The Right Way to Use UTM Parameters

The Right Way to Use UTM Parameters

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UTM Parameters
UTM Conventions
UTM Builder

The right way to use UTM parameters is to use them to attribute marketing activities in a universal and standardized format.

“Organization is a journey, not a destination.” – Mom’s Everywhere

If you are not using UTM’s in your marketing links… get on it! If you are, use this as a refresher to ensure that you are efficiently using UTM’s the right way. I say right way, but what I am about to share is the best practices for using them in any marketing plan.

Rule of Thumb? Always use them whenever a link points to your website (property) and the link is going to be placed somewhere not on your website (property).

I didn’t bother when I started in marketing and now I wish I had. UTM’s are not the answer to the ever present issue of marketing attribution… but they are big step forward and a requirement in some future attribution tools. Perfect solutions for marketing attribution do not (yet) exist, remember that.

where utm parameters go

UTM?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module, Google originally purchased and made use of the Urchin Company’s tool and rebranded it. Creating a UTM is simply a matter of adding details to the end of a url link that specify marketing information. The marketing information you specify is always connected to topic-focused campaigns so you know the who,what,when,where… etc behind causing the link clicks.

Types:

There are many types of parameters that can be utilizing within UTM’s. The standard types are:

  • Source
  • Medium
  • Campaign
  • Term
  • Content

Stick to the five, you really do not need to go overboard with adding UTM parameters because by default Google only focuses on the standard five. Non-standard parameters or custom UTM’s, were used only when additional tracking tools exist to pull those fields and match them up with specific fields in a CRM or Database.

Javascript, PHP, and other codes can pull the parameter data from a link URL and insert that information into form fields. This is a much more complex way to use UTM’s but if you are looking for a way to pass url parameters into form fields, to make use of complex cross-domain tracking… then you will need to push that data into forms that is stored into CRMs.

In addition you can try to achieve a form of first/last click attribution by passing UTM parameters into a cookie (I will discuss this in an advanced UTM tutorial).

Builder:

You should not be using UTMs on every single link. As mentioned in the rule of thumb, you only need to use UTMs on links to direct to your webpages. You also should only use them where the link where be posted is not on your website. Just in channels you do not own.

 

googles utm builder tool

https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

This builder allows you to add marketing details to a link in a quick and easy way. Google’s tool makes it easy to copy/paste, and even gives you the ability to short code your URL (but I do not recommend that unless you absolutely must). Pop open the builder and add only the information that’s relevant, more is not always better. 

Avoid these mistakes:

  • NO CAPITALIZATION.
  • Repeating a word or phrase in more then one UTM parameter.
  • Use date only once.
  • No spaces at all, ever, anywhere between words.
  • Make it readable so use ‘-‘ between words.
  • KISS – keep it simple stupid.
  • Cross-functional understanding and ability to understand.

 

utm parameters archive

Naming:

Whether it’s just you or a whole team of marketers, you need to keep track of your naming conventions. UTM normalization is the easieset way to have adoption and understanding across teams. An easy way to track past conventions is to use an excel or shared Google sheet and paste the links you use into it. This way you can refer back to what you used before. See my example above.

Always use the same exact (case sensitive) name. If it’s “google” use “google” and not “google.com”. How you name them matters. This needs to be known and available to everyone who will be creating links. You need a naming convention, a standard, and it should be easy to access.

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Kevin Dieny

Marketing Professional

In review, use UTM parameters in your marketing activities. If you are not, spend some time to set up a shared excel or Google sheet and come up with conventions. The earlier you make this change the better. Get everyone on board; this will make marketing attribution much more streamlined and save you tons of time and money down the road. You will thank yourself later when questions about attribution come up and you want more budget.

Do it!

Marketing 101 – Saturation

Marketing 101 – Saturation

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Marketing 101
Marketing Saturation
Innovation

Marketing Saturation is how exposed a consumer is to your messaging and likely to ignore it.

“Stand out, without sticking out.” – Friend

The important concept behind marketing saturation is entropy. Entropy is the phenomenon of natural decay or a decline over time. Just like in marketing, all of the business activities will slowly perform worse and worse, on average. Usually saturation follows a normal distribution; once it hits its peak it undergoes an entropy and will constantly decline. The more frequently someone is hit with the same message, after a point, it will preform worse and worse.

normal distribution graph with standard deviation

Gaussian graph of a normal distribution with standard deviations

Think of saturation as the great unifying force within marketing that forces new and inventive methods to reach new customers. Everyone deals with saturation including your competition, it’s a healthy and good phenomenon. Advertisements are often measuring this with the frequency metric. Frequencies above 2 indicate that ‘on average’ someone has seen your message at least twice, and so on.

