Blog

Event Industry Comprehensive Guide on UTM Parameters

We decided to consider this powerful tool in the context of event industry. This study is based on hundreds of PPC campaigns, mass mailings, push notifications, Facebook events.

This article will be of use for anyone dealing with traffic acquisition on a website – either their own or a ticketing service like Eventbrite; for those using UTM tags every day and those who never tried.

Why use UTM parameters?

UTM parameters help to slice and dice your ad campaigns. For example, you can see the general picture of your event marketing in different dimensions. The following example shows the number of visitors, orders and even the revenue per each event:


(an example of Google Analytics report in utm_campaign dimension)

It is very important to know the number of people who purchase tickets to your events and where they come from. This shows what traffic sources really help you to sell tickets. Was it an Instagram ad campaign or a free tweet in a partner account? Should you consider an offer from a new social network?

You will be able to cancel ineffective event management sources and boost the ones that drive sales. Invest into enhancement and optimization of the selling traffic sources to get even more customers. This asks for understanding which appeal to the audience worked best, e.g. which of your Facebook event posts got more link clicks?

UTM parameters added to all links will help you answer these questions along with many others.

What are UTM Parameters?

Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters are used by marketers to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media.

The UTM parameters in a URL identify the campaign that refers traffic to a specific website, and attributes it to the browser’s website session. The parameters can be parsed by analytic tools and used to populate reports. Take a look at a sample URL, UTM parameters highlighted, after the question mark (?):

https://www.example.com/?utm_source=facebook-event&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=super_concert&utm_content=xmas_20percent_off

The main 5 UTM parameters stay unchanged for almost 16 years: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign, utm_term, utm_content.

Historical note:

UTM parameters were introduced by Google Analytics’ predecessor Urchin in June, 2002 and consequently are supported out-of-the-box by the majority of web traffic analytic tools. 85% of websites having an analytic tool installed use Google Analytics, which makes it the default tool all over the world. UTM parameters became so customary that are now supported not only by analytic tools (for example, CRM, ad networks, web forms, polls).

Usage of UTM parameters

If the majority of links leading to your website have UTM parameters specified, you can get a detailed overview of your promotion.

Google Analytics Acquisition Report

This is only an example of various report types presenting different customer acquisition sources for comparison.

Campaign URL Builder Page contains tips and an interactive form showing how to set each parameter:

  • utm_source — Campaign Source. The referrer: e.g. google, newsletter.
  • utm_medium — Campaign Medium. Marketing medium: e.g. cpc, banner, email.
  • utm_campaign — Campaign Name. Product, promo code, or slogan e.g. spring_sale.
  • utm_term — Campaign Term. Identify the paid keywords.
  • utm_content — Campaign Content. Use to differentiate ads.

This description helps to read the link from the example above and guess what the marketer meant:

https://www.example.com/?utm_source=facebook-event&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=super_concert&utm_content=xmas_20percent_off

This can be explained as follows: a campaign to promote Super Concert event, the link comes from a Facebook event which is a Social channel, where we placed a Christmas offer for 20% discount.

The problem of UTM parameters in event industry

UTM parameters selection is very arbitrary. Let’s imagine: we need to publish ‘Black Friday’ discounts to five Facebook events. Should we set utm_campaign as ‘Black Friday’ with 5 types of utm_content for each event? Or should we have 5 utm_campaign instances per each event with the same utm_content ‘Black Friday’?

Such examples are numerous. Sometimes all UTM parameters are filled with the same info or some useless data. The most common case is absence of UTM parameters in URLs. If a visitor comes to your page from a usual website, you still can figure out where this click came from. However, it is different with such giants as Facebook: it protects personal data and will never show which group, page, event or chat it was.

This corrupts data and hinders your marketing analysis, as long as the parameters become hard to reach and impossible to group.

