM parameter for your link so that you can track which visitors to your site came from this particular content. 

Overall, this tracking method can help tracking and analyzing for many different reasons, including:

  • Accurately track specific promotions, and learn what works and what doesn’t.
  • Determine how specific ad sizes perform in terms of site traffic.
  • Understand which Twitter or Facebook copy is driving the most traffic and revenue.
  • Understand the differences between what the ad dashboards report versus your own site analytics.
Practical eCommerce

But what’s wrong with the analytics I get from Facebook and Twitter?
The analytics on Facebook and Twitter are great but you won’t see how that traffic actually interacts on your site. And if you’re concerned about other metrics (as you should) — such as time on site, number of pages viewed, and bounce rate — you won’t be able to find them in those dashboards. Overall this method will help you really see what’s driving to your site and hopefully get you closer to seeing what your Social ROI is.

Practical eCommerce

 Alright, so how do I set up my URLs?

First things first, you can use Google’s free URL Builder tool to create your UTM Parameter URL’s quickly and easily. If you’re looking for examples of where to use various UTM parameters we love the breakdown in the Kiss Metrics blog 10 Examples of Useful UTM Parameters (halfway down the post).

Google’s URL builder helps you add parameters to URLs you use in custom web-based or email ad campaigns. A custom campaign is any ad campaign not using the AdWords auto-tagging feature. When users click one of the custom links, the unique parameters are sent to your Google Analytics account, so you can identify the URLs that are most effective in attracting users to your content. Simply fill out the form, screenshot below, and click GENERATE URL to create URLs for Custom Campaigns for website tracking. The form will return a URL you can then copy and paste as your links.

You will also see a bit more information and a breakdown of the various options:

 Ready for implementation!

Practical Ecommerce’s blog broke this down recently extremely well so we thought we’d share below:

Implementing your link is as simple as using it for the first time in the ad platforms,. Just use the full UTM link as the website source when you’re creating your campaign. Keep these two tips in mind, however.

First, in Facebook, just add the domain and then add the UTM codes after you create your ads. But there’s a catch. This can only be done in Power Editor. To do this, open Power Editor, select the ad, and then scroll down to the “Tracking Section,” where you’ll see the empty box beneath “URL Tags.” Paste the UTM code there. 

Second, with Twitter, I always use a link shortener, such as or a, so that my links look cleaner, and I can see the number of clicks on the link. providing three layers of tracking. Just one thing with the link shorteners: You can shorten links without being signed in; make sure you are signed in so you can view the data easily and in one place. 

Where do I find the analytics once I’ve launched?
Here’s the fun part: viewing the data in Google Analytics. Log in to Google Analytics, select your site, and simply click on the “Acquisition” tab.


From there, the tab will expand, revealing “All Campaigns” at the top. Click that. If everything is set up correctly, you should see your data.

You’re able to see how that traffic interacts with everything on your site by creating an advanced segment. This is how I view my campaign data. There is so much potential here. Here’s how to set it up.

From any view in Google Analytics, click on “+Add Segment.”

Next, click on “+New Segment.”

Enter all the information from the UTM link you created. If you’ve received visits from your link, this data will auto-populate. You can be as broad or as specific as you’d like. For example, you could just enter the “source/medium” and “campaign,” allowing you to see all the ads as one per source. Conversely, you could just add the campaign name, letting you see performance by all mediums.

Once you’re satisfied with your segment, click “Save” and your segment will be applied, allowing you to view performance of that traffic in any Google Analytics section that supports advanced segments.

The insight you’ll gain from tracking all activities and campaigns will pay off many times in understanding what ad copy drives the most sales, what sites send the best traffic, and what content to create next that will be the most shared.

