Where Do My Leads Come From? UTM Basics and Best Practices for B2B Marketers

Click here to download our printable UTM Parameters Cheat Sheet that summarizes the below best practices.

Here’s your classic B2B marketing growth challenge: your CEO tells you that events have historically been the biggest source of leads, but (given the expense of events) now wants to drive more efficient spends and increase leads from inbound and digital marketing. Well, there are many digital sources and channels where leads can originate. So, where do they come from, and how do you invest in the channels with highest growth potential? You need to trace the origins of leads, as well as the multiple interactions they have with each of your digital marketing campaigns. But how? The answer: UTM codes.

What are UTM codes?

UTM codes are text parameters you add to your URL to enable tracking by many web applications that can incorporate those text parameters. Here’s how it works.

Where you normally provide a link to one of your webpages, you insert a few pieces of UTM code (text) into your URL. So when John (the visitor to your webpage) loads the page, he loads one with UTM parameters that can then be stored. Below is an illustration of a URL with UTM parameters written into the URL and a few example UTM parameters. (A bit below, we’ll show you more UTM codes and standard naming conventions so that you can clearly delineate where your leads come from.)

UTM_to_GA

 

How to Create UTM-Enabled URLs

It’s pretty simple. Two ways to do it:

  1. From scratch. Type UTM parameters directly into the end of your URL as per the above image by appending the URL with a question mark, followed by the chosen parameter (e.g., “utm_source”), then an equal sign, and finally followed by the name you’d like to give to that parameter. In the above image’s URL, the first parameter after the “?” is “utm_source”, an “=”, and “linkedin”, which is the link provider’s way of recording this click with a utm_source of “linkedin”. You most likely want to track other UTM parameters from the below, so to add another parameter, just use an ampersand “&” and add another UTM parameter.
  2. Google Campaign URL Builder. Alternatively, use Google’s Campaign URL builder to compile the parameters into a URL at https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/.

Standard UTM Parameters and Naming Conventions

Here’s a table of standard conventions that you can reference in order to develop your own UTM naming for your company’s campaigns. (Click here to download this table in a 1-page cheat sheet.)

UTM Parameter Definition Usage & Best Practice
utm_source Answers the question, “Where is my traffic coming from specifically?” (i.e., What property specifically?) Can be the name of the website, newsletter name, or social media outlet.

An example for a “Lead Lifecycle Whitepaper” ad on LinkedIn would be: “linkedin”

utm_medium Answers the question, “How is my traffic coming to me?” (i.e., What is the channel of the traffic? What is the category of the source?) Examples include cpc, email, banner, social, etc.

An example for a “Lead Lifecycle Whitepaper” ad on LinkedIn would be: “social”

utm_campaign Used to describe the overall campaign you are running An example for a “Lead Lifecycle Whitepaper” ad on LinkedIn would be: “lead-lifecycle-whitepaper”
utm_term Used to tag paid keywords For an ad for “Campaign Attribution products”, this might be: “campaign-attribution”
utm_content Used for a/b testing calls to action (CTAs) For a newsletter with a link to your whitepaper in the footer and the sidebar, you would have “utm_content=footer-link” and “utm_content=sidebar-link” to differentiate between the two links

 

Regardless of the naming convention you settle on, we suggest you create a master list of UTM parameters that you’ve used for each campaign. That way you and other members of your team can keep track of the different parameters used and can refer to them. It’s also a good place to track which ads are still active vs inactive. It is crucial to keep an organized list of UTM parameters to illustrate examples and establish standard naming conventions across your team.

Integrating UTM Parameters into Your Marketing Analytics

Finally, as the final best practice, you’ll want to integrate UTM parameter data into the system you use to report on marketing impact on revenue. Usually this is a marketing automation or CRM system, such as Hubspot or Salesforce. By doing this, you have a single source of truth for lead tracking, from origination to the closed deal. Here’s a blog post written by my colleague Alison Rouse on integrating UTM parameters into Salesforce to track the origin as well as the campaign interactions of each lead, right inside of Salesforce.

Now You’re Ready to Arm Yourself with More Marketing Data

With these UTM codes in your links, you remove the need to create a landing page for each different potential source of traffic when tracing where leads are coming from. If you trace leads from your ads or other originating points and keep track of the parameters of your campaigns through UTM codes, you’ll be able to invest more in marketing channels, keywords, content, and campaigns that work.

If you would like our comprehensive UTM Guide for B2B Marketers, check it out by following this link.

 

 

Feng Hong

About Feng Hong

Feng Hong is a recovering spreadsheet addict with a background in covering enterprise software and martech in his VC and investment banking days. Now a B2B product marketer marketing to marketers (B2BPMM2M, obviously) at Full Circle Insights, Feng is an avid proponent of expressing clear product value propositions, providing quality educational content, and generating growth through inbound demand.