Case study: UTM parameters mess in SeatGeek mass mailing

Here’s an example from Seatgeek mass mailing. We admire their incredible seating charts, great and convenient website design, cool app and recommendations system. However, their UTM tags in mass mailing are perplexing. Take a look at the links from several mailings: Eagles, Giants, Imagine Dragons, Sting. Each mailing has the same set of UTM parameters for each element.

utm_sourceIterableIterableIterableIterable
utm_mediumemailemailemailemail
utm_campaign2018_09_18_concerts_this_week2018_09_20_mlb_week26event_abandonment_day_before_eventnewsletter
utm_content

Let’s consider their link structure:

  1. utm_source is the same in all mailings — Iterable, apparently to group all Iterable customer communication channels. No more info available.
  2. utm_medium is a system field to be populated with default data, email being one of the options. So no other reasonable variants here.
  3. utm_campaign shows incoherence. We found a lot of mailings that always contain the same utm_campaignnewsletter. Thus, all mailing data will stick within one campaign with no way to differentiate them. Such campaign names as 2018_09_18_concerts_this_week or 2018_09_20_mlb_week26 are way better than just newsletter. As we see it, the notions of campaign and content got mixed here.
  4. utm_content parameter appears to be not used, though it could make reports much more flexible by breaking the campaign name 2018_09_18_concerts_this_week into utm_content=2018_09_18 and utm_campaign=concerts_this_week. Then we could see how effective concerts_this_week mailings are in terms of sales. utm_content field can also be used to tag different events, buttons and clicks to understand what exactly drew the recipient’s attention and what people actually click – the heading, the buy tickets button, the fifth event in the table? For example, it would be useful to fill in the content of Sting email.

This case study with homogeneous data shows that the UTM parameters do not work out as intended.

UTM parameters convention

All problems can be solved by a UTM parameters convention to synchronize the terms and definitions for each parameter in your marketing strategy. We suggest our version of the document, but do not claim it to be the only correct variant. We just want to share the convention that our team developed over promoting several tens of thousands of events.

It is based on two simple ideas:

  1. Agree on what counts as a campaign and what content is. We suggest that a campaign is a single event, but there are some nuances.
  2. Always fill all 4 UTM parameters; not 3, not 2, and not 5 (except for cpc ads, that will be covered later).

utm_campaign

Campaign name is like a folder on your hard drive, uniting different file types under one idea. The files can be of different types and can have different names, but they are always united by some common concept. The same works for events. Let events serve as ‘folders’ for all your ad campaigns. This will help to calculate the overall spendings and the total traffic acquired, to overview all acquisition channels that added to the event audience.

This strategy will work if all campaign names follow the same format. We recommend the following:

date(YYYY-MM-DD)_city_event-name → 2018-12-01_san-francisco-ca_sting

In our convention, month and year are separated by a hyphen (-), while the date and the artist name are separated by an underscore (_). If you have respect to such details, your campaigns section will look as a neat chronological list even as time passes.

Different approaches for a ticketing company, touring artist or a venue:

Of course, each case is different, so you are welcome to modify the naming format. For example, this is of no use to indicate the city for a venue, so the tag can be contracted to date(YYYY-MM-DD)_event-name; and for a touring artist – date(YYYY-MM-DD)_city.

One campaign = one event. We are about events, after all. And it solves a number of issues. Do you get the idea?

utm_medium

  • email — this name says it all.
  • social — social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • cpc — Cost Per Click Ad Networks. These are text blocks in Google Ads, Bing Ads, Amazon Ad, etc. However, Facebook also offers cpc ads. We recommend not to use cpc in this case, although it seems logical at first sight: this will break the channel report into two types of medium, which is no good.
  • display — all visual ads from Google Marketing Platform, Youtube and other similar systems with payment per impression instead of clicks. In the same way as for cpc, it’s better not to use it for Facebook ads to avoid confusion.

There are other sources as well, but they do not require filling in UTM parameters, they are assigned automatically – organic (for free clicks from search requests in Google or Bing), referral (a website address, that is not a search engine or a social network), and direct (direct entry to the website).

utm_source

While all troubles with utm_campaign are resolved by following the rules agreed on inside the company, and utm_medium has just several options to select from, utm_source is the most intricate of the parameters. You’ll have to keep a permanent record of all sources in a table, and this list can be really vast. For example, facebook-event, instagram-stories, affiliate-partner, messenger-bot, etc.

Here are some pieces of advice on using utm_source:

  1. Keep record of all possible variants and write short comments what each of them embraces.
  2. Use at least two words for the parameter. Don’t worry: the page address with all parameters included can contain up to 2000 symbols and will still be processed smoothly.
  3. Do not reuse the names of other parameters, even partially. For example, do not indicate email-newsletter.
  4. Treat it as a description of the form of your marketing message, but not its content.
  5. It may present link placements (instagram-feed or instagram-link-in-bio).

utm_content

This is perhaps the most multiversion parameter. Just one simple rule applies here: describe your marketing message so that it is easy to understand in the future. When offering a 20% discount with a Christmas tree banner, indicate 20percent-off_banner_xmas. Believe me, you will be grateful to yourself for such a long description as time passes. And although it is not possible to keep a complete list of all content ideas, try to use the same format for repeated variants. For example, if you are planning to post links about the Black Friday to all your Facebook events, make sure to put the same utm_content everywhere. It will help you to find and estimate the results of this black-friday-50percent-off discount. Notification triggers can also be used here (abandoned-cart or welcome-instructions).

utm_term

Filling utm_term parameter manually is a common mistake. This field is meant for cpc search ads solely, and is auto-filled by Google Ads. If you fill this parameter with, say, a word for a Facebook ad post, you’ll have a hard time later trying to remember why you used such strange keywords for Google Ads. Just do not fill utm_term – as simple as that!

5 common errors in UTM settings

  1. Do not use UTM parameters to tag internal links on your website. Not only will it corrupt your data, but will also result in errors while counting the number of website visits.
  2. Do not use spaces in UTM parameters, as long as spaces will be replaced with %20, which is difficult to read. This will generate excessive symbols (an example by Festicket: https://www.festicket.com/collections/festive-sale-2018/?referrer=facebook&campaign=xmas%20promo&shared_from=partner_linkgen&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=Xmas%20Promo%202018).
    Use hyphens or underscores.
  3. Google Analytics is case-sensitive, so campaign names 2018-12-01_san-francisco-ca_sting and 2018-12-01_san-francisco-ca_Sting will be considered to be different ones. It is preferable to use lowercase in all instances, as this will cut the likelihood of errors.
  4. Cutting all UTM parameters for redirects. If you use a URL shortener like bit.ly, in no case should you add UTM parameters to the shortened link bit.ly?utm-campaign=… All parameters will be removed after the redirect. Add UTM parameters only to your domain link.
  5. Usage of several question marks (?) in one URL. The first parameters added to a URL is preceded by a question mark, while all further parameters start with an ampersand (&). Thus, if a URL already has some parameter added, you should indicate https://www.example.com/?query=param&utm_source=facebook-event&utm_medium=social.  More information at https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2924160/is-it-valid-to-have-more-than-one-question-mark-in-a-url Moreover, there are Unsafe Characters that can disrupt URL. Never use the following symbols: ; / ? : @ = &. Read more at https://perishablepress.com/stop-using-unsafe-characters-in-urls/

Case study: UTM parameters in VividSeats mass mailing

Let’s consider one more example from VividSeats mass mailing:

VividSeats mass mailing
LogoGet TicketsHeader menuBottom menu
utm_sourceSSSS
utm_mediumemailemailemailemail
utm_campaignPrintPrintPrintTransaction
utm_content
utm_termLogoPLinkNavMore

I’m sure, you see four ways to make future analytics more convenient:

  1. The source indicated with a single S and Plink contraction are not the most evident variants to be used. Don’t try to shorten the link – the obvious is always better than the obscure.
  2. It’s better not to use lowercase and uppercase together: this is a potential problem. If someone else puts Print or Transaction with a lowercase letter in another mailing, this will count as a separate source.
  3. Two different campaigns in one email. They decided to summarize all transactional emails in the campaign, but this lead to a confusion.
  4. utm_term and utm_content got confused. Apparently, a cpc ad manager will see reports with many ‘successful ads’ having Logo, Nav, More as the ‘key words’.

