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From user experience testing to informing your digital marketing strategy, there are several unique and useful ways UTM codes can improve success from content marketing. — Getty Images/mixetto

If you’ve used a web analytics tool to analyze digital marketing efforts, you’ve probably noticed a section prompting the creation or analysis of UTM codes. When conducting an analysis of content marketing, paid advertising, or social media campaigns, these tracking codes make it much easier to understand where your web traffic is coming from and what content is driving engagement.

What is a UTM code?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. A UTM code offers a deep dive into traffic source data and comes in handy especially for businesses publishing dozens of links on several platforms a day. Its purpose — to provide more information about traffic sources to a website — helps businesses make informed decisions and save money on digital marketing.

Urchin Software created UTM codes, or a UTM, in the early 2000s to assist with its proprietary web statistic analytics. When Google acquired Urchin in 2005 and rolled out the first iteration of Google Analytics later that year, UTM codes played a pivotal part in the reporting section of analytics.

Though Google discontinued Urchin back in 2012, it integrated UTM codes into its software, where they’ve stayed ever since. If your website is set up on Google Analytics, you will be able to search through your dashboard to identify traffic sources by UTM code.

{Read more: Google Analytics: 6 Little-Known Features for Businesses]

How to create a UTM code

UTMs are free to create and consist of five parts:

  • Campaign source (utm_source) to identify the source of the traffic.
  • Campaign medium (utm_medium) to identify the medium of traffic — like email or cost per click (CPC).
  • Campaign name (utm_campaign) to identify the campaign, like “winter sale” or “spring contest.”
  • Campaign term (utm_term), used for paid search campaigns, to drill down by search term.
  • Campaign content (utm_content) to identify what element a user clicked to arrive at the page (like a CTA button versus an in-line hyperlink).

Several free UTM code generators exist, including Google’s own native UTM builder. All you have to do is input the information and copy the generated link.

To help you create a UTM for your next marketing campaign, here’s an example walkthrough of creating a UTM code for an e-commerce store’s summer sale it will post on its Facebook page.

[Read more: How to Run Successful Digital Marketing Campaigns]

As long as you know your original URL, the source and medium on which you’ll post, and your campaign’s name, you can easily create a UTM code! Now, this e-commerce store will know how their social post performs against organic search traffic and direct traffic to the Summer Sale page.

For user experience testing, UTM codes can illustrate how different audiences react to the same page and messaging.

Why should my business use UTMs?

Businesses using UTM codes can expect to reap several benefits.

Evaluate campaign success

With UTMs in place, you will see where all traffic comes from to a particular webpage and make decisions on how helpful those traffic sources are in driving quality sessions. UTM codes allow you to use one landing page for social media campaigns, emails, newsletters, and paid ads with many UTM codes to parse out data.

A/B testing

For user experience testing, UTM codes can illustrate how different audiences react to the same page and messaging. For example, social media followers and email subscribers may react differently to the same landing page based on their expectations of the page’s content.

Track offline conversions

UTM codes can help understand traffic sources outside of online platforms. Retail and foodservice businesses have a unique opportunity to use UTM codes with QR codes to evaluate their customers’ in-store experiences.

Analyze digital marketing strategy

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and marketers can use months of UTM data to inform decisions for future marketing strategies. Not only can you discover where the highest-converting leads come from, you’ll have a better understanding of where to dedicate efforts and resources.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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