The obstacle you will inevitably face is what to do about marketing saturation??? My answer will always be the same… innovate! Innovation is the cure, creating new and interesting content, that’s how you continue to thrive and do it better than your competition. You can always add new reach and a new audience to the message but at some point there will be a finite audience to show your message to.

How do you innovate?

There are plenty of articles online to read to discover how to make something new. You can start by asking your team, your customers, or looking at your competitors for new ideas. If your biggest problem is coming up with new messaging then you should realize… that’s amazing! Saturation for some industries is more difficult to overcome because there are only a small number of quality customers and everyone is fighting for them. As competition increases – saturation is a very real and tough issue to solve. You are trying to stand out in a big pond.

Cultivating creativity:

Not to steal from the many TedTalks here, but fostering creativity is a lifestyle and work environment dilemma. Risk is the natural enemy, it does not want you to innovate, and risk does not want you to spend money without guarantees. You bring out creativity by allowing for risk: learn from failure, fail fast and take notes, then reward your successes and keep going.

TedTalk video on increasing creativity and innovation.

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Kevin Dieny

Marketing Professional

You want to change your message enough each time that all your hard work does not fall prey to saturation’s entropic affects. You need each marketing message to have enough of a difference to be unique but not altogether off-key. You should build out a calendar of how often you will develop new content and messaging so you can plan ahead.

If you are hitting the wall and struggling with recapturing the success of the past it’s likely that you need a new message. Working hard in the modern workplace is all about being efficient with your time and energy in a way that allows for creativity and innovation without too much added risk.

How you do that… is often individual.

[Solved] How to Install & Troubleshoot Google Tag Manager in WordPress

[Solved] How to Install & Troubleshoot Google Tag Manager in WordPress

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Google Tag Manager
Installation
Troubleshooting

I’ve figured out how to install and troubleshoot Google Tag Manager in WordPress after countless hours of problems, mistakes, and misfires.

“Poor unfortunate souls.” – Ursula

Working at a Marketing Agency means that you will often get tasks and jobs that seem far above you or way beneath you. I had come to assume that installing a UTM Tracker like Google Tag Manager was pretty far underneath my skillset. I even scoffed that anyone could do it – so why should I?

I confess, I was dead wrong. I had multiple sites working in tandem across domains and subdomains seamlessly carrying attribution from one to the next until it arrived in the CRM. Then my analytics stalled and data started coming in erratically.

The answer was, my Google Tag Manager Script wasn’t working. I am here to help you learn how to install this wonderful utility in WordPress, and even to troubleshoot the basics. I will start with the simple steps and work my way into the complex.

ursula google tag manager

Basic Installation:

First and foremost, installing Google Tag Manager requires you have created an account there with Google, you have a WordPress site running, and you have access to the editor files. I also want to throw this disclaimer out there that installations can vary depending on themes… what works for some won’t for others because some themes and WordPress installations are more custom.

The Google Tag Manager script/code is broken into two parts the header code, and the body code. Within GTM you can view the code by navigating to the appropriate Property (will list the name and the GTM-###### at the top so verify it’s the correct one you want) then going to Admin > Install GTM.

In another tab or window you need to login and navigate to your Admin Dashboard of the WordPress site you want to install GTM on. On the left there is a Paintbrush or Appearance > Editor. Once the editor fires up you should see the theme you are currently using selected in the top right. Click the “Theme Header” or “Header” (header.php) from the right sidebar.

Even if you do not understand PHP or HTML, you can do this without blowing everything up – however, I do recommend that you create a backup before you go further (if you do not know how – learn, I will provide insight on this at a later time sorry). A lot of web designers I’ve worked with have recommended loading up the header in Dreamweaver or other program instead of within the WordPress editor.

Start at the top of the window and start scrolling down with your eyes… you should be able to find the word “head” between two brackets <, >. You can move your cursor after the last bracket and click enter two or three times to make some white space for yourself. Copy the Header text here.

Finally, scroll down till you see the header end usually denoted with a backslash “/” and the word “head” which should be followed by the word body within two brackets, just as the header was. There might also be php code with the words “body_class” here, but you can ignore it.

GTM header code install

Make some white space again by clicking on the line below the body tag and making room to paste. Make sure you do not cut off any code and that you are careful to make space without breaking code… you will know if your site blows up and you have to reinstall the backup.

Paste your body code here. Now verify everything looks good and if you are sure, have everything backed up… then click the “Update File” button beneath the window to save.

gtm body code

Testing:

If your site works, you have the script added to your files/theme, then you are ready to test. The easiest and most simple way to test is to tab over to your Google Tag Manager account. Verify you are logged into the correct property, then using the dropdown in the top right, click “PREVIEW” (Preview and Debug).

gtm preview and debug overlay

The window will reload and an orange colored banner should appear in your Google Tag Manager saying “Now Previewing Workspace.” Great, now tab back to your website and load up your home page/domain where you installed Google Tag Manager.

