Email campaign links using UTM tags – A word of warning!

Are you just about to launch an email marketing campaign to your beloved subscribers and you also using UTM tags in your links to track visits from your campaign? If yes, then you will need to be aware of the following problem/limitation before analysing your campaign data and reporting success in one campaign or channel over another. For this post, I am going to take a real-life example and one which I have just come across. Construction Enquirer is a relatively new online publication delivering the latest news and developments in the construction industry via web, email and mobile.

This morning I noticed an interesting tweet retweeted by someone else on Twitter with the source as Construction Enquirer, so I decided to have a read of the article and clicked on the link.

I then noticed the URL in the browser address bar which included UTM tracking tags which looked like this:

By adding UTM tags to links you can track visits to your site by the tags defined (Source, Campaign and Medium) and will send the above info to your campaign data in Google Analytics. Have a read of my article on UTM tags for online press releases if you need an understanding on how they work.

Now, those of you who use UTM tags will know what I am about to say. The UTM tags for the news article found via Twitter are set as follows:

  • Campaign Source: Newsletter Subscribers
  • Campaign: Newsletter Template
  • Campaign Medium: Email

What these tags will do is split the final campaign data to show you how many subscribers via email visited the website to read the full article.

One problem. I viewed this article via Twitter and not Email and nor am I newsletter subscriber. How many other people also read this article via Twitter and are non-subscribers? Hundreds? Thousands?

So how will this effect their final campaign data?

Well, firstly, the newsletter email which started with the link above must have been cut and pasted into Twitter by the original newsletter subscriber and then shared on Twitter. The tweet then got retweeted and before you know it 100 visits have all been attributed to the source ‘Newsletter Subscribers’.

At the end of the campaign, their overall data may look something like this:

Campaign: Newsletter Subscribers
Newsletter sent to: 45 subscribers
Emails Opened: 12
Click throughs: 12
Source: Email
Web Visits: 112
Subscriptions: 87

What this now says is that 12 subscribers opened the email and clicked through to the site to read the full article but the campaign generated 112 web visits via Email.


Plus, 87 poeople then went onto subscribe for the email newsletter? Hang on…..but the email went out to subscribers only. Huh?

Where did the other 100 visits come from? Twitter of course and 87 of those converted into subscribers too.

All this confusion because some subscriber decided to copy and paste the link into Twitter and then share the article.

So, be careful when reporting campaign web visits by source when using UTM links. Remember, that your campaign links may and will (as in this case) be shared across multiple platforms and will skew your final campaign stats.P.S – Never name your campaign ‘Newsletter Template’….I suggest naming your campaign by Month or Date published so you can compare one campaign to another and monitor performance of your subscribers over time.

3 thoughts on “Email campaign links using UTM tags – A word of warning!

  1. Jonny Longden

    Similar issue: I use Google Reader for RSS feeds. If I click through to a link from here, 4 out of 5 times the blogger is using Feedburner to track these visits. However, when I then copy and paste the URL into twitter it carries with it all the feedburner campaign parameters, so everyone who then comes from twitter looks like a feed reader.

  2. priteshpatel9

    Exactly Jonny! And this can skew your campaign stats altogether. Imagine finding out that the 100 conversions from email campaign 1 were actually from Twitter visits and you then tell your boss that Twitter is rubbish for converting web visits as your conversions have been attributed to the email campaign.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *