This article focuses on the Referrer and UTM parameters that can be added to a URL in order to collect link click data. Referrer and UTM data are available to Group By and Filter on the Page Views data source. They allow you to report on where traffic to your community is coming from so you can better optimize your engagement strategy.
This article describes "referrer" and "UTM" in detail so that you:
- can have a better understanding of each and
- will be able to maximize the analytics data that are available with the Page Views data source.
✔️ TIP: The metrics options that are associated with Referrer and UTM are described in Page Views data source.
Referrer and UTM Notes
Referrer and UTM parameters:
- are parameter-value pairs that are appended to a web address (URL) to create a link with traceable activity data;
- can be appended to any type of link — e.g., button, text, image, banner; and
- can be either:
- internal - a link on one of your Vanilla community's pages or
- external - a link on a web page that is not within your Vanilla community, such as a social-media site or your corporate website
📝 NOTE: Internal traffic is labeled as such in Vanilla analytics so that you can more easily discern internal versus external traffic.
When navigating from one web page to another by clicking a link, the referrer is the web page on which the link was clicked. The three parameters that you can append to a page URL in a link in order to capture "referrer" data are:
- Referrer URL: The full URL of the webpage where a user clicked a link that sent the user to the Product Ideas page.
- Referrer Source: The name or title of the website where a user clicked a link.
- Referrer Medium: This is a more granular description of your referral traffic. While your visitor might have arrived through a source of “google,” it is not clear if it was a paid campaign or organic search. Common mediums are: Organic (organic traffic you have not paid for), Email (mail services such as Mailchimp and HubSpot), and Social (social-media sites).
UTM is an abbreviation of Urchin Tracking Module.
When navigating from one web page to another by clicking a link, UTM parameters are a great way to collect data on several aspects of the click action. There are five parameters that you can append to a page URL in a link in order to capture data related to the click. The parameters are:
- UTM Source: The site that sent the traffic.
- UTM Medium: The type of link that was used.
- UTM Campaign: The product promotion or strategic campaign.
- UTM Term: These are typically used in paid search campaigns; they indicate the specific keywords or search terms associated with the advertisement.
- UTM Content: Identifies what was clicked (such as a banner ad or a text link) to bring the user to the site. This is often used to differentiate multiple links within the same campaign, and allows you to track the effectiveness of variations of an ad or a link.
📝 NOTE: To learn more about UTM parameters, check out the links below in Additional resources.
Example: new Category in Vanilla
To better understand how these parameters collect data for you to report on, let's assume the following scenario.
A new category, Product Ideas, has been added to your community site, and the category's URL is: https://demo.example.com/categories/product-ideas
Now you want to:
- create a call-to-action in the form of a button (labeled Idea Share!) that users can click in order to visit the new category, and
- add that button to your community Homepage (internal) and your organization's social-media sites (external).
The objective — apart from actually driving traffic to the new Category — is to collect traffic data in order to determine the effectiveness of these various external and internal links, i.e., which sites generated the most traffic to Product Ideas.
You can then view these traffic data by creating charts and tables based on the referrer and UTM metrics that are available with the Page Views data source in Vanilla analytics.
Add parameters to the URL
You have to manually add referrer and UTM parameters to the Product Ideas page URL and then add the URL as a link to your Idea Share! button.
In the following examples, we'll add three UTM parameters in order to collect data on clicks of the Idea Share! button on a community Homepage and a social-media site.
Button placed on community Homepage:
Button placed on Facebook page:
📝 NOTE: The utm_source parameter has to be customized in the URL of each button — for where the button is placed — in order to for it to be correctly represented in analytics reporting.
Below are links with more generic information on UTM parameters.