Cross channel tracking mistakes and UTM parameters

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

What is cross channel tracking?

Its a very boring name for something that’s actually pretty exciting for marketers.

It’s the idea that we can deploy our messages across a spectrum of marketing channels and then see how customers respond to each one.

We can also observe how different channels influence and amplify each other. You can ask better questions about your campaigns. Like how many impressions does it take before the average person decides to make a purchase or which messages work best?

With cross channel tracking and attribution, marketers can finally see which channels are creating a return on investment (ROI). So we can allocate more money on what performs.

Collecting data

When implementing a marketing analytics system, there are dozens of details that must be handled. Otherwise the data won’t accurately reflect your campaign’s results

The paths consumers take to your website, app or place of business are more complex than ever.

Your next repeat customer might stumble across your display ad on a newsletter you’ve never heard about or receive a recommendation from a co-worker in a Slack channel. However it is still vitally important to track and understand these interactions. With this data, you can identify more sources of qualified traffic and determine the best shopping experiences for conversion.

The big problem is too many businesses don’t come anywhere close to creating a marketing analytics structure capable of cross channel tracking and because these details are so subtle, many people may not even realize something is wrong until it’s too late.

Here are three of the most common errors I have seen when it come to cross channel tracking.

  1. Campaigns are not named correctly

In a typical campaign, you are going to use multiple channels to get your message out, AdWords, Facebook Ads, Double Click and probably several others.

With so many channels, its easy to be inconsistent when naming your campaigns. You may have “winter campaign” on Adwords, “Q4 campaign” on Facebook etc. But eventually you are going to want to bring the marketing data from all those channels together in one place, So you can see how the campaign performed as a whole.

These can get messy really fast. The solution is to develop a process for naming your campaigns consistently and bring all data into a data aggregation platform.

2. You may be double counting or even triple counting your conversions.

Alot of people maybe surprised when they hear this but it is a very common mistake.

Perhaps you buy Facebook Ads as part of your campaign. When a user sees your ad on Facebook, a cookie is automatically downloaded to that user’s computer. It may take days before the user goes to your website to make a purchase or download your white paper. But as long as that cookie is till on the user’s machine , Facebook will count the user’s action as a conversion.

Google analytics counts conversions, too, but it does so a little differently. It uses tracking URL’s that show how your user came to your site.

Now since most marketing teams use multiple tracking platforms. You now have two systems, both counting conversions in their own special way. Then when it comes to reporting many people will simply add the totals together. But its not that simple.

The secret is to pick one source for conversion tracking and make sure it’s correctly implemented.

3.You are not being consistent with tracking URLs

If you are using Google analytics to track your campaign, you should be using URL’s with UTM parameters.

A basic URL would be…

A URL with a UTM parameter would look like this…




UTM parameters are pieces of information that tell Google Analytics the addition information

More on UTM parameters

Up to 81% of shoppers conduct some type of online research before making a big purchase. If your business has a website, it’s important to get a sense of how people are finding your content. One of the primary way to do that is through UTM parameters.

Simply put, UTM parameters are five tags you can add to the end of URL’s of your marketing or promotional efforts. When your URL is then visited, it allows analytics software to track information, such as how visitors are coming to your site and if they’re interacting with any content associated with a campaign. With UTM parameters you can tag your links to gauge the effectiveness of campaigns and identify the best ways to drive more visitors to your website.

The addition of the UTM parameter doesn’t change the content of the post. Rather, it allows for analytics to interpret the origin and basic engagement information about the visitor. Lets take a quick look at how each one of the five possible UTM tags can be used.

  • Source: Used to show which site the visitors are coming from.
  • Medium: Used to show which marketing channels are bringing the visitor to your site. Ex email, social, PPC.
  • Campaign:Used to identify which campaign the promotion is associated with.
  • Term: Used to manually identify paid keywords you’re targeting with your campaign
  • Content: Used to identify the exact element on your ad or promotion that was clicked. This is often used for optimization purposes.

Using a combination of the five tags can help your team start to develop valuable insights about which promotional efforts are bringing traffic to your site. This data then allows you to gauge which types of campaigns are working and which may not be performing as expected. Gathering data about which types of promotions or content is working for your website audience opens the door for optimization, experimentation and personalization.

You can use UTM parameters in email, messaging or even social campaigns to determine which of those channels work best for your buyer personas and current website audience. Knowing which channels work best can help your team target and use the types of content that perform well, which can positively impact your campaigns return on investment (ROI).

UTM naming conventions

Your UTM parameters would match a pattern such as

  • having the same utm_campaign across all channels
  • different utm_source and utm_medium depending on the channel
  • if you were on paid acquisition, the placement of the display ad would determine what goes in utm_content
  • if you were using paid search, the term would be utm_term

Having the consistent UTM parameters naming convention simplifies the downstream analysis and the ease of querying across dimensions, such as within the campaign, which medium or source was the best, or which placement of the display ad led to the most conversions.

UTM URL builder

You can use the Google Analytics campaign URL builder to add UTM parameters to your own custom links.

You can then go to Google Analytics dashboard and sort and study your traffic by various parameters.

If the tracking URL’s aren’t built consistently, you’ll limit your ability to follow a customer’s path across channels form awareness to engagement to closer.


One tactic for fixing this: create a spreadsheet with a predefined list of metrics. That way, you know exactly which words to user when building your tracking URL’s

Share this Article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Subscribe to the newsletter

We will send you exclusive content straight to your inbox.

Adept Creative Logo

More Articles

Digital Marketing agency

How Search Engines Work

As we mentioned in Chapter 1, search engines are sorting machines. They have become extremely useful to explore the ever growing world wide web. They  discover, read and organize all

Read More »