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The Importance of Pardot UTM Parameters

Let’s start by saying that UTM parameters sound way more technical than they are. We’re not talking about a piece of code or script that requires a developer or your IT team to get involved. UTM parameters can be created and used by all marketers and when it comes to Account Engagement (aka Pardot) they’re vital, for a few reasons.

Coloured background with text The Importance of Pardot UTM Parameters

Before we delve into those, we’ll cover the basics.

What are UTM parameters?

UTM parameters are additional pieces of information, also known as ‘query strings’, included in a page URL. They enable marketers to track where the visitors to a URL came from. The standard UTM parameters are:

utm_source=

utm_medium=

utm_campaign=

utm_content=

utm_term=

Each of the above relays important information to marketers about their campaigns, including:

  • the source of the referral i.e. google, social media, email.

  • the marketing medium i.e. cpc, instagram, linkedin banner, etc.

  • which marketing campaign the URL is associated with.

  • the specific ad or post content containing the link.

  • which paid keyword generated the click.

You don’t have to use every single one of these parameters in your URL, they’re optional. For example, if MarCloud wanted to track clicks to our free Pardot audit service from this blog post, we could use the following UTM parameters:

https://marcloudconsulting.com/free-audits/?utm_source=website&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=free-pardot-audit&utm_content=importance-pardot-utm-parameters

But for a Google Ads campaign, we’d go with:

https://marcloudconsulting.com/free-audits/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=free-pardot-audit&utm_term=pardot-audit

This information helps analytics platforms like GA4 properly categorise website traffic into the correct sources and mediums and ensures marketers have access to campaign data for analytics and reporting. Google has a handy Campaign URL Builder for creating tracking URLs quickly.

However, Pardot also relies on UTMs for tracking prospects. Ensuring these are captured correctly requires some checks and configuration on your side.

How does Pardot use UTM parameters?

You might have noticed that prospect profiles in Pardot have a Google Analytics section, with the same fields for Campaign, Medium, Source, Content, and Term. Pardot uses UTM parameters to populate these fields, so we can easily see whether a prospect has been tracked as coming from a specific channel or campaign.

Screenshot of the Google Analytics section populated by UTM parameters

Importantly, you will only see this information if:

  • You have enabled the Google Analytics Connector in your account.

  • Google Analytics tracking code is installed on the pages you want to track.

  • UTM parameters are included in your links i.e. Custom Redirects, and in forms you want to track with UTM variables.

  • A prospect is new and Google-tagged when they enter your database (existing prospects who click links or submit forms with UTM parameters will not be updated. So essentially, the UTM is only updated at the first touch point).

  • You are able to track Pardot forms embedded in iframes on your website, in GA4 (passing UTM variables from an iframe is tricky).

These are the basics for out-of-the-box UTM tracking. However, it is possible to create custom fields that allow you to use UTMs to better track prospects based on their last touch too.

To do so, your account must be using first-party tracking and there’s a bit of technical setup but the good news is, MarCloud has a readymade tracking solution that ensures UTM values are grabbed every single time, extending the out-of-the-box functionality.

Why are UTM parameters so important?

It goes without saying that being able to see where leads originated from is massively valuable when it comes to demonstrating marketing return on investment. Proving ROI means securing budgets for similar activities in the future and let’s face it, gets the rest of the C-suite off your back!

Populating Lead source though, is a common headache for Pardot and Salesforce users because often, UTM parameters are not being used and there’s no robust and consistent system for collecting this information. 

At MarCloud, we see accounts where the Lead source field is scarily empty for the majority of records. We also see accounts where the Lead source is populated with many different variations of the same source, with no rhyme or reason. Naturally, this leads to messy, dysfunctional accounts and/or reports.

Plus, when it comes to using B2BMA to report confidently on marketing attribution using default or custom dashboards, well, this simply isn’t possible without reliable Lead source values.

However, populating Lead source in Salesforce and Pardot is easy when you know how, and getting the groundwork in place will open so many reporting doors later! It doesn’t solely come down to UTM parameters, but they play a huge role.

Because we know how integral reliable tracking is - and how the lack of it can hamstring marketers - we’ve got a readymade solution that will have you properly tracking and reporting in no time! Find out more about our Pardot Form Analytics & Tracking Package and get in touch. 

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Tom Ryan

Founder & CEO of MarCloud, Tom has been on both sides of the fence, client-side and agency, working with Salesforce platforms for the best part of a decade. He's a Salesforce Marketing Champion and certified consultant who loves to co-host webinars and pen original guides and articles. A regular contributor to online business and marketing publications, he's passionate about marketing automation and, along with the team, is rapidly making MarCloud the go-to place for Marketing Cloud and Salesforce expertise. He unapologetically uses the terms Pardot, Account Engagement and MCAE interchangeably.

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