I have a confession. I previously worked in Google for over 3 1/2 years and I was considered a Google Analytics specialist. That said, there were a couple of areas I could never fully wrap my head around. My hurdle? Things just got too technical and there was noone technical enough to explain it to me.
Recently I was faced with one of those tricky areas, namely UTM tracking. Hubspot, Marketo, KissMetrics write informative and helpful articles all about the importance of UTM tracking and how to set your campaigns up with UTM tracking. All except for one crucial area…. the lead form! In my experience, these articles rarely go into technical depth about what happens when a user lands on your page with the UTM tracked URL. After half a day messing around through what seemed like the same content and advice, I gave up and asked my Chief Developer… how does this stuff really fit together? It took him all of 30 mins, which I hope to summarise for you now in 2mins 🙂 Okay, let’s first of all start with a diagram. This user flow should show how an ideal UTM tracking campaign should look like (this is our best practice, but please get in touch if you have your own version!)
The first and pretty much only important question I had in my head was… ok I click on an ad and I land on a website page with a UTM tracking Url appended. Great. I then fill out a lead form and that UTM data gets sent into the form somehow and beyond into the CRM right? Well, in actual fact there’s a couple more considerations.
Thought 1). How are you going to pass that UTM info into the lead form and 2). How do I make sure that this ad click gets attributed the right way and the tracking isn’t lost? Let’s answer that in two bits: 1). You’ll need to create hidden form field in your lead form. We use this to pass in the campaign info (everything that’s stored inside the UTM parameters).
2). Within that hidden field we are going to capture the entire cookie info. This includes the UTM info and crucially the cookie info will tell us if this user has already been to the website before and also what page the user came in from in the first place. Why is this important? Well, simply put (and I know this sound obvious but we’ve seen it happen a few times), if you simply pass back the page URL that the user is on into the lead form, it may be that that URL no longer has the UTM data appended, because that user has browsed more than one page of your website, or worse still you’re incorrectly using UTM tags internally in the website, which override your ad UTM info.
This then led me on to another question. ‘What if I don’t have any UTM values because let’s say I came from an Organic traffic source and i’m a first time user so there’s no cookie info?’ ‘No problem!’ says my developer. ‘Simply set the cookie to populate with your chose “default” UTM values. Hold on, that sounds a bit tricky. Not so; if you are using Auto Tagging, Google should populate those default fields for you and if you’re using manual tagging, then you can set these site wide as something like “organic” or “generic”. This way, when you now go into your CRM reports, you will not get any erroneously large segments of conversions that say “NULL”, either because (a) you failed to set any default values or (b) you didn’t decide to use the cookie info to pass back your UTM values.
I hope you found this article informative. If you do have any feedback, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll endeavour to get back to you.