Conclusion

We hope that you like our approach and the article highlights the power and flexibility of UTM parameters. Share your questions with us, and we will prepare new posts on the topic. We will also appreciate sharing info on your UTM parameters convention.

How to Create a Facebook Event

One should not underestimate Facebook Events as a means to spread a word on your event promotion. People share interesting events, invite their friends to attend, discuss events and even use them to mark a date on their calendar. So do not lose the chance to use Facebook platform for your Event promotion. Here’s how to create a Facebook Event.

Creating Facebook Events is simple and easy, but you should always keep in mind the following formula: the more accurate your Event information is, the more followers you get. But be precise: the more text the better is not the right strategy in this case.

How to Create a Facebook Event

Let’s go though Facebook Event creation step-by-step.

1) Go to a page you would like to create an Event from and select the ‘Events” tab. Follow to ‘Create Event’ button.

2) Select a cover picture or a video. You can select any file form your computer. What is the correct size of a cover picture? Go check with our recent post How to chose the Correct Facebook Event Photo Size

3) Indicate the name of the Event (up to 64 symbols) and select the location. Put in the address and select a venue with other Facebook events linked: in this case your event will also show in recommendations on the venue page. You can also add the venue as a co-host right away.

How to Create a Facebook Event
Event cover, name and location

4) ‘Frequency’ tab enables you to indicate a single date for your Event, make it regular or select several random dates.

5) Do not skip adding the correct start and end time, people do find this information convenient.

6) Details on the event include the category, key words for a better search and a ‘Description’ field. Spend some time to prepare a laconic but attractive description to make people understand what the Event is about.

How to Create a Facebook Event
Facebook Event Details

7) Enable messaging so that people could reach you out with any questions on the event.

8) Are you planning to sell tickets for your Event? It is a must to indicate a link to purchase tickets in the ‘Ticket URL’ box.

9) Add co-hosts of the event to make sure the Event is displayed to an auditory as wide as possible. Add all possible co-hosts to enlarge the reach of your event. See other important tips on free event promotion here: Free Facebook Promotion for Events. You can also enable or disable visitors posts to your Event.

How to Create a Facebook Event
Facebook Event information

10) Make the Event public right away or schedule it for publication.

The list above is just an outline of the procedure. A lot of useful tips on how to fill in all fields can be found in our article How to create an event on Facebook ready for promotion

How to Schedule Facebook Event Posts

It goes without saying, that regular posting on Facebook Events helps to grow the audience and keep your subscribers updated on all possible changes. It is helpful to post with a regular interval to remind people on the Event, to share engaging content and get new subscribers through shares and likes. What you need is to schedule Facebook Event posts.

But posting regularly needs time and effort, and what if you have several Events planned? Getting back to posting every day for each Event? Too much consideration!

A kind of way out is scheduling your posts on Facebook, and there is a special feature to do this. You can spend some time to plan a number of posts for an event, and then schedule them: they will be published at the exact time you indicate for posting.

Here’s how to schedule Facebook Event posts:

How to Schedule Facebook Event Posts Tutorial
  • Open you Facebook Event page.
  • Make sure you are posting from the page hosting the Event: otherwise your subscribers will not get notified on your posts.
  • Type in the text you prepared for your post. Add a link to your ticketing website or to any relevant content.
  • Skip the Post button and click the arrow to schedule your post.
  • Select the date and time for the post to be published. Click Schedule.
  • Repeat the same for the remaining posts you want to be published on different dates.
  • You can access all scheduled posts by the See post link. You can delete any of the posts you scheduled.
    This menu will also let you to publish the post right away or reschedule it, or to edit the post.

