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A strong UTM code strategy illuminates the connections between your online marketing efforts and the outcomes they drive.

How To Use UTM Codes To Unlock Meaningful Visitor Insights

Steve Jaffe
Mar 16, 2023 4:35:07 PM

Destination websites are powerful tools for connecting with the people who visit your community. From inspiring trip planning to providing valuable details about things to see, do, and eat, the content you create for the web is an important element of the visitor journey.

Websites are also the connection point between online advertising campaigns and a desired conversion — whether it’s downloading a visitor guide, browsing accommodations listings, or traveling to your community. But how do you know if your campaigns are driving the intended actions? How do you choose where to invest your online marketing resources?

Analytics tools can track the way users interact with your online content, but to get the most out of the insights these tools provide, you have to put in some effort upfront.

UTM codes are a valuable tool for understanding how people interact with your website. When paired with geolocation data — as in the Zartico Destination Operating System™ — the result is end-to-end visibility into the customer journey, from the moment someone clicks on your content until they arrive in your destination.

What are UTM codes? Why should you use them? 

UTM codes (short for Urchin tracking module, named for the software company that developed them) are small snippets of text that you add to the end of a link address. When users click these links, the snippets tell Google Analytics (and the ZDOS™) a little about how that user has arrived on your site. Anyone can use UTM codes, and they are completely free.

Effective tracking of UTM codes offers several key benefits

  • Accurate measurement of campaign success: Track specific actions taken, such as clicks, form submissions, and conversions. Use this data to determine the success of a specific campaign and inform future marketing strategies.
  • Improved campaign targeting: See which channels and campaigns are driving the most traffic and conversions. Use this information to target specific groups of users more effectively and maximize the ROI of marketing campaigns.
  • Improved understanding of customer behavior: Access insights into how users interact with different marketing channels, such as social media, email, and search engines. Use this information to tailor campaigns to the target audience.
  • Easier data analysis: Standardize the data collected from campaigns, making it easier to analyze and compare the performance of different campaigns. Identify trends, optimize campaigns, and make informed decisions about future marketing strategies.

Pair UTM codes with the ZDOS™ for game-changing insights

Within the ZDOS™, the Website Contribution module offers destination leaders a look into the complete visitor journey. With proper UTM tagging, partners can understand exactly how their online marketing efforts are bringing people to their destination through in-depth analysis of research topics, web pages, and campaigns resulting in the highest visitor conversion rates.

In order to unlock this data, we provide partners with a single, non-expiring pixel to place on their website. This pixel will collect data such as visitor traffic, clicks, and other activities.

By using this pixel in combination with a strong UTM code strategy, the ZDOS™ can integrate information from Google Analytics with geolocation data that pinpoints the location of a device or visitor using their IP address. The result is a robust set of insights into the browsing patterns and preferences of actual visitors.

This integration creates a seamless, end-to-end solution for tracking and analyzing visitor behavior. With this information, it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of customer preferences, improve website performance, and optimize online campaigns to better target specific customer segments. 

9 tips for creating better campaign links with UTM codes

The accuracy and value of data collected and analyzed through tools like ZDOS™ and Google Analytics is directly dependent on the quality of the inputs. 

While a great UTM strategy can generate incredibly helpful insights, the opposite is also true. Ineffective use of UTM codes impairs tracking ability and results in flawed outputs. 

Follow these tips to create UTM codes sure to provide valuable insights into visitor behavior and campaign performance.

  1. Choose clear and descriptive names for each UTM parameter, such as "source," "medium," "campaign," etc. While a campaign labeled “email_12” might make sense to you now, it will be difficult to remember exactly what you meant months or years down the road.
  2. Be consistent in naming conventions across all campaigns, to ensure easy analysis and comparison. UTM codes are case-sensitive, so get your whole team aligned on whether to use “SpringLaunch,” “springlaunch,” or “spring_launch.”
  3. Use the "source" parameter to identify the specific website or platform where traffic originates (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, etc.). You can think of this as the “where” variable.
  4. Use the "medium" parameter to identify the advertising or marketing medium used (e.g. social, email, CPC, etc.). Think of this as the “how” variable.
  5. Use the "campaign" parameter to identify the specific promotional campaign or initiative being tracked (e.g. winter sale 2023, product launch, etc.). 
  6. Use additional parameters as needed to provide further context. The "term" parameter is useful for paid search keywords, and "content" is great for A/B testing different ad creatives.
  7. Use a link builder (like this one from Google) to easily create UTM-tagged links. And because these links are often long and unwieldy, it’s a good idea to use a link shortener like Bitly or TinyURL anytime the link will be visible to users.
  8. Ensure that UTM codes are correctly added to all campaign links, including social media posts, email marketing, and paid advertising. Do NOT add UTM codes to internal links within your website.
  9. Regularly review and analyze UTM tracking data in analytics tools to learn from your campaign performance and adjust your UTM strategy.

You get out what you put in 

Adding UTM codes to your links is like adding a tracking device to your online campaigns. It keeps tabs on where they've been and how they've performed. It’s well worth the extra effort to plan and set up a UTM strategy before you launch your next campaign.

When used effectively, UTM codes can give you valuable insights into the success of your campaigns. And when that data is cross-tabulated with Zartico’s geolocation data, destination leaders gain comprehensive and actionable insights into visitor journeys and preferences. This integrated approach offers an unmatched opportunity to create marketing strategies that deliver visitors and improve communities.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

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