Tracking your website conversions and campaigns is vital for measuring and continuing to fine-tune your online presence. Having your Google Analytics setup is a good first step for gaining insights, but what if we told you that you might be leaving analysis and insights on the table? You can track more links and gain more data for all your campaigns you worked so hard to create by using UTM tracking and Event Tracking.

Each type of tracking is circumstantial, so it’s important to understand when to use each method, separately or in-tandem, for tracking your campaigns.

The insights from both types of tracking codes will also differentiate themselves when viewing in Google Analytics. UTM tracking code data will appear in "Acquisition > Campaigns" and Event tracking data will appear in "Events > Behavior".

Using UTM Tracking Codes

To accurately capture data, UTM tracking codes should only be used on external links outside your website. Adding UTM tracking involves adding tracking parameters to your URL. If you use Google Analytics, these tracking parameters will feed information into your analytics account. Google provides a URL Builder to help you create UTM tracked links. You are required to add the source, medium (or channel), and campaign. Ad content and keyword are additional parameters that are optional.

Common external campaigns that typically use UTM tracking codes are:

  • Email marketing
  • PPC advertising
  • Comparison shopping ads
  • Retargeting campaigns
  • Banner ads on external sites

These are considered external campaigns because they track engagement from an outside medium that generates traffic to your website. UTM tracking codes are intended to track the acquisitions gained from your campaigns.

Using Event Tracking on Your Website

Event tracking is best used for campaigns running within your own website or internal links.

If you want to track internal links on your website or an interaction someone is taking while they are navigating your website, your best bet is to leverage Event Tracking. Setting up Event Tracking in Google Analytics can help you capture activity insights across the internal links on your website. You can also add a Google Analytics Goal to your website actions to better understand the frequency to these actions and how they might equate to your company's overall agenda.

Common internal campaigns that typically use Event tracking codes are:

  • Internal banners
  • Promotional links
  • Buttons
  • Video plays
  • Forms

These are considered internal campaigns because they are directly tied to your website and traffic on your website. Event Tracking is intended for tracking the activity within your website property.

Can I Use Both UTM and Event Tracking Together?

Although tracking on your website should primarily be made up of Event Tracking, UTM codes can be placed on your website for tracking links or traffic that directs away from your website (external links). But before you go ahead and do this for your external links, know that adding UTM tracking to these links does not actually funnel insights back to your Google Analytics unless you own the other domain that the traffic is going to.

If you use UTM codes on internal links, your data will be overridden by your Google Analytics property tracking, resulting in inaccurate attribution of tracking.

If there is an instance in which you have an external link on your site (that refers traffic out) and that site also needs to be tracked, you can put Event Tracking and UTM tracking, to track in-tandem, on the URL being used. If you do this, the click event can be found under "Behavior" in your Google Analytics and the UTM click can be found under "Acquisition" on the URL where you directed the traffic.

Using the Correct Tracking Type

Knowing how to properly use and implement UTM tracking and Event tracking codes into your data is key for measuring any online campaign. Using the appropriate tracking codes will benefit your business and its ability to leverage key insights. 

Interested in learning more about how to take advantage of UTM and Event Tracking as part of your digital marketing strategy? Contact us today


Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2014. It has been completely revised and updated for accuracy.