Convenient and fast? Not quite…

Here’s a better and easier way to schedule your Facebook posts

Event Marketing Toolbox enables you to schedule posts individually tailored for each Event in bulk. Schedule the post once and it will be published to any number of Events you need. As simple as follows:

How to Schedule Facebook Posts in Event Marketing Toolbox
  • Click Schedule a Post button to get to posting composer.
  • Select the Events you would like to post to in bulk. In case you have a large number of Events connected, there is a search function to help you.
  • Type the text of your post. Make use of handy tags so that the text is tailored per each particular Event: the date, city and venue of the Event, the number of days left before the Event and other.
  • Attach a picture, video of GIF to the post, if needed. You can also use a random pic from the Event’s media library.
  • Select to either post right away or choose a date for the posts to be published.
  • Preview the posts, delete any if needed. You can also get back to the composer to change something. 
  • Ready to post? Just hit the Schedule Posts Button.

That’s it. You don’t have to select the hosting page, you don’t need to schedule post for each Event separately! Fast and easy, isn’t it? Consider our creative ideas on engaging content for your Events.

How to Invite People to an Event on Facebook

Effective marketing of your Facebook Events depends on the number of people who know about the Event and can share it with their friends. Viral growth is one of the major instruments to make your Event a success. But how does one increase the number of people who click Going in an Event? You need to know how to invite people to an Event on Facebook.

Unfortunately, in case you have a public Event hosted by a Page, Facebook won’t let you notify all people who liked the Page on the Event directly. One way to make your followers know about the Event is to share the Event on the Page, so that subscribers of the page get a notification on the post. Here’s how:

  • Go to an Event page, click Share.
  • Select Share as Post option.
  • Proceed with Share on a Page You Manage option.
  • Select the page hosting the Event and that’s it. The post will be published on the Page and will appear in the Newsfeeds of the Page subscribers.
How to Invite People to an Event on Facebook
Facebook Share as Post option
How to Invite People to an Event on Facebook
Share on a Page You  Manage

Of course, there is also a way to invite particular people to an Event, but this will only be applicable to your personal Friends on Facebook. Start again with the Share button on the Event page, but this time go for Invite Friends.

How to Invite People to an Event on Facebook
Invite Friends to a Facebook Event

Select all your Friends to be notified on the Event and click Send Invites.

Both options might or might not bring you new Event goers, but you can enhance them with paid Facebook Ads any time. We’ve got a great article of Paid Facebook Ads as well as a number of actionable tips for Free Facebook Event Promotion in our blog.

How to Add Facebook Events to Calendar

It is very convenient to use the Facebook Events you are Going for your calendar, so that you are always updated on the upcoming events and birthdays of your friends.  But how to add Facebook Events to calendar?

Here’s how to sync Facebook and Google calendar fast ad easy: all you need is a couple of Facebook Events you followed and Google calendar to sync with. You can either export a single event, or export all events you are going to in one action.

Exporting your Facebook Events to Google calendar

How to add a single event to your default calendar:

  • Find a Facebook Event you are planning to attend and click Going.
  • Click options (the three dots on the right) and chose Export Event.
  • Select the Save to calendar option to export this single event. Download of a *.ics file will start automatically.
  • Go to Google calendar, click + (Add other calendars) button, select Import
  • Locate the *.ics file on your computer, chose the calendar to add the record to (if you have several) and click Import.

Add all events you have on Facebook:

  • In case you need to sync all events you are going to, click options (the three dots on the right) and chose Export Event, but this time just copy the link
  • Go to Google calendar, click + (Add other calendars) button, select From URL.
  • Past the URL copied and click Add Calendar.
How to Add Facebook Events to Calendar

This is how to make use of the Facebook Events you are going to for you schedule planning.

More tips on Facebook Events in our blog.

How to Make a Poll on Facebook Event

There is a number of ways to remind your subscribers about your Event, but creating polls is double useful. Hesitating what tracks to include in the set list for your Event or wondering whether people were satisfied with the venue last time? Just ask them!

