One of the perks of launching a digital marketing campaign is the ability to see what’s working, what’s converting, the return on ad spend and how to optimize the campaign or change your approach for future marketing efforts.
The two most common methods for tracking digital campaigns are using UTM codes and Pixels.
UTM codes are tags which are added to the end of an URL. They allow you to track specific parameters such as:
- Source of the campaign—Google, Facebook, E-newsletter
- Campaign medium—Email, banner ad, paid search, social
- Campaign name—Fall promotion, BOGO coupon
- Content/creative version—Version A, family photo
UTM codes are an extension of the URL and do not require any website code changes. These codes allow you to organize your campaigns to track the effectiveness of various aspects of your marketing effort.
So how do UTM codes work?
When a user clicks on an ad with a UTM code appended to it, Google Analytics tracks the click and reports on key metrics associated with that ad.
- A Standard URL looks like this:
- A URL with UTM code appended for tracking looks like this:
If you want to create your own UTM codes, visit: https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/
Pixels (sometimes called floodlight tags) are a snippet of code placed on a website that is used to track user behavior throughout the flow of the website. A pixel is different from a UTM code because it can track a specific EVENT or ACTION such as a form completion, online order, site visit, etc. A new pixel must be generated for each activity that you want to track.
Pixels allow marketers to capture and report on the actions of users who visit the site after viewing or clicking on an ad. They give marketers the ability to assign a sale/action directly to a paid marketing campaign. This allows you to track ROAS on marketing efforts. You can even record actions based on an “attribution window” or period of time specified. For example, if a user clicks on your ad on Monday, but does not place an online order until Saturday, as long as the purchase happens within the pre-established “attribution window,” the conversion will be counted as belonging to the campaign. However, if the conversion lives outside of the attribution window, the activity will not be counted.
How do Pixels work?
When a user lands on a page with a pixel and an action is completed (example: an order is placed), the pixel tag captures data about that order. This data is then available to analyze. Some common pixel types include:
- Retargeting pixel–used to track site visitors who did not complete the desired action and remarket to them
- Conversion pixel–used to validate action (i.e. placed on an order confirmation “Thank You” page)
- Site visit pixel–used to track campaign traffic (web page visits)
So how do you know which tracking method to use? The answer is to review the business goals you are trying to achieve and align campaign metrics accordingly. If you are looking to track overall traffic, leverage UTM codes. If you are looking to track a specific action or event, leverage pixels. However, we at the Fridge believe that the more data you have, the better, so we often use a combination of the two.
If you are preparing to launch a digital marketing campaign, contact Fridge to help optimize the campaign to make sure you get the most of your marketing efforts.
Nicole Wetwiski, Director of Digital Marketing