Setting Goals

Make sure you always set up goals for any of your campaigns, some help from google here.  Create a new Goal by navigating to your Goals in your Google Analytics account:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Select the Admin tab and navigate to the desired account, property and view.
  3. In the VIEW column, click Goals.
  4. Click + NEW GOAL or Import from Gallery to create a new Goal, or click an existing Goal to edit its configuration.
  5. You will have 2 basic options for creating Goals: using a Goal template or creating custom Goals

Once you are ready to configure your goals, you will go through the following steps:

  1. Goal name: It’s a good practice to name your Goals in a way that helps you distinguish one Goal from another. This can help make your Goal Conversion and Flow reports more easily understood.
  2. Goal slot ID: Every Goal you create is assigned a numeric slot ID. You can have a maximum of 20 Goal slots, grouped into sets of up to 5 individual Goals. Goal sets allow you to categorize the different types of Goals for your site.
  3. Goal types: As described in About Goals, there are a number of different Goal types, each used for a different kind of action you can measure. If you use a template, the best fit will be suggested for you. If you set up a custom Goal, select the type that best fits the action you need to track. Expand the sections below to learn more about the details of each Goal type.
  4. Goal value: Assigning a monetary value to a Goal gives you a way to compare conversions and measure changes and improvements to your site or app. You assign a value during the setup process. There are special considerations when setting up an Event Goal or a Goal that involves Ecommerce Tracking. Expand the sections below to see these considerations.
  5. Verify your Goal: Click “Verify this Goal” to test your Goal setup. This will calculate a conversion rate for this Goal based on your data from the past 7 days.
  6. Revise or Edit a Goal: You can revise a Goal you are in the process of defining by clicking the “Edit” link next to a previous step.To edit an existing Goal, navigate to the Goals list and click the Goal name to follow the step by step flow again.

One last helpful tip
Keep track of your UTM parameters so you are following similar formats between campaigns. You can always do this in a shared google doc so that others in your organization can see this and also reference previous URL’s.


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What’s Trending Today? 4 Places to Start!

As we find ourselves trying to find out what topics are hot and useful to our users we seem to keep coming back to the same websites. As we wrote in our “Content is King” blog post, having the right content for your users can make all the difference. So understanding what’s trending can be extremely helpful across any spectrum of your social media marketing. We thought we’d share our sources with you to save you some google time. Check out 5 places we go to see what’s trending:

Twitter: Obviously but we had to put it! And if you aren’t sure how to work it, you can change your trending topics to a city, entire country or even the world so you can get a bit more narrow for your target audience. Turn on or off your tailored trends in order to see the more common trends vs the ones that are skewed to what you tweet and who you follow. If you want to get really crazy, check out trends map for real time location trends.

Twitter Trends: May 13, 2015


Trends Map: May 13, 2015

Alltop: This site does a great job pulling all of the top and trending articles from a variety of sites including mashable, fast company, wired, cnn, and more. In addition you can create your own topics based on your tastes and customize the site for free. From tech to culture you are sure to find the topics you want to read and share with your audience. To make things easier, there is a home page with a general overview and a search box that allows you to type in anything that matters to you. Alltop will then suggest categories and tags that you can select one at a time to display the most popular posts from specific categories.

Alltop Homepage: May 13, 2015

Google Trends: Sometimes you have to go straight to the source. Taking a look at what’s being searched for frequently on google can give you some insight into what users care about today. You can narrow your search by country and see exactly how many times the trending topic was searched. Dig into trending searches to get more info on the searches trending with up to date links.

Google Trends: May 13, 2015

Medium: Started by the founders of Twitter it’s a blog publishing platform with a variety of topics and details covered. It’s a great place to go for inspiration on writing blogs from titles to post content. Top stories allows you to see the most read blog posts and can help inspire you when you narrow down to some of the tags and topics.The trick is to browse articles that are about specific topics such as tech, blogging, social media, entrepreneurship, or growth hacking. Whatever is most popular in those categories is usually exceptionally well written and inspires many bloggers to share similar experiences or adapt titles to their niche.

Medium Homepage: May 13, 2015

There are tons of sites out there and great content all around but these are our go to sites to see what’s the most popular among most users.  Having content that is based on what’s already popular is one of the best ways to ensure traffic. Is there any other site you think we should include?

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