Here’s how to make a poll on Facebook Event:

  1. On your Facebook Event page select Create Poll in the posting box right below the Event description.
  2. Important! Make sure you are creating the poll from the host of the Event, otherwise your subscribers will not get a notification on the new poll published.
  3. Fill in a question or an offer to vote. This options can be plain text, or pictures attached. 
  4. Suggest the variants for your subscribers to vote for.
  5. Use Add option link to add as many options as needed. You can also attach a picture to each of the options.
  6. By default, Facebook will enable your followers to select multiple options, uncheck the the checkbox in Poll Options dropdown to change this.
  7. Publish the poll right away or Schedule the post for a particular time using the arrow button at the right-bottom corner.
How to Make a Poll on Facebook Event

Don’t hesitate to use pictures for you poll options: media content always works better than plain text. Engaging polls are a great way to attract attention of the audience and can lead to viral growth for your event. See how eagerly people respond to interactive content on Facebook:

Polls for viral growth of your events

We’ve got a number of great ideas for engaging content for your Facebook Events – see if they help you grow your audience fast and easy.

That’s it. Do not forget to monitor the poll results to understand your fans and followers better.

How to Make Someone an Admin on Facebook Event

Making any changes to a Facebook Event requires particular permissions that  Facebook Event admins have. Recently Facebook changed the terminology, so now page admins are referred to as hosts. Thus, to grant the right to manage and edit your Facebook Event, you need to add a host to the Event.

A step-by-step guide on how to make someone an admin on Facebook Event:

  1. Go to your Event page and click Edit button.
  2. Scroll down the Event details to Co-hosts field.
  3. Choose a person or a page to be added as co-host and to be granted the right to manage the Event.
  4. Pages and Friends will be pending until they accept the co-host request for the Event.

That’s it. Do not forget that you can remove co-hosts of your Event any time in the Event settings. Click Edit button to change the settings, if needed.

How to chose the Correct Facebook Event Photo Size

What is the ideal Facebook Event photo size? Simple as it may seem, the question interest many people who promote on Facebook.

The perfect size for a cover picture is 1920×1080 pixels, which is recommended by Facebook.

facebook event photo size
Correct Facebook Event Photo Size

The right size is not the only feature to be taken care of. Go through the following check list to see if you did your best to make the maximum use of your Event covers.

Facebook Event cover photo check list:

  • The right size is 1920×1080 pixels.
  • The photo should be catching: a recognizable image, photo or logo.
  • Do not add text to your covers: you will not be able to use them in Facebook Ads with text embedded.
  • Keep it in mind that the cover photo will appear smaller in Facebook app, so make sure the thing depicted is still readable and catching.

Follow the simple steps above to make the utmost use of your Event photo.

Two Main Principles of Facebook Promotion Usually Neglected

Our goal is to increase the probability of our Event info to appear in newsfeed of interested users. Each step of your Event promotion should start with the following question: “How relevant will this post/ad/event be for the auditory you target? Will people be interested in it? Will they click? Will users respond or leave comments on your post/ad?” But get it right: each ad message should not contain a direct appeal to leave comments or likes. Facebook punishes for that.

Create engaging content

To win over Facebook, start thinking like Facebook. The primary Facebook promotion rule is to be relevant, be engaging. As it is known, Facebook employs Algorithm News Feed to analyze activity of each user and determine what to show in the user’s newsfeed. Content is on the rise, and the social network analyzes millions of posts that users followed to select several dozens, that will be scrolled through in spare moments.

In case you promote a yoga master class, invite friends who are keen on yoga. When purchasing ads for a musical band, do not target at all musical fans, but only fans of bands similar to yours.

If your ad, invitation, broadcast is useful and ultimately relevant, Facebook will encourage it. Free viral promotion will also follow.

Paid promotion is of great importance

The second principle goes as follows: nothing will promote itself. Even Events created from official pages with millions of fans do not easily draw a large audience. It is important to proceed with both free and paid promotion. The example below proves that even an Event launched on a page with millions of fans is not sufficient to draw enough responders.

Read more on free Facebook promotion for Events and paid Event advertising in our blog. 


Event host pageLuke Bryan Official PageThings To Do in Austin
Host page fans8,717,1234,572
Posts by event host055
Likes on published posts02,154
Shares and invitations31472
Comments (not moderated)81630
Event responders2,00019,840

Event host pageBruno Mars Official PageThings To Do in Boston
Host page fans57,804,4417,682
Posts by event host082
Likes on published posts01,790
Shares and invitations35479
Comments (not moderated)17320
Event responders2,07517,750