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What are UTM parameters, and how to use them with Zoho

So what is a UTM parameter? UTM parameters, also known as Urchin Tracking Module parameters, are a way to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media. They were originally introduced by Urchin Software Corporation, a company founded in 1995 that developed web analytics software. Google acquired Urchin Software Corporation in 2005, and Urchin’s technology laid the groundwork for what would become Google Analytics.

The UTM parameters themselves are snippets of text added to the end of a URL that can be recognized by analytics platforms when the link is clicked. This allows marketers and website owners to track the performance of their campaigns in a detailed and systematic way.

Now that we have established a base understanding of what UTM parameters are and their importance for marketing. Let’s dive into how to incorporate them into Zoho.

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Part 1 – Capturing UTMs with Zoho Forms & Passing the UTMs To Zoho CRM

Zoho Forms allows you to create customized forms for your marketing campaigns. By embedding UTM parameters into the URLs linking to these forms, you can track how different sources and campaigns contribute to form submissions. This data can then be analyzed to understand which marketing efforts are most effective in generating leads. Let’s dive into how to set this up.

First, you will need to turn UTM Tracking on in Zoho Forms.

an image of a screenshot of Zoho Forms share settings to turn on UTM Tracking

Once turned on, click the button “Get Tracking Code” and copy Advanced Tracking Code. With that code, you will want to paste it into the footer of your website, right before the </body> tag. If unsure where to locate this, contact your webmaster. Here is an example for WordPress:

an image of the backend of WordPress in the theme editor showing where to embed the code in the footer.
Drop in the tracking code from Zoho Forms where the red line is.

Next, let’s set up the fields for UTMs inside of Zoho CRM. By default, these are the UTM fields we will want to add:

  1. utm_source: Identifies the source of traffic, such as a search engine, newsletter, or other referral.
  2. utm_medium: Identifies the medium used to share the link, such as email, CPC (cost per click), or other methods of distribution.
  3. utm_campaign: Used to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign, such as a spring sale or an online ad campaign.
  4. utm_term: Used for paid search to identify keywords for the ad.
  5. utm_content: Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. This allows for A/B testing and content-targeted ads.
an image of the lead module field edit settings in Zoho CRM showing the different single line UTM fields

Once those fields are created, the final step is mapping the fields from Zoho Forms to Zoho CRM. See image below. Note: You do not need to add these as hidden fields to your form builder.

an image of Zoho Forms integration page showing the connection of UTM parameters fields

Once you hit the integrate button, your forms are now ready to capture UTM parameters.

For video tutorials on this process, be sure to check out our Zoho Forms resource library.

Part 2 – Consistent Naming Conventions and Marketing Channels

The foundation of effective UTM tracking lies in the consistency and clarity of your naming conventions. A well-thought-out naming convention ensures that your data remains organized and interpretable, making your analytics efforts more efficient and actionable. This part will guide you through establishing consistent naming conventions and understanding different marketing channels for applying UTM parameters.

Establishing Naming Conventions

  1. Be Descriptive but Consistent: Use names that clearly describe the source, medium, and campaign. For example, for a newsletter campaign in March, you might use utm_source=newsletter, utm_medium=email, and utm_campaign=March_Promo.
  2. Use Lowercase: To maintain consistency, always use lowercase letters for UTM parameters. Analytics platforms typically differentiate between lowercase and uppercase letters, so “Email” and “email” would be considered different sources.
  3. Avoid Spaces: Use underscores (_) or dashes (-) instead of spaces in your UTM values. This prevents encoding issues and makes URLs cleaner. For instance, use spring_sale instead of spring sale.
  4. Shorten URLs When Necessary: Long URLs with multiple UTM parameters can be unwieldy. Use URL shorteners like Bit.ly to keep links manageable, especially for social media posts.

Understanding Marketing Channels

  • Social Media: Track engagement from different platforms by using utm_source=facebook, utm_source=twitter, etc. Tailor the utm_medium to reflect the nature of the post, such as utm_medium=social_post or utm_medium=paid_ad.
  • Email Campaigns: Use utm_medium=email to differentiate from other channels. The utm_source could be the name of your newsletter or email list, and utm_campaign can specify the email campaign theme or date.
  • Paid Search: For platforms like Google AdWords, use utm_medium=cpc (cost per click) and utm_source=google or utm_source=bing. The utm_campaign should match the campaign in your AdWords account for easy cross-reference.
  • Referral: Use utm_medium=referral for links from other websites. The utm_source should be the website’s name, providing clear insight into which external sites are driving traffic.

Part 3 – Applying UTMs to your AdWords & Email Campaigns

Now that you’ve set up your UTM parameters and established naming conventions, it’s time to apply this knowledge to your AdWords and email marketing campaigns, maximizing the effectiveness of your tracking and analytics.

AdWords Campaigns

  1. Campaign Level Tracking: Ensure each AdWords campaign has a unique utm_campaign name that mirrors the campaign name in AdWords. This alignment simplifies performance analysis across platforms.
  2. Keyword Tracking: Use utm_term to track performance at the keyword level. This helps in refining your keyword strategy based on performance data.
  3. Ad Content Differentiation: Utilize utm_content to differentiate between ad variations within the same campaign. This is particularly useful for A/B testing ad copy or design.
  4. Automation Tools: Take advantage of Google’s auto-tagging feature for AdWords to automatically append UTM parameters, saving time and reducing errors.
an image from a Google AdWords ad settings on where to apply the URL suffix to append UTMs automatically.

Here is the final URL suffix from the example above:
utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign={campaignid}&utm_content={adgroupid}&utm_term={keyword}

Email Campaigns

  1. Segment by Email List: Use utm_source to distinguish between different email lists or segments. This helps in understanding which segments are more engaged or more likely to convert.
  2. Campaign-Specific Links: For each email campaign, create unique utm_campaign values. This allows you to track the performance of individual email sends over time.
  3. Content Variations: If sending multiple versions of an email (A/B testing), use utm_content to differentiate between these versions. This will help you identify which content variations perform best.
  4. Integration with Email Platforms: Many email marketing platforms offer built-in UTM parameter support. Leverage these tools to automatically append the correct UTM parameters to your links, ensuring consistency and accuracy.
An image of Zoho Forms campaign helper tool that helps create a premade URL based on the UTM parameters you want to append
Zoho Forms has a great campaign URL generator to help create links until you get familiar with the formatting. For email campaigns you would want to copy where the ?utm_ starts to append to the end of the URL landing page where the form resides.

By meticulously applying UTM parameters to your AdWords and email campaigns, you can gain deep insights into how these channels contribute to your marketing goals. Analyzing this data enables you to allocate your budget more effectively, tailor your messaging to meet your audience’s preferences, and ultimately drive better results from your online marketing efforts.

Billy Bates

Senior Web Developer

Billy is a Wordpress Developer with an eye for design. His knowledge will help our company website and client sites meet their goals. Billy and his young family have just moved to Ashland Oregon, and are looking forward to exploring the area’s amazing beer, wine, and food. He also has a passion for synthesizers and drum machines.

Lucas Sant'Anna

Consultant

With a background in Operations Research and Data Analysis, Lucas is a Brazilian programmer that likes to get stuff done quickly and reliably. In previous jobs, he implemented industrial job scheduling, fleet management and detailed long-haul route optimization – among other data-driven processes – to reach objectives of increased profit and reduced wasted resources. His goal is to make Zoho fully automated and with more meaningful data for spot-on decisions.

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