Once your website it loaded you will know if Google Tag Manager is working there because an overlay will appear at the bottom of the page. You should see the blue icon or the whole window appear with the name at the top “Google Tag Manager.”

successful preview of gtm workspace

Another way to test if pixels are firing is to load up the extensions. There are extensions for several of the pixels, the big ones: Google and Facebook, have their own pixel/testing extensions which can help you verify if things loaded and what was happening on a more granular level.

Here are links to the ones I use:

Troubleshooting:

Case #1 – The Invalid or Missing Account ID

The solution to the invalid or missing account ID issue is the easiest one I know – you don’t do anything. Google’s a little behind on having added GTM ID’s with additional digits, and if you are new to the GTM scene then you likely have a longer than usual ID number and you will get this error. Do not fret, it’s all okay, and Google has said they will update this in a future fix.

invalid or missing id error

Case #2 – The Theme

What I figured out after losing a few hours to stumbling around the internet looking for solutions to my problem I ended up discovering it was a theme issue. In fact, my Tags were loading, just not reliably and I couldn’t get the Preview overlay to come up. I knew there was an issue and I didn’t want to risk inaccurate data.

I tried updating the theme, it was updated. I tried manually configuring the code in so many ways but couldn’t get it to work. Some of you may use themes like I have where they have a built in area where you can add your tracking codes. These have always worked for me but not this time.

Even when adding the script into the header.php file I was still not able to get my preview overlay to load up. I was seeing that multiple analytics codes were firing and some were not. Oddly the fix for me came with a plugin. I tried everything and eventually tried a 3rd-party plugin.

I searched for a WordPress plugin that could deploy Google Tag Manager, and settled on DuracellTomi’s Google Tag Manager for WordPress. This plugin saved me when everything I was doing did not. The lesson here of course is to monitor your Analytics and watch for errors routinely to make sure your data is solid.

Case #3 – Wrong Property

I mentioned this throughout my installation guide but make sure that you are working within the correct property in Google Tag Manager. It is so easy to be in the wrong account. Check it and make sure before you go poking around.

Case #4 – Tags Not Firing

I cannot go too deeply into specific Google Tag Manager errors but this one comes up a lot so I am keeping it in here. A tag relies on the installation of Google Tag Manager to be correct and stable within the environment of WordPress and the Theme in which it is installed.

If everything is working besides a tag firing then the best place to start is the trigger. If you have recently moved over to HTTPS, that could be an issue. If you have the trigger even slightly off you can pinpoint the issue by CTRL + Clicking on the elements with the preview overlay on, check the log, and see if you had the right trigger. Don’t forget to publish your changes – they take affect only then.

Tags not firing can be so broad and complex that if you are still struggling I recommend having a web developer or coder look it over for you, it’s worth not wasting days of your time.

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Kevin Dieny

Marketing Professional

I hope that you find this guide useful. It is accurate up to today. Let me know in the comments if you have suggestions for me to add or write about in more detail.

The 5 Point Setup for Adwords Search Success

The 5 Point Setup for Adwords Search Success

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Adwords
Search
Checklist

Use this five point checklist to ensure that you have Adwords Search set up to maximize the overall marketing plan of your company.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

The five point setup for Google Adwords helps evaluate if your marketing plan is focused. Focus is a big part of segmentation for marketing because we only want to target and produce content for segmented audiences to maximize their engagement.

You want to use this checklist to make sure that each of the overarching goals of your Adword Search Campaigns lines up with the funnel. This list can be used with any industry that uses Adwords Search and curates interest using a blog. If you aren’t doing this yet – start a blog and produce weekly content.

Download Shared File from Google Drive

1st:

Every product, every service, is unique and requires a specific strategy. Even similar products are different when offered by two different brands. You want to promote your product and brand simultaneously because you are persuading people to trust you and to part with their hard earned money.

Select a single product or service, be niche, be specific, and put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

2nd:

The content you create on your blog needs to be curated towards your best customers. You want to target a specific customer and deliver the best experience for them. Your blog should be providing resources and answering questions that crop up over time. The best content is specific and helpful.

3rd:

For a lot of industries their products and services sell because of their amazing blog and content. For the rest of us we need to pixel and capture as much information about our visitors as possible. By pixeling and then segmenting your blog you will be able to target them again on Facebook and from Google retargeting.

4th:

Finally, we move into Adwords. A lot goes into making sure that Adwords Search Campaigns are successful. It’s not easy to make positive returns on Adwords because your competition is likely paying rooms of professional SEO and Adwords experts to outbid and outperform your attempts. This is why it is crucial to have a content engine and set yourself apart from the crowd.

