Mar 16, 2016 / by Katie Gaab

Nearly every brand is on social these days, but according to the latest CMO survey by Duke University, only 15 percent can prove social’s impact quantitatively.

Are you trying to measure the success of your campaigns without metrics like the majority of brands?

If you’re posting links across multiple social platforms, you must know what’s working. Learn which platforms and posts are bringing the most traffic and generating the most revenue for your business by incorporating UTM codes into your custom links. Follow these five steps to start pinpointing social’s impact on the bottom line:

1. Outline Goals

Before you start creating UTM codes, outline your goals and all the metrics needed to meet those goals. UTM codes, or parameters, will help determine which campaigns and platforms, or channels, are directing the most visitors to your website.

Look to your social strategy to determine which platforms you’re already focusing on and what you’re looking to get out of them. You can update any estimated numbers once you’ve measured your links’ performance; for now, you simply need numbers to work towards.

2. Understand The Parametersmouse-utm-codes

Before using a URL generator, make sure you understand all the parameters involved in building UTM codes and have a living spreadsheet where you can host everything you create. This prevents variations on the same phrase (“Facebook” vs “facebook”) and allows you to see what everyone on the social team is doing.

Start by listing all the different sources, or places, where visitors will be coming from when they click on your links.

Next, identify all of your mediums, or ways people will be accessing your content. Keep your medium names simple (email, social, etc.). If you plan on A/B testing different ads, you may also want to add the optional content parameter to your UTM code. This would allow you to differentiate between the two ads and see which performs better.

Finally, think about how to identify why people are coming to your website. The campaign parameter allows you to identify which efforts work best. You can distinguish this parameter by product launch announcements, business objectives, webinars or even influencers if you create pre-crafted messaging for them.

Make your PR strategy count and download our Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring and Measuring the Impact of PR.

3. Shorten Your Links

Once you start adding in each customized parameter, your links start to look like a never-ending line of train cars. A UTM code alone takes up this much space or more:


Use a site like for help shortening a link. With a cleaner version, your link will not only look less like spam, but also fit the 140-character tweet limit. Remember to add the shortened links to your UTM code spreadsheet.

4. Measure Performance


Click numbers are great, but conversions are even better, especially when you’re looking to prove your ROI. The easiest way to measure your links’ impact would be through Google Analytics.

“Tagging campaigns with UTM parameters is critical for any marketing team to track successes by channel. Using tagging, you can see how people engage with your site through Google Analytics. You can take that insight a step further by passing UTM information to your CRM system to see leads by channel and further optimize your marketing mix,” says Lena Milcarek, manager of demand generation at Cision.

5. Improve With Data

Take the insights you’ve gathered from your resulting data and use it to shape future campaigns. For example, if you noticed ad A from your A/B test did better on Facebook, use that design for moving forward.

But don’t stop after one test. Keep experimenting different variations and track what works best for your brand. Social media platforms continuously change their algorithms and add new features. With UTM codes, however, you can keep up with the shifting social landscape by making data-driven decisions.


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About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.