Taking online marketing to a new level with UTM parameters!

We have realized at DreamApply that our marketing tool-set is going to be absolutely crucial for the success of our customers.

In short, you will probably be doing a lot more (online) marketing, it will cost more per enrolled student and you should be really smart on how you spend your budget.

This is why we have gone into overdrive in making our already comprehensive marketing features even better. Feel free to take a detour and read an overview of the upgrades done in DreamApply marketing tools over the past few month.

Today, however, we would like to introduce the latest advancement – built-in automagic support for UTM parameters!

This is rather special, since we have reason to believe that no other admissions solution on the market has gone into this level of detail. For us it was a logical step, as it ties in beautifully with the rest of our marketing tools.

So what are UTM parameters?

We will go into more detail immediately, but just to get us started – UTM parameters are little chunks of information you can add to your links to make it clear which campaign or activity they are associated with. This matters little to the users who end up clicking on those links, but it will help you in a big way!

Where can you use UTM parameters?

In fact, if you are placing any link into any online marketing material (emails, ads, affiliates sites, etc.) you should equip them with UTM parameters. For example, imagine you have two parallel activities – a Facbook ad and an email campaign with Mailchimp. In both cases, you might want the clicks to land on the very same page — making it hard to distinguish between the results of two campaigns.

Sure, both Facbook Ads and Mailchimp have some reporting tools. But those tools do not tell you want happened to those clicks later on. Did they submit an application? Were they accepted? Did they end up enrolling? Which campaign was more successful in terms of enrolled students? For these sort of insights, you need DreamApply.

This is where UTM parameters come in – they help you to “differentiate” the links you are sending your users (they look different!), but do not alter how the links actually work. For example these two links work exactly the same:

https://apply.your-university.edu/courses?utm_source=Mailchimp https://apply.your-university.edu/courses?utm_source=Facebook&utm_campaign=Traffic

Functionally speaking, everything after the “?” sign is essentially ignored, but can still be used to separate the originating campaign and source.

DreamApply can look for those “differentiating” parameters and, once the user registers, will automatically assign them appropriate trackers like “Mailchimp” or “Facebook” & “Traffic”. Once you have tagged your leads / applicants in this fashion, any further activities in DreamApply can be analyzed easily.

Above, is a sneak peek of the kind of filtering options you can apply to leads, applicants, or applications across all views. But more on this later.

What types of UTM parameters are out there?

Here is the complete list, but keep in mind that all of them are optional – you can add just one (usually utm_campaign) or even all 5 (but this is rare).

utm_campaign: This names the specific campaign the link was placed into. For example, you could use “Drive traffic to course search” or “Late admissions campaign”

utm_source: This identifies where the traffic comes from. This chould include social media platforms, search engines and so forth. An example would be “LinkedIn”.

utm_medium: This identifies what type of link was used, such as pay-per-click (PPC), or email.

utm_content: This allows you to drill down to the individual call to action that worked. For example, you may have had the same link twice in the same email (once at the top, and once at the bottom). So you may want to keep a separate count of which one of them worked better. An example could then be “Footer link”.

utm_term: This identifies keywords used in ads, such as “master programmes”, or “summer school courses”, so you can see what your users actually searched for when they found your ads.
Note that we do not recommend writing out UTM parameters by hand, rather use the tools mentioned in the next section.

How can you do this yourself?

If you Google “utm builder” you will likely find a lot of free tools to prepare your links in the correct way. For example, this one and this one seem to work well. There are also more fancy solutions to manage and organize your campaign links effectively.

One little-know fact is that Facebook Ads even has a built-in “UTM builder”. This is why we picked them for our step-by-step example.

Let’s jump into creating an ad on Facebook. Apart from the usual steps you have probably done a hundreds times, you may not have paid much attention to the “Tracking” settings on the bottom of the page:

Click on it and you can see various ways in which you can track your Facebook ads. We are interested in the “URL Parameters” part.

You might already realize what you can type into the text box, but for ease of use, click on “Build a URL Parameter”. This is what you will see:

As you can see, we have typed some logical values into the boxes, but this is up to you! Hit Apply and you are done!

Most online marketing tools have support for UTM parameters in some form. If they do not have special tools for it (like Facebook), at the very least you can always prepare the links on your own (read above).

For Google Ads, it is slightly more complicated. You have to paste the UTM parameters into the “Final URL suffix”, as described here.

UTM parameters are magic in DreamApply!

If you have used DreamApply before, you probably know that all marketing tools (entry points, kiosks, advisors, leads import, bonus codes, etc) are centered around “trackers”. For each marketing activity or source of leads, there is a tracker, which allows you to filter applicants, applications, tables, and reports and compare the results of various activities in terms of registered leads, submitted applications, or even enrolled students!

In DreamApply your UTM parameters automagically become trackers!

There is a lot packed into the screenshot above, but essentially you can see how you can filter your applications in a particular status across various marketing activities. Here the user might be analyzing application numbers from some paid campaigns (courtesy of UTM tracking) versus results delivered from some agents / advisors.

The same sort of filtering also applies to the leads management, report generation, search, and applicant task analysis pages. In essence, all data in DreamApply can be sliced and diced according to your marketing activities.

Furthermore – the UTM parameters addon in DreamApply has no complex settings or configuration options at all, it is fully automatic. You can create the reports you need.

Drill down on your attributions

In addition to comparing the results (leads, applications, enrolled students, and so on) of your campaigns in terms of applicants and leads, you can also look at campaign statistics from another point of view.

As UTM parameters are captured, they are stored in cookies on the user’s device. At some point in the future, when the user decides to register (or log in) using this device, they can be attributed to an actual applicant.

In other words, not all “clicks” arriving on your site will end up registering as an applicant. This gives you another way to measure the success of your campaigns. On the screenshot below you can see that “Blog posts” have brought in 453 “clicks” but only 77% of them have been attributed to an actual person. The other remained anonymous.

Note that a 77% attribution rate is actually .. pretty good! This is just demo data. But when you click on the “77%” label, you can drill down even further:

There is a lot more to tell, but we have to draw a line somewhere. If you are interested about DreamApply, please start here.

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