How do you track the success of your email marketing efforts?

While measuring open and click-through rates are a great start, it’s useful to understand what people do on your website after they click-through from your campaigns.

To do this, you can use UTM codes to tell your analytics tool that these people visited from your email campaigns and track exactly what they do on your site, from the pages they visited to the items they purchased.

In this post, you’ll learn what UTM codes are, how you can add them to your email campaigns, and the kind of reporting you can access once they’re enabled.

What’s a UTM code?

UTM codes, also called UTM parameters, allow you to see where traffic to your website is coming from, and ultimately track the success of your various marketing initiatives including your email campaigns.

UTM codes are actually really simple. They’re just text added on to the end of a URL, like this:


http://www.example.com/?utm_campaign=spring&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter1&utm_content=toplink

As you can see, the above link contains the website address (example.com) as well a bunch of added information after the question mark. This extra information is the UTM code.

The first parameter is the campaign parameter. It’s set to track all activity from this particular link as being under the “spring” campaign.

The other UTM parameters – “medium”, “source” and “content” follow after. All set to track different pieces of information about the campaign.

By filling out the parameter fields with information from your campaigns, you can very elegantly and easily track all the results you get from a given email. If you’ve got a few goals set up in Google Analytics (like purchases, white paper downloads, etc), you can see specifically what results a particular email generated.

How to setup a UTM code in your email campaigns

Now that you understand how UTM codes work, let’s make you dangerous. There’s a few different ways you can setup a UTM parameter:

Manually create codes

If you want to manually create your own UTM codes, the URL Builder on the Google Analytics website is a great tool to help you do it.

Let’s create a few UTM codes for a sample email newsletter, like this:

image

For this campaign, we want to track all visits to our site from the campaign as well as understand what links people clicked to get there.

This email has three links to track:

  1. Logo
  2. Main image
  3. Blue CTA button

Starting at the top, here’s how we’d fill out the URL Builder if we wanted to set up a tracking link for the logo:

  • Campaign Source: houselist_newsletter
  • Campaign Medium: email
  • Campaign Term: *leaving this blank*
  • Campaign Content: logo
  • Campaign Name: summer_savings

Here’s how the URL Builder will look with the fields filled out:

image

Here’s what we got back after we clicked “Generate URL”:


https://www.taskrabbit.com/?utm_source=houselist_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=logo&utm_campaign=summer_savings

From there you would copy the full link and paste it in as the link for the logo image. Then you can go back and make another UTM code for each link in the email.

Although slightly time consuming, the benefit of the creating your codes manually is that you can determine exactly how you want them to work. You can standardize the different parameters across all your campaigns and even across your wider marketing initiatives to make sure you have clean, actionable data in your analytics tools.

Automatically generate codes

If you are a Campaign Monitor customer, then the email builder can automatically generate UTM codes for every link in your email campaign, and you don’t have to manually create them.

This is a feature available to all Campaign Monitor customers, and can be activated by following the instructions found here.

Once you’ve enabled the feature, the email builder will automatically add UTM codes to any link you create in your campaigns. It uses the following naming conventions:

  • utm_medium = email
  • utm_campaign = the email campaign name (not the subject line)
  • utm_content = the email campaign name plus a unique campaign identifier (CID)
  • utm_source = Not used
  • utm_term = the link text, button text, or alt attribute for images.

For example, let’s say the Widget Factory sends a campaign with the campaign name: Widget Factory Annual Clearance Sale.

They add a button to their campaign that directs people to “http://widgetfactory.com/store/red-widget ” and used the button text ‘Buy a red widget’

Here’s how the link would look with the UTM codes automatically added by the email builder:


http://widgetfactory.com/store/red-widget?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Widget+Factory+Annual+Clearance+Sale&utm_content=Widget+Factory+Annual+Clearance+Sale+CID_2cagbf4589bc1df30fe09ac7fbce5356&utm_source=Email+newsletter+software&utm_term=Buy+a+red+widget

And if we separate the parameters from the URL above, you can see it consists of:

  • utm_medium = email
  • utm_campaign = Widget Factory Annual Clearance Sale
  • utm_content = Widget Factory Annual Clearance Sale +CID_2cagbf4589bc1df30fe09ac7fbce5356
  • utm_source = Email newsletter software
  • utm_term = Buy a red widget

By using Campaign Monitor’s built-in Google Analytics integration, you can ensure all your links are being tagged without having to go through the time-consuming process of manually generating and adding the links to every campaign you send.

How to use UTM codes to measure the success of your email campaigns

Once you’ve tagged the links in your email campaigns with UTM codes and sent your campaign out, you can then open up your analytics tool and start to track the traffic it generates.

There are a number of reports you can look at and we outlined some of the more advanced ones in this post on Google Analytics reports, but let’s take a look at some of the basics.

The Channels Report

To compare your email efforts against other drivers of traffic (such as search, social, paid advertising, etc), you’ll want to check out the Channels report.

image

This report shows you how much traffic your website is getting, broken down by the channel it is coming through. As you can see above, email is one of our biggest drivers of traffic to the blog and this report allows us to compare it to other channels and see just how valuable it is for us.

This report can be accessed by selecting Acquisition > Overview > All Traffic > Channels from the sidebar of your Google Analytics account.

The Campaigns Report

If you want to see the bottom line effect of all your campaigns and compare them against each other, then the Campaign Report is where you want to be.

image

As you can see above, the report will show you how many visits (called Sessions) and visitors (called Users) each campaign brought to your site. If you have goal tracking or eCommerce tracking set up, you can even see how many people made purchases and what the combined value of those purchases were.

This report can be accessed by selecting clicking on ‘Email’ with the Channel Report, and then choosing ‘Campaign’ as the primary dimension.

Wrap up

By using UTM codes in your email campaigns, regardless of whether they are manually or automatically generated, you can track the performance of your campaigns beyond clicks and opens.

By combining these codes with analytics tools like Google Analytics, you can see exactly how much revenue each campaign is generating understand the ROI of your email marketing.

Your turn: Are you using UTM codes in your emails, or anywhere else? How do you use the information you get from using them?

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  • Simon

    We have a custom dashboard set up in Google Analytics which gives a “Email / CM – Campaign Monitor” overview.

    Feel free to add it to your own Google Analytics account using this share link:
    https://www.google.com/analytics/web/template?uid=XsLgUvZIQ0WOE6mrKMpvQQ

    The report will need each of the dashboard widgets’ “Source” value setting to whatever you’ve got configured in your Campaign Monitor account. We use ‘”cm” as our value, so they are set as:

    ‘Only show’ ‘Source’ ‘Exactly Matching’ ‘cm’ as the filter. Just click the pencil icon on each widget to adjust to suit your needs.

    Our dashboard shows:

    * Unique Visitors (Metric)
    * Pageviews (Metric)
    * Visits (Timeline graph)
    * Average Visit Duration and Pageviews (Timeline graph)
    * Revenue (Metric)
    * Transactions (Metric)
    * Ecommerce Conversion Rate (Metric)
    * Transactions by Country/Territory (Pie)
    * Average Order Value (Metric)
    * Transactions and Pageviews by Campaign (Table)
    * Revenue and Ecommerce Conversion Rate by Campaign (Table)
    * Product Revenue and Average Price by Product (Table)

    A great overview for seeing how Campaign Monitor campaigns are turning in to visits (and hopefully results – sales!) and the return you are getting from it.

    Thanks,

    Simon

  • Robert Macadaeg

    Thanks, Simon!

  • Pam Neely

    That’s a terrific addition Simon. Thank you.

  • Karl

    Hi guys,

    Good article, thanks! However as I’ve mentioned previously, clients really should be able to control how they report on their data by naming their own utm_variables – Campaign Monitor does not provide any option to do this (aside from manual tagging which is far too laborious). The utm_term variable is also not really being used as intended – the utm_content term should be used to differentiate types of links in emails. Having ‘read more’ as a keyword pollutes my GA data. Would be nice if you could consider offering some more flexibility over the automatic tagging feature.

    Thank you :)

  • Carissa Phillips

    Hi Karl! Glad you like the article! More control over your Google Analytics parameters would be great, I completely agree. I’ve added your vote for this again (with notes on why it’d be super helpful). Thank you for caring about how Campaign Monitor works for clients and letting us know where their pain points are!

  • Andy

    Can you use UTM on a wordpress site?? if so, how do you do it?

  • Sonia

    We used to do it manually using the URL builder and it is true that it takes time and lots of concentration because an important but wrong parameter will get you some wrong data. Good to see that your system does that automatically. This may help us in selecting the best in coming days.

    Regards
    Sonia
    Promozseo

  • Frances

    We have UTM links added to our emails but is there any way to track links to external content e.g. social channels or partner pages which wouldn’t automatically pull through to your Google Analytics dashboard?

    Thanks

  • Aaron Beashel

    Hi Frances

    Unfortunately not. UTM codes basically just pass information to analytics programs, and if you don’t access to those analytics programs there isn’t much you can do.

    You could try to get the owner of the analytics accounts for Partner Pages to share some statistics with you (or give you restricted access to their Google Analytics account), but that’s about it.

    Let us know if there is anything else we can do to help!

    Aaron

  • Daniel Melbye

    Using the origin source of the email you have captured leads to some confusion around measurement.

    If I email a newsletter to subscribers then according to this post I should something like “newsletter-subscriber” as the source and “email” as the medium.

    This is fine, but what happens when I apply this idea elsewhere?

    If I take this approach for remarketing via Adroll on Facebook using an email list some problems come up. I end up having the email list as the source and then the medium as social, and no way to catalogue either the fact that it is remarketing or facebook?

    Likewise if you use an email list to target on Twitter – if you use the email list as the source then you cant use refer to Twitter as a source or medium (which should be “social”)

    So how do you manage the use of codes for email in a way that is consistent?

  • HILARY COSPER

    Thoughtful piece – Incidentally , if your company is searching for a a
    form , my business partner found a sample version here https://goo.gl/h6mZpo

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