Standardize your UTM Tags with our Free UTM Builder

Standardized UTM tracking

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02. February 2017

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What are UTM tags?

UTM tags allow you to measure the success of any marketing campaign that drives visitors to your website. They rely on adding specific parameters to links to your website. This blog post looks specifically at campaign tagging in Google Analytics, although the same principals apply to many other web analytics tools.

If you are unfamiliar with what campaign tagging is, or would like a more detailed explanation, have a look at our introductory post on campaign tagging

Why do you need standardized UTM tags?

As creating links with UTM tags has becomes easier and more common, in many organizations this is no longer the responsibility of just one person. With multiple people across different departments all creating campaign tags, it is becoming increasingly common to end up with something like this:

Example of bad UTM campaign tagging results

Someone examining the above might expect all of the traffic as a result of the “summer fun” campaign to be included under “summer fun”, “Summer Fun” and “Summer campaign Banner-ads”. Unfortunately, it is easy to miss the “FB Post – SF” campaign and any other variations of the “summer fun” campaign name that are lower down the list. This is as a result of people using different variations of the same variable and is a real problem when it comes to analyzing campaign performance.

The above example only shows unstandardized data for campaign names. This is however just as applicable when it comes to unstandardized sources and mediums.

How to start with standardizing your UTM tags 

  • The first and easiest rule for standardization is to stick to a case structure. It is best practice to pass all parameter in lower case.

  • The second area that often sees discrepancy is dealing with spaces. As you cannot pass a space in the URL, it is necessary to replace spaces. There are however different ways around this:

    • Replace spaces with a dash (-), 

    • URL encode the space as %20 

    • Replace it with ‘%’ or ‘+’, both of which are recognized as a space in Google Analytics.

  • Stick to a given list of names, this is especially important for source and medium.

Regardless of which of these options you decide to go for, it is important that everyone creating campaign tags sticks to the same structure.

Use our tagging tool to make it easier for your team 

As the number of people creating UTM tags increases, it becomes harder to enforce all of these standards. To help solve this problem, we have designed a Google Sheet that makes sure standardized variables are used in creating campaign tags.

Here is a link to the public Google Sheet for UTM Tagging

In order to use the sheet, follow the steps below

1. First make a copy of the sheet to your Google Drive (File > Make a copy)

How to copy the Google Sheet

2. You can then add your own campaign names, sources and mediums with which you will be able to create campaign tags. In order to add a variable, simply click on the “UTM Builder” menu item and then choose the applicable item from the menu. Please note that all sources are associated to mediums, so when adding a source, you will be asked which medium you would like to associate it to.

How to add Mediums, Sources and Campaigns

3. Choose from the variables you have created in the drop-down lists in the campaign, source and medium columns and add your link in the “URL” column.

How to create a UTM link in the Spreadsheet

Congratulations, you are now able to create standardized campaign tags. For additional features, the explanations below show how you can limit the ability to create variables and how to add backup functionality.

Additional Features

Limiting Write Access on the Google Sheet

If you need to limit the ability to create new variables to only certain users, you are able to protect the sheets for the campaign name, source and medium data. In order to do this, select Tools > Protect sheet > Select the Sheet Tab > Select SourceMedium and/or Campaign and set the desired permissions.

Adding Backup Functionality

Another option with this Google Sheet is to enable the backup function, which moves all of your links and UTM parameters to the UTM History sheet on a daily basis. This allows you to store of all of your UTM data without the primary sheet becoming too long and cluttered. 

In order to setup the backup functionality, simply follow these steps:

1. Click on Tools > Script Editor in the menu:

Getting started with the backup process

2. In the new window that opens, click on Resources > Current Project’s Triggers

Adding a trigger to run the backup

3. Create a new trigger to run the backup function whenever you need it (we suggest daily between 1am and 2 am).

Trigger settings for the UTM backup

You are now ready to create standardized UTM tracking. We hope that this helps you in your endeavor for good clean web analytics data!

If you have any questions regarding our UTM tagging tool, please post a comment below or send me an email.

 

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