Tracking Campaigns: Using UTM Parameters vs Event Tracking

Measurement is a key part of any online campaign. You can’t improve what you don’t measure, but you also can’t improve unless you measure correctly!

UTM tracking and Event tracking are two ways to track online campaigns. It’s important to understand when to use which method.

External: UTM Tracking
UTM tracking is best used for campaigns running outside of your site. It involves adding tracking parameters to your URL. If you use Google Analytics, these tracking parameters will feed information into your account. Google provides a URL builder to help you create UTM tracked links. You are required to add the source, medium (or channel) and campaign. Ad content and keyword are additional parameters that are optional. Use UTM tracking for:

  • Email marketing
  • PPC advertising
  • Comparison shopping ads
  • Retargeting campaigns
  • Banner ads on external sites

Internal: Event Tracking
Event tracking is best used for campaigns running within your own website. This can include:

  • Internal banners
  • Promotional links
  • Buttons
  • Videos
  • Forms

Event tracking involves adding a line of code to the link on the page. You must add an onclick event to the link tag that will pass data back to Google Analytics every time that onclick event is fired. Learn more about using Event Tracking from Google Developer articles.

Importance of Using the Correct Tracking Type
UTM tracking tags should not be used on any links within your own site. When you track campaigns using UTM tags, you will lose the original referrer should the visitor click on your internal campaign after they arrive at your site. This will overwrite the inbound traffic source and incorrectly attribute data, leading to incorrect conclusions about the performance of campaigns.

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