You may have noticed new references to “UTM” in some areas within the Net-Results platform. I’m excited to say that we’ve begun rolling out a high level of support for UTM codes throughout the platform. For those of you who don’t know, I’ll tell you all about what UTM codes actually are in a moment, but first I’m going to tell you where this is going.

UTM codes are the key to understanding where your leads, conversions, opportunities and revenue are coming from. In the often murky world of marketing attribution – knowing which marketing efforts are driving results – UTM can shine a light on the quantity and quality of the outcomes of each digital marketing effort you undertake.

If you’re already familiar with UTM codes, click here to read about UTM support in Net-Results – what we’ve already rolled out and the exciting features that we’ll be adding.

So What Are UTM Codes?

Many years ago Google acquired a company called Urchin that had built a solid web analytics tool. Google re-branded Urchin’s product as “Google Analytics”, it’s the tool that marketers around the world use all the time. All these years later, the name of one of Urchin’s key features has survived: “Urchin Tracking Module”, or UTM, can help you understand which marketing efforts are contributing to lead flow.

UTM is a tagging system and its use is pretty straightforward: as you work to drive traffic to your website, you “tag” each inbound link with up to 5 UTM “codes” (you’ll also hear them called “UTM tags” or a few other names but they’re all talking about the same thing).

These UTM codes can tell us exactly which marketing efforts are leading to increases in website traffic, lead conversions, opportunities and revenue. I think a real world example will be useful here, so let’s use one near and dear to my heart…

Let’s say you’re an awesome company called Net-Results

As an awesome company called Net-Results, you’ve got a solid marketing automation platform, but you need to do a better job getting the word out. You’ve decided to target people experienced with Marketo, Eloqua and other tools in the places where they already lurk regularly and can be identified easily: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and the broader web (via retargeting and “CRM” targeting). Of course you’ll also use email and content including blog posts and guest posts.

This will be a far reaching effort to raise awareness for Net-Results. You’ll be sponsoring updates in social channels, running pay-per-click ads on both software review sites and Google directly, and you’ll be tweeting and posting updates via social accounts controlled by the company and certain employees.

As the traffic comes in and conversions start to rise you’ll want to know which of your efforts are producing results so you can sharpen your focus and spend your money and time more efficiently.

But you’ll be publishing links to your landing pages from 5 different sources on LinkedIn alone. Let us count the ways…

  1. You’ll use sponsored LinkedIn updates that are highly targeted and offer well crafted content
  2. You’ll leverage sponsored InMail (LinkedIn Email) because you can target people based on endorsed skills, LinkedIn Group membership and more
  3. You’ll post updates to your company’s LinkedIn page
  4. You’ll post to one or more LinkedIn Groups
  5. And your well connected employees will share their own updates on LinkedIn

So how will you know which of these 5 efforts is paying off for you? And how exactly do those results compare to the results you’re achieving from AdWords, Facebook ads, Twitter, Email and other channels?

Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly which of these efforts is paying off with real leads?

Here comes UTM + Net-Results.

To get a handle on all of this, you’ll need accurate reporting showing you how many people you drove to your website…

  • From LinkedIn as a whole
  • From each LinkedIn Group
  • From your InMail campaign
  • From your company page…

You’ll want to see how many conversions each of these channels generated. You’ll want the same data for sponsored tweets, Google ads, Net-Results emails and everything else. UTM is about to show you the light…

Wrap it All Up and Give it a Campaign Name

First off, we’d better give this effort a name. All of the social posts, emails, paid ads, tweets, everything… It’s all part of single effort to raise awareness, so let’s call this campaign “Awareness 2015”.

We want Net-Results to track and report on all the traffic, all the visitors & visits, page views and form conversions that result from our Awareness 2015 campaign, so we’re going to “tag” each of our inbound links with a UTM code.

Every single link in every [email, tweet, sponsored update, blog post, etc.] will be tagged with a “utm_campaign” of “Awareness 2015”. Each link will, at this point, look something like this: 

I assume you’ve noticed that I’ve highlighted the UTM part of the URL for you. And don’t worry… if manipulating URLs is not your thing, Net-Results will soon have a simple tool to build these links for you. More on that in a few moments.
Now, having this UTM campaign information embedded in your URL, Net-Results will automatically collect that information when a prospect clicks on your link and lands on your website. The website visit (and any conversion that may take place) will be tied to your campaign.
It doesn’t matter if they clicked on a tweet from your company’s Twitter account or whether they clicked through from an email or a guest post on a 3rd party blog – all of that traffic and all of those prospects will be associated with your “Awareness 2015” campaign. But that’s just a start…

Multiple Traffic Sources

Your campaign will be generating traffic and conversions from many “sources” like LinkedIn, Twitter, Email, Paid Search, and more. Let’s tag every single link with the “source” where that link was used. For every link we publish on LinkedIn, our utm_source will be “LinkedIn”. The URLs we publish on LinkedIn will therefore look like this:

And to show another example, if you are publishing a link on Facebook it will look like this:

Now Net-Results will be able to show you exactly how much traffic you generated in your Awareness2015 campaign from LinkedIn and exactly how many conversions originated from LinkedIn (and Facebook, email, and every other source you put to use in your campaign).

…and Multiple “Mediums”…

But which channels within LinkedIn are the most effective? Your sponsored updates? Posts on your LinkedIn company page? Sponsored InMails?
Let’s make sure Net-Results can tell you by adding in the “medium” for each click. For example links in your InMails should be tagged with “utm_medium=inmail”. Your URL will now look like this… &utm_medium=inmail

To ensure e’re all on the same page, a URL for any pay-per-click ads you are running on Google AdWords would look like this… &utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc

The utm_medium of “cpc” is Google’s abbreviation for “cost per click” – the Google AdWords pay-per-click ads we’re all familiar with.

You Should Know…

Because UTM codes are very much a part of Google Analytics, and Google Analytics is used by marketers worldwide, UTM codes are pretty much a standard. Google will even auto-tag the landing page URLs in your AdWords PPC ads for you (if you enable auto-tagging).

Net-Results is adhering to and leveraging UTM, treating it as a standard so that the UTM tags you’ll use in Net-Results will pay immediate dividends in your Google Analytics account – and vice versa: any UTM tagging you already use is already being picked up by Net-Results.

Testing Different Messaging

Let’s talk about those sponsored updates you’re paying to pump into prospects’ LinkedIn streams. You’re a pro so you’re testing different messaging and creative. How will you know which versions of your ads are performing the best? “utm_content” is the answer.

Here at Net-Results we know that our customer support blows away the competition. Our responsiveness, attention to detail, and winning personalities are great differentiators for us, so we want to test messaging around support in our paid ads. But we want to test that against other messaging to see which is the most effective at driving new revenue. Here’s how we build a URL when our messaging is about our incredible customer support…

And here’s how we track the results from messaging targeting data-driven marketers…

Did You Know?

If you’re not familiar, any URL can contain variable information. It usually comes after a question mark (like you see in the URL above). Each variable is separated by an ampersand or “&” symbol and has a simple structure of “name=value” like “utm_medium=linkedin”.

The part of the URL from the question mark on is known as the “query string”. Each of the variables in the query string is known as a “GET” variable. So there’s some tech knowledge for you.

There’s one more UTM code available to you, utm_term. It can be used to further differentiate the sources of leads and conversions. Google AdWords will pass keywords this way. A great way to use it with Net-Results is if you’re testing multiple versions of ads and/or the messaging within them.

As an example, let’s consider those sponsored updates on LinkedIn that promote Net-Results’ excellent support. We may try multiple versions of ad copy and creative within the overall messaging theme of “support”. We can use utm_term to differentiate which version of our ad/messaging results in the best conversion rate…

Here we’ve used “version2” to allow us to differentiate one ad from another. It’s the final piece of the UTM puzzle and should really make clear the power of using UTM codes in every link you care about tracking from an effectiveness point of view.

A quick note: You can use as many or as few UTM codes as you like in any URL – you do not have to use all five or any particular ones in combination. You could pass just one or two if it suits your purposes. And you don’t need anyone’s help or permission to do it – you can do this now on any links you like. Prospects who click on your links will arrive at your landing pages just like they normally would, you’re just sending additional information along with each click – information that Net-Results will use to help you know exactly what’s working (and you’ll be feeding Google Analytics with deeper info at the same time – bonus!).

Net-Results began collecting data from UTM codes in late July, 2015. If you already use UTM codes we’re already helping you leverage that information into a better understanding of your website traffic and conversions…

  • Form Notification Emails have been revamped to include a richer set of information including UTM codes
  • The Activity Stream visible for each Contact (both within Net-Results and within your integrated CRM) has been enhanced to include UTM data for each website visit
  • Website Visitors, your real-time view of what’s happening on your website, has been enhanced to expose UTM codes for each visit
  • Ability to Segment on UTM Codes
    This is huge. With the ability to leverage UTM codes in your Net-Results Segments, you’re able to score leads based on them. You’re able to add them Lists, get daily reports, launch campaigns, emails, and more. Segments are already incredibly powerful, but this new capability brings incredible possibilities
  • Automatic Tagging of Links in Your Net-Results Emails
    Net-Results Campaigns and Emails support UTM codes and it’s quite nice if I say so myself 😉  We use them consistently and always know precisely what’s driving engagement from our email communications

When you begin putting UTM codes to work for you, Net-Results will provide visibility into which campaigns, sources, mediums, content and terms are driving traffic and conversions. But these changes are just the beginning…

What’s Coming to Net-Results

We’re very excited about the clarity that UTM codes can bring to your digital marketing efforts. Here are some of the things we’re planning:

  • Lead Sources Dashboard
    Though the name may change before this goes live in the platform, the incredible data it provides won’t. We’re building a dashboard that will allow you to see how many visits, visitors, page views, impressions, conversions and conversion rate resulted from any given
    • Campaign
    • Source
    • Medium
    • Content
    • Term

    The power of this dashboard is somewhat hard to convey, but if you like leveraging data to drive better results, you’re going to love it.

  • Automatic Tagging of Inbound Website Traffic
    When Net-Results sees visitors arriving from a natural search on Google, we’ll be adding UTM codes to those visits for you (if there are none present already). We’ll set the utm_source to Google and the utm_medium to Natural Search. We’ll be doing the same for other common traffic sources like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more
  • New Scheduled Report Type
    Of course you’ll want daily or weekly reports that show up in your inbox automatically. We’re on it.
  • Updates to Instant Alerts
    The format of Instant Alerts will be updated to expose UTM info and paint a clearer picture of your prospects’ intentions
  • And Ultimately, a Big Conceptual Change
    When the time comes, the thing currently known as a “Campaign” in Net-Results will be renamed – likely to “Workflows”. This will allow the concept of a Campaign to take on a larger meaning, one that encompasses all the traffic and conversions generated from all sources in a larger effort – much like the “Awareness 2015” example used in this blog post 

UTM is a great addition to Net-Results, one you can leverage as much or as little as you choose. We’d love to hear your feedback and ideas and look forward to you comments!


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Michael Ward

I'm founder & CEO @NetResults, the 1st choice of people buying marketing automation for the 2nd time.