Let’s say you’ve run a Facebook ad promoting your rescue dog adoption program. You want to give these gorgeous dogs some new homes. Maybe the goal is to make a little bit of this happen:

Tag a friend who would love this! ❤ Credit @thelifeofbobbythefirst 🐶

A post shared by Puppy Dogs (@puppystagrams) on

Let’s say you ran one ad to three different groups – people who like dogs, people who volunteer, and people who are interested in animal rights.

You can certainly see from your Facebook ads which groups clicked on the ads – but that isn’t the same as knowing which groups actually went to your site and booked an appointment to give a dog a forever home.

This is where UTM tagging comes in handy: you can track not just people who click on your ad, but how they travel around your site.

If you’ve worked across display online advertising, UTM tagging is something you’ve probably come across before, but you might not have considered how it can be used for Facebook ads.

In this post, I explain how you can use UTM tags in Facebook ads so you can find your most engaged audiences.

And surely, that’s something to wag our tails about, right? (*ba-dum-tish* I’m here all week!)

What are UTM tags?

Hold your horses! I hear you cry: what are UTM tags?! They are a piece of code you add to the end of a URL when you share your site links online.

They look a bit like this:

rachelbeaney.com?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=animal-rescue&utm_content=blue-ad&utm_campaign=adoption-day

When you look at your site traffic in Google Analytics, you can see where people have come from very specifically due to the UTM tag. It’s not just “people from Facebook”, but “people from this specific ad campaign on Facebook”.

Kissmetrics have an awesome video explaining UTM tags which is worth a watch if UTM tags are brand new to you:

How can we use UTM Parameters on Facebook?

When creating UTM tags,  we can make our Content and Medium tags whatever we want. But for Facebook ads, I like to make my Medium tags the audience I’ve targetted, and I make by Content tag my ad description.

This means I can look at my key conversion pages (such as my booking form thank you page or successful cart purchase page) and see which specific audiences were more likely to actually convert.

This is a useful tactic for those who haven’t set up, or cannot set up, Facebook Conversions as an ad objective, but still want to get rich data around who is travelling about your site.

How do we set up UTM tags for Facebook?

For Google Analytics to play nicely with your UTM tags, you need to have a source, campaign and medium, with optional additions of a content tag.

The default tags we need to include are:

  • UTM_source: Where are people coming from?  ie. UTM_source = facebook
  • UTM_campaign – what is your campaign name?  ie. adoption-day

If we use the ‘medium’ tag to label our audiences, we can use the ‘content’ tag to label the ad design:

  • UTM_medium – what is your ad targeting or Interest group? ie. Which ad? ie. ‘women35-55aus’ or ‘animal-rescue’ audience
  • UTM_content – What is your ad copy or creative? ie. ‘blue-ad’ or ‘red-ad’.

PRO TIP: these descriptions are visible in your URL so make sure you’re happy for them to be visible to your audience. For example, don’t name your audience description tag something like ‘crazy-cat-ladies’ if you don’t want your audience to see it!

So in the end, we end up with a string like this:

utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=animal-rescue&utm_content=blue-ad&utm_campaign=adoption-day

and this sits on the end of your website URL like this:

rachelbeaney.com?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=animal-rescue&utm_content=blue-ad&utm_campaign=adoption-day

We can use Google Tag Builder to come up with this string, or just manually edit the data, but remember that when you enter it in Facebook ads, it ONLY needs the tag details, without the URL or ‘?’ at the beginning.

Let’s add this to Facebook

When building your ad in Facebook Ads Manager, you will notice that there is an option on the Ad level to enter ‘tracking’.

Just paste in the code with your campaign details.

Here’s an example of how I tracked a recent ad for my 2018 Key Dates calendar.

I used my tracking code:

utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=WebsiteLookalikes-andsocial&utm_content=beach-calendar&utm_campaign=DecDates2018

And save it under ‘Tracking’ when I built my Facebook ad:

Track it in Google Analytics

Okay, what happens now? When we go to Google Analytics, how people who followed these URLs travelled around our site. This is particularly useful if we want to track things like who actually purchased our content (or adopted a puppy!).

In Google Analytics go to Behaviour > All Pages > then, the page you want to view. In this example, I visited my 2018 Key Dates Calendar download page (but you might want to look at your shopping cart completion page, for example, or your booking thank you page).

From here, I selected ‘Secondary Dimension’, and selected ‘Source/Medium’.

And now, in amongst my other sources, I can see the traffic that has come from that specific ad: I can see the source is from Facebook, and in the medium, the audience group I tagged, ‘WebsiteLookalikes-andsocial’.

Taaaaa daa! Now I can see exactly how many people came from that specific ad group.

But that’s not all – you can also check out the Content, too. If you run multiple kinds of creative, such as a red-image and blue-image, all you need to do is hit ‘Secondary Dimension’ again and add the filter of ‘Ad Content’ to see which ad design led to your traffic.

So now I can see which of my ad creatives we more effective:

Overall performance

If you don’t want to look at a specific page, but want to see how your campaign performed overall, head to Google Analytics under Acquisition > All Campaigns. Select to Source/Medium to see how your campaign has performed overall.

Why is this important?

You might be thinking that you can find out this information from your Facebook Ads data – you know which groups clicked on your ads in the highest numbers. But someone visiting your site isn’t the same as someone buying from you.

By using this method, you can then navigate to your key conversion pages, for example, your shopping cart thank you page, and see which groups bought from you. That’s a more important metric than just traffic if you’re trying to convert customers.

Introducing Facebook Dynamic Tags

This is a new feature which Facebook has rolled out on the downlow, but is super handy.

If you are super organised and name your ads and ad sets with clear descriptions (ie. your Ad Set being who you target, and at the Ad level what your ad design looks like), you can use Facebook’s Dynamic Tagging to do all the work for you. Just copy and paste this code into Facebook at the ad level under Tracking.

This is the code:

utm_source={{site_source_name}}&utm_medium={{adset.name}} &utm_content={{ad.name}}&utm_campaign={{campaign.name}}

What happens? Well, magic.

Facebook automatically builds your UTM tags based on your ad set name and your ad name. When you head to Google Analytics, you see your results right there:

Of course, you may wish to organise your tags differently, with your medium or content tags. If you’d like to build your own tagging structure, check out Facebook’s documentation on the topic, or, this handy article from Trishan Naidoo.

Is it working?

As an interesting note, some of my traffic did show it’s source as {{adset.name}}. (See the image below with the arrow at the bottom.) This implies that Google Analytics is attributing the source to the dynamic tagging “code”, and not the ad set name, which we want.

However, the current discussions online on this topic suggest that this is actually traffic from Facebook ad reviewers or review bots. Your code isn’t broken – just give it some time and you will see your actual ad traffic tagged correctly as your ad runs over time.

Conclusion

UTM tags are a paw-some feature to get across, especially if you need to look at exactly how effective a specific ad converted your audience.

Which group is more likely to head to the checkout? Is there a specific ad design that is more likely to result in more bookings? UTM tags help you isolate your ad’s success.

UTM tags an important tool to help you calculate your ROI, especially if you’ve got an online business and dynamic tags make the process even easier.


About Rachel Beaney

Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.



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