• James Grace

How do I tell if it’s working?!?

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

The most frequent question I get in my digital marketing consulting practice is,

“How do I tell if it’s working?”

A strong digital marketing plan includes a lot of different tools and products, all of which are driving traffic to your website. To illustrate the point, consider a typical car dealership, spending money on the following :

  • Paid Search : Branding Campaign

  • Paid Search : New Car Campaign

  • Paid Search : Used Car Campaign

  • Retargeting

  • Social Advertising

  • CarGurus

  • Cars-dot-com

  • Autotrader

Figuring out which of these products is working, and how well it’s working, is nearly impossible if you don’t have a solid measurement framework in place.

(For the purposes of this article, let’s define “working” as “sending quality traffic to my website.” I’ll address Attribution and other similar topics separately…)

The good news? Setting up a framework that will work for you is not hard, and I’ll make it even easier by including my e-mail template at the end of this article.

The key here is UTM codes. UTM codes allow you to track where your traffic is coming from across all your sources of traffic.

Here’s an example – let’s say your driving traffic to www.wizelydigital.com. Without the use of UTM codes, the link you give your advertising partners is simply

https://www.wizelydigital.com. But, if you’re using UTM codes, the link would look like this instead : https://www.wizelydigital.com/?utm_source=website&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=isitworking

At first glance, this might look complicated, but really you’re just assigning 3 different categories to every source of traffic.

utm_source : what is the source of the traffic? Here I recommend using the vendor name, such as Google, Facebook, Autotrader, etc.

utm_medium : This is probably best translated as “advertising type.” You can use whatever you want here, but I recommend using the ones that Google Analytics already understands. Here’s a summary of how Google interprets these parameters to put your traffic into categories :

Organic Search : Medium is “organic”

Social : Medium is one of these : social, social-network, social-media, sm, social network, social media

Email : Medium is “email”

Referral: Medium is “referral”

Paid Search : Medium is one of these : cpc, ppc, paidsearch

Other Advertising : Medium is one of these : cpv, cpa, cpp, content-text

Display : Medium is one of these : display, cpm, banner

utm_campaign : The finest grain of tracking. This varies by vendor, but I recommend you at least use a different campaign for every product you’re paying for. SEM examples might be newcar,usedcar,brand, etc.

Once this tracking is enabled, you can far more easily answer questions like “How much traffic is my new-car SEM campaign sending to my website?”

You can answer this question in a couple of different places. The most obvious is Google Analytics, and I’m not going to spend time here talking about how to do that because there are tons of articles online about that already.

Instead, I want to show you an example using Dealer.com‘s Analytics platform, which recently quietly added support for UTM Tags. (Disclaimer : I used to lead the team responsible for these tools.) The biggest benefit you get from using Dealer.com‘s tool instead of Google Analytics is the use of their nGauge feature – which measures the quality of every visit. (More here : https://www.dealer.com/ngauge/) This makes it incredibly easy to sort traffic sources from best performing to least performing and quickly gets you answers to “Is it working?!?” questions.

Here’s a sample screenshot from DDC’s ControlCenter tool for one of my clients, without UTM tags.

To be honest, this is already pretty useful when combined with nGauge. The quality visits column tells you how many visits from that channel got a score over DDC’s quality-threshold (which happens to be a 35 out of 100.) . The Quality Gap column is the percentage of visits from that channel that are below the threshold (low numbers are better here.) The Average nGauge Score column is the average score for that channel. So, not surprisingly this chart tells us that Organic Search and OEM/Tier-1 traffic are the highest quality channels.

Now, here’s a screenshot with the UTM Tagging enabled. (I have the “weighted sort” checkbox enabled here so that it shows me items with a substantial amount of traffic.)

As you can see, adding UTM tags to the equation provides a lot more visibility and useful information. For example, it’s immediately obvious that Google-My-Business (GMB) traffic (https://www.google.com/business/) is among the most valuable for this dealer. Their traffic from CarGurus.com and Cars.com is also performing extremely well. It’s also interesting to see that Bing’s CPC campaigns made the top-10 here. From my point of view, Bing is an under-rated source of CPC traffic since the costs are lower and the traffic tends to be higher quality than the alternatives, but that’s another blog post altogether…

So, if you’re convinced at this point and wondering what to do next, I’m including a free gift here to help you get started : an e-mail template to send to all of your partners asking them to set this tracking up for you.

If you need help getting this set up, or interpreting the results, feel free to reach out to me here at Wizely and I’d be happy to help you.

Thank you for choosing Wizely!



Dear Partner,

We are currently working to increase our visibility into our digital marketing spend.

As part of this, we would like to make sure that UTM parameter tracking codes are added to all of our campaigns so that every campaign and product can get credit for website traffic, and so that we can have more granularity into the results of our digital marketing activities.

Each campaign should include 3 tags :

utm_source = the name of your company

utm_medium = XXX, where XXX is the best fit from the following based on what you do for us.

Organic Search : Medium is “organic”

Social : Medium is one of these : social, social-network, social-media, sm, social network, social media

Email : Medium is “email”

Referral: Medium is “referral”

Paid Search : Medium is one of these : cpc, ppc, paidsearch

Other Advertising : Medium is one of these : cpv, cpa, cpp, content-text

Display : Medium is one of these : display, cpm, banner

utm_campaign = the name of the campaign you are running for us. At a minimum there should be a different campaign for each product of yours we use, but a finer level of granularity would be appreciated.

In order to make sure that interpreting them is straightforward, none of these items should contain special characters, spaces, etc.

For example, if you are running a campaign that is driving traffic to our Honda Odyssey inventory page, the untagged URL would be :


Let’s assuming you want the following tags added :

utm_source = goodvendor

utm_medium = cpc

utm_campaign = new_honda_odyssey

Instead, the URL should be :


Please get this change executed as soon as possible and confirm with me when complete.

Thanks in advance for your help and cooperation.

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