Place links strategically and find out what works best.

All website owners of this world have one thing in common: We are obsessed with our statistic.

How many visits did we have today? How many clicks did this tweet get? What is our bounce rate?

But what makes successful website owners different is that they don’t just stare at their numbers. They but measure things strategically and analyze their stats to find out what works and what doesn’t. And then they take action.

Today, I’m going to show you a quick trick of how to find out what social shares, links in your emails, internal links or links to your websites you place on other sites perform best (and which ones turn out to be useless).

This trick is called UTM parameters.

If you know what UTM parameters are, just scroll till the end of this email where I list 7 fun things to use them for besides usual campaigns.

Otherwise, read on.

I’m not a fan of using too many tools. I’m sure there is a fancy way to get the same info this with a fancy tool or two, but I try to make my website owner life as simple as possible. So I use UTM parameters for this.

What are UTM parameters?

UTM parameters are additional bits of information you can append to the links so that when someone clicks on them and lands on your website, you’ll know where they came from.

And by "you'll know" I mean Google Analytics will record it for you.

And by “where from” I mean way more detailed information than just a website's URL.

Here’s an example of what I see in my Google Analytics -> Acquisition -> Campaigns view just because I’m using UTM parameters:

Googla Analytics campaign view

How does this magic work?

Everything’s simple when you know how to do it. Even generating links with UTM parameters. Here’s how it works.

For Google Analytics to be able to display this information, you need to append some additional info to a usual link.

For example:

UTM parameters: Structure

You can set up to 5 UTM parameters, but these 3 are obligatory:

utm_source: Generally speaking, where did you put that link? For example, email, Twitter, free ebook, etc.

utm_medium: How are you sharing this link? For example, post, email newsletter, “About” page, etc.

utm_campaign: A descriptive name that makes sense for you to analyze later. For example, link in your side widget, social share with a particular picture, etc.

But you can also put utm_source=airMail and utm_medium=pigeon, or whatever you feel like. There is no UTM parameters police that will come and check if they generally makes sense. The only person who will ever see this info - and, thus, the only person who should be able to understand it - is you.

How to automatically generate links with UTM parameters

You don’t have to manually code each and every URL (this would be crazy!).

There is a free plugin for web browser called Google Analytics URL Builder (just search for it within your browser add-ons library) that lets you save the frequently used parameters. After that, you can generate those URLs with just one click.

When you install this plug-in, click on its icon and open the settings to configure your table. Like this:

UTM parameters: Save frequently used parameters

A new tab will open in the browser where you can save the parameters that you think you’ll be using often. You can always add new parameters or delete ones you are not using anymore.

Here’s how my table looks like:

List of frequently used parameters

To generate a magic URL that will have these UTM parameters:

  1. Open a page you'd like to generate an URL for.
  2. Click on the plug-in icon.
  3. Select a set of parameters you've saved in advanced or simply type in the input fields.
  4. Click "copy" (when you can "hide" the actual link behind an anchor text) or "shorten & copy" (when the actual url will be visible; for example, in your Twitter bio).

Like this:

How to generate an URL with UTM parameters

Fun things to track with UTM parameters

Here are a couple of fun things to track with UTM parameters:

  1. See what social share performed better for a particular post on a particular social network: Plain text, image 1, image 2, link+image, particular time of the day, share public or in the community, etc.
  2. Links in free ebooks and PDFs.
  3. Links from videos.
  4. Links in social profiles. If you don’t have a possibility to hide the link itself behind an anchor text, shorten the link by clicking “SHORTEN & COPY” while generating the link so that it also looks neat.
  5. Links in email newsletters to differentiate between a link in the text and a link in the “latest posts” section for example.
  6. Links in your email signature.
  7. Links from your guest posts on other websites.

...and many other things I'm sure you'll be able to think of once you start using this trick.

Ok, that's it from me for today. I hope you found this helpful.

My brain, as usual, needs glucose. Does writing make you hungry, too?

Off to get some chocolate. If you have any questions, just write to me.

Warm greetings,

Gill 

P.S.

Can you spot UTM parameters I'm using here in the URLs that open in your browser? ;)

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Gill Andrews