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What Does an Urchin Have to Do with Measuring Your Content’s Impact?

urchin measuring content

In the context of digital marketing, the term “urchin” does not refer to spiky sea creatures, nor to the raggedy children from a Charles Dickens novel, but rather to urchin tracking modules – more commonly called UTMs. These nifty little urchins can be tacked onto the end of hyperlinked URLs to help you determine which of your brilliant bits of content, floating around the internet, drives the most traffic to your website. In other words, UTMs help you get the biggest bang out of your marketing bucks.

What is an Urchin Tracking Module?

Simply put, a UTM is a short (or sometimes long) bit of code which is attached to the end of a website’s URL. A UTM tag creates a custom URL which can be used to track the source of traffic visiting a website. If properly tagged, a website hyperlink included on a social media post, for example, can be used to record the specific source of all website visitors generated by that post. The same can be done for hyperlinks included in blog posts, email marketing campaigns, paid advertising and more.

The beauty of UTM tags is that they provide an consistent method for measuring the effectiveness of virtually any digital media content: specific marketing campaigns, individual advertisements, paid or free advertising, unique pieces of content and any social media platforms.

How Do I Use UTMs?

Most commonly, businesses use UTMs in conjunction with Google Analytics (or sometimes a separate customer response management software), which can automatically generate UTM codes, while also tracking and categorizing your website traffic based on the URL origin source. UTMs can be used to record website traffic based on five categories (examples in parentheses):

  1. Campaign (Tooth Awareness)
  2. Lead Source (Facebook)
  3. Medium (Post)
  4. Content (Ebook)
  5. Term (Yellow Teeth)

To determine lead generation, a UTM tag can be created to keep track of each of these five categories or any combination of them. The URL for this particular UTM tag might look something like this:

By assigning different UTM tags to each platform and each post, this business could use Google Analytics to determine whether a photo of yellow teeth, white teeth or a before and after picture performed better and from which platforms or advertisements the posts had the highest click-through rates.

Bonus UTM Hint: Tag consistently and proofread UTM code carefully! The slightest difference in a UTM code (dashes vs. underscores or capital letters vs. lowercase letters) will result in Google Analytics incorrectly categorizing your tags and you measuring your marketing campaigns and channels with inaccurate data. If you are meticulous when tagging, then Google will be meticulous when tallying. 

Yes, Your WriterAccess Content Team Can Include UTMs in Your Content!

Your WriterAccess content team can help you measure the success of your marketing campaigns, content posts, advertisements and content platforms, as long as you provide the desired UTM tags and instructions for how you would like them to be used. Simply copy and paste your UTM codes into your writer’s creative brief and ask for the codes to be included at the end of each hyperlink leading to your website. If creating an order for posts intended for multiple platforms, be sure to indicate, in your order’s instructions, which UTM tag belongs in which content.

When your marketing content instantly provides you with actionable data, you can determine which of your campaigns or platforms are quality and which you can pass over the next time you run a campaign to save you both money and time.


Jennifer G is a full-time freelance writer and editor with a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Montana. She enjoys researching and writing creative content to engage readers and developing professional voices for clients across all industries. She specializes in medical, health, veterinary, and financial writing. Having worked nearly thirteen years in finance, Jennifer applies her experience in the banking industry (marketing, social media management, consumer and commercial lending, customer service, accounts, and bookkeeping) to her writing work within the industry. 

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By WriterAccess

Freelancer Jennifer G

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