Published on: 12-10-2015

Use UTM codes to determine the origin of your traffic

Your online magazine has been sent, you’ve promoted it by email or social media and readers are flocking to your magazine. What’s important now is figuring out where all these visitors are coming from. Are they coming to you from Facebook, email, a banner or some other channel? Using UTM codes in the links to your magazine allows you to determine the sources that generate traffic with extreme precision. You’ll soon find out which campaign leads to the best results.

Why use UTM codes?

Google Analytics gives you a rough estimate of which channels generate the most visitors, even without using UTM codes. Go to Acquisition > All traffic > Channels on the Report page. This will show you how many visitors have come to you through Google, social media, or links from other sites. UTM codes, however, allow you to zoom in even further. You’ll be able to find out exactly where your visitors originate. This allows you to measure the success of specific social media posts: has your tweet or Facebook post actually resulted in any visitors?

Which UTM codes are available?
You add a UTM code (or ‘tag’) to the link to your online magazine. Because you’re using an adapted URL, Google Analytics is able to determine and segment exactly where visitors are coming from. A UTM code consists of a maximum of five segments:

Segment Example
Campaign source - The source that sends traffic to your magazine utm_source=Facebook
Campaign medium - The medium on which your magazine is shared utm_medium=social media
Campaign content - What content are you sharing? (If you’re sharing a magazine at the page level, you can indicate this here.) utm_content= tips and tricks
Campaign term – Which ad, link or button is involved? utm_term= banner
Campaign name - The name that allows you to recognize your campaigns utm_campaign= spring campaign

Adding UTM codes to the URL

You can add the desired UTM codes to the referring URL. The only required codes are for source, medium and name. The other codes are optional. The example below shows what a URL including codes looks like:

http://www.magazine.yourdomain.com/title/issue/tips%20and%20tricks?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=social%20media&utm_content=tips%20and%20tricks
&utm_campaign=spring%20campaign

This example in Google Analytics shows that visitors have come to your magazine through a Facebook post about tips and tricks that was part of a spring campaign.

Analytics Campagne UTM

Creating and shortening URLs
You do not have to create a coded URL manually; this is easily done using the Google URL builder. A downside to UTM codes is that your URL becomes very long. However, that can also be easily remedied: shorten the link that you have generated with the URL builder by using bit.ly, goo.gl or another URL shortener.

Measuring the effect of banners and buttons

UTM codes allow you to tag all the traffic that you can control: for example if you’re sharing the magazine on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, other social media or via email or a QR code.

The UTM codes utm_term allow you to test exactly which button or banner on your website yields the most traffic. Consider using the following utm_term terms: website-button-top, website-button-bottom of website-banner-right-side.

Adding tags to links to your website

UTM codes can of course be used for much more than just measuring inbound traffic to your magazine. You can also tag outbound traffic: traffic from your website to another location, for example in you link to pages where people can sign up for newsletters or events, or where they can make purchases. Tagging these links allows you to closely monitor their conversion. Are they producing the desired results? This yields more valuable insights that can lead to further optimization. Which page or button yields the most conversions? Read more about the goals that you can set for your website.

Tip: be consistent in using UTM codes
You determine which names and words you use in your UTM codes. Do ensure that you keep a good overview of your codes. Be consistent. Create a document that includes all codes per channel and per type of content and make sure that all employees working with these codes have access to this document and use it. Please also read 6 tips for creating UTM-codes.

Tagging + measuring = better campaigns

The combination of UTM codes and Google Analytics produces rock-solid metrics. Acquisition > Campaigns > All campaigns shows the exact number of visitors to your online magazine for all tagged links including specific UTM codes. Do you get much traffic through LinkedIn or through Twitter? Does call-to-action A lead to more conversions in your magazine than call-to-action B? Test it, measure it, and draw your conclusions. You will instantly know how successful your campaigns are and how to optimize them for your next online magazine.

Would you like to swap ideas or share your own experiences? Feel fee to get in touch at dennis@instantmagazine.com.

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