September 18, 2020

Better Ecommerce Tracking with UTMs

Mark Fauntleroy

Estimated 5 minute read time

Better Ecommerce Tracking with UTMs

How URL Tagging with UTM Parameters Will Help You Track Ecommerce Campaign Performance


With hundreds and sometimes thousands of products on offer, tracking product performance is a big job for ecommerce retailers. Add the need to analyze and optimize advertising for each of those products and you’ve got a significant challenge. So, how do marketers get the information they need to analyze campaign performance for products?

In this post we’ll explain how adding UTM campaign parameters to your product pages can help both your own marketing team and your marketing service provider better track campaign efficiency and performance.

What are UTM parameters?

First, “UTM” stands for “Urchin Tracking Module” or “Urchin Tracking Monitor”. UTM is a URL coding and signal technology designed to provide more accurate measurement of website visits. UTM codes are added to the end of regular URLs and provide more information about each website link. For marketers, this allows analytics systems to parse the URL and better understand the marketing campaign to which each link relates.

UTM Fundamentals for Google Analytics

Acquired by Google in 2005, UTM codes are now used in Google Analytics (GA) as campaign parameters for reporting. Google supports five default UTM campaign parameters you can add to your URLs:

Parameter Definition
utm_source Identify the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property, for example: google, newsletter, billboard.
utm_medium The advertising or marketing medium, for example: cpc, banner, email newsletter.
utm_campaign The individual campaign name, slogan, promo code, etc. for a product.
utm_term Identify paid search keywords. If you are manually tagging paid keyword campaigns, you should also use utm_term to specify the keyword.
utm_content Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. For example, if you have two call-to-action links within the same email message, you can use utm_content and set different values for each so you can tell which version is more effective.

Each parameter must be paired with a value that you assign. Each parameter-value pair then contains campaign-related information. For example, you might use the following parameter-value pairs for a Summer Sale campaign:

utm_source = summer-mailer to identify traffic that results from your Summer Sale email campaign

utm_medium = email to identify traffic from the email campaign vs. the in-app campaign

utm_campaign = summer-sale to identify the overall campaign

If you used these parameters, your custom-campaign URL would be:

When you add parameters to a URL, it is best practice to always use utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign. Using the utm_term and utm_content parameters are additional, optional parameters. Also, Google offers a UTM builder that can be utilized to generate URLs with UTM parameters appended.

How Does this Help Me?

With UTM tracking parameters added to individual product page URLs, your team has the granular data needed to analyze traffic performance to products by how your campaigns are being executed. With an understanding of campaign response and conversion activity by product line, campaigns can be adjusted on-the-fly to filter out of your advertising feed those product offers that aren’t performing as well. Production and inventory plans can also be optimized to prioritize products that are showing higher interest/response.

Using UTMs with a Performance Marketing Network

Sharing UTM campaign parameters with your advertising or marketing service provider will go a long way to ensure that you and your provider are speaking the same language when reviewing campaign performance results. UTM parameters can be passed directly to a Performance Marketing Network that manages your ecommerce campaign. Establish the parameters first to suit your own campaign reporting needs and then pass these specifications within the URLs of the product meta data (the “product feed”) supplied to your provider. This ensures that campaign performance reports from your provider better align with any internal tracking your team may do, like in via Google Analytics.

Alternatively, your provider should be able to setup and manage these parameters within the campaign’s product data on your behalf based on specifications you set. Connexity supplies retailers working in Google Analytics with a quick-guide for the optimal integration of campaign parameters with the Connexity network. This helps our retail partners have a better synchronization of their own tracking with how Connexity will track and report performance.

Tracking URLs in Google Analytics

If you use Google Analytics, then having UTMs set within product URLs gives you the parameters needed to understand traffic to products right in the GA tool. In GA you can breakdown the dataset into a variety of filters like campaign, keyword, or ad content depending on the UTMs appended to the product links you want to analyze. See the “more dimensions” option on the Source/Medium report we’re showing below.

This dimensional filtering is useful in any analysis you might conduct. For example, you can examine customer acquisition performance starting with the Acquisition Overview report filtered by a campaign, like our example Summer Sales campaign. In this case, the Acquisition Overview report would show the performance of various traffic channels through behavior and conversion analysis. This means you see the acquisition, behavior and conversions (ABC) cycle, which reveals how your site acquires users and their behavior toward converting on Summer Sales products.

GA Acquisition Overview

Having an Acquisition Overview specific to a campaign for a product or product line gives you a great high-level starting point to answer key questions that will help you hone that campaign. For example:

– Through which traffic medium are we acquiring more Summer Sale customers?

– Are Summer Sales customers acquired via social traffic converting at a higher or lower rate than other traffic types?

– Do we need to adjust our Summer Sale tactics for particular traffic types?


Bottom Line

Adding UTM parameters to your product URLs can be helpful to organize the metrics you want to analyze in campaign tracking. UTM parameters identify the different campaigns you create for a product line and the individual components of each campaign. Used properly they can be the dimensions by which your team analyzes performance and can help trace that performance all the way back to individual products within a campaign. If you work with a Performance Marketing provider, establishing UTM parameters on your sites and sharing that information in a product feed helps ensure performance reporting is done by the campaign dimensions that matter to you.

Learn more about how Connexity can deliver incremental performance for your product campaigns by reaching out to our Merchant Services team.


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