Keywords are where we are focused. You want to target highly relevant strings of words, the more the better, that are specific to your blog and your product/service. You want to avoid being too broad – you need to be exact. In fact, I would only start out with broad match or broad match (+) if you don’t have any idea of what people are searching related to your keywords. Otherwise, stick with phrase and exact matches.

Create Ad Sets that correspond to those keyword types, so one Ad Set that is “Phrase” and one that is [Exact]. You will set the bid about 20% higher for the Exact Ad Set so you stress higher preference for an exact match query.

Manage your negative keywords and keep an ongoing reference list as you track your search terms to manage what is getting in the way or throwing your searches off. Using all of this you should be able to ensure you are getting a higher CTR. It’s not about impressions or clicks – it’s about the click thru rate and the beginning/exit conversion rates.

5th:

Last but not least you need to test. Multivariate testing or (A/B Testing) ensures that your Adwords Search is successful and constantly optimizing. You will not get it right the first time! You need to be tweaking your Ads with testing weekly. Look at your headlines and below the fold text for areas you think could be rewritten, and test it.

The optimal way to test is to test only one element at a time. Try to stick with testing only a few elements and give it time. I would suggest a week or at least a hundred impressions (more is way better) before you resolve a test.

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Kevin Dieny

Marketing Professional

To conclude there are a lot of other ways to maximize your adwords search campaigns but these 5 steps will make sure that you have the macro goals focused. You need to get the basics right every single time no exception. I will post again with advanced and expert strategies of setting up adwords campaigns at a later time.

Marketing 101 – Market Research

Marketing 101 – Market Research

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Marketing 101
Market Research
Insight

Marketing research is extracting data and insights from customers, the market, competitors, and producers, in order to create marketing opportunities.

“Research is to see what everyone else has seen, and think what nobody has thought.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

My experience with marketing research was first in college during a market research class taught by the owner of a local research firm. The class was great because it stressed one of the most important considerations of marketing: be specific.

information is king

Marketing research is conducted best by first person. Having a preconceived questionnaire designed to elicit specific answers is my favorite method. Additionally you can create surveys and ask questions digitally but it’s not the same.

Digital marketing research is more commonly today done by market analysis and competitor analysis within the small business world. Large companies can afford to spend thousands of dollars to optimize their campaigns whereas small businesses just need to know how to differentiate themselves from their market as simply as possible.

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Kevin Dieny

Marketing Professional

What is the point of market research? The million dollar question and to answer – the more you know about your customers the better you can serve them, communicate with them, and deliver value with your products and services. Information is king….

Careers in Marketing

Careers in Marketing

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Marketing
Careers
Categories

A look marketing careers in the industry and what kind of work is involved as a marketer.

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs

Marketing careers can be broken down into the categories similar to the way I’ve organized my blog: acquisition, content, and monetization. As much one may want to lump sales into marketing I will not be including sales. What I will be including are modern careers from a snapshot of the jobs market that currently exists.

Plenty of business and news articles will tell you that marketing is a great career based on the earning potential, that it lends itself to entrepreneurship, and that anyone can do it. I want to stress a fact right here and now that although there is truth in those statements it is competitive, often upside down, and to succeed you need to know an important secret.

three categories of marketing
Acquisition Marketing Careers:
  • Paid Per Click/Search Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Digital/Local Marketing
  • Online/Web Marketing
  • Analysis/Research Marketing
Content Marketing Careers:
  • Search Engine Optimization Marketing
  • Email/Editor/Writer/Blog/Videographer/Photography/Graphic Arts Marketing
  • Event Marketing
  • Brand Marketing
  • Public Relations Marketing
Monetization Marketing Careers:
  • eCommerce Marketing
  • Product/Service Marketing
  • Customer Service Marketing
  • CRM Marketing
  • Business Intelligence Marketing

These careers each have their own individual career paths – some start as coordinators, some as associates, and others as titles unrelated to marketing. In the end most careers plateau at the manager stage and then you are required to move upward to director; overseeing multiple or various channels of marketing. Specialization is a route that many take to further dive into one of the categories.

If you are thinking about a career in marketing I would point out that you must be ready to tackle the competitiveness and skill floor required. Do it all! I would explore all the areas and see what suits you best. After you have a good idea of what you will like – specialize, take courses, get certified, educate, and learn everything you can to strengthen your resume.

Kevin Profile Shot

Kevin Dieny

Marketing Professional

Finally the secret I mentioned at the beginning is this: Finding a career in marketing is similar to finding a career in entertainment. “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” if you’ve ever heard that adage it 100% applies to marketing.

If you know someone who can get you an interview with a marketing position you are way ahead of the pack. My first job took over 1000 resumes, over 300 phone interviews, 30 in person interviews, 6 second or third in-person level interviews, and multiple refusals from companies that turned out to be ‘sales’ pretending to be marketing.

With any job, be careful, be professional, take your time, and do your homework to